Despite the fact that Becca Rothschild—even when she was a teenager—"desperately" wanted to be a mother someday, she's somehow made it to nearly 50—the end of her fertile years—with no kids and a sense of peace. "I like my life without children now—so much that I’m not even fazed anymore when heads tilt sympathetically at class reunions," she writes in the Washington Post. A big part of the reason: She never met anyone with whom she wanted to raise a family, and then, when she was 40, she moved back in with her parents and took care of them in their last years. "My need to parent was surely filled in caring for [dad] and for mom."
She remembers the "intimate, emotional, mutually nurturing moments" she had with her mom, when she was able to comfort her the way she had once been comforted by her. She remembers her father "hat[ing] the dinner I’d spent hours preparing in hopes that he would eat something," but also laughing raucously with her or staring wondrously at the sunshine. Even saying goodbye felt somewhat like sending a beloved child off into the world, albeit permanent. "I never experienced such pure love as I did while taking care of my mother and father," she writes. Now that they're gone (and she has a dog to take care of), "I have a life that I love, plenty to give when friends or family are in need...My ache is gone because I’ve learned there are many ways to nurture." Her full column is worth a read. (Read more parenting stories.)