My new book “Midlife Solo” is now available.

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having children

Sunday morning, and there’s the treat of an extra daylight savings hour, most of which I’ve already blown reading the “New York Times.” Not the news, no, I go immediately to the Style section and read the personal essays. Coffee, personal essays, bright sun outside as the orange leaves fall … heaven. We have had a spectacular autumn so far.

The other evening I was doing my usual 11 p.m. TV shuffle – Jon Stewart, George Strombolopolis, and Steve Paikin, simultaneously – three handsome, intelligent, telegenic hosts. Steve won out with his hour on the future of marriage for women, with six weighing in, including the right-wing Danielle Crittenden, wife of David Frum, who is extremely happy in her marriage thank you very much, and wears her bangs so long, it hurts to watch the shafts of hair sticking into her eyes.
Meow.
The main interviewee was a thirty-something woman in California who has written a piece in “Atlantic” magazine about why so many women her age aren’t marrying – are they too critical and demanding, too successful to “settle,” too isolated and busy? She kept talking about being married versus being alone. I thought, that’s not right, it’s being married versus being single. Single means that you’re not sleeping with only one person but are not necessarily alone. I’m single, I argued only they weren’t listening, and I’m far from alone; my solitude is a treasure, except when there’s a heavy table to move or I’m in Prague, standing outside an apartment building in the rain with a key that won’t work. Then I’d like to wave a wand and have the handsome prince appear. But the rest of the time, I suspect, his needs would get in the way of mine. I just do not feel alone.
And then I thought, of course you don’t – you have children. Yes, I have supportive and loving friends, but most of all, there are two adult children living nearby. That bond is greater than any other. I may be wrong, but I assume that in a time of great need, my kids would be there. Whereas, as my beloved Chris in Vancouver has pointed out so often, without immediate family, especially kids, it’s tough for single people in times of need. So in that sense, yes, the childless woman in California is not just single, but alone.
I will do my damndest not to draw on that bond; to let them get on with their lives without having to deal with their decrepit mother. But I do thank the universe for this greatest of gifts. I’m getting pretty maudlin about all this bonding and inheritance stuff, because of the grandchild in utero. I was about to say, maybe you should stop reading for the next while because I’ll be sentimental, but the fact is, I’ll probably be sentimental for the next 40 years or so, God willing. You’ll forgive me, won’t you?
In fact, one of the aforementioned progeny just appeared, the taller one, the very, very tall one. He got home to his apartment early this morning, after a wild night out with the boys, to discover that the landlord is going to renovate his kitchen today. So he walked across town in the early morning, still a bit sloshed, to here. “Home,” goes the famous saying, “is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”
It is odd, he says, to come back to the room he grew up in – he was 18 months old when he moved into that room, and here he is at 27.
How comforting, though, too – for us both.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

Some Blogs I Follow

Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

Carrie Snyder
Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.

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