it seems the ann friedmann weekly has a direct effect on making me think about stuff (which i appreciate immensely). lately, i noticed an inclination towards the topic of children and, more importantly, women that choose not to have kids – she mentions two articles (here and here) and she wrote one too. there was a particular quote from the New Yorker article that reasoned with me:
I would still look at a woman pushing a stroller and feel no envy at all, only relief that I wasn’t her.
I was willing to concede that I was possibly in denial. All the things people say to people like me were things I’d said to myself countless times. If I found the right partner, maybe I’d want a child because I’d want it with him. If I went to therapy to deal with whatever neuroses could be blamed on my own upbringing, maybe I’d trust myself not to repeat my childhood’s more negative aspects. If I understood that you don’t necessarily have to like other children in order to be devoted to your own (as it happens, this was my parents’ stock phrase: “We don’t like other children, we just like you”), I would stop taking my aversion to kids kicking airplane seats as a sign that I should never have any myself. After all, only a very small percentage of women genuinely feel that motherhood isn’t for them. Was I really that exceptional? And, if I was, why did I have names picked out for the children I didn’t want?
For all this, I had reasons. They ran the gamut from “Don’t want to be pregnant” to “Don’t want to make someone deal with me when I’m dying.” (And, for the record, I’ve never met a woman of any age and any level of inclination to have children who doesn’t have names picked out.) Chief among them was my belief that I’d be a bad mother. Not in the Joan Crawford mode but in the mode of parents you sometimes see who obviously love their kids but clearly do not love their own lives. For every way I could imagine being a good mother, I could imagine ten ways that I’d botch the job irredeemably.
More than that, I simply felt no calling to be a parent. As a role, as my role, it felt inauthentic. It felt like not what I was supposed to be doing with my life. My contribution to society was not about contributing more people to it but, rather, about doing something for the ones who were already here.
the whole article is an open conversation about this woman who is ambivalent about becoming a parent. and i feel like everyone has that feeling at least once in their lives. i usually think about it like… 4 times a year, if i had to give a number to it. getting pregnant is something that i know for certain, at least for now, that i do not wish to be. it is actually like a nightmare whenever i dream i may be carrying a baby. there is, obviously, that idea that is forever – yes, i was raised catholic so that’s where it came from.
but anyway. adopting a kid, like maybe between 2 or 8 years old, seems like something very awesome to do – it’s what i would be more down to pursue. i am not very sure if it’s for me, yet (there’s so much time). there is that thing i read once where the woman says she could never be a mother because she cannot put anyone else first and i think it’s a fucking brave thing to admit. it doesn’t make her a bad person, not to me at least. it makes her someone very conscious and adult. no matter what type of activity you may engage in, the only one that requires your 24/7 dedication to someone else is having your own kid and that takes courage – at least if you’re willing to do it with some expectation of doing it right.
that’s another thing, too. i am pretty critical and i would have ridiculously high standards for parenting, one that would probably fuck up the kid in the middle of it. all i know is that, either way, you have to think thoroughly about the other extreme, or else is just a fake decision.
the good news is that i will be a godmother soon, so it makes me happy to be a little closer to kids in an experimental way (i don’t think it’s offensive to say experimental, but perhaps it’s not the right word). i will do the awesome parts like give books for their birthday, help them to color, make mixtapes and talk about new bands (and old!), watch cartoons, talk about relationships, teach them about respect and empathy. tell them they can runaway to my place. remember that they are accepted for who they are. that seems exciting.
listening while writing: Oh Mercy – Someday (The Strokes cover)