I went to the bridal shower of my best friend from elementary school this weekend. There were a number of other people I grew up with there, and more than a few of them had teenage kids. I am 33 years old.
I grew up in a small town. There were two movie theaters when I was a kid, but by the time I hit high school, both of them had closed. As those of you who grew up in similar situations can attest, when teens have nothing else to do, they tend to revert to the free and readily available stand-by of good old-fashioned boning. And smoking lots of weed. But mostly sex, and a whole bunch of teenage moms. I knew these women had babies when we were in high school, but the reality that their kids were now old enough to drive threw me for a bit of a loop. And then, of course, came the questioning of my childless state. The truth, and what I told them, is that we aren’t planning on having kids. The responses this time, though, surprised me. While this statement is usually met with varying amounts of derision, people claiming I just don’t realize I want one yet, or the alwaysappreciated admonishments for being selfish, here it was different. There was a wistful look in their eyes as they accepted my statement and moved onto the next topic. I cannot recall the last time I haven’t had to defend myself for deciding to remain childless.
For those out there without kids by choice, you know what I’m talking about here. It is a topic that has been covered many times and by people much more eloquent than myself. It’s not that I don’t like kids; quite the opposite. I adore little ones – babies, toddlers, and every age on up. I was a live-in and out nanny for years. Friends that are pregnant or parents ask me for parenting advice all the time because I have spent so much time parenting, just not my own children. My friends call me the Baby Whisperer, and I have a particular deep-knee bounce that is so effective at soothing a crying kid that I should patent the damn thing. Seriously, I have yet to meet the child that can continue to cry once the bounce begins. And yes, this includes soothing still-nursing babies in the middle of the night when I have no boob to shove in their little mouths. It is that good. This only serves to contribute to the incessant urging to breed, however. “But you’re so good with them!” And, “You guys would be such good parents!” are common lovely compliments, but do nothing to change my mind.
Here’s the thing – one of the reasons we are so good with kids is simple – we have slept through the night. We are well rested. We have not had to get up at the crack of dawn to get everyone ready for the day, put in a full day at the office, and then come home to cook dinner, do homework, clean house, give baths, etc., etc., etc. It is the perfect situation for everybody involved as it stands now. Parents get a much deserved break from the constant needs of their child, the kids get two people who are fresh and ready to run around like fools to entertain them, and we get our fill of baby/kiddo time. Then everyone goes back home to their respective positions; repeat as necessary. I am the person that my friends call when they need their first night out after giving birth. That is an AWESOME feeling for me, knowing that they trust me enough to take care of this new and infinitely precious person for them so they can eat dinner without having spit-up running down their neck. I am delighted to do it every time I am asked.
We have left the door open just a crack on the kid front. We have said we will revisit it at 35 and see where we stand, and if we decide we want one, we will adopt. I have absolutely no desire to be pregnant, no desire at all, and there are plenty of babies and kids out there that need loving homes (contrary to the dearth the anti-choice folks like to spout off about). While we have gotten some push-back on this (and the family members most against us adopting are the ones whole are also vehemently anti-choice. Riddle me that, Batman), pretty much everyone is on board. The old “it is totally different when it is your own biological child” trope does not fly with me, since my step-dad adopted me when I was younger. Whenever someone busts that out, I ask them if they think my dad loves me less than my little brother and sister, his biological kids. This shuts them up real quick. And the funniest thing to me, now that everyone knows that’s our plan, is how their language has changed. They no longer say “You guys need to have a baby!” We now hear “You guys need to get a baby.” Whether we do or not is yet to be seen. It’s pretty close to 100% on the “no” front, but I will never say never. Perhaps one morning I will wake up and my broken biological clock will have magically repaired itself and the urge to have a munchkin running around will overwhelm me. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.