Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Silver Linings November 26, 2012

Mr. Fab and I recently visited the San Diego Zoo. It used to be one of our favorite weekend getaways, so I was shocked when I checked my old photos and realized we hadn’t been in almost four years.

It’s not really surprising that we’ve stayed away. Taking children to the zoo is one of those things that epitomized the joy of parenthood for me. I loved the idea of taking a child to see the animals and sharing his joy and wonder at seeing a giraffe or an elephant up close and in the flesh. I knew I wouldn’t be one of those tap-on-the-glass “look at the cute monkey” parents either. I’d be the kind of parent who took the opportunity to teach understanding and respect for animals, while still having a good time chowing on popcorn and riding the Skyfari.

Four years after our last visit, one such parent caused me a momentary pang of sadness. At the bonobo exhibit, I thought: That could have been me teaching my little boy the difference between monkeys and apes. I would have been a good parent. But it was a fleeting thought and it didn’t ruin our visit.

Around 11:00 Mr. Fab and I sat in the shade of an umbrella by the panda exhibit, sipping tea, munching popcorn, and watching the masses swarm by. We weren’t the only childfree couple at the zoo that day, but we were certainly the minority. There were families everywhere. There were parents carrying, pushing, and feeding their children. They were soothing, admonishing, bargaining with, and yelling at. There were tears and tantrums, demands to stay, and demands to leave. Yes, there were smiles and giggles, too, but I realized that my “taking my children to the zoo” fantasy hadn’t included very much of the parenting reality.

From beneath the cool shade of our umbrella, it seemed that Mr. Fab and I were having a much better day than many of the parents and I was reminded again that even the dark, dark cloud of infertility and unplanned childlessness can have some very pleasant silver linings.

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7 Responses to “Silver Linings”

  1. Robin Says:

    Love this post. Just a few days ago I wrote a post about how this time of year drives me crazy because parents with kids are everywhere and it seems around the holidays everything is geared toward them. I didn’t feel like I could go anywhere without being swarmed by children. Thank you for reminding me that even if there are children everywhere we go, couples without children can also have fun partaking in these activities. Now I need to work on mustering up the courage to go out there… When was the last time I’ve been to a zoo? Hm…

  2. Maria Says:

    Interesting timing. I felt the same way this weekend when I was out shopping with my sister and her son who is a very difficult person with serious behavioral problems. It was a real slap of reality about parenting and I felt incredible sympathy for her and what she has to go through on a daily basis. I also very incredibly lucky to have my life and have to admit I would prefer no children at all than to have to deal with a child like that for the rest of my life.

    • gaylenegrossen Says:

      Absolutely. I have lots of cute and respectful kids on my bus, but there are always one or three who make me glad I’m not their parent.

  3. gaylenegrossen Says:

    Great post!

  4. IrisD Says:

    Feel the same way about Disney World. I think it can be really exhausting with little kids. Never go in the summer. School is out, there are loooooong lines, it is incredibly hot. Little kids get really tired, sleepy, impatient. I’ve yet to develop a hangup about going to places that are typically “family (i.e. mom, dad and little kids) oriented”. I’ve got other hangup which I’ll whine about Wednesday.

  5. Jenn Says:

    I love the San Diego Zoo and had an amazing time when I was there this summer and plan to go back next summer. But I did have a few moments of sadness seeing all the parents and kids.

  6. Klara Says:

    I love going to ZOOs…. but we always go only when travelling.
    Our ZOO is too small and I just could not handle meeting people I know with babies.

    The last ZOO we visited was in Singapore, this spring. It is a good ZOO, but they do not provide enough space for large cats. It was depressing to see how miserable tigers are.


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