My social groups have always been primarily child-free or, if there were kids around, they were older. Between Dec 2015 and Jan 2016, three sets of friends had babies. At first I thought this was an anomaly. Then a few weeks ago, I attended Isaac’s 33rd birthday party to play Dominant Species. The four other players were all recent (or soon to be) parents. The day before I played 1830 at Ehren’s. He too has a 5 mo. child. Obviously the burst of family growth wasn’t an anomaly.
There are many potential explanations for having so many child-free friends and why that may be changing. The change shouldn’t be surprising given I tend to spend a large portion of my time with 30-somethings, specifically gaming mostly with younger guys, than with folks my own age. My life has never been very conducive to having children around. I spent my 20s in grad school; I actually interviewed for my first professional job on my 30th birthday. During my 30s, my partners and friends were mostly gay and lesbian. Laural and Sue both have kids and were the exceptions. I was 37 when I had my car accident. My 40s didn’t really exist, as I was primarily housebound recovering from the accident. So here I am in my early 50s being exposed to babies for the first time since the birth of my siblings over 40 years ago. I like it 🙂
As much as I like it, I can honestly say there’s not been a single day I wished to have a child. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with kids. Seeing Erica every month or two is a highlight on those days. I’d be happy to forego gaming and play with her. I’d probably enjoy being involved with someone with kids. I’ve just never had a desire to have a child myself.
I fondly remember the times I spent at Laural’s, when I lived in New Paltz, with her and her two kids, Shane and Tarah. I used to head straight to their home after work, have dinner with them and then hang out, often playing Scrabble or Chinese checkers. They’re the closest I’ve come to having kids, and I love them. At the time, they were around 12-14. It still warms my heart when I think of Shane bringing me a plant and bottle of shampoo while I was in the hospital after my accident. Laural wasn’t interested in being involved with me at the time, but had she been, I likely would’ve stayed in New Paltz or asked them to come with me to my next job (aka Boston). Sue had Harrison (9ish) and Becky (18ish), but I didn’t spend much time with either of them. During grad school, Margy had Paul (4ish). Many of my current age-appropriate friends (mostly at Cards and Conversation and my 40+ book club) have adult children they speak of at times, but I’ve rarely ever met them. That’s about the entire extent of my exposure to kids.
I guess if I’d ever had the desire to marry (which I haven’t), things might have been different. Valuing a single, non-monogamous, education then career focused life through my 30s didn’t exactly lend itself to me being around many kids. I’ve had four conversations about marriage and a couple about kids over the years, but I’ve never been very interested. I remember Donna (from my grad school days) telling me those feelings would change, but they mostly haven’t.
Around the time I turned 50, I did begin to notice a bit of a change. For the first time, I became open to monogamy (though its feasibility remains untested) and even to the possibility I might someday marry. I can look all the way back to 8th grade and see my proclivity for non-monogamy, even though I didn’t begin identifying as non-monogamous until 1995. Typically I have several long-term FWB relationships, either with or without a primary partner. Maybe turning 50 made me think I might like to grow old with someone. Maybe I’m a little more mainstream as I’m finally recovered enough to slowly reenter society. Or maybe I’ve sufficiently sewn my wild oats and am finally ready to settle down.