So I appear to be at that stage of life when everyone, and I do mean everyone, is having babies. You know the stages of adult life (as I have experienced them anyway) – first the 21sts, then the ‘everyone disappearing on their OE’, then the 30ths, then the house buying, then the weddings. And now, the baby stage arrives. They are everywhere. Most of my friends are having them – some even on to their second – colleagues are having them, celebrities are having them (they seem to be the latest hot Hollywood accessory). God, even my 45 year old sister – who I thought I could rely on to always be a childless but awesome individual like me – is selling me down the river and having one! I am surrounded.
Not that it is a bad thing! Sure, I know more about reflux, lactation and poos than I ever wanted to know. But it is exciting seeing a couple you have known for a while produce an offspring that is an interesting combination of both of them. And I love having nieces and nephews and god kids – they are awesomely wonderful. And it will be exciting watching their wee personalities develop. As we all know, kids do say the darndest things, so I hope to secure some excellent lines for forthcoming books from the mouths of these babes.
But, here is the one thing I really don’t like about the baby phase – the expectation. The expectation that every couple who has been married a few years will want to procreate (and that, like magic, it will happen straight away). The expectation that every couple WANTS children in the first place. And, most of all for me, a still single thirty-five year old, that all I really want is to settle down with the perfect man and procreate.
I have no intention nor desire to have a child – either naturally or otherwise. In fact, I have $1000 riding on the fact that I won’t (my brother is confident he will win that bet – I am equally confident he won’t ;-)). But the weird thing is, so many people seem to have difficulty understanding why I wouldn’t want kids, and it turns into something I have to justify. Why am I not abiding by convention and wanting what everyone else wants? Don’t I want a cute little replica of myself? Surely I will change my mind once I have found the perfect man part of the equation (applications on the back of a post card please…)? Don’t I want a family like the one I grew up in?
Sure, I had a fabulous upbringing in a loving family with an elder sister and an elder brother who – in equal parts – entertained and tormented me (seriously – youngest children don’t get it easy, and we deserve all the spoiling we get ;-)). And I am stoked that my brother’s three girls – and my sister’s new one with her cousins and half-sister – will have a similar experience. But, for me anyway, that isn’t reason enough to bring a kid into the world. At the end of the day – in all honesty – I would rather be doing something else with my time.
‘Ah’, people say, ‘so you are just too selfish’. Maybe so. But, is it selfish just to make a decision about what you think will make you the most happy? Don’t people do that anyway in their decision to have kids in the first place? I simply think that, for me, I have a bucket list (excuse dated and over-used movie title reference this once) of things I really want to do in life – and having a kid simply isn’t on there. I want to get a book published. I want to travel more. I want to be involved in a national political campaign. I want to work on a TV show or film (adapt my own book, you say? Now there’s an idea ;-)). I want these experiences and the things these experiences create to be my legacy.
And while doing all of those things I look forward to hanging out with all these growing babies, taking them to movies, educating them in The Princess Bride and populating their libraries with the necessaries (a kid’s library without ‘My Cat likes to Hide in Boxes’ simply isn’t a library). I look forward to being the doting, supportive and interesting aunt that I have been blessed to have had a few of myself. And that will make me, and hopefully them, happy. So, I may not be meeting society’s expectations, but I think it is the best thing for ME. Having a kid is one of the most personal decisions you can make – so of course everyone will choose (or not choose) different things for different reasons. So can we accept that there is no one right answer for everyone and get rid of the great expectations please? Thanks 😉