I bet my friends with children would laugh at my getting all worked up about a sick cat.
That one fleeting thought set off an unexpected internal debate. I’ve always wanted to be a father, but with each passing birthday and every day spent without being in a serious relationship, I get the sense that fatherhood is simply not in the cards for me.
Which led to a much more depressing Deep Thought…
Am I a failure for never having kids?
I remember learning in Catholic School that the whole point of the Sacrament of Marriage was so that we could procreate and continue the species.
Sex was not for pleasure, but rather to create life. The Catholic Church didn’t believe in birth control because, I had to assume, the Pope wanted the world overrun with Catholics.
I always wanted to have a family. I especially longed to have a son who I could name after my father. This concept led to an ongoing battle with my ex-wife, who refused to have a child who would have to carry around the suffix of “The Third” after his name.
One of the reasons we moved to Maine when we did was because we decided we wanted to raise our children here rather than in Southern California.
Unfortunately, we got divorced less than a year after the move.
I’ve always said I’m happy my ex-wife and I didn’t have kids because I’d never want them to be the product of divorce. I guess I’m old school in the belief that children shouldn’t come from broken homes, and I’ve often wondered that if we would be have stayed together if we’d had kids.
Of course, when I find myself lamenting that I’ve never had children, I sometimes waver on my belief that I was better off not having any with my ex before our divorce.
When people ask me why we never had kids, I’m not quite sure of the answer. We both said we wanted them, yet we never seriously talked about trying. Maybe we both knew down deep that the marriage wasn’t going to last.
I always thought I would have plenty of time to have children after my divorce.
I suppose I just underestimated how difficult it would be to find someone new to love, share a life with, and raise a family.
I had pretty much given up on the idea of becoming a father until I met Melissa. The Sweet Irish Girl was quite adamant about having a large family, and even though the idea of having three children at my age was rather intimidating at first, I quickly warmed to the idea.
Who wouldn’t want children who looked like her and had both a Brooklyn accent and an Irish brogue? I’d almost forgotten about how important fatherhood was to me until we’d have these lengthy talks about what we would name our children, how I would look after Melissa during her pregnancies, and how we would raise our little ones.
The more we talked about it, the more I knew that I needed to be a father. I’d make The Sweet Irish Girl laugh hysterically with tales about the wild stories I’d tell our children when they asked me how something worked or why something was a certain a way.
I wanted to teach my wee ones how to play baseball, ride a bike, write like their Daddy, and love the Star Wars movies.
Sure, even Melissa refused to name our son Austin, III, but by that point, I was willing to relent and use Austin as a middle name. I’ll never forget the first time she told me that she knew I’d be an amazing Daddy because of how much I loved my kitties.
And here I am again, feeling a little silly because I panicked about taking Luna to the vet, while my friends are dealing with sick children, overwhelming schedules, and the skyrocketing cost of raising a family.
Sometimes, I feel incredibly relieved that I don’t have all the stresses that my friends do. Most of the time, though, I’m jealous that they have children and I do not.
Now I’m beginning to think that I’m a failure. I didn’t procreate. I didn’t put more Catholics on the planet. I didn’t carry on the family name. I’ll never get to teach my children about their incredible grandfather. And there won’t be an Austin, III.
There are times when I really miss The Sweet Irish Girl, and while I loved her deeply, I think it has even more to do with the fact that she convinced me I was going to be a father.
Maybe that’s why I loved her so much. She promised me the dream that I had all but abandoned long ago.
I know I would be an amazing father, and that’s what upsets me so much…
I took a little break before editing this post to watch last night’s Stephen Colbert show. Jim Gaffigan was on talking about his five kids. I totally feel like a failure now!
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