January’s the month I do a lot of retrospective dwelling on my life, though as mentioned before this is in light of my birthday more than the new year. I take some time to think about my life and what I haven’t been doing with it. I say “haven’t” because I’ve spent a lot of time NOT doing. Every year I intend to change this and every year I don’t. This is the first year in recent memory, however, that I feel as though maybe I can this time around. This comic’s proven that I CAN just do something, and that I CAN stick with it. It’s a good feeling, and if I’m being half as sincere as I think I’m being this year should see more of this sort of thing happening.
In a little less than a week it will have been 33 years ago that my mother dropped spawn onto this Earth. And while I’m very glad she did, I must confess that Amu and I will likely not be doing the same. We’ve been together for more than 12 years, have been living together for 11 of those, and have been married for 3. The topic comes up from time to time and our opinions are always mutual. Neither of us really want kids. There’s nothing wrong with this.
We’ve been accused of being selfish, of not liking children, of being “strange,” and have been made to feel excluded from “normal” society. There’s this notion that people MUST have children, and that to not want one is some monstrously deviant thing. We suffer no small degree of ostracizing and riducule because we’ve chosen NOT to create a living thing we have to care for. There are a lot of reasons for this, most of them personal, that we’re under no obligation to explain to people. It’s just how it is, and instead of trying to accept this most people take a judgemental stance on how we’ve chosen to live our lives.
It’s a lot like when we tell people we don’t drink. Considerably more than half of the time we’re met with a response like, “You don’t drink? Well what do you do for fun?” Really? If drinking is the only thing you can do to have fun I feel very, very badly for you. If you’re at the same few bars 3-4 nights out of every week you don’t “have a life.” You’re BORING. It’s similar with children. “You don’t want kids? How can you ever expect to know what LIFE or LOVE is?” We’ve been met with this response, however approximated the phrasing is here. Really? When you’re not part of some “club,” people try very hard to make you feel like you’re not living. That you’re missing out on some critically important life experience. It’s a shame.
All this said, I have a some nieces and a nephew I absolutely adore, and I love spending time with them. Amu and I think children are fantastic, and we are fascinated by our time spent with them. Kids are great. We get that. The moments that parents have are unlike any in the world and some parents cherish these moments more than anything else. They feed off of their child’s happiness and curiosity. As a parent you get to experience the world as if it were new to you, one more time, through the eyes and mind of your children. To some parents this means everything in the world.
Unfortunately this isn’t every parent. I’ve known parents who resent their children for the life that was taken from them. A life they wanted but don’t feel they can have now. Some parents are spiteful towards their children, almost hating them at times for stealing a future they feel they deserved. But then this…”thing” came along and ruined everything. There are parens like this. I’ve met them. I know some. It happens all of the time. Why I bring this up is because you don’t always get to choose which one you’ll be.
Guilt and resentment lie deep within, and you can hide it and pretend, but it will always surface. It will always be in the back of your mind. Amu and I have a lot we want to do with our lives, and while I’d really like to believe we’d be the kind of parents to cherish a child like it was magical I have no idea how we’d actually feel. I don’t want to run the risk of spending my life wondering “what if we never had this kid” and subconsciously taking it out on them. This is where people cry “selfish.” But it isn’t about having future plans stolen, it’s about passive-aggressively treating a child in a manner that can have very serious implications in their mental and social development. If I feel this way right now I’m in no way ready to have children. If you disagree, I have no idea what to tell you.
Why bring this up, then? Because I think it’s worth talking about. I think there’s a lot of pressure put on people, specifically young couples, to have children. It’s unfair, it’s unnecessary, and it’s part of why there’s so much divorce and so many children who are abanded and given up for adoption. Not everyone is meant to have kids. I very seriously believe this. Forcing it only leads to unhappiness, guilt, and unwanted experiences. Anyone’s free to declare that they want children. Good. We need people like you. You are critical for the advancement of this planet and of our species. But never, EVER feel you NEED to have children to fit in or force upon yourself this ridiculous idea that you don’t know what love or living is until you’ve done so.
I’ve thought about this recently because this week a very dear friend of mine–a guy I’ve known almost my entire life–became a father. He’s one of my best friends and I’m thrilled for him to be experiencing this. I could not be happier for him, and I can’t wait to congratulate him in person and hold his little boy and bathe him and his wife in my glee for them. I can’t wait to do this because I know this man. I know what kind of person he is, and I’m willing to bet money what kind of parent he’ll be. I also can’t wait to torture him with noisy toys.