The subject of children has recently seeped into my consciousness, despite much effort on my part. I am of an age where my friends are starting families of their own or are thinking of having children, in fact several of my friends already have children.
I have never had any great (or teeny tiny for that matter) burning desire to have children, propagating the species has never been high up on my ‘to do’ list. I don’t think I am even vaguely maternal, paternal, possibly. I like children I understand why other people have them and all that jazz, but I think the key there might be ‘other people’.
My mother has been asking recently, whether or not I want children, she’s asked at least three times in two years, which for her is an unprecedented escalation in her questions, the last time this happened she asked me once a year, three years running if I was gay or not, it never occurred to me that she didn’t actually know. At the time I just laughed off her questions thinking she was being facetious. Oops.
To be honest I am uncertain as to the reasoning behind this line of questioning at this time, I don’t know whether she thinks that I would be a good parental unit and that is why she is asking… actually the answer to that is ‘yes’ she does think I’d make a good parental unit, I remain somewhat unconvinced however. The other option is wishful thinking on her part, whether or not all of this relates to reality or desire I am unsure. On the other hand, I’m not sure if she has asked my brother a similar question or not. I am beginning to get the impression that the family buck is stopping with us two. Gran has already (at the ripe old ages of 25 and 27) written us off in the grandkids producing department and seems to be placing her bets upon our 12 year old cousin. Nice to know that the faith has been lost in us to provide before we have even got around to thinking about it for ourselves let alone reached 30.
Now, maybe I should be a little clearer, having/wanting kids is by no means a ‘deal breaker’, me physically having them, that’s a deal breaker for sure, but I don’t mind if my prospective partner already has children, I don’t mind if they want them at some point in the future, or want to adopt or whatever. So, whilst as it stands at this moment in time I do not think that I want them, children are not a deal breaker.
There is so much to consider; would I be a good parent, why do I not want them, is that simply because I am single or is it a more long term answer or is it some form of fear or insecurity on my part?
I do like kids, I love my cousins immensely, in whatever sense is possibly they are mine, we have very strong bonds and I put a lot of time into achieving that between us, time I believe was more than thoroughly well spent. In a sense I suppose they are my vicarious children, indeed the twins could be mine if you consider the age gaps. The main benefit then is that I don’t have them 24/7, which is perhaps a heartless thing to say, but ultimately they are not my children.
My two best friends (one of whom is my ex-) are both having their first children around May, which I am looking forward to and not at the same time. With my ex- it seriously marks the end of what once was, not that I am still in love with her or begrudge her her happiness or anything of the like, though I still love her fiercely. I am immensely glad she is settled with her wife and truly happy, far happier than she was with me, which whilst sad is the hard truth. It’s hard to explain, that is a child I am interested and intrigued to meet despite the evident change in relationship dynamics.
The other friend in question is something I’m not perhaps as sure about, not that I think the she and her husband would make bad parents, quite the contrary I think they will be good at it… well, the chap will once he gets over his fear of all things teeny tiny and helpless. It is more a change that is encroaching upon us, a change in our small ‘family’ dynamic. The two of them, me and my housemate consider us to be a ‘family’, for a variety of reasons, for one of us, we are literally the only family, one of us has family in another country, one of us doesn’t see their family perhaps as much as they would like… all valid reasons for our grouping together, however you choose to define that. This small bundle will inexorably alter that, not necessarily in a bad way, but equally not necessarily in a good way.
The question of fear of commitment is certainly not a conscious fear, I am thinking about it as a potential subconscious reason however. You have kids then you are laying out an 18 year, minimum commitment. I am not saying that they are not worth that, I like children, I’m all for others having them, I think it is more linked with my known characteristics. I am a bit of a loner; could I actually deal with someone always being reliant on me and my presence? I have pretty big depression issues, especially in winter, the work I do is not suited to childcare… okay it could be adapted I perhaps mean more in a financial sense. The financial side is something I occasionally worry about in relation to my cousins. If anything should ever happened to their parents (which it won’t, I’m sure) I would have all three of them, no questions asked, but financially I don’t think I would necessarily be a viable choice.
The other thought is, am I mentally old enough to be responsible for children? Physically I am way behind the times, especially if I judge by my own family, (my Mom is 21 years and 1 month older than me, and my Gran is only 42 years older than me, my aunt and uncle; 19 and 17 years older respectively). At 21 I was by no means ready for children; I was barely out of childhood myself, though 21 was a big year for me, a lot of firsts, a lot of fun. Mentally… the more I think about it the less certain I am but I think if faced with it as a reality I would probably be fine in the long run… whether the child would be, well, I guess that is another matter entirely.
Simply put all my ‘true’ concerns are only in my head and are thus, in the grand scheme of things somewhat inconsequential, not that I am belittling my concerns, merely thinking in practical terms that they aren’t truly the issue at hand.
On a more positive and practical note, if I (with a partner) wanted to have children, we’re not talking instant conception, so we would have to think about how much we wanted it and would therefore, I hope, make a more educated decision. I have been of the opinion for a long time that most parents should have to pass some sort of written test, not just the physical. Not in an Orwellian 1984, let’s control people sort of way, just because I think there are some who would benefit from giving the idea more thought.
There are also tiny, at least in the grand scheme of things, reasons for my lack of desire or at least my uncertainty.
I’m not the world’s greatest cook, I try, I embrace the power and teachings of recipe books, but ultimately I worry that I would not be a great nutritional influence on any child.
Do I want to bring children, specifically my (however you choose to see that) children into a world of such destruction and selfishness (and yes the world is also a positive and truly wonderful place, I am not that negative in my thinking) and if I chose not to have them simply because of my view of the way the World is going am I then denying a person a life, well, the obvious answer is yes of course I am potentially denying somebody a life, but could I perhaps be of better service to the World by going down the route of adoption or something and offering the chance of a better life to someone who already exists. Personally that appeals to me more anyway.
There is also the fact of placing my world views and opinions upon someone who has no choice… at least not until they are old enough or have the faculties to be responsible for their own opinions and choices anyway. I am deeply anti-consumerist and anti-commercialism, I do not have a television and will not at any foreseeable point be utilising that service and most certainly would not be encouraging any child in my care to watch it. By placing those views on children would I be making them more different, or perhaps unbearably, than others from the outset? (They’d start with the stigma of the not your usual family household) Of course I would, but I mean would it be unmanageably so, would they face serious problems because of it?
Would I do right by them? In my choices regarding schooling, developing their personality and self confidence to be able to proffer them the opportunities in life that would help them, whether that be in the form of after school activities or whatever.
One of the things my mother regrets, though neither myself nor, I believe, my brother regrets is that she never let us be as free as we could have been, that she curbed our movements and she perhaps feels that this has limited our self confidence or our desires to… not achieve but perhaps aim, for higher things in our lives.
I realise all of these are big things to be thinking about when I am not planning on having children in the immediate future and especially when I am not even interested in having children in the first place, but that does not negate the fact that these things still bear thinking about.
This answers pretty much none of the questions I have been raising for myself, but it does manage to order my thoughts on the matter somewhat, and also to allow myself to move on to other subjects if this is ‘out of my head’ and ordered slightly, which can only be a good thing, all things considered.