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.