It's often asked of childfree couples what we might do when we're older. What about grandchildren? Won't we be lonely? Who will care for us?
Set aside the fact that having children is absolutely no guarantee of future care. My friend's father (rest his soul) was abandoned by all his children but her and her husband, who took him in when he was too ill, and provided him home hospice care when their family, with meager means, could not afford a dignified nursing home. She and her husband lived in misery for her father, sacrificing much of their first year of marriage, caring for him. They wanted to do this, but the lack of caring from her other siblings was constant and palpable. Her father was miserable and knew that only his eldest daughter gave a damn about what happened to him when he became incapacitated.
Many aren't even fortunate enough to have one of their many children care for them.
My husband and I, on the other hand, will have a long-term care plan to guarantee us care when there's no one else to do that. The money we save by not having children will go to our retirement and future healthcare arrangements. We will have this luxury.
Aside from care, there was the question of loneliness. This was answered for us at Dragon*Con, a science fiction convention in Atlanta that we were fortunate enough to attend this past weekend. Throughout the *Con, we saw this adorable little costumed couple -- at least in their 60s, sometimes in full Jedi regalia, other times as elaborate wizards -- having a blast. Their love for each other could be felt a mile away and they were so clearly having a blast, talking to other *Con-goers, smiling with each other, posing gleefully for photos. My husband and I mused that we would be that couple in 30 years.
The best part? A dear friend, upon seeing the couple for the first time near the end of the *Con, turned to me and said "that is SO going to be you and A in 30 years".
I don't believe children keep one young. I believe the responsibility for that lies i oneself. In many, I daresay most cases, children make one exhausted, bitter, grumpy and haggard. They turn loving couples against each other, unable to appreciate each other after years of putting the children ahead of their relationships. It makes me sad.
I wish I'd approached the little wizard couple at Dragon*Con. My instinct was that they were childfree, but who knows. In my fantasy, they are, kept young because they never decided to grow up. That's the beauty of remaining childfree -- you never have to grow up. You pay your bills, manage your investments, buy your houses and cars, but there's also no reason you can't have ice cream for breakfast, stay in Saturday morning and watch cartoons while snuggling on the sofa, decide on a whim to go on a roadtrip, or maybe just to the mall.
Sure, you can do this with kids if you put your mind to it. It's just not as fun because whenever you're with kids, you still have to be The Grown-Up. I never want to be in a situation where I have to be The Grown-Up for more than a day or so at a time.