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.