FIRST PERSON | My stock answer, when ungraciously asked, "Why don't you have any children?" has always been, "Because I didn't want to subject my kids to being the 'ugly cousins.'"
Anyone who has ever met my sister's golden family readily accepts this excuse. Her six children are flawless: flowing blond hair, straight-A students, competitive athletes. They don't smoke, drink, swear or fool around. They don't even get zits. The chances of my reproducing in similar, impeccable fashion are practically nil. Why set up my own children to suffer from the inevitable inferiority complex?
Of course the real reason is far more profound. I chose not to have children by not making enough of an effort to start a family. As with so many women of my generation, the ideal time for parenthood simply slipped away while I was busy filling my life with other things.
Now I'm in my early 50's and living in Los Angeles, where it's possible to feel forever young and energetic. I have an adoring husband and an enviable career as a lifestyle and entertainment journalist. I've traveled the world, purchased my own homes, written several books and interviewed hundreds of A-list celebrities. Granted, I've never made it to editor-in-chief of a major publication, but that was never the goal.
The "goal" was to do gratifying work that would enlighten, inspire and entertain, and to create an enlightening, inspiring and entertaining family.
You might think I was too busy having fun to focus on having children. But not so, my friends. If anything, I was too busy trying to find the perfect father for those kids.
You see, I'm of the old-fashioned belief that first you find your soul mate, and then you create a family together out of love and commitment. Bringing children into the world without having a loving spouse to help support and nurture them was just not something I cared to do.
I admit that I might have been a little picky. I dated hundreds of great guys who would have been fabulous dads, and the marriage proposals they offered number in the double digits. But I just couldn't shake the feeling that they would make better husbands for someone else.
Yes, there were deep-seeded emotional issues of trust, worthiness and commitment, and unfortunately, I didn't pay much attention to them until I reached my forties. I so regret not sorting them out earlier.
But I can't regret where I've landed today. I finally met the love of my life at forty six. He was fifty seven and had already had children. By the time we got married, the baby train had left the station.
I content myself with being the "cool" aunt who takes her nieces and nephews to movie premiers, fancy restaurants and on trips to the beach and the Big City. My neighbors, my sister, and now my sister's children, liberally and gratefully share their offspring with me. I'm also the best dog mom ever, shamelessly spoiling my Golden Doodle KC.
But there's still a part of me that will always wonder about what kind of people I could have procreated and raised. I like to think that even if they were "The Ugly Cousins," they would have appreciated and embraced enlightenment, inspiration and entertainment, and that would have been enough. Would they have made an invaluable contribution to mankind? I guess I'll never know.