Times are hard. But I don't have to tell you that. Just like I don't have to tell you that life was hard before the pandemic. But now things are even harder. In unpredictable ways.
It reminds me of a very unexpected thing a co-worker told me a couple of years ago.
I'd been working at my first hospital for a couple of months and noticed this one woman hadn't mentioned any kids. I don't usually ask people if they have kids. If they have them, they eventually come up in conversation. But she hadn't mentioned anyone except her husband, so I decided to just ask her. What she voluntarily told me took me by surprise. I'd never heard anyone before or since say anything like it.
Me: Do you have any kids?
Her: No. I mean... We wanted to, but my husband and I decided not to. We don't think it's fair to bring a child into this world. We don't know what the future looks like with gun violence and climate change and everything.
I was shocked. She didn't know anything about me or my perspectives and she just fearlessly and shamelessly told me how she decided not to have children. I wasn't expecting her to say something so stark and realistic, especially so casually at work.
And this conversation happened before the pandemic! I have thought about it often ever since.
It's not like I had a choice about not having children. And it's not like parents got a choice about the pandemic. We are all just living through these hard times, some of us while parenting and some of us while grieving and healing from the lack thereof.
But I often think about that co-worker and the reasoning that informed her difficult decision.