Thursday, June 14, 2012
I've been thinking about babies a lot lately. Not really baby fever, but more like the baby plague. For as long as I can remember I'd always wanted kids. I had this glamorous idea of motherhood in my head where I would dress them in fun and quirky clothes and we would dance around the kitchen to vintage Louis Armstrong records while baking cupcakes. There might even be a rainbow outside of the window, who knows. But the day my sisters started having kids was the day I stopped having this fantasy. See, I'm the youngest of four kids. I never really knew anyone significantly younger than me, let alone lived with them. I was never around babies. I didn't grasp the full reality of motherhood.
After my sister had her first baby, I started to see that there was no dancing around kitchens in matching aprons licking cake batter off of beaters. Instead, there was a lot of feeding and crying and changing diapers and crying and not sleeping and crying and I realized that I didn't want any part of this. Don't get me wrong, she was small and cute when she laid there quietly and while she slept, but other than that, I quickly realized I had no idea what to do with her. I had no maternal instinct whatsoever. It's easy to imagine that you're maternal when you're never around babies or kids, but as soon as you're around them, it's the most foreign concept you can think of. I started asking myself if this was something I actually wanted at some point in my life. Did I want to go through the sickness of pregnancy and the pain of labor to the sleepless nights of infancy and the chasing after toddlers to the defiance of teenagers? No, I didn't. I just wanted something that I could dress up and play with. Actually, that's a lie. Even playing with them would have taken up too much of my time. The more I thought about it the more unappealing the whole thing became to me.
I am a selfish person who can barely take care of myself, let alone be responsible and give my 100% undivided attention to someone else. I thrive on downtime. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or anxious I go to a quiet place and just lay there to calm myself down. You don't get to have a break like that with children. You don't get to do anything. And I wouldn't want my kids to see me laying in a fetal position dealing with a panic attack anyway. I wouldn't want to pass down any of my neurosis to my children. I don't want to know that I'm responsible for another human being having my shy, anti-social, hermit characteristics. So I decided that I would never have kids. There wasn't enough pros to outweigh the cons in my mind.
So I started to think: how important is having kids to people? I went on my Facebook and asked my guys friends: "Would a woman's inability to have children effect whether or not you married her?" I got answers like, "Not if I loved her" and "There's always adoption." Then I posed another question: "Would a woman's choice of not wanting to have kids effect whether or not you married her?" The response was an almost unanimous "Yes." Guys wouldn't mind marrying a woman who was unable to have kids as long as there was an possibility for adoption whereas most guys wouldn't marry a woman who didn't want to have kids at all. Though when I told this to my brother he responded, "You can't take what the same five guys that always comment on your posts have to say and think they're the general consensus." Which was true. Maybe I didn't poll enough men. But even just polling a handful of guys, it seemed like they were all on the same page. They all wanted kids. (Perhaps because they weren't the ones who had to push them out of their vagina.) They wanted kids so badly that they would not marry someone because of it. They would ultimately walk away from someone they love because of procreation.
People always tell me, "you might not want kids now, but when you find someone you love, you'll want to have kids with them." Maybe. Maybe that will happen, but that isn't a guarantee and therefor I can't assume that's going to happen. I can't even find a guy that I could see myself spending more than a week with let alone someone who I want to make another human being with. Why is having kids so important anyway? Why do people feel like kids are the only joy their life has? Is it possible to feel you have a fulfilled life without having kids? Of course you can. Look at Kristen Wiig, or Betty White, or Oprah, for goodness sakes. It is possible. I love what Margaret Cho says about not having kids, "I do not want children. When I see children, I feel nothing. I have no maternal instinct. I am barren. I ovulate sand ... I look at children and feel no pull toward them, no desire whatsoever." That is the point where I'm at right now. And maybe in ten years I'll look back on this post while cradling a baby or in between driving my kids to some organized sport and I'll be that person. But right now I'm pretty happy with the thought of not having any of that. So if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go selfishly read a book (with no pictures) in a quiet spot and have no obligation whatsoever to help anyone with a project due tomorrow.