I wrote this on my cell phone (in the iPhone’s Notes app) while dozing off on the plane ride home on Saturday night. I thought it was kinda funny and maybe even a little interesting, so I’ll share it with y’all… 😉
So I’m buzzed on Benadryl on a plane. It’s an awesome way to be. The sun has set behind us and the last ribbon of light is persisting, the last holdout before an inevitable tonight brings an official tomorrow.
I’m sitting alone with no one with whom to bump elbows or apologize for encroaching on the Almighty Personal Space.
I’ve tilted my seat back, my consolation prize for the airline having stuck the one single babbling-verbose baby behind me, who has not yet learned the arts of vocal cord modulation nor inhibition of impulses. And apparently it’ll be quite a few years yet before they do.
There’s always one boisterous infant or toddler on any and every given flight originating from or pointing to Texas, thanks to the incessant sentiment of extreme pronatalism and continued irrational support for such a nonsensical philosophy.
I never did understand it–the “need” to have children. “Oxytocin deficiency!” I’m sure some people would cry, those who can’t fathom how there might be people on this earth who just might choose not to procreate, no matter what the format. And rather than feel sorry for those of us “afflicted” by the Not Happening Factor of childbirth or lack thereof, they inundate us with a judgment-saturated Bingo card espousing the beliefs on whether or not it’s even a moral duty to have kids or not. Or whether or not I’m an angry immature, hate-filled psychopath just because I chose not to become a parent this time around.
Usually, the answer(s, to all of the above) is (are) “no”. None of the above assumptions would apply to me.
But so many would insist that there’s something not quite right in my head, I’m sure.
Because I fall into such an odd minority, a group who dares defy the laws of nature, hormones, instinct, and indeed our very humanity by Just Saying No.
It’s not that I’m some child-hating monster. I promise. I’m just really honest with myself, not that I’m saying that childed people are lying to themselves. I’m sure that most of them aren’t, and neither am I.
It’s just a matter of life choices. Having children is in the cards for so many, but I was dealt (or I dealt myself?) different cards. It’s not Blackjack; no one’s cards are higher or lower, and nobody’s going to bust.
I simply chose not to deal with the Child Card. The diapers, the screaming, the sleeplessness, the worry, the decisions about schools and child-rearing, the stress, and so much more.
My need to keep life simple trumped any need to contribute another body, another set of Carbon Feet, to the world (who would undoubtedly leave their own sets of Carbon Footprints on said world). I needed to minimize the number of variables in my Life Equation.
The decision came easily, after a few years of fence-sitting. A fruit basket of uterine fibroids sealed the deal. (Hell, with the number and size of fibroids I spawned, there probably wouldn’t have been room left over to have grown any children properly in there, anyway.)
Five years ago, I was preparing for the irrevocable revocation of any anatomical ability to bear fetal fruit. I was sitting down with my surgeon and he was reviewing with me the Informed Consent, pages long, as a matter of technicality; he and I already knew everything contained therein.
“So of course, you understand that you will never be able to carry a fetus to term?” he said. It was actually more of a statement than a question.
But it was not a rhetorical one, so before he had finished asking, I was already vehemently nodding in affirmation.
“Yep,” I said. “Perfectly fine. I won’t miss or regret that.”
His expression was equal parts taken aback and relieved. No after-the-fact mind-changer here. No tears in his office awaited him six months or years down the road. He’d hear no wistful grief from me, no wailing moans of regret, no claims that my life was ruined.
I was calm, serene, solid.
Because unlike so many parents who don’t dare remove their cloak of anonymity online, I had thought it through. Having children was not all about Kodak Moments and bragging rights. It would have been a lot of unpleasant fluids, horrific sounds, difficult decisions, new sets of Joneses to keep up (or resist keeping up) with, mountains of financial expenditure, and everything else.
The reason they call them Kodak Moments is because they’re just that rare. And yet, that’s all that a want-to-be parent often thinks about.
I’ve babysat often enough to know the feeling of relief I felt when the children’s parents came home and I was off the hook. As much as I liked the kids and as much fun as we’d had that evening, there was a certain liberation in going back to my life, sans children.
When some of my friends had babies, it was (naturally, understandably) all about that. It was tough to get together, because either the baby would have to come along, complete with its unpredictable feeding/diaper/fussy internal clock, or childcare would have to be sought and solidified, an effort which depends on the reliability of another person, who was liable to fall through.
Nope, not for me, thanks.
I admire those friends who became parents without losing themselves, who maintained their own senses of self and identity, separate from their children and their roles as their parents.
I didn’t admire the people who inevitably end up on planes, my planes, in seat assignments too close to mine, especially sans Benadryl or some other way of calming or sedating the child.
I’m not a parent and even I know not to do that to an entire flight of (100-170+) people.
When the surrounding passengers have to down two glasses of wine and a Benadryl themselves and hope to pass out in slightly-reclined seats just to keep their sanity throughout the flight because of the one child that screws up the serenity for everybody else with shrill, unpredictable outbursts, there’s a problem.