Thursday, March 19, 2015
I can see that you don't have children
I heard this comment on a galla business dinner a week ago and it just hasn't left my mind ever since.
I was invited to a nice dinner. There were 200 guests, I was alone and I didn't know anybody. There were 20 round tables for 10 guests, I choose to sit with an older man who looked like kind Santa Claus, the rest of the chairs were still empty.
There were only adults invited, except two VIP guests who came to dinner with their families. One of the families (with two boys aged 8 and 10) choose to join our table.
One thing that I learned already years ago is that Italian parents will just love you if you do an effort to talk to their children in English. So I pretended that I almost don't speak Italian, so our table became an English speaking table. Both kids were adorable. And during the dinner the father of the family thanked me few times saying: "I am so grateful. This is the first time in life that I hear my sons talk in English."
The boys were really nice. So it was easy to chat with them. It felt good, being able to connect with two children, enjoying delicious Italian food and having cosy evening 700 kilometers away from home.
In the middle of the evening came as striking the horrible question, from the older man: "Do you have children?"
I replied: "No. Do you have any?"
He did not reply to my question, he said: "Yes, I could notice that you don't have children."
I was so surprised and hurt and angry by this comment. Since I have always been so sure that I am great with kids. Everybody around me has always been telling me so. And I really believe it. I really didn't understand what he meant by this comment. So I asked: "What do you mean?"
He replied: "I can see in your eyes, how you watch the boys. You watch them with longing in your eyes."
I remained speechless. So I just remained quiet. There was absolutely nothing I could say.
He sensed that he caused pain, so he started to talk about himself. He said: "I don't really regret never finding the love of my life and always being alone. But what haunts me is the fact that I am childless."
Later on he told me that he has a cancer, the treatment wasn't completely sucessful so there aren't that many years in front of him.
After the first dinner we spent another two days together, in a way I become friends with this older man. I guess we really liked each other.
But somehow the remarks from the first dinner just stayed. I felt so sorry for him, that he is very ill and that he regrets not having children, even that late in life. I felt sorry for me. Will I feel also regret never having children, even in the last years of my life?
PS: in the photo: Portofino, a beautiful Ligurian little town