A word to the wise: this is one hell of a long-winded update, even for me. You might want to get a cup of coffee and a snack. Maybe I should start a spoiler page; a site that offers “get to the point” 10 word recaps of my posts. Anyway, it’s a long one. Sorry.
“She’s only a little older than I am,” said Laura, and Lena said “I’m a year older than she was”
They looked at each other again, an almost scared look. Then Lena tossed her curly black head. “She’s a silly! Now she can’t ever have any more good times.”
Laura said soberly, “No, she can’t play any more now.”
All my friends are having babies.
Okay, I know that’s not true. I can name plenty of people who are, at this particular moment, not in any way shape or form having any sort of baby. Truthfully, the number of people I know who are having babies is disproportionately small for my age group because of my hermit-like tendencies and not having existed before 1992. So really, not everyone I know is having babies. Five people I know are having babies.
I’ve spent much of the last year with my head in a fog with regards to this subject, and as I discover more and more of my peers struck by baby fever, the thoughts in my head have become more muddled and soggy. This is my (typically long-winded) attempt to sort those thoughts out and find some peace within myself.
I’m confused by a great many things when it comes to having children. I do know how babies are made – in fact, I can probably tell you 275 different ways in which you can get your baby-making parts inserted into someone else’s, or vice versa – but the *other* logistics behind baby-making are completely beyond even my considerable knowledge of what happens when people get naked.
Why do people want babies?
I, obviously, do not want babies. My reasons are many, but the bottom line is that when I think about having children, my entire body freezes up in terror and disgust. Babies? Are you insane? Why on earth would I want to take care of one or possibly more squalling, helpless infants?
I have a lot of trouble trying to wrap my head around why people do not feel the way I do when it comes to children. It’s very clear that I’m in a small minority here; otherwise the race would die out or at the very least not be quite so over-populated as we are now. Why do people want to have children? Why aren’t they content with things the way they are?
Clearly, this line of thinking is utterly insane. It’s human nature to want to procreate. If people didn’t procreate, we’re back to the race dying out and even I don’t want that, not even on the days where I hate people and think I’d be better off living in a grass hut that has no internet. So, if people actually wanting to give up everything for the sake of being responsible for others is not the illogical line of thinking, then .. it must be me.
I do not understand why I feel so strongly about this, and why I am – yet again – so different from what’s considered “normal” for a woman my age and in my situation.
I worry about a lot of things. I worry that I’m going to wake up tomorrow and be caught up with baby fever and suddenly understand what all the fuss is about. I worry that it won’t happen tomorrow but in 15 years, and it will be too late for me to change my mind. Most of all though, I worry that I am going to feel somehow deficient for the rest of my life because I do not want children.
When I was little, I knew I was not destined to have kids. I didn’t have the greatest childhood, and while that lent a lot to my current resolve, it’s not that simple. So I made a “promise” to myself when I was 12 – so what; I also promised that I would be a dancing fireman princess veterinarian and that I would get an Autobot tattoo. Obviously we can’t keep ALL the promises we make to ourselves when we’re small – it just doesn’t make sense. Some we can. My tattoo is awesome.
I’m conflicted by these thoughts to the point of almost using the word tormented instead. My abnormalities have never bothered me before, and there’s a lot there that really could bother me – so why is it bugging me so much now? It’s normal to want to have children and start a family. I have never been normal. I do not want to have children or start a family. It seems pretty cut and dry – it’s “normal”; so I don’t do it. Simple enough, right? Except .. I just can’t help feeling like I’m broken or bad or crossing-the-line different because I don’t want babies.
I’m admittedly curious about the whole process. I was only half-kidding when I offered my womb out for rent; to bring a baby to term for someone who can’t do it for themselves. After all, I’ll do anything once as long as I get to write about it afterward. It’s a cop-out, though – sure, I’ll go through the process, but only if I don’t have to take care of the kid afterwards. There’ll be no bonding for me, no instantaneous mother-child love that eclipses anything I’ve ever felt before. I’ll bake you a cupcake, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to eat it.
I’m sure I’ve incurred the wrath of my expecting friends for referring to their pregnancy as an infection – ha ha, they’re infected with baby! Sucks to be them! I don’t truly mean that of course; these children-to-be are wanted and loved and I am thrilled for the parents because they are so happy about it all. Even though I’m happy for them, I can’t stop thinking about babies in the same terms you use to describe radiation poisoning or the nasty flu that Ed has – it’s a foreign, outside cluster of cells that shouldn’t be there. A round of anti-biotics oughta clear that right up, then you can get on with your life.
Throughout all my over-thinking, I’ve done what I always do when I’m conflicted – I research the living hell out of it. I’ve clocked more time on parenting websites than I can count, looked up books, read other people’s tales. In fact, after work today I went out and picked up this book to see if it’ll clear up any of the things inside my head. It’s a subject people are passionate about, so there’s no shortage of opinions or stories or clinical studies for me to read. I’ve read about the biological clock and how the ticking cannot be ignored; how the first instant you see your child you’re transformed into a fierce mother hawk who’d do anything for that tiny person; the sudden awareness of a shocking depth of love for the child that wasn’t there five minutes ago. I’ve waited for these things to come to me, counting down to the unknown day when I wake up and suddenly feel that hollow ache of longing for the child I haven’t yet created; the day when everything just clicks and I realize that THIS is what all the fuss is about – I’m normal, I want a baby too, it’ll be totally awesome and I will be so COMPLETE – but so far, nothing. Nothing except the urge to pee and my ongoing confusion about why my friends are so willing to drop everything and turn their attention towards something you can’t (or at least shouldn’t) even sell on eBay when you get tired of it.
That’s another thing that I think a lot about, too. I don’t understand giving up your freedom to take care of squalling infants. I’ve never understood the American Dream of 2.5 kids, an SUV in every garage and the white picket fence surrounding your house in the ‘burbs. I’ve tried to stop thinking about babies as the End of All Things, Ever – but I can’t. In giving birth to a new life, I sense the death of everything from before. No more fun. No more freedom. No more good times – how can you, when you have to take care of this thing that came out of you? Trade in your toys and party clothes and sense of adventure; your future is dirty diapers and minivans and soccer practices. While you’re attending PTA meetings and dealing with vomit from screaming babies, I’ll be playing video games and traveling and having ritzy soirees with swingers and playboys who lavish me with attention and diamonds and also many sexually satisfying adventures that do not in any way cause problems in the real world.
I know I really need to stop thinking that babies = the end of the world. It’s hard, though. I wonder about my friends – is it at all possible for them to be the same people after the baby is born? Will they be able to have good times anymore? Will there be a place for us in their new lives, or will we be (have we already been) replaced by other friends who have children of their own and understand all those things that I just don’t get?
Part of me thinks stop being stupid; your friends will still be your friends after they have kids – there’ll just be one more person for you to consider a friend, is all. Most of me, though, thinks quite loudly that this is it – I should say my tender goodbyes now before the door will be shut on me because I am not One of Them, Soon To Be One of Them, or family.
There are a lot of reasons I am a captain of Team No Babies. Some of these reasons are sensible – I don’t have the space to put a child, or the disposable income to make sure it gets fed; others are true but a little hard to swallow – I’m very selfish in many aspects including emotionally, physically, and financially and I’m not ready to give myself wholly to another person and maybe never will be; and others are just really damn sentimental – I don’t have a safety net of adoring family and close friends to get me through the whole process.
I’m not close with my family. I don’t have a loving family hovering over me asking when I’m going to make them grandparents, no close friends to coo at baby things with me and go shopping for adorable things like car seats and diapers. Hell, I didn’t have a mom to do the whole wedding dress thing or people nearby for a bridal shower – it wouldn’t be any different if I was expecting a child. Sure, people have made it work with less, but sometimes I feel like I’m missing out on a lot by not having that network behind me – would I want to subject someone else to that? I’m not THAT cruel.
I’m lucky in many ways. For one, there’s no one pressuring me to have kids. I’m also fortunate to have the ability to choose whether I want children or not, and to choose what happens next if I woke up pregnant tomorrow. The choice would be agonizing, I know that much, but I still get to make it – and I’m grateful for that.
It’s taken me a long time to figure out what bothers me about babies and the desire for babies and the need to procreate. I’ve tried to picture myself in the same situation, to feel that need and to think “okay so THIS is what it feels like to want babies”, but I can’t. I’ve never yearned for anything more life changing than an additional cat, and look where that got me.
I’m okay with not wanting babies; I really am. What I need to figure out is that it’s OKAY for me to not want babies, that I’m not a monster or broken or wrong for how I feel. I need to figure out how to stop worrying about what the future will bring, be it babies or cats or the pug I desperately want. I need to realize that people have children every day and go on to lead exciting, wonderful, fun-filled lives that include friends who do and do not having children of their own. I need to stop thinking so much and overanalyzing my every feeling; questioning why I am so ambivalent about babies and so getting so worked up that I’m uncomfortable in my own head. I need to get outside and have some fun. I need to go to the bathroom.
This is all normal, right?