Ah, May, the month of (depending on where you live!) unfurling and burgeoning life, the height of spring. There is new life everywhere. I expect to see the mass groupings of cute turkey poults (baby turkeys) skittering across the road by the end of the month. My garden is starting to go nuts and the flowers and trees are in full bloom. Even one of our writers is about to give birth. Basically the world is, and will be, full of offspring.
Of course, this isn’t new. This is a cycle of life that has been going on since the first single-celled organism formed out of the primordial ooze. All reproducing species engage this process. And rightly so, where else would we be as a biosphere without such drives?
However, with the advent of pre or post preventive measures around pregnancy (contraceptives or, abortifacients), things changed. Given that humans could alter the breeding patterns of other creatures, they could certainly start to make their own decisions around having children. And they have.
Yes Or No
Despite the fact that we’ve been making these choices for quite some time now, there seems to be great resistance towards the idea of people choosing to not have children. Apparently, keeping your dog from being impregnated and having puppies is far easier to understand than accepting that a human might choose not to. (have kids, not puppies)
I am one of those people who have decided to go Child-Free. Throughout my life, I have associated kids with various concepts — Spawn of Satan, Disgusting Vectors of Bile and Pestilence, Annoying Cry Bags of NOT FUN (I joke!). Of course, even as a little kid, I knew that “girls had babies” but even as a little kid, I knew I didn’t want any.
I thought it perfectly reasonable. Then suddenly I started running into an odd sentiment. I was working as a relief counselor for a treatment house (someone who comes in when staff is sick) and one of the regulars and I were chatting about our lives. I’ve found the very second question to follow “Are you married?” is always, “Do you have children?”. I shake my head. The next question is always, “Oh, so when are you planning on it?” “Never.” I say. Occasionally this brings a blank face or an “Oh.” and it’s dropped.
But in this instance… “Wow, how selfish of you!” I think I was so speechless, I couldn’t instantly think of an appropriately snarky comeback. From that point on, instead of blank faces, I started getting, “Oh, you’re one of those ones.”, or “So, you’re one of the snobby kinds.”, a few more “selfish” comments. In a place like San Francisco, it was a bit breathtakingly odd.
At first I tried to explain why I had made the choice, but this didn’t seem to make a difference, nor did these particular folks seem to care. So, eventually I started learning to throw down in a variety of ways, “Don’t you think it’s selfish of you to have one, don’t you know how much your kid is costing the environment throughout their entire life?” (that IS a sticking point in the Bay Area), or for the obvious faint of heart, “I thought about it, but then I’d have to eat them.”, or just, “Jealous?”
My decision isn’t something I regret, nor will I ever. On tiny occasions, I do recognize that my husband and I would either raise super amazing kids or as therapists, super messed up kids and there’s a little curiosity about that. But the reason why I chose not to have kids is the same as why I don’t need to.
I am a multipotentialite, someone who has many interests and hates choosing amongst them. I recognized long ago that I was oriented in such a way that didn’t seem conducive to offspring. I have so much to do, both in my life and on my own Self, that I feel there is little space for a small being that I am fully responsible for, not just in basic needs but in the creation of a “good” person. I chose not to take on that responsibility.
All The Lasting Things
As a multipotentialite, in a way, I can “birth” (not to be gross or anything) all sorts of offspring. They may not be human, but they have the potential to last even longer than a child’s lifetime. I don’t need my DNA to move forward in the world if I have the genes of creativity perpetuating themselves long after I am gone. In some ways (or maybe in my mind, most ways), this is a more permanent offering to the world than continuing my family line.
And because I have so many interests, I could have quite a few lasting creative children running around out there. No need to put all my efforts into the raising of a singular person who is going to have their own life with their own interests. If I wanted any sort of lasting legacy for humanity, I don’t think a child would be it.
I don’t think this is “better” than having children. Everyone must make their own choice and I have to hand it to those that choose to become parents, to shift their lives and identities in service of the “next” human being. Neither my choice nor theirs are “better”, just “different”. We are each serving others and the world in our own way. How can there be anything selfish about either choice?
I’m very fortunate that my husband has about as much interest in having kids as I do so there isn’t that constant tension in my life. I’m happy that I will have the space to continue to grow more deeply within my own self and all my interests (as well as meeting new ones!). And I am very glad to have made my decision and I have no regrets.
But, I guess I’d better get cracking on all my creative gestations…!!!