Being a guy, I can’t speak when it comes to motherhood itself, but being in my mid-50’s, having run an Adult Family Home, and with my wife having worked in nursing homes for quite a few years beforehand, I can say this: old age is pretty cold without children, or with children who don’t visit. The older people without children were so very lonely and more than a bit jealous when seeing their friends being visited by kids and grandkids…but by the same token, those with kids and grandkids who didn’t visit were at least as heartbroken.

But there’s something else to think about. I went to my wife’s family’s compound in Manila, and (according to American standards) they’re very poor. There was her grandmother laying on a cot, in the heat, and there are flies and mosquitoes and other insects, but at least she had a fan. Thing is, she had it better than even the wealthy residents of upscale assisted living facilities here stateside. Why? Because every single day she saw and interacted with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. That’s simply beyond price when one is old.

On the flip side of the coin, it’s becoming increasingly common in Japan for the elderly to die alone and forgotten in their homes or apartments, and are not found for days, weeks, or even months afterwards since they had no children or (as we saw in a nursing home in Hawaii where elderly Japanese had been left by their children who were too busy to take care of their parents) were just left there, never visited, and simply left to die.

Please don’t get me wrong. There are people whose personalities are geared towards not having children, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You may never regret not having children, or if you have children, you may regret that too (for the heartache and sometimes-frantic worry while raising kids is unavoidable). But if you have children, and if those children still visit you (or better yet, let you live with them) when you are old, that’s the proverbial pearl beyond price. It’s up to you as to whether your mindset now (or how you think your mindset will be when you’re old) is for or against having children. There’s just so many doggone “if’s”, isn’t there?

I wish you the best of luck with your decision.

Retired Navy. Inveterate contrarian. If I haven’t done it, I’ve usually done something close.

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