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.