Amy Roberts: Women my age
November 15, 2017
I'm not sure if Mercury is in retrograde, or if it just boils down to coincidence, but November has been a bit like a nagging stepmother for me.
I have been reminded of my age – my advancing age – in rather unflattering ways. So far this month I've been called ma'am twice, have been waved off by a bartender when I got out my ID, and listened as a doctor casually stated, "Well, that's common for women your age."
Annoying as all this might be, I can dismiss these comments and gestures. I am over 40 after all. But lately I've also been on the receiving end of questions about my age that sound a bit more like accusations. They go something like this:
"Do you regret not having children?"
I guess I don’t have a child for the same reason I don’t have a saltwater fish tank: I just never really wanted one. I’m sure they’re cool, but they’re also a lot of work.
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Channeling my inner Claire Underwood, my response to this type of inquiry is typically something like:
"No. Do you ever regret having them?"
For the most part, I like kids. They remind me to slow down and find time to play. Their inquisitiveness makes me laugh. They are the only people in the world who are curious to know what my third favorite reptile is. And when I help out my friends who need a break from their offspring, I always learn something new. Usually about reptiles.
The child I adore the most is my niece, Addison. She's three years old now, and sometimes I wonder if she's smarter than the rest of us. There are times I'll coach her, or ask her to do something, and she will respond with a counterpoint that has so much merit. I think she's right. These rules are rather silly.
She is my only niece, and I am her only aunt, so it is fair to say neither of us have much competition in the favorites department. But I still tend to compete for it. Admittedly, I spoil the kid rotten. With the exception of a kitten, she gets whatever she asks for when I am around. And she is onto me — the kid knows I'm a sucker.
For example, I FaceTimed with her this weekend and she informed me she was making her Christmas list for Santa. I told her she needed to be good or Santa wouldn't bring her all the toys she wants. Her response was, "It's okay. If Santa doesn't bring them, you will get them for me."
Kid's got a point, I thought.
Despite my adoration for Addison, I have never felt the need to reproduce. The planet seems overpopulated enough to me as it is. So when I'm questioned about my childlessness, I find it rather irksome. And I don't really have a good answer either. I guess I don't have a child for the same reason I don't have a saltwater fish tank: I just never really wanted one. I'm sure they're cool, but they're also a lot of work.
For making this choice, I've been called selfish. And many people have insisted I have no idea what I'm missing out on. Well-meaning I'm sure, but annoying nonetheless. I'm not selfish. I've spent countless hours volunteering to help disadvantaged children; both at home and abroad. And as far as missing out, I suppose it's possible. But given my personal experience with my niece, I'm not convinced I'm missing out on much more than chronically sticky walls and a whole lot of sleep.
For some of us, being called "ma'am" actually is more appealing than being called "mom," and there's nothing wrong with that. Especially at my age.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.