It was early in the morning on a national holiday. I was walking to our gym when I passed one of our neighbors as she loaded kids and gear into a minivan.
“Off to the gym?” she asked, grunting as she hoisted a toddler into his car seat.
“I would give anything to trade places with you.”
For a split second I paused, then replied with the only response that seemed appropriate. “I’m sorry.”
As I continued down the street, it dawned on me that for the first time in years I wasn’t feeling (a) judgmental (she was, after all, dissing her kids) or (b) wistful. So often in the past I would have thought how I would have traded anything to have precious kids of my own, but now, not so much. I was pretty happy with the prospect of spending my holiday taking care of myself, maybe even reading a book or taking a nap instead of having to read a book to someone else hoping he would settle down for a nap. I didn’t feel sorry for or envious of my neighbor, and I didn’t want to trade my grass for her grass. The grass was perfectly green on my side of the street.
Me thinks the healing process has begun.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with being childfree.