(I wrote this blog post 10 years ago this month. I have not changed my views at all, except to be more relieved that I never had children, and I still really like kids.)
I believe that children aren’t my future.
Quite a tiring weekend, and would have been even without the cold. It went well, though, and I think much fun was had by all.
Much fun was had by me and Bob, anyway. Him perhaps more so than me – the man has a way with a dress and a cigar. I did get to sing the opening bars of “Smoke on the Water”, though.
(Quick, name that band.)
Part of my tiredness this weekend has been recovering from the surgery I had Monday. It wasn’t a massive thing, and at least one person I know has also had it, but it took a bit out of me, since it’s the first time I’ve had actual surgery since I was four. The side effects are still with me, and will be for a bit longer.
I won’t go into detail, but the end result of the surgery is that my always questionable fertility has now been completely and fully laid to rest. There will be no children in my future. There quite possibly never would have been, since I had some physical issues which pretty much guaranteed my infertility from the get-go, so I came to terms with a non-childed life a long time ago. Indeed, for many years, I have been very glad of it, and it is perhaps a blessing that the lack of desire for progeny coincided with a lack of ability to bear the same.
I know I have readers who desperately want children, and others who have one or several, and wouldn’t have it any other way, and I feel sad and elated as appropriate, but to me, the idea of children has been a non-issue for a long time.
Once, I wanted, or thought I wanted, children. What I actually wanted was something to love, a reason for not working, a thing to occupy my days, a justification for my existence. With the demise of that marriage, those reasons disappeared, and I fervently thanked the foresight of the deity that got involved to help me avoid a very nasty child custody battle as the marriage inevitably imploded. If I’d had a child (as I thought I wanted), I would have loved it with all my heart, but I am glad I didn’t, and I hope in a vaguely spiritual way that my hypothetical child became a reality for someone in a much more loving relationship.
I have run into many people who think, because I do not have children, and because I do not express regret at not having any, that I must hate children – nothing could be further from the truth. I love children. I am not a fan of loud noises, nor of the various fluids and solids that come out of people, so my friends’ children are perfect to me. I get to visit, to talk, to play, and then to happily go home to my cluttered and decidedly non-childproof home. I really do *love* children; I find them fascinating, I feel great joy for their accomplishments, and I love it when they decide they like me and want to hang out with me. I adored singing my friends’ babies to sleep, and I even love my spoiled darling monster of a nephew, who is absolutely gorgeous, and I am sure, very intelligent. 🙂
It’s just… not my own. I normally don’t think about it much, except when someone asks; I don’t take offense at the question, as it’s sort of a rote thing amongst adults my age. I’ve never had the lectures or harangues or rude comments other non-childed people report, and I don’t know if it’s because I don’t look like the kind of person that would put up with that, or because I hang with a higher class of person. Perhaps it’s both; in any case, I’ve never had anyone be rude, or pitying.
I’m not having second thoughts or regrets; to do so now would be self-defeating, not to mention dumb. I haven’t had second thoughts or regrets since I was 25. Bob’s had two and raised three; he’s got grandkids, he’s done. People at his office used to tell him I’d change my mind – funny, no-one’s ever said that to me. Even my mother doesn’t push the issue.
I used to read the child-free boards, but it seemed like more of them actively disliked all kids; not a stance I had an issue with, but it wasn’t my stance. I didn’t belong there, and I wonder sometimes if there’s any other woman out there who really loves kids but really doesn’t, even a tiny little bit, want one of her own. I can get behind hating some parents; there’s some piss-poor parenting being done out there, but while I sometimes wish some kids were better behaved, I don’t hate them for it, I dislike their parents for not teaching them better manners.
Like when I’m getting kicked and kicked and kicked in a restaurant by the kid in the booth behind me, and their parent just gives me the hairy eyeball when I ask them to please make their kid stop; that’s annoying. More often, though, it’s the behaviour of other adults I can’t stand. Your average kid, if you ask him to share and tell him that it’s a good thing to share, he’ll take your word for it and share, at least as long as he remembers. An adult will simply charge to the front of the register line without considering that other people might have been waiting longer, and will be rude to you if you say something. They’ll leave crap around for store employees to clean up (the number of times I’ve seen trash left on store shelves when there’s a trash can nearby…), they’ll yell and stamp their feet until they get what they want, they’ll pee all over the toilet seat and be too precious to clean it up, they’ll lie, and cheat, and steal to get what they want, no matter how much it may hurt someone else.
Didn’t we teach our kids not to do all those things? Wasn’t that part of the basic education? Let the first people in line go first. Don’t be mean to other people. Clean up after yourself. Don’t throw tantrums. Don’t lie. Don’t take someone else’s toys.
Kids, they get the basic kindnesses; I’ve been offered candy from precious candy stashes, french fries, small things, precious things. Kids really get on board with sharing, once the concept has been fully explained. They share the love, sometimes materially, sometimes metaphorically, but always wholeheartedly. Once they’re old enough to pick up on what their parents want, they try really hard to obey the rules and make other people happy.
Find me an adult that does that, and I’ll show you someone who’s been repeatedly taken advantage of by a society that actively disvalues all the morals we’re supposed to instill in our kids.
Children understand mercy because they’re constantly at the mercy of others. Children understand sharing and being kind to others because they depend upon it to survive. Adults lose that visceral understanding somewhere along the way, and we have a planet full of people dragging their heels over needed social and environmental change because it doesn’t benefit them right now.
I love children; it’s the adults they grow into that scare the crap out of me, and perhaps that’s one of the reasons I’m happy without them.
That, and the 3am feedings; I’m not so hot on them.