“You’re so lucky you don’t have kids.”
I was sitting in the lunchroom at work this week with two other colleagues. They were conversing about their problems with their respective children. On and on it went, all the issues and frustrations and complaints.
I was mostly listening rather than talking. I did not feel I had much to contribute. Sure, I could empathise with how they were feeling. I understand what stress feels like. But I had no experience of my own with childrearing. I had no personal wisdom to share.
I did not feel I had much to contribute.
This was mostly fine. It was slightly awkward, as I was conscious of eating in silence, but mostly it was no problem. Until the other two finished their lunches, finished their conversation and went to leave the lunchroom.
One of them turned around to me. (Perhaps she realised I had said very little during that half-hour conversation.) As though to hammer the final nail into that coffin, she said to me with a wave, “You’re so lucky you don’t have kids. You’re. So. Lucky.”
With that, she turned and left the room.
I started laughing.
I am kind of glad my colleague left at that moment, rather than hanging around for my response. Being sarcastic by nature, my response would have probably been something along these lines:
“Yeah, I’m lucky. Lucky I’ve got an autoimmune disease. Lucky I’m living with chronic pain. Lucky my bad health is the reason we chose to remain childless. Lucky we will forever feel the grief and absence of children in our lives. Dodged a bullet there.”
Of course, I could have used something more concise. Something like this:
“Yeah, wanna swap?!”
I gather this is a common perception of parents toward those who are childless. Parents often view childless people as being footloose and fancy-free, regardless of their reasons for childlessness. Some parents express envy toward their childless equals.
I wonder why this is the case. Could it be a “grass is always greener” phenomena? Is it just stress on the part of parents? Or could it run a little deeper – could some parents regret having children?
I am only theorising. I do not know why parents call childless people “lucky”. In my experience, many childless people feel exactly the same sort of jealousy toward parents precisely because they have children.
Perhaps childless people would deem parents to be the lucky ones.
Many childless people feel exactly the same jealousy toward parents.
So am I lucky? Lucky to not have the stress my colleague has, that is for sure. Lucky to be childless? I don’t know about that.
I don’t think luckiness is the point. We each have our own version of stress which we must endure. We each have the blessings that come with our unique circumstances. We have things we gain and things we lose, whether we are parents or living with childlessness.
I am certainly grateful to have many good things in my life – family and friends who love me, a highly rewarding job, enough money and food, a comfortable home, the means to pursue passions for music and writing, and the unconditional love of Jesus.
And a cat.
Lucky? No. But I am blessed.
How would you respond to being called “lucky”? Do you get comments like these from people who are parents? What have been some of the blessings of childlessness? Share your story – let’s have a countercultural conversation.