Another C Word: Condoms

I was talking to a friend of mine over in Adelaide. In the course of our conversation, J started teasing me about the age difference between myself and P. I said that in 5 years, it wouldn’t be as bad. J was surprised that I was thinking that far ahead. Apparently last time we spoke, I gave the impression that I was unhappy and thus, going to break up with P. And glancing over my posts, yes, there’s doubt, and in healthy amounts too. Why do I stay? There’s a few different reasons.

Foremost, I know P loves me. P can be very considerate. One example of that is the insistence on safe sex. We’ve never had sex without a condom. I’ve asked and tried to cajole P into no condoms to no avail. I’ve teased, I’ve begged, I’ve coaxed and I’ve wheedled. Despite my attempts, P has steadfastly refused. I’m not that desperate for it to be bare. I can be a bit …obsessive though. Last night, when things were starting to get heated, P told me very unexpectedly that some test results had come back; P is completely clear of all STIs including HIV. I teased back, “…Ok. Considering some of the things we’ve done, I should hope so.” With a slight grin, P said that if I wanted, we could do things without a condom. And we did.

I hadn’t really thought about it till then, but I am glad and thankful that P resisted and waited till we knew for sure. It’s a reality that people have STIs unknowingly or otherwise. There are people who don’t know how to have safe sex, or worse still, know and choose to disregard that knowledge.

I have a confession and I don’t really care if it reflects badly on my parents. My parents chose to keep my siblings and I out of the sexual education classes when it came time. I can respect that they wanted to protect us from sexual things before it had to happen, that they had their morals and stuck to them. And it’s true, I think children are exposed to things of a sexual nature far earlier than reasonable. My parents did try to have the talk with me, but I knew what was coming and pretended I was au fait with it all, you know, Mum being a nurse and all.

So you can imagine why just once, the very first time without a condom and suddenly, the realisation struck me,

“Oh. That’s why no one wants to wear a condom.”

It also helped me understand how, without any sexual education, someone might come to hypothesise that extra-attentive cleansing and washing might prevent pregnancy. Gosh I’m glad I went and read up on my own.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, be safe. Condoms aren’t the end of the world, even though they taste funny. In fact, they make things a little easier in terms of clean up. But when you’re with someone and have absolute confidence and evidence that they’re clean, having that reassurance makes what follows that much better. I guess that could be one possible point of differentiation between fucking and doing something that goes beyond sex.

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The C Word: Children

My parents always made sure we ate dinner together since we were little. It was a time when everyone at the table had a chance to share what had happened that day. It was probably mundane and dull for them, but those experiences added up to a certain kind of closeness. In a family with four children with 6 years between the oldest and youngest (poor Mum), a variety of personalities, and different activities (again, poor Mum who drove us around!)… it was actually quite nice, looking back. Now, two of my siblings are married, with the third wedding scheduled for this summer.

This wedding and naturally, conjecture as to who would be the first to produce a grandchild has been on my mind of late. I mean, really, with uni on and my dad here, it’s not like I have much to talk about. (Discussion of autonomy in my life with my parents alive is a wholly different post.) So, grandchildren. I posited the first child would come from L&C, whose wedding will be this summer. One sibling is frightened of episiotomies and tearing, and the other has career constraints. I have accepted the opinion that there is no good time to get married and/or have babies.

Something of note was the topic progression at dinner. Mind you, just me and Dad. So, it goes: siblings -> wedding -> married siblings -> grandchildren -> my status as unmarried -> grandchildren (again) -> grandparents -> desired number of grandchildren -> realistic number of grandchildren -> age -> mutagens that affect eggs -> age to have children -> relatives without children -> adoption -> surrogacy -> Bertold Weisner: a scientist who replaced sperm samples with his own and fathered approximately 600 children.

Right. That’s not awkward.

Yes it is.

~

P knows I want children. I love kids. I will readily admit I am clucky. I have some babysitting experience with a range of ages, from barely out of diapers to about year 6. I’d like to think I’ve seen not just the pleasant afternoon visit side of them, but the snotty, wailing, peeing-themselves side too. I know that while I don’t quite have rose-coloured glasses on, there’s still more I have yet to see and experience.

But there aren’t any prerequisites to having babies, aside from introducing an egg to sperm. I mean, just look at all the teenage girls who pop them out easy as anything! Case in point, one girl in my friend R’s graduating year who said,

“Oh, I’m not going to uni, I’m going to have a baby and go on the dole.”

Lovely. I would like to say I do support socialised medicine, I just don’t support entitlement and taking advantage of the system.

Despite my cynicism and frustration, I want kids. I’ve said it to P before. P said, “Why do you want kids? They’re just a prop for you, an accessory.” Paring away the prickles of the question, what are my reasons for having children? I didn’t and don’t actually have an answer.

  • It’s not to give my parents grandchildren (though free babysitting would be nice.)
  • It’s not so that I won’t have to go into a nursing home when I’m grey and wrinkly (though that’s not a guarantee anymore.)
  • It’s not for social acceptance.

What about the reasons do I have? They are small and fragile. Some people would readily interject, “That’s stupid. You’re being selfish. You have unresolved issues.”

But so what? Why can’t my answer be: “because I want to”?  Who ever said you needed approval from a selection panel made up of all and sundry to procreate? This isn’t defending a PhD thesis.

I don’t have original rationale for why I want babies. P doesn’t even want children. It could be a deal-breaker for us. I know P likes children. I mean, hello, if P didn’t, P wouldn’t have a job! But working with children and having children are completely different. This will have to be a discussion, probably spread over multiple occasions. Just having the discussion isn’t enough. There must be logical and pragmatic conclusions.

I wonder if there’s a handbook or something out there. Probably.

Bedtime, ahoy!