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After my last post about a Jewish man who had established an orphanage in Nazi Germany, I realized that in the last couple of years I have frequently written about children, especially those who are struggling. For a person with no children, that seemed (to me) to be an odd choice: what did I know about children? In many respects, very little. So, I decided to reflect on my reasons for writing about children, particularly in the area of education, and see if I had something new to learn about life and the world around me.
I grew up in a family of three children. Oddly, none of us have had children, by choice. At the time we made our choice, my husband said he would support my choice either way; he already had one daughter by his first marriage. I decided for my own selfish reasons not to have kids: I believed that I couldn’t “do it all” (and still believe that) and I lived at a time when women were celebrated for working; I couldn’t imagine “only” raising children (an incredibly narrow and naïve view); and I was terrified that I would be like my own mother (who struggled at motherhood)—I realized years later that she could have done much, much worse.
There was nothing original about my excuses—and they were excuses, even irrational ones. But for many years I didn’t regret that choice. When friends asked me about our decision (and they always asked without obvious judgment), wondering if I felt I was missing anything, I said that I was. But I also pointed out that parents were missing something by having kids. Part of that is the intimacy that comes with a husband and wife only needing to focus on each other. Selfish, yes, but that’s how I saw my life back then.