Photo credit: Pinterest, Michele Manly
For me, the strangest people I can hang out with are parents and their children. We did that tonight, had dinner at the house of some friends who have three kids, and it felt like the weirdest thing.
It was the trifecta of the above image. They weren’t our age (generally our friends with kids are a tiny bit to a bit older). They didn’t speak our language or, more to the point, they spoke an additional language (kid) which I have absolutely no fluency in. And for social class, well, can married with children be a social class? Fuck it, I think so and, if so, we are definitely excluded from that class (by choice, at this stage, mind you).
I freeze up around kids. I don’t know how to talk to them. Do you talk to them like little humans? Like adults? What if what they’re saying is just gibberish and they can’t communicate? Do you baby talk back to them even if they have a few simple words? I heard that was bad for them. It’s like a little person minefield. I can feel myself not having a clue and I imagine they’re judging me (little assholes!) so I just stop. I eye them with a decent amount of suspicion and I let the other adults interact with them. Meanwhile, my partner gets them. They climb over him. They want his attention. It’s not that I’m jealous, I just have no. fucking. clue. The difference between us is striking.
And then, whenever this happens, it raises the inevitable question. Will we have kids? Do I want kids? By his own admission, he doesn’t want them for another five or six years. But he does want them. Me, on the other hand, well… I don’t even like them that much. Sure, the ones tonight were pretty cute and quite well behaved compared to the others I’ve met. But still, that doesn’t mean I want to commit my life (and my body, my freedom and possibly my sanity) to the raising of my own. Perhaps if adopting or fostering were an option but that still requires a huge commitment even if it takes the strain off my body.
And is that the big issue for me? I asked myself this as we had our little discussion turned argument about our child bearing future. Is my problem with the biological unfairness of childbirth or is it with children in general? Does it make me vain or shallow to even be considering motherhood in this light? I honestly can’t say. I don’t think so. It’s a genuine concern for me. I don’t think it’s selfish, just realistic. Is it that I haven’t met enough children whose company I genuinely enjoy or am I one of those women who simply doesn’t get kids and never will? At 32, is it too early to call it?
Still, I know enough to hate the walking on eggshells feeling I get when talking about this with my partner. It’s as if we can both tell how close we are to an ultimatum but don’t want to press our point because we still feel like we have time to change our position. Or we hope the other person will soften theirs. It’s a stalemate that shows no sign of weakening until biology steps in and makes it an imperative. Five to six years, you say? Seems like a lifetime, seems like just around the corner.
I feel like I need to make a concerted effort to meet and interact with more kids so I can say for certain. I don’t believe I was always this way.