159. the blog entry I've been avoiding

Okay, so I try to pride myself in being pretty open and honest in my blog, but there’s one post that I’ve been meaning to write for a long time now. I’ve been putting it off for months (for reasons that will soon be obvious and if not I’ll explain) and it’s time I stopped hemming and hawing and got down to brass tacks (“what’s up with the southern idioms all of a sudden?”).

And here it is.

Ready?

Are you sitting down?

Maybe you want to go wash your car or bake some cookies.

You know, the Super Bowl is this weekend (something I didn’t know until this week…I thought it was in the summer), have you called your bookie yet?

“Randall…”

And if you live in Hawaii, the Punahou Carnival starts tonight.

“Stop stalling.”

Funny thing, the carnival is here but it’s not raining.

“Damn it!”

Okay, okay.

But they’re not going to like it.

“Like that’s stopped you from writing before.”

Okay, here it is:

I don’t want to have kids.

“There, don’t you feel better now?”

No.

I’m rather embarrassed to admit that I don’t want to have kids because it feels selfish and odd. And so it’s something that I don’t share a lot except to my close friends (“and everyone who reads your blog”). The desire to procreate seems to be so natural to so many people that my not wanting to have kids feels abnormal and strange and so I keep it under wraps – like my toe nails…I have ingrown toenails on both of my big toes and it’s ugly and so I almost always wear shoes so I can wear socks so if I go to someone’s house and have to take off my shoes, I can keep my ugly toenails concealed (“you know, that makes two embarrassing admissions now”).

“Why don’t you want to have kids…you sick freak?”

Okay, the nice answers first and then the brutally honest answers.

1. The world, as I’ve seen it, is a pretty messed up place. Why would I want to bring another life into all of this injustice and uncertainty and frustration?

2. I hear most people end up parenting the way they were parented. There’s a scene in The Breakfast Club where they’re all sitting around talking about their parents. One of them says, “I’m never going to be like my parents.” And then another replies, “you can’t help it, it’s inevitable,” or something like that. And to a degree, I agree with that – that you end up parenting like you were parented.

And it’s not like my parents were bad parents, they’re actually pretty outstanding in a lot of ways but my father never talks much. Three, four, five days going by without me and my father sharing a single word is nothing out of the ordinary. In fact, what would be completely out of the ordinary would be my father and I having an actual conversation – something that lasted longer than “can I borrow your drill?”
“You need the bits to go along with that?”
“Yeah, thanks.”

It’s always been that way and I don’t mind because I’ve never known anything else. But there’s a part of me that fears that if I were to have a children, that I wouldn’t know how to talk to them. That thought sends chills up my spine. And this isn’t just some untested theory of mine. A lot of my friends are having kids and when I go over to their house, I don’t know how to interact with them. I mean, I try, but it’s stressful and I’m confused and I feel awkward and clumsy and lost.

Some people say, “don’t you remember what it was like to be a kid?” And I don’t remember. I have very few memories from childhood. I just remember not fitting in and wishing I could be like the cool kids but never knowing how.

3. The world has finite resources. By not having kids, I’m doing my part to conserve these resources so that other people’s children will be able to enjoy the earth.

This isn’t really an excuse I use, it’s just something I keep in my back pocket because it sounds hippie and globally correct and out of all my reasons, this one sounds the least selfish.

4. It’s just too big of a responsibility.

Raising a child? Bringing up a human being? Teaching him/her how to behave, how to act around others, how to share? How the hell do you do that? And if you teach the wrong thing or aren’t able to discipline them or discipline them too much, that affects them for the rest of their lives. And it’s not like there’s a reset button or even an undo button.

That just seems like way too much pressure.

Okay, those are the nice answers. Here are the ugly ones:

5. I’ve lived a pretty generous life. It’s just part of who I am, and I keep on giving even though sometimes it’s exhausting and heartbreaking. And kids are just so needy and it’s not like they understand or appreciate how much you give them until years later, and even then there’s a chance that they’ll hold some grudge against you for something you did wrong – for raising them with too much/too little discipline for giving too much and spoiling them/for not giving enough and making them feel unwanted.

The very thought of those years from babyhood to adolescence, all those years of needs and wants, all that money and all that time. I’m feeling exhausted just writing about it, let alone living it.

6. It’s just not in me.

I’ve never wanted to have kids, ever. I’ve never understood the impulse. I look at my friends who have kids and I literally think to myself (with all due respect), “why on earth would you want to have one of those things?” I mean, I just don’t get it. They whine and they break things and then they whine some more and they spill things and they want to listen to those baby songs and watch the same cartoons and they don’t want to pick up their toys and they fight with one another, etc. I don’t get it. Why would I want to bring that kind of chaos into my life?

7. What if they turn out to be lame?

I mean, really. What if they grow up to be dorks? What if they’re one of those contestants who get eliminated from American Idol during those first episodes like William Hung? What if they end up listening to lame music or reading shallow books. More seriously, what if, despite your best efforts, they rebel and live a life of drugs or theft or worse?

Well, there they are. I may have other reasons but those are the main ones. And I’m not saying that I never ever want to have kids. Maybe once I fall truly, madly, deeply (oh shit, I can’t believe I just quoted a Savage Garden song) in love, I’ll understand what love is and want to share this love with offspring. Maybe I’ve just had really bad luck and have yet to hang out with kids that I can get along with. I don’t know. I’ve learned never to say never. I just don’t expect my mind to change on this point anytime soon.

And I’ve held off writing this because it’s not cool, and it’s not something women like to hear (most women, anyway). I remember in college I was actually writing this woman. Sadly, this is probably the closest I ever came to having a girlfriend. We met on-line and we exchanged e-mails (she lived in Pennsylvania). She was great. She was whip-smart (way smarter than I) and she had short hair and she was funny. We exchanged long e-mails on a daily basis. This went on for a few months and right when we were about to start calling one another, I told her about my not wanting to have kids thing. And then it was over pretty quick after that.

Hey, I respect anyone who has children. I don’t know how you do it, but I’m glad you do. It’s the hardest job on the planet, and it’s a beautiful thing.

And I don’t think I’m up for it.

(let the flaming commence)

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One thought on “159. the blog entry I've been avoiding

  1. The argument could be made (and I’ve made it — just in very select company) that having kids is a selfish act. I won’t present the full argument here, but let’s just say that if you said to potential parents that you knew for SURE that their kids would never love them back, and in fact would never contribute anything meaningful to anyone’s life, I’m almost certain that every single person would say, “Well then. Never mind.”Sure, there’s all that sacrifice parents make, and I won’t minimize it because my own parents were pretty terrific. But children are a symbol of love and they are also a means by which families share love and receive it back. It’s a beautiful, wonderful thing, but it is also a selfish thing. Otherwise, if it was just about contributing positively to society, why don’t people just have kids in order that childless couples might adopt them? Because they don’t get any love back for all their efforts.

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