One of the best things about not having children of my own is the time I get to spend with other children in my life. Without the constant pull of parenting duties, I can take time to talk to my niece about some of the numerous issues that go along with being a teenager. When she “Facebooks” me with a problem, she becomes my number one priority and I can take the time to help her through it. When a friend’s daughter asks if I will write a story for her, or another niece asks if I’ll knit a sweater for her new teddy bear, or a nephew asks if I’ll take him—just him–out for a walk, I can tell them that I will, without having to consider if I’m neglecting my own children.
These relationships are a gift I find I’m glad to accept—an opportunity to form bonds that I wouldn’t have had if I’d had kids of my own. I know they’re not the same as a mother-child bond, but for those children in my life, I also know that our relationship is special and valuable to them in a different way. It’s a voluntary relationship, one entered into freely, and something a mother-child is not. Mothers and children don’t get to choose one another and if they don’t get along, they’re stuck. I get to choose the relationships I form with other children and they get to choose to have me in their lives, too. It’s a beautiful and fortunate thing.