Friday, May 7, 2010

the baby upstairs keeps crying

I am exhausted. I have all these questions floating in my head about babies and trash and life.

We went on a road trip for Golden Week with our buddies Tetsuya, Hideyuki, and Takei--and their families. That means all spouses and offspring were in attendance. I've been around the kids en masse before, in houses, restaurants, or outside. But never trapped with them in a van and an SUV. For hours and hours.

There were seven kids total--five children (none over the age of 7), a toddler, and an infant. All so cute they could be little kid models. But the cuteness starts to wane after about the fifth pee break.

I'll get to the part where we make it to the ocean later. I started thinking about them a lot after our family-oriented adventure. Do we need kids to make our lives worthwhile? That probably sounds like a stupid question, like the answer is simple, but that's not really what society tells us. I got to thinking about them because by the end of those two days, I was more sick of the children than I was of being in a car. I was sick of it taking forever to just go into a restaurant. I was sick of the way they constantly picked their noses without shame and pulled out bright green boogers and wiped them on their pants and the seats of the car. I was sick of the way that they had to be forced to eat when we were in public, but as soon as we were on the road again, they were suddenly dying of starvation.

I guess it's just been too long since I was a kid. It was beautiful to watch them all run to the edge of the water and squeal with delight every time the waves washed over their little feet. They didn't even notice the trash and debris littering the sand behind them. All they saw was the beauty of the moment. All they knew was that they were at the ocean. When we stopped at the zoo, they didn't care that the monkeys and elephants were kept in concrete enclosures with little to no mental stimulation--the equivalent of animal prison--they only cared about how cute and friendly the animals looked.

I just can't figure out completely what I want from life, and if that life should include kids. I think there is a lot to be gained from the experience of parenthood, but I think there is just as much to be gained from a life of other experiences, of experiences outside of the home and the family structure.

I had a talk with some friends the other day about this. They are a couple who choose to live childfree. They were commenting on how strange it is that their lifestyle is considered subversive, almost more subversive than being gay or an alcoholic nowadays. A white, heterosexual couple that chooses not to have kids, but rather to dedicate their lives to traveling and learning about the world. How deviant!

What do you think? Why or why don't you want kids? (I think that people who do want kids should be asked this question just as much as those who don't want them.)


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  2. I've never really thought very hard about this. From the time I was very little carrying my Cabbage Patch "babies" around, I have always known that if I do nothing else in life, I will be a mother. I think it’s one of those natural drives that some have and others do not. If it turns out that I cannot have a child of my own, I would certainly adopt. There is an unspeakable bond between mother and child that I celebrated with my mother and cannot wait to celebrate with a child of my own one day. I think maybe it's because I appreciate being from a large family and the thought of being old, with our parents dying off and leaving Justin and me along one day is really scary. Families are built-in support systems; I don't have many true friends left even from high school but my family is still there to support me. I would hate for it to stop with me.
    On the other hand, it doesn't seem foreign to me for some people to choose to remain childless. Amanda always told me she wasn't sure if she wanted kids. I think that’s okay too. I think having a child isn't something to do half-assed. Too many people have kids because they think they "should," not that they want to and then in turn can't (or won't) support them to the fullest.
    Certainly, it’s a personal decision that shouldn’t be dictated by society or pressure to conform to what society deems “normal.”

  3. I know with 90% certainty that I do NOT want children. Once I got past the "playing Mommy with babydolls" stage the desire to have children all but disappeared. A lot of people call me selfish, but there are a lot of things I want to do in my life that children would make complicated if not impossible. I want to travel and have nice things. I want to be able to leave at a moment's notice and not worry about when I'll be home. I want to have sex in my living room with my husband and take grown-up vacations.

    Now I say 90% because there is a 10% part of me that watches "A Baby Story" and melts. That wants to know what it is like to hold a child that you helped create with someone you love. Just the other day I was on the couch and a character on TV was talking to his wife's pregnant belly. I asked Richard if he would ever do that, and if he would love our baby as much as the character did. He looked at me strangely and said, "Of course. It would be my child." Moments like that make me want to have a child with him and share that crazy adventure. To see him hold his son, teach his daughter how to play guitar.

    Who knows what life will bring me. Maybe one day when I'm 35 I'll want a baby and be mature enough to put their needs ahead of my own. For now I'll enjoy being selfish.