362 – Why I don’t want babies

Well, the last blog was really interesting to write and I had one of those rare occasions where it started a conversation which I joined in with, albeit rather briefly. There was a comment on the post which sparked a reaction from me to the point where I read it out to the friends I was with. In fact it’s such an extraordinary comment I thought I ought to share it:

I often feel like responding to your blogs and write a couple of paragraphs before deciding the comments are valueless or could be misconstrued/cause offence and then hit delete. Acute diffidence was ever thus for me. This time I hope to take the plunge and press “send”.

Clearly, it’s not difficult to agree with your analysis of the futility of social media; fb is a poor substitute for social relationships. But then I often think you doubt the value of social relationships too; they too can be arbitrary, banal, fleeting, fragile and deceitful. Problem is, if social relationships can’t be trusted, what is left. Work, preferably overworking, is the obvious way to find some kind of transformative activity that we could deludedly claim to make us a better person. The fatigue, frustration and mental exhaustion that follow only serve ultimately to feed our demons rather than banish them.

There is only one thing that I have found to provide the impetus for being a better person in the way you describe. It won’t solve any of the day-to-day difficulties you fixate on and it will certainly destroy your finances and time management – but they are dire anyway, by the sound of it.

I could just spell it out. Instead, I would suggest you think about the qualities that I know you see and admire in your parents. Then try to imagine them being those fine, generous, caring and warm people withouth their children to love.

OK, I’ll spell it out. Peter, have babies!

If it’s of any consequence, it’s from my old drama teacher at high school, a man who had considerably impact on my future career, due to the way he worked with me, and whilst he didn’t influence me greatly as a person, his influence on my life is almost immeasurable. I’ve not seen him or spoken to him in a long time, but I occasionally have the social network contact that many of us experience, which ironically plays against the tone of the previous post. But there we go.

A few years ago, I would have discounted the above comment with a few swear words, and dismissed it, but I’d like to think I’m a little more measured these days. The last sentence takes the impact of course, but what’s being said in the body of the comment is much more pertinent to me, especially what it says about ‘actual’ relationships as opposed to the ‘online’ relationships which so obsess me at the moment. However, it’s hard to get away from the fact that someone is telling me that the thing missing in my life is children.

I didn’t dismiss this, I thought about it long and hard, but fortunately (for me and my wife) my opinion hasn’t changed. I wondered whether the things which are going on in my head at the moment are exactly that. Of course nature dictates that the only reason we’re here is to procreate and society does that too, to a certain extent, but people aren’t ostracised so much for not having babies as they once were. At no point in my miserable thirty eight years of life have I wanted to have babies. I’ve thought about it often, of course and the issue has come up through a number of long term relationships, fortunately without any result.

Most of my friends have, or are starting to plop them out, but most of them aren’t of the “Oo, it’s you next” persuasion, but I suppose that’s why they’re my friends. The people who react like that aren’t the sort of people I’d want as friends. There have been a few strange reactions, like people insisting I hold very young babies, with a suggestion that it’s for the good of the baby, but we all know that’s not true and it’s for the good of the hilarity of the parents. No, of course I don’t know how to hold a baby properly, why would I know that? Of course it freaks me out, not because I’m weird, but because I don’t want to drop your fucking baby on the floor you idiots!

I’m abundantly aware that it’s the accepted norm that now I’m married I ought to be plopping them out, but to be perfectly honest I struggle to look after myself let alone another human being. And yes, I know if I had one for myself it would be a game changer and my opinions would change completely and I’d love it unconditionally. I’m not stupid, I know all that stuff. I just don’t want them. I also know that all the stuff about “what sort of world would I be bringing them into, it’s not fair on them” is totally stupid, so I try not to say it anymore. After all, every generation says the same thing, and it’s always OK. Also I’m aware that the often used (by me) argument about there being enough people already is stupid and actually isn’t that true, with an ever ageing population. I’m trying to stop saying that too.

The fact is I just don’t want to and I don’t really feel the need to make excuses. Myself and my wife are happy as we are. Of course she’s considerably younger than me, and circumstances change. As I’ve often said before, never say never… but never. We’ll see.

So that’s what I feel about it, and as I write it down and think more about it, as I have since the last blog post, the ideas behind it have simplified a great deal. It’s not reason after reason (we have a fictitious ‘list’ against the idea, which we add to regularly) but just that I don’t want to. I don’t want to eat fish, so I don’t. Don’t worry parents, I’m not comparing your beloved child to a piece of hake, but it’s similarly straightforward in my mind. Nor is it, “he doth protest too much”, don’t worry. Oh, and the other thing I ought to point out, is that if you’re the ‘normal’ person, with the children, I don’t think I’m better than you, or you’re better than me. It’s just a choice and we’ve chosen differently. We’re all still lovely, I’m sure.

But back to the original comment at the start of this, from Mr. Stelling. He’s got it wrong, at least for me, though it’s a great little piece of writing and very thought provoking, I think. I’m having the morning off today, perhaps the afternoon and the evening too. I shall spend the day without anyone to worry about other than myself and my beautiful wife in our clean, relaxed, peaceful house, and I shall come and go as I please. Just the way I like it. The cat isn’t even here (but that’s a story for another day). I can promise you that will make me much happier than a baby screaming and shitting everywhere, a toddler running rampage and writing on the walls, or a teenager coming home telling me they’re pregnant. Lovely.

4 thoughts on “362 – Why I don’t want babies

  1. I have particularly strong feelings on this subject since the ‘plopping them out’ act that is repeatedly mentioned refers to me pushing another (albeit slightly smaller) human being out of my vastly swollen womb via my rather small cervix. As I have often said; that particular orifice is an entrance only right now thank you very much. My lack of care to experience ‘the miracle of birth’ may be viewed as selfish and I suppose it is though I prefer to see it as knowing myself, understanding my life and situation and acting accordingly in a sensible manner. As a couple we are busy. That’s partly a lifestyle choice, partly a ‘shit we’re broke’ thing. I don’t feel there’s anything distinctly lacking in my life, no gaping void of sufficient size to be filled by a child. Essentially I’m just not interested in the role of mother right now. I’m busy and happy living my life as dictated by myself not some misguided sense of purpose or the ‘natural order of thing’ Sod that I’m off to the gym and tonight I’ll fill that big child shaped hole in my life with curry, good conversation and mojitos

  2. In my experience, women who judge other women for not ‘wanting’ children are usually those who felt incomplete before having them, which is tragic in itself. Having kids is the hardest thing that’s ever happened to me – as well as being the most rewarding. If I’d had kids before I was emotionally, physically and financially ready, I’d be even more of a quivering wreck than I am now.

  3. All the women I know who have had children become insular and family obsessed. Once they were strong, independent, free thinking women with much to say. Having more consideration for society and being more tolerant of their fellow ‘man’. When they had their children they seemed to shut down completely focusing on their offspring. If the dad was around he very quickly became relegated to ‘money maker’ going to work too early to spend time with the child and returning late at night as the child was being put to bed. Even the most simple trip became a feat of ‘planning’ and ‘transportation’ with all spontaneity gone.
    As for myself did I appreciate my parents? all the sacrifices they made for me? Absolutely not. It is only when you think you are loosing them or actually loosing them that it dawns on you, all that they once were and all that they once did. And how selfish being a child actually is. The whole ‘family’ thing is a bit weird if you ask me, many are very dysfunctional with lots of mixed up motivations. I think I, like you, will give it a miss.

  4. Oh dear! I did say I was concerned about being misunderstood. I seem to have stirred up more than I intended. Maybe I should have scattered my piece liberally with text speak acronyms, smileys and emoticons to ensure that my comments weren’t taken too seriously.

    I hope at least I didn’t appear judgemental – I hope Peter would know me better than that.

    A wise chap once said to me that he thought two of the saddest things in life were to want children and not be able to have them or to have children you didn’t want. I think he had a point.

    I was only proposing having children you want and not to have them in order to fill holes in lives or lifestyles. Of course having children is a personal choice,
    and there can surely be no question about parenting making you a “better person” in itself. Having taught for nearly 30 years I am all too aware how poor some people are at parenting and the misery they cause, as a result, themselves and their kids.

    What I said was that parenting could be transformative in the way Peter said that he wanted to be “a better person”. In his post he spoke of wanting to be less selfish, less arrogant, less angry, more caring; not hard, I think, to see how someone ready to embrace parenting might find a change in these personal qualities by fulfilling that part of their life.

    There is a common paradox that underlies many aspects of personal development which applies here. You can’t have children to make yourself a better person -that would be selfish and therefore self-defeating. However, when you do genuinely want children, that can lead on to your becoming less self-centred and more caring. It’s instinctive and almost unavoidable. I’m sure you can think of many parallels.

    The agonies of pregnancy and the frustrations of dealing with tiresome toddlers or surly teenagers are part of what makes the process fulfilling, not reasons for avoiding it. And, in response to another reply, I am certainly not advocating having children so they can show you gratitude. That way lies inevitable disappointment. I just marvel at the way parents still find their offspring a blessing when the kids are totally ungrateful in return. That is the kind of experience I want Peter to enjoy. When so many of our relationships are transactional, what a joy is possible in one which isn’t.

    My exhortation at the end was meant to be light -a gentle nudge, in case Peter were in need of a little encouragement. It turns out to look more like a wild and impertinent stab in the dark, so I’ll now qualify my advice.

    Peter, if and when you are ready, have babies! It will end your quiet, and orderly house (as you like it) but you might find youself less angry. No pressure, honest!

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