Can’t Go Back

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One of the great regrets of my life is not having children.

Don’t get me wrong.  I have been singularly blessed by the presence of children in my life:  my nieces and nephews, their children, my three step-kids, all of my Coast Guard “kids” (and now their kids), and the children of friends, but I can’t deny that there’s an old ache under my heart and never really goes away.
I’m drawn to little kids like the old moth to a flame.  It’s probably a bit disconcerting to parents who don’t know me, as I have a penchant to be one of those women who talks to babies out in public, but I can’t seem to help myself.  I’m not a stalker, I’m no danger to the children, I’m not going to snatch-and-run, I just like kids.  I appreciate their viewpoint on the world and their often quite open willingness to share their perspective.  I like that they take you as you are, warts and all, counting you first as a friend rather than anticipating you to be an enemy.
 On the other hand, I fully understand their parents’ reticence.  There are too many dangerous people out there in the world for a child to live long without having survival skills drummed into them.
There’s no one to blame for my lack of children but me.  I’d like to say that time and circumstance conspired against me (and they did, to a degree), but the responsibility was mine.  My first marriage was to an irresponsible dweeb.  After a certain amount of time I knew we were headed for divorce and that made children out of the question.  I didn’t want to be a single parent, and I certainly didn’t want him getting his hands on any kid of mine.  I guess I foolishly thought there would always be time enough to have a kid or two, that somehow the miraculous would present itself at the correct moment and the stars would align.
 It took a long time for me to realize that stars never align.  There is no “perfect” moment…not for anything.  No matter how good the timing looks, there’ll always be something that can put a clinker in the mix.  One must understand that and either run with it…
Or not.  Sometimes there’s no going back, no picking up the pieces.  And no band-aid big enough for that sense of loss.

About Melissa Crandall

Longer ago than I care to admit--although I will--I cut my writing teeth on fanzines and media tie-in novels. Since then, I've moved on to narrative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and essays. I write to explore and understand the world around me, the things I see and experience nearby or from a distance. If I shake myself up, cool. If I shake you up, even better. Not gratuitously--what's the point in that?--but to set what I know, or think I know, on end and realize, "Well, doesn't it look different from this side!" My work is neither sexually explicit nor graphically violent. Let's face it - your imaginations will come up with things far worse than anything I could write, no matter how descriptive. Besides, it's just not my thing. I live in Connecticut with my supportive husband Ed, a cat named Ruby who might just think she's a dog, and an epileptic Australian shepherd named Holly who isn't quite certain anymore who she is, except she knows she loves her mommy.
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2 Responses to Can’t Go Back

  1. eileeneldred says:

    Oh, dear heart, from what I’ve read, you’ve been a wonderful mom to many! I know, I know, it’s not the same. Hugs! (Then again, did you really want to experience the “Them’s my boogers!” event more than once? Believe me, them boogers are hell to clean up – which you need to do quickly or they become the kiddo’s choice for lunch!) 😀

    • LOL! I can’t believe I’d forgotten about that! To recap for anyone interested: Riding somewhere with Eileen, her youngest in the front seat, me seated right behind him. I’m getting into the car and my hand swipes through some sort of gunk on the back of the passenger seat headrest. I said something like “You can tell kids ride here. There’s crap on the back of the seat.” Jimmy turns around and sweetly provides this bit of 3-4 year old wisdom: “Them’s my boogers.” Eileen was mortified. I was hysterical. “James,” I replied. “When picking one’s nose, one does not wipe the boogers on the back of the car seat. One uses a kleenex.” He blinked at me. “Okay,” he says, and that was that. Gotta love kids!! (BTW, Eileen said, “You know, you could tell him to NOT pick his nose at all.” My response? “He’s going to anyway.”) Thanks for the memory, Eileen.

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