Last week I gave myself permission to cry for the children I'll never have.

Let me explain a bit: Obviously I didn't reproduce. It wasn't a Zero Population Growth decision, even though I sometimes say it was because that's an easy answer, one that curious friends and relatives can understand. Instead, it was more of a non-decision. Mostly, I just never wanted to, never felt the kind of overwhelming longing my friends talk about. In fact, I always thought children and babies were boring. My mom recently told me that I announced when I was in grade school that I was never going to be a mommy, a confession I don't remember making.

So why the tears? I was on a long car trip, staring out the window at the corn fields of Iowa, and I thought about what it would be like to have kids, and if I'd love the little buggers a lot, and if I'd love my husband even more than I do now because of what we created together. And I can't deny it: I got all choked up. I tried to repress the tears, because it's too late now and I'm tough. But then I thought: Why hold back? Why not mourn a little? What's the harm? It doesn't mean I made a mistake. It's like thinking about any path you might have taken in life but didn't: What if I'd never broken up with Billy? What if I didn't move? Would my life be better? More fulfilling?

Of course, once I gave myself permission, the tears didn't spill. The moment passed, I turned from the window, fiddled with the radio and thought about lunch.

But who knows? Now that I can, maybe one day I'll have that cry. For now, I'd like to say good-bye to my never-conceived offspring, a fond farewell to the phantom fruit of my loins.

And that reminds me of this hilarious song!

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