Prior to my parents’ divorce when I was 18, my mother had an affair with a married man. When the details of this came to light, my mother’s family all but disowned her -- but not until after yelling angry, hurtful things at her or sending her hateful letters of condemnation. The next step was to refuse to speak to her or even be in her presence. At about the same time, my paternal grandmother died. My mother came to the visitation to pay her respects (after all, this had been her mother-in-law for about 20 years), and my father’s family welcomed mom with open arms. There were tears, hugs, and kind words. This woman who had hurt all of us and crushed my father was shown such love by dad and his family. It became more and more clear which side of the family I wanted to identify with.
As you can imagine, much of my mother’s family is not too pleased with me being childfree, although I have been able to deflect much of the judgment by saying that I might adopt someday. Of course, this means that at every family event, my aunt wants to know the status of the adoption. And at every event, I am surrounded by obsessed aunts and cousins doting on all of the babies. I know they all think I’m a bit of a freak.
So when I went to a gathering of my dad's side of the family last weekend, and I knew that my cousin's new baby would be there, I felt a little trepidation. Would someone ask me to hold the baby? Would the baby be the focus of the entire get-together? Would someone suggest that I would/should be "next"? I kept reminding myself that dad's family is not like that. They are accepting, non-judgmental, and rational (doctors, mathematicians, architects, computer programmers, etc.). But I was still nervous.
After I arrived, I realized that none of the other cousins there would be bringing children. One cousin is 35, unmarried, and has no kids. My sister is in a similar situation. A younger cousin is still in high school. Most of the other cousins (who were unable to attend) do not have children. A few of our oldest cousins have children who are now ‘tweens and teens. Ok, so I don’t stand out so much.
At one point in a conversation, my husband said something about us being "done" having children after zero kids. It's no secret, but I sank a little as I held my breath for the fallout. NO ONE in the room even batted an eye. The conversation just carried on as if he had said the most normal thing in the world.
When the baby arrived, of course his grandma wanted to spend a lot of time with her first grandchild. There was a very small amount of baby conversation, but most people just went on about their business. For most of the time, the baby was quiet and in a separate room from everyone as a few people took turns holding him. We cousins (including the baby's mom) had a chance to catch up, and I was pleased to see that the mom did not appear to have placenta brain. Instead, she wanted to talk about things like triathlon training.
So, I am once again grateful to have been surrounded by intelligent, educated, and informed people who are kind and accepting of people for who they are. This is what a Christian family should look like.