Reprinted from February 1993
While vacationing one summer, RB and I looked up Marvelle and Roy, two old friends from the jewelry business. Roy and RB went to watch making school together.
It sure was good to see old Roy and Marv again after all these years.
Unfortunately for them, Roy and Marv were never blessed with children, and this made RB and me stop and think about the numerous pleasures of parenthood.
Marv and Roy reached middle age looking all the world like they were in their healthy and vigorous thirties. It must be embarrassing – no middle age spread, no grey hairs, no sagging muscles. Poor dears! I guess their condition is due to having so much time to spend on their own appearance.
Like I pointed out to RB, if Marv had a couple of teenage daughters to outfit, she wouldn’t spend the money on those outlandish fashions for herself. She must have bought them to compensate for not having a daughter to lavish clothes and attention on.
To think they were denied the joy of cleaning up pabulum after their little angel tossed his cereal bowl on the floor for the third time. They never knew the satisfaction of getting up at 3 a.m. for a feeding or to reset a vaporizer. I’ll bet they never even had a plumber at odd hours to fish for a diaper that accidentally got flushed. They’ve never known self-sacrificial fulfillment of canceling vacation plans because Junior caught the mumps or kissed his dad and passed them on. Poor old Marv, she never had the thrill of a midnight trip to the druggist for a bottle of paregoric.
RB was grateful for the patience and control our youngsters taught him. Marv and Roy never had to develop self-discipline. RB learned to control his temper the day our five year old got into his rare stamp collection and mailed letters for several blocks around the neighborhood.
I’m sure that cheerful smile on Marv’s face was pasted there, and she only pretended to be happy with her golf, painting, garden club and bridge instead of spending her afternoons in the doctor’s office with a little one. Her world was also terribly limited. Why, when I mentioned the word “orthodontist” she had no idea what I was talking about.
RB and I both noticed how sterile their home was – no nicked woodwork, no crayon marks on the walls or sidewalks, no fingerprints on the light switches. And their house was filled with shag rugs and velvet furniture – the kind that’s real hard to clean. I don’t guess that mattered anyhow because of the live in maid. It must have been terribly hard on Marv, letting someone else do her housework while she worked in the store. If it weren’t for dining out or going dancing or bowling, I don’t know what they would do with their time.
My heart bleeds for Marv. Think of having no moments to cherish and paste in a baby book – locks of hair, the birth announcement, cards and notes with childish scrawls, threatening letters from the school principal…. Oh, the excitement! Marv and Roy missed having to call the police to track down a runaway child and all those sympathetic glances from the neighbors and comforting remarks from the relatives.
And what was there to fight about, anyway? Without any offspring with obnoxious habits, it must have been difficult to find topics for conversation. How dull having to criticize each other instead of some family ancestor for each child’s idiosyncrasy.
Dinner would have been terribly boring without stimulating conversations between teenagers and their father. RB and I both noticed how obsolete Marv’s and Roy’s vocabularies were. With all the new words like “pot,” “speed,” “high” and the like added to the English language, it is beneficial to have youngsters around to broaden one’s education.
Come to think about it, it must have been totally unchallenging for Marv to be able to use the phone any time of day or night without finding a teenager on an extension.
Seeing them basking in the sun beside their new swimming pool and driving two new cars really filled us with pity. To think they were being forced to buy all those things because they had no children in college. How sad!
They even had a limited circle of friends and acquaintances. Our children have been responsible for bringing so many interesting people into our lives – why, the probation officer has become one of our closest friends.
We cherish the many memories of our children that have been denied to Roy and Marv. I remember how proud I was when the scoutmaster informed us that both boys soaked their bedrolls on their overnight campout. And how clever I thought our youngest son was the day he put a dead goldfish in the punch bowl when I was entertaining the Ladies Services Society. And we’ll never forget when our youngest daughter ran off with an 18 year old unemployed guitar player three days before her scheduled formal wedding to a doctor’s son.
Poor Marv and Roy! Life must have been very vacant, dull and colorless for them. Some folks have all the happiness and blessings in life and others have none, it seems.
I wonder why RB and I were so lucky?