I’m really happy with my life as a family of two: there’s no void to be filled, nothing is required to make it more “complete”. I appreciate that we are probably closer because we don’t have small children, and the peace and quiet is nice: there are no tumbleweeds blowing through our home.
As ever, the only things that occasionally give me the heebie-jeebies are comments that parents make. It seems that every time you read an article about someone’s partner dying, or an individual going through some kind of catastrophe, you will inevitably arrive at a variation of the fatal line “if it wasn’t for my children I wouldn’t be here today”.
Now Carol Vorderman has opened up about her terrible menopausal depression, and here is the headline:
“Star reveals her children saved her when she ‘couldn’t see the point of life'”
The main quote in the interview is this:
The only reason I didn’t do anything is because I have two children.
What she’s saying, in her mincey way, is that she would have tried to commit suicide if she didn’t have kids.
I hate reading these statements. They make me feel as if I’d have absolutely nothing to live for if I were in the same boat, or if my partner died.
But reality tells a different story, of course. Most non-parents find the resilience and the resources to keep going when their partners die or when depression hits – and so would these parents if they had never had their children. Children can force you to be strong in the worst phase of grief, but it’s horrible to think that there’s no hope if you don’t have them.
The pseudonymous widower Adam Golightly in his recent Guardian piece How to Survive the Death of a Loved One says:
If you are lucky enough to have children, they will pull you along in the early days.
I love his columns but the wording here slapped me in the face. (Are we The Unlucky, then?)
So is it that much worse for people without children to lose a partner? It seems to me that you rarely hear from them, just as you rarely hear from parents who’ve lost their only child. Or people who’ve been through infertility and ended up without kids. I’m not sure why.
But if you read most of the interviews with widowed parents out there or listened to the likes of Carol Vorderman, you’d be forgiven for thinking all the depressed and grieving non-parents had killed themselves.
I know it’s probably just a thing that parents come out with because they genuinely feel that it’s true, but honestly, I wish I could unread the many times I’ve read it: it gives me the cold sweats.
Am I the only one?