• Tue, Jul 26 2011

Why I Want Kids

You know what I want to do? Pop out 700 babies. When? How about next Tuesday?

No, not really. I would prefer to wait until next Wednesday. Or 5 years from now. Or whenever I’m stable enough in my career to make sure that I could afford good schools and regular baby sitting. But there’s no question in my mind that I do want them. Not today, but someday.

Which is a very different opinion than the one shared by some of my colleagues. Former Gloss editor Lilit Marcus recently appeared on The Today Show and talked about why she wishes to remain childless. And she’s certainly not alone, there are a great many women, especially those in their 20′s, who would opt to remain child free.

Which I understand. I’ve read We Need To Talk About Kevin. I am aware that the worst thing that can happen when you have kids is not “they might not like you when they grow up” but “they might become a serial killer.” I think having a child opens you to a world of worry and difficulties that you can’t even fully conceive of before you have them.

I want them anyway.

My mom and I were chatting the other day about why people want to have children, and she mentioned that having them just to live vicariously through them was a terrible idea. She noted that she thought the reason many people had children was because they expected the kids to be identical versions of themselves, but better.

And that probably is a terrible idea, because it is destined for failure. Partly because I’m not arrogant enough to believe that any child of mine would necessarily be the best child in the world. I’m fully aware that when I parented them I’d hopefully give them some of my good traits, but they’d also likely pick-up some of my neurosis. And we might have very little in common, that kid and I. You’re essentially inviting a stranger into your house when you get pregnant. You’re not inviting a super-awesome clone of yourself. But you do get to experience some of the best parts of life again, and I think that would be wonderful.

Think about it. There are certain milestones in life that lots of people, not everyone, but lots of us, want to hit. They probably start when you’re a teenager. If we go with the sort of Hollywood approved standards they’d be something along the lines of: getting your driver’s license. Going to Prom. Graduating high school. Falling in love for the first time. Turning 21. Graduating college. Getting your first job. Getting your own place. Getting married.

And then… then you wait to die.

Not really. It’s not that bleak. But many of life’s conventional milestones probably have been hit by the time you’re 40. If you have a child, it’s a chance to watch someone else experience those milestone’s all over again. Of course, they’ll be different than they were for you, but you’ll still be a part of them.

And watching someone experience the first time on those things seems like it would be pretty great. Because as you get older, the glow does fade off of those things. Driving a car will never be exciting for me the way it was when I was 16. At this point on the rare occasssion I drive I grimly think “okay, I’ve got t drive somewhere. Damn.” I’ll never be as thrilled with a job as I was when I got my first one. Disneyland will never seem as good as it did when you were 5 years old. Of course, things are still great, but they’ve lost the sheen of the new. And I know that the closest I’ll get to reliving that feeling is to be with someone I love when they experience those joys for the first time.

More life. I suppose that’s what I want. I want to do it all again. But I’d settle for watching my child do it.

And beyond that, I think it’s just good to have someone you love more than yourself. I think it makes us better people to be able to sacrifice your wants for someone else’s needs. And I think that getting the excitement of the new all over again is the payback for those sacrifices that you will have to make.

And, hey, the odds of them becoming a serial killer are probably pretty small. Probably.

Share This Post:
  • Jon

    Ugh. You’ll get fat though.

  • Eileen

    I like taking care of kids. I like teaching them about the things that matter to me, and watching them gain confidence and perspective and skills. I will never forget the time I was playing Barbies with a four-year-old and explained that not every woman marries the first guy who falls in love with her. Nor the time when the fourteen-year-old I was tutoring told me he didn’t want me to leave before I finished explaining about regionalism in the early nineteenth-century United States. Or the time my thirteen-year-old charge asked me if Catholics have to choose Catholics to be their Confirmation sponsors, or if she could pick me. I like to watch children find themselves, discover their personalities, their interests, their passions. So I’ve always wanted kids of my own, except for a brief period when I was ten and thought that the idea of sex was gross.

    As for getting fat, my mother still fits into the clothes she wore when she was in college, and that was thirty years and three babies ago, so I’m not too worried. I’m just as likely to get fat from chocolate – probably more, if I’m being honest.

  • Jamie Peck

    Most of these points make sense! And unlike you, I’m pretty sure I want to remain child free. Careful, though:

    “I think it makes us better people to be able to sacrifice your wants for someone else’s needs.”

    You do not need to have kids in order to do this. Conversely, having kids does not necessarily mean you are going to do this. There are a lot of terrible, selfish parents out there. Conversely, there are lots of wonderfully un-selfish child free folk. Whether or not you have spawned says nothing about your personal character traits or willingness to sacrifice for others.

    • wyltk

      So true.

  • Lo

    The milestone thing is interesting — I’m kind of the opposite, in that I don’t want to have to experience childhood again. I had a good, stable childhood, but there are things about even that that I couldn’t inflict on another human being.

    … And now I’m wondering what sort of milestones a serial killer’s family celebrates. I hope there’s an appropriate cake.

  • Colleen Williams

    I definitely don’t want kids, and my reasons are a firm unselfish threefold. One. I think that first & foremost, my genes suck, and any poor kid that inherited this shitshow would curse me until my death. I’m redheaded, I have a -9 prescription in glasses, I burn after 2 seconds in the sun, I’m 6 ft tall and 120 lbs. I’m a WALKING VAMPIRE. No child deserves this. Second, I am a firm believer that overpopulation is destroying everyone’s wellbeing and the earth’s sustainability and I cannot bring my own child to inherit such a terrible world. What if there’s no food in the future? What if there’s no water? What if the US is a 3rd world country? What if THERE IS NO NINTENDO!?! And third, I ain’t got no money, I got nothin’ by $100k in student loans, and plants die by my hand.

    I’m literally saving a life here, guys.

  • Arnie

    Eileen, I think you pretty much summed up the main reason I love working with kids.

    I’ve worked as a nanny, a tutor, and a support worker in a special education unit, and I honestly do find it so incredibly rewarding. It certainly has its moments, but it’s such an awesome feeling when you’re teaching a kid something that they’re really struggling with, and it all suddenly clicks into place. It’s incredible when you can help them learn something about themselves, and I feel privileged to be able to witness that. I love knowing that I’ve made a difference in someone’s life.
    It’s also awesome that I get paid to make cookie dough, play with paints, and build incredible pillow forts.

    It seems to me that a lot of people seem to have kids because it seems like the thing they should do, because society, or their families, or whoever, expects them to, rather than because they expressly want children. To me, it’s sad that I sometimes raise the kids more than their parents do.

    To be honest, I’m still not entirely sure if I want kids of my own. I think at this stage in my life I’m still too selfish to deal with having children that I can’t give back at night. But maybe one day.

  • Mike

    I am so f*cking glad I don’t have kids. Age 39. I love my life.

  • Francois Tremblay

    “And, hey, the odds of them becoming a serial killer are probably pretty small. Probably.”

    And you are ready to take that risk? What will you do if they are born sociopathic and nothing in your amateur child-raising beliefs can change that?

    What about the odds of them having a birth deformity?
    What about the odds of them having cystic fibrosis?
    What about the odds of them having Downs syndrome?
    What about the odds of them having meningitis?
    What about the odds of them being in a car accident?
    What about the odds of them being verbally, physically or sexually abused by another member of the family?

    Are you ready to take responsibility for all those risks, and every single other risk of harm that a young person goes through? What do you intend to do to atone to society and to your child if any of them comes true? Anything? Or are you just gonna wash your hands of it?

    If it’s the latter, then do you at least realize how purely evil it is to delegate fatal risks upon someone who never asked for them? In any other situation, we’d call you a criminal.

  • Jessie

    It’s refreshing to see more people who are openly averse to having kids. For years I felt like a puppy murderer whenever I announced to friends and family my wish to not procreate. My reasons are several and personal, but I can simply say I’m too selfish to become a mother. Or I can just blame it on people like Casey Anthony and pretty much the entire cast of Toddlers and Tiaras. Thanks but no thanks.

    • Francois Tremblay

      Read on the subject of “antinatalism.” You should find a lot of like-minded people. Get your hands on the book “Better Never to Have Been,” by David Benatar, if you can.

  • Francois Tremblay

    Seems like the author of this piece is too cowardly to answer the hard questions.