We’re gettin’ serious today.
The older I get, the more I get confused as to why my biological clock isn’t yearning to procreate. After all, the boyfriend and I are in a stable relationship (stability is relative after 10 years). We’re far from rich but people raise children on far less; my mother did without taking any help (except child support, that’s a given). We’re not married, not because either of us are afraid of commitment (I think 10 years kinda proves that) but a) because neither of us are religious, therefore there’s no “living in sin” or any of that business, b) it’s cheaper to break up than get divorced and besides, it’s pretty clear that neither of us are going anywhere (right, honey?) and c) I adore being the center of attention so in light of A and B, the most fun part of getting married would be to have a wedding for ME, with a fancy dress and all sorts of selfish things, all of which are expensive, and I refuse to go into debt in order to do something that’s completely unnecessary.
But I don’t seem to want children. My best friend has a beautiful (not so little anymore, she’s almost taller than her mom now) girl, she was young and it was unexpected but from the moment she gave birth, she became this amazing mom whose world revolved around her baby. I’ve known her forever, so when I went to visit her and her newborn in the hospital for the first time, I saw the transformation. While I was awed that she made that little baby, I felt nothing more than aunty pride and love for my friend and her new addition. I don’t see babies and start cooing. In fact, I don’t even know how to treat babies, and for that matter, children. Do you talk to them like adults? Do you baby talk? Do you ignore them when they’re running underfoot? Do you pay attention to every single word they say? (If you’ve been around kids, you’ll know about that age when they never stop talking and asking questions regardless of anyone paying attention to them).
But cats. I see cats and I want to take them home with me. Cats I connect with.
I constantly wonder if I’m making a mistake. If one day I’m going to regret not having children. I’m 31 now. I expected that when I got older, more WANT would kick in. It’s not. Frankly, the idea of pregnancy alone scares the shit out of me. Nine months without a beer, even on a really bad day. Morning sickness. People touching my belly without asking. Swollen feet. And BIRTH. Gah.
And when THAT unpleasantness is over, you’re suddenly responsible for a LIFE. And it’s not just the responsibility of keeping them alive, although that’s rather important. You have to decide how to raise them. Worry about how the decisions you make will form them. I’m incredibly happy with the way I turned out, and I thank my parents for that, but I also know there’s a large genetic component there, one that I can’t control. What if my kids are nerdy and unpopular? I wasn’t the most popular kid in school, and I had my fair share of bullying, which I think most people do, but it made me stronger and I learned how to stand up for myself. I learned how to find friends that were like me and not worry about being popular. What if my kid doesn’t flourish?
I read an article this week written by a woman who regretted having children. She was incredibly open about it and although at some points I felt she was a little too callous and seemed to have a bit of a superiority complex, it made me feel better. Having a child doesn’t come with a 30-day trial. If after 9 months, I find that my “mommy instinct” doesn’t kick in, what then? It seems to me like an awfully big gamble.
Cats I can do. Cats fit with my own selfishness. They’re there when I need them (and often when I don’t) but can take care of themselves, and can do so as soon as they’re weaned. They don’t have to wait for me to take them outside to poop. They’ll go when they please.
People don’t understand this. They tell me I should want kids. That cats aren’t a substitute. Well you know what? Fuck you. Humans aren’t all they’ve cracked up to be. And there’s plenty of us out there. Too many, in fact. Kids are cute. I like them. But I also like giving them back. I love my “me” time. Cats don’t take much effort. Some food, some love, some play, and I can go about my day. I feel rewarded.
Sometimes I wish I wanted kids so I wouldn’t have to wonder about my future regret. But I can’t justify “giving it a go” only to find our that I was right in my own self-realization all along. It’s a life we’re talking about. Who wants to grow up feeling unwanted?