Friday, 11 May 2012

Baby, Baby, Baby

Earlier in the week, a friend posted a brilliantly thought out and executed Jezebel article about childless women in their 30s and 40s. It was fascinating to me because I'm now in my 30s and definitely see the "now or never" age sort of looming in front of me, and I'm not sure what to make of it.

I've never felt a desire to have children, nor any motherly instincts. In fact, honestly, I think babies are mostly disgusting and not that cute. As a child, people tried to force baby dolls on me, but they'd be pristine in the package while I dug around in the dirt in the backyard or played with my My Little Ponies and Pound Puppies. As an adult, people always want you to hold their babies. Instead of feeling all motherly and kitchy-koo, my stomach clenches. Also, how am I not supposed to drop it? The things even lubricate themselves in a mixture of saliva, mucous and vomit, then, when you try to hold them, they wriggle and squall in your face. Yeah, babies are "SO appealing." Still, every mother tries to shove her baby in your arms. Maybe she's thinking, "Here, you kill it; I don't have the heart to."

At any rate, I thought that, by now, some kind of maternal instinct would have kicked in if it was going to do so. I mean, if kids came at least partially formed and potty trained (say, age 2-3 and up), I'd definitely be warmer to the idea of having one. It's the gross baby thing I really can't get over. It's so bad that, when I hear the word, "pregnant," I automatically think, "Ewww."

Pretty soon, as it says in the article, my window for even considering the idea will close. I mean, 10-15 years isn't really a long time in the grand scheme of things. And, if I want to further my career, a kid is pretty much a nail in that coffin. Not that careers can't be made with children, but it takes a lot of outside help and sacrifice to move things along. Still, there's that part of me that thinks, once the window closes, am I going to regret it?

There are moments I remember, that play back like home movies inside my head, of my mother reading to me when I was little, of her doing the voices of all of the characters in the story, or of walking in a wooded park and imagining together that it was some kind of magical faraway place, with fairies and unicorns, or Jim Henson characters. Nothing can replace those moments in my head. They are special treasures for me that, somehow, I'd want to pass on.

And when your old and alone in the nursing home, what then? Everyone else's kids would come to visit and I might watch then and sit there, thinking, "I missed out on all of this love because I was too selfish or too sicked out to have children?"

I guess every decision in life comes with consequences. But what most people don't realize is that indecision does too.


Missy Y. (formerly A Case of You) said...

I know, dude. I am hearing the tick-tick-tick, too. But I think... I don't know, man. We build the life we want, and it is a shitload more selfish to have a baby so we won't be alone in our old age. It is also more selfish to have kids you don't want. Kids need more than most people consider. We are brave for not having kids.

Solange Deschatres said...

Well said! I totally agree. People always give that, "Who's going to take care of you in your old age?" speech when I tell them I'm probably not going to have children. That's disgusting. What, are we supposed to birth our own personal caregivers? My hope is that, in focusing on a career, I'll have enough money in my old age to pay someone to wipe my drool and read me the paper. Either way, that's a horrible justification for having kids.

Ellen said...

Wow...there's a lot there...hmmm. I don't think any decent human being wants to have kids so that they can take care of them in their old age. If anything, one doesn't want to burden the ones they love with their care.

There IS something to be said, however, for creating and enjoying the family that you either did or didn't have, and trying to create the best and most intimate social group you can imagine and enjoying that experience which is, although fleeting, one that can be very rich.

Yes, there are challenges, and if you don't want to be pressed into growth like a grape into juice, then you'll never know what kind of wine you can become, because that is what it takes to be a parent. It takes all of your energy...every bit, and people who pretend otherwise are fooling themselves.

Careers are great and if that's your passion, then so be it. Nobody should be forced to have children out of some sort of societal pressure. I will say, however, that you never know how rewarding the parenting challenge can be until you try it. No marathon, no zip line, nor any other physical challenge can prepare a person for the rewards and frustrations of climbing the parenting mountain, but once you do the exhilaration of knowing that somebody has a life complete with dreams and hopes because you gave them that gift is an incredible honor.

Your reward for all this effort can be what the legend calls the Valley of Shangri-La, if you so choose. In Shangri-La, no one ages, no one suffers and a type of amnesia renders everyone completely satisfied. In hindsight, the memories of family are a bit like this, and when you're too old to take care of yourself those memories can sustain you.