Holding the baby Lilley, of course. She'll do for me...
Do we count? Those of us who are childless, choice or otherwise, do we count'?
"I/we couldn't have any. It didn't happen. We were declared infertile." Embarrassment all round. Move on…
We won't move on. Let's talk about this.
Nowadays, as one ages, no one actually asks if you have any grandkids or kids. I no longer get asked. Is that weird? If no one asks you feel the need to volunteer this information because you are inundated with minute by minute acounts of the grandkids and you want to level up.
We naturally join in grief for women who have had miscarraiges or whose child has died through ill health or other reasons. It goes without saying. One can't begin to imagine the agony of such tragedies.
But, I reckon some of we childless will be waiting a long time for any similar support or sympathy. A nod to it, perhaps. Even a little bit of - revulsion - at the thought? I've seen it sometimes after the following:
We were declared infertile." Embarrassment all round. Move on…
So, is being granny more desirable than becoming mummy? Because becoming granny is the end of the rainbow, apparently.
My baby. Yes, a hairy, little screwball called Lilley. Of course I love her...
But can you imagine what it might be like for those of us who are ageing without children? Properly ageing. Wanted a child, wanted a grandchild.
I feel I may be shouting above the noise of the childfree. Listen - you are not me and many others like me. We wanted all of the above so shut up.
I've never felt like this, you know? Having partied my way through all of my childlessness in a cloud of social degeneracy which naturally faded with age (damn age) it wasn't 'til my mid/late 60s I really began to feel the emptiness of childlessness. No grandchild. The bleakness of facing the end of my days without knowing the love of having grandchildren. I'll admit to it. Not fair, is it? But being childless is all about being resolute so push on.
What I feel now is the great loss of holding a baby in my arms. I'll never do that again. With no siblings it's unlikely to happen. If you are a gran can you imagine how that might feel? Hold that little hand and trot along for a walk to the park, buy an icecream, feed the ducks. Never happen for me and many like me - not now.
And, by the way, stop with the weird. Why shouldn't we childless have our sweet dream of 'walk with our grandchild' innocence? A sweet and fragrant 'gran and small tot' walk to the park. A play with Lilley. It'll never happen. Why is the longing to be a gran 'just for one day' (I'm quoting Bowie for the plebs amongst you) considered some sort of paedo longing? Quit with the paedo nonsense. You don't have kids so you must be
depraved? (Yes, I have heard this said). I, and so many others, will go to the end of our lives without any baby or youngster in it. For those of you who are lucky enough to not have to say those words spare a thought for we childless.
(To explain the issues of understandable safeguarding it appears we can't even apply for our own enhanced DBS clearance forms. So, up to a point, we're scuppered unless an authority/organisation applies. I have one of these forms from a volunteering role, but it is a year old and these forms go out of date, apparently. I mean, at 70 plus years of age and with an exemplory criminal record so far as that is what it says for any doubters amongst you, one will suddenly go off the criminal rails and appear on the 'most wanted' Crimewatch series won't one?).
Sorry, shakes head. Back in the room…
So what is to be done?
I figure I'll end up (what am I talking about - end up? Too late) an isolated childless person who struggles to tolerate any more offspring discourse. And it will be because of self protection as I bite back against all of the above reasons. It'll be bitterness, I expect. I wanted what todays grannies have. Didn't you?
Maybe our voices are fueling the mums and grannys feeling of gold medal supremacy. It may appear as if we're almost drooling with envy. Being expectant shoves anyone up the ascendancy ladder. And I love children. They're funny, clever and, mostly, delightful.
Anyone remember those long ago days of my mumblings on the subject of communities?
MeandLil with the Family Williamson on Skegness beach. L-r Millie, mum Marie with Daisy dog and son Harry with Barney.
Here's the deal -
If you're childless you're childless, get over it, get your own kid. Response: me, head down, hands stuffed in pocket, Lilley trailing behind as we stumble blindly offstage.
Granny v not-granny
It's a subconscious oneupmanship. If I'm being really honest when it comes to my turn to announce 'I don't have any children' there's this feeling of 'tell 'em we couldn't have any'. I mean - why - do I feel the need to say? Then comes the shock before - nothing. Move on. I might get a 'that's sad'.
It is a hidden topic. No matter how many people are talking about it on twitter, Facebook et al (and I'm one of 'em) it is a hidden subject.
It doesn't help when celebs who can't have kids refuse to indulge in narrative on the theme.
I'm talking about the angle of being childless and I'm including those who made the choice. I can't keep upholding the 'difference' words. We don't have kids we're childless. The end result. Ageing and childless. We're all one then, aren't we?
My God it's hard. For those non - grannys who are whooping and hollering as they queue for their coach trips and gardening clubs, you know it's hard.
I've never felt so 'othered' than I do now. As I've aged. Different.
It's probably the moment to announce I've always felt eccentrically different.
Why? How the hell do I know? Ask the 'normal' people. Good to know 'normal' people are still judge and jury is it not? God forbid the eccentrics take over the gardening club.
Magical, mystery day at St Botolph's Church, Saltfleetby, Lincolnshire. Reputedly one of the most haunted church's in the land. It was stupendously beautiful, I'll tell you that.
Anyway, I digress…
'Othered' is a word and I love it. Because being childless is being an 'other'. But we're still sitting home alone. We're still being ignored by NHS and social care, neighbourhood police (or whatever they're called). But we are alone. So often without any family member at all. We're alone. Maybe Channel 4 could do a new series - Living Alone Without A Soul in the World to Care or Look After You Because You Are Childless - Life Swap. Rather a long convuluted title but I expect someone in comms could dilute it.
And, of course, it's due to us the family line will close. That's a sobering one isn't it? The end of the family line. To be honest I don't care. Mainly because I am nobody. I don't have an ego problem that tells me I must continue the well known and famous Curtis of Leicester bloodline. How will the world cope without us in it? Grow up those of you fretting about the family ending with you. I'm taking a punt the world will get over it. Let's put it this way - there's some families I could mention whereby the world will breathe a sigh of relief. But I guess it's a good argument if you care enough or have interesting dead relatives.
Anyway, back to the main theme - we are alone. We are not grannies. We're invisible, ignored.
During the height of covid I was frightened. I'm never frightened, me. But I was then. I had to officially shield and I had no one. No one cared.
It's not much change now, if I'm honest.
I ask myself what it is I want. And I will answer spontaneously with 'acknowledgement, awareness of my familial state, a reaching out, comfort'.
Because the natalists get the attention. Shared converse. What can you say to an alone, elderly, childless person?
This may be shocking but I really do feel 'in the way' now I'm elderly and alone. Perhaps if they could shoot people like me it'd sort the problem. What to do with us, what to say to us.
We're not a granny.
We're not a granny. I would have made a good granny, I reckon. Lilly takes her hairy place...
I have never heard so much conversation whereby natalism dominates in some form or other, than I do nowadays. So I can't get in.
But listen - I must smile, nod, agree with the familial chat. I mustn't fall back and get left out of the loop.
When friends cleared off to be closer to the grandchildren I was left. I had to make new contacts. Because there's nothing in common anymore, you know? Which is why I started the AWOC group and we're small but beautifully formed. Now we have the AwocLincs Facebok page. A big plug but please go look and like or follow.
So whilst ensconced with my family and new grandchild would I have thought about my close mate who was sitting at home alone without any relatives? Well, I like to believe I would. Being honest - I don't know.
But, listen to me (does anyone listen to me?) for the sake of humanity and all of its implications on you, your kids, your grandkids - listen to me. Reach out. Not just to the refugees but to your neighbour. Whatever age, colour, creed, sexual orientation - who the hell cares? If they are alone they may not be alright. And they may like to feel someone cares - a little bit.
Justmeandlilley on Skegness beach. This really does sum us up. Alone again...