Whenever someone says something like, “My grandparents have been married 68 years,” my first question–and sometimes I’m stupid enough to say it out loud–is, “Happily?”
I’m 45 years old, married, and don’t have any children. And I won’t have any. I’m not “childfree,” but my wife is.
In my favorite picture of me as a child, I’m standing on my big sister’s Big Wheel. I couldn’t ride it, yet, because my legs were too short to reach the pedals, but I knew it was meant for me.
Once my toes could reach just well enough to turn the enormous front wheel, that toy and I were bonded until I was too big for it.
I know it’s easy – convenient – to assign any chosen value to things in your past based on what you know of yourself in the present, but I can’t help thinking that car represented independence. That even as a little girl, I wanted freedom. Options. Choices.
The kinds of things it made me feel sick to imagine losing when, at 20, the man I’d married at 19 started talking about having “a family.”