At the beginning of the question-answer session for Dot, after all the questions are posted on a whiteboard and read aloud at once, she says: “I’m about to cry, thinking about it. It didn’t feel that emotional, one-on-one.”
Here are the questions the group asked Dot, and what they heard her say:
Q. (From Martha) Who will take care of you in your old age, and do you talk about that (with your husband)?
A. She doesn’t know who will take care of them, says Martha, adding, “I thought, well, she’s honest. But they talk about it. Hopefully some of her nieces and nephews will see the need, if there is one.”
Q. (From Mim) Is it painful, never being a mother?
A. The childless couple goes through stages: I’m not going to be a grandmother. Who’s going to take care of me? Mim says, “Dot and I have gone through some of the same stages.”
Q. (From Sabrina) Do you regret the decision not to adopt?
A. When Dot’s siblings had kids and she didn’t, says Sabrina, she felt it. Then there was a small gap when her siblings were empty nesters and they connected with each other more. Of course, grandchildren followed that.
Lynette points out that it’s like that in the church, too, and not just with siblings.
Mim says Dot doesn’t regret the decisions they made, but they’ve had to deal with the consequences of that decision.
Q. (From Carla) Did you grieve the dream of having children and does it affect your marriage?
A. Since Dot and her husband had talked about this before they were married (what they might do if they couldn’t have children), they had already let it go once. So no, they were not broken by this.
Q. (From Elnora) Have you reached the point where you can say there are a few good things about not having children?
A. Yes, when she sees someone else’s pain when their child is having problems. She realizes she doesn’t have to deal with that or lose a child to death. And it’s easier to travel.
Dot speaks up, “I don’t want to be cavalier about that.”
Lynette asks Dot about holidays: what’s that like?
“That’s a stage thing, too. Early on, you always get together with your siblings and their children. All of a sudden, their children have their own families, and there are times when you do feel left out. But it’s okay. We don’t want to horn in on their Christmas.”
Q. (From Naomi) What do you feel when you see a mother and her children having fun?
A. Naomi reports, “‘She says to herself, that will never happen to me.’ I sense such acceptance,” says Naomi. “It made me feel good.”
Q. (From Louella) Does it hurt when we talk about our children and grandchildren?
A. Yes, it hurts, but she doesn’t want us to stop talking about it.
(Later, Dot answers the same question on video): “Yes, it does, but I really don’t want you to stop talking about that. I love to hear the joys and the sorrows of that, and I also want to give you the freedom, as you give me the freedom, so that I can share my joys with you. Because if you can’t share your joys with me, then I can’t share my joys with you.”
Readers, what would you like to ask Dot?