Monday, September 28, 2009

Kids

I went to a cookout recently at a friend’s house. There were probably about 13 other guys there. I think 6 of the guys were married. All brought their wives.

Five of the six couples had a child under a year old with them; the other was 8 months pregnant.

Being surrounded by all those kids really got me wondering: what is it that makes people want to have children?

I’m not asking this rhetorically so I can go off on some rant about how I don’t like children, because that’s not the case. I ask this with genuine curiosity, from the point of view of someone who has never had the urge to be a father.

(I don’t know that this is especially rare for a guy. I think my fiancée gets far more dog-hearing-high-pitched-noise looks when she talks about not wanting kids. And I will readily admit that I’ve started to get rather mean when people (women) start insinuating that my fiancée is waiting until she can trap me into marriage then go bait-and-switch, biological-clock-ticking, demanding bitch on me. Great. Glad you give your gender so much credit.)

I feel like I lead a full life. I enjoy the things I do in my free time, and I love the lifestyle I have with my soon-to-be wife. We love our freedom and all the little spontaneous things we can do.

We’re also not the most traditional people in the world, in the sense that we’ve never seen parenthood as a given.

Here’s what I worry about, because I’ve seen it all too often: Life becomes 90% about the kids. The husband-wife relationship takes a back seat to the parent-child relationship for many, many years. Sometimes it never recovers. The things you loved doing together just become too inconvenient. Every venture outside the house turns into a test of patience and nerve.

I don’t want any of that to happen. I love my fiancée. She’s my favorite person in the world. I don’t want anything to get in the way of us enjoying our relationship.

To be fair, most people do not complain about being parents. My guess, though, is that it’s partly because they’d be lambasted by other parents for daring to suggest that parenthood is not the best, special-est thing EVARRRR.

So I ask again—what is it that makes people want to have children? Do people’s hearts melt when they hold a baby? Do children fill some sort of void? Is having kids something people simply feel like they’re supposed to do at a certain point in their lives? Is it societal pressure? Evolutionary pressure? Grandparental pressure?

Most people say parenthood is a wonderful feeling…that they don’t mind giving up their old life because they love their kids THAT MUCH. But I also think most of these same people wanted kids to begin with. Bully for them that it turned out even better than they hoped.

I will readily admit that I’m curious about how our kids would turn out. Frankly, I think we'd be solid assets for the gene pool. I’m not worried that we wouldn’t be good parents. I think we’d be attentive and loving (but not so competitive as to have pissing matches over how the Montessori school/classical music/gluten-free diet we chose make us better parents than THOSE people). And, yes, I concede that there is a possibility that years down the road we might regret not having children.

It’s just that those reasons aren’t enough.

10 comments:

m.v. said...

I don't have a special parental instinct and in my former family we didn't get to the planning part,it was more of an intentional/or not birth control mishap.However I don't regret it for a second.My kid turned out to be pretty good so far,and the best friend I have.However,I have to say that it depends.We had almost no problems health and character-wise.She slept all night since 2 months old and got potty-trained at about 18 months.These are two of the hardest items.She excels in school and had more facebook friends in the first day she had an account than I ever will. Other people have problems,so it's not the same for everybody.Some of the problems inflicted by parents themselves trained by moronic new age books.
I know a lot of people who don't have kids and are happy,many people I follow on Twitter/Blogs are like you,happy with their situation. It's a personal choice. For me, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat.Sometimes I think I still might.
As far as inconvenience-after the first 2-3 years you could travel and enjoy most of the stuff you used to do but it adds another level to see your kid learn new things,do stuff that reminds you of you and makes you smile.
Also you can teach them to cook and clean.
We really take it easy on extra-curricular activities and like to be lazy,there is no recipe for raising an Einstein or Kasparov.My only suggestion is if you are going to change your mind do it sooner rather than later when everyone thinks you are your child's grandparents (I know a few of these)

Alan! said...

I heartily endorse all of the thoughts expressed here. Kids would seriously cut into my reading time. Also, I kind of like that "Community" show, and I'll be goddamned if I'm going to explain the jokes.

Bull E. Vard said...

Like everyone has acknowledged, having kids is a personal choice and I definitely see both sides of it. It can be a giant pain in the ass having kids around and can also be quite rewarding.

I don't think it possible to have anyone like me half as much as my kids do. I can't think of anyone/anything that I will ever like half as much as my kids. I don't want to be all sappy about it, but, for me, having kids makes me a better, fuller person.

The kids do get in the way of me doing some things that I would like to do. I rarely go out at night, rarely see movies and can't knock out a book in an evening. But, I don't think I'll even remember 4 or 5 things I've turned down to be with my kids (the free Boulevard Bluestem luncheon will be one I remember).

I think you can definitely lead a full, rewarding life without having kids. But, I've never given it a second thought.

As an aside, with your genes you'd better be careful who you vote for. Pretty soon some politicians are going to get the idea to start breeding humans and they're going to look for the tallest, best looking sons of bitches to put out to stud. And when they do, you're going to be first in line.

The DLC said...

I don't want a kid mostly because I would live in constant fear that it would be a boy. And that boy would eventually be 11 years old. And there's nothing more annoying on the face of the earth.

In all honesty, I love that my friends have kids. I can see why they would make someone happy and I enjoy being around them.

Shane said...

Neither my wife nor I want kids. All our friends have them. Our siblings have them.

But for the same reasons you list here, I don't want them. I don't hate kids. I'm just far too selfish with my time and I love my wife too much to even let a kid get in the way of that.

I'm not saying that you can't make it happen. I'm just saying it's a rarity.

After 9 years of being married, I don't regret it at all.

ALSO, kids turn into teenagers and if my wife being a high school dance coach is any indication, I do NOT want to be a parent to some punk teenager.

JJSKCK said...

Thank you for all the insight and honesty on this topic. I'm really glad to hear from both sides of the fence.

I really encourage anyone else who stumbles upon this post to give your take on the subject, regardless of your parenthood aspirations/experiences. Frankly, I find it fascinating.

Bull, you flatter me so, but I'm worried they'd look at me and figure I (and by extension, my offspring) would require far too many resources (food) and look for someone more efficient.

I did want to ask Bull - did you always know you wanted kids?

Bull E. Vard said...

JJS, Yes, I always wanted kids. I always wanted to play catch with my son and teach him baseball and all of that stuff.

But, I also gave myself my 20's to play hard, go out drinking and basically be Wooderson. I knew that there wouldn't much of that kind of activity once the kids came around.

But, like in the SNL commercial for annuale, when I am released for an evening, hold on to your f...in hat.

Chimpotle said...

Having fathered a bastard child in my teens that is basically out of my life completely, I had no real desire to jump in that pool again. To be honest, I didn't care either way if I had kids. I married a woman who wanted kids but thought she probably couldn't. Knocked her up the first time off the pill.

Kids are entirely lame for about the first 6 months of life. Once they start moving and learning, it's basically the most awesome thing in the world. While I had no real desire to have a kid in my life, the kid being in my life trumps anything I could trade it for. I could be going out for a movie and drinks, or I could mold a human being's life...it's an incredible thing to think about.

At the end of the day, it's all about the human experiment. Co-workers talk about the first time you put them in the car as you leave the hospital and how slow they drive. It's all bullshit. I want to talk about how if I'm tickling my daughter and pinch her nip, is that going to develop into some weird fetish down the line. Good luck running that by co-workers in small talk.

That's what it's all about though. If I do x, is it going to bring about y? Just last night, my mom gave us some Yankee Candles and I taught the kid how to sniff them. Now she walks around inhaling things like a coke whore.

I would tell you to never leave the option of having kids off the table. You said you think the people who say they love their kids probably always wanted kids. How many people with kids do you think would want to say they wish they never had them at all?

JJSKCK said...

@Chimpo - Your point of view was one I was hoping to hear (pinched nips aside). I wondered how people who weren't necessarily keen on having kids felt about it once they had them. I don't question any parents' love for their kids, and I hope I didn't come off as thinking that a bunch of parents don't love their kids. I can't imagine there are many people who actually regret having kids, those rough first few months excepted. As someone who hasn't experienced parenthood and doesn't "get it", I have really enjoyed hearing from people who have and do.

Steaming bowl o' Calderone said...

I started to form a response here, but concluded that it was far to lengthy to drop in your comments. Feel free to check it out over on FMDY.