Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Not The Mama
A few years ago, I was discussing worldly philosophical things with my neighbor. I was enjoying our conversation on perception and how reality shifts with experience. Our conversation seemed objective and safe; we were considering the world at large when, out of nowhere, he said, "You know, Jen, you'll never feel complete unless you have children."
He said it casually; we were playing chess. Odds are, we were drinking, too. It was at a time in my life when drinking and chess made me quite happy, so I shrugged it off in that moment, saying he had no idea what he was talking about. I was thoroughly fulfilled! Right? Our conversation was soon steered back to the general population.
My neighbor was a recovering addict who beat me, always beat me, when we played chess. I respected this and usually listened carefully to most of the advice he gave me, so when I returned home that night I was discontented and genuinely confused because I felt no desire to have kids, and yet here was a theory that I would never be a whole person until I reproduced. Could there be some truth here? After all, my neighbor was not coming from a place of anger or contempt; he delivered his message with what I believe to be genuine interest in my well being.
I'm thirty years old today, and I am childless. Many people accuse me of living as a younger person might: pursuing a writing career; living hand-to-mouth in a small apartment; making three trips each week to the grocery store, where I purchase frozen meals; having no equity and little in the way of savings. Nonetheless, I'm doing the best I can with the resources as my disposal. Further, I'm beginning to feel my age. And I have to say, I still have no desire to have a child. This is not because I'm successful in my career. Far from it. I'm always perplexed by women who say they want to put their career first. Life is always messy, so why does there have to be a pecking order to such things? I hold my family (husband, parents, sister, two grandmothers, dog and my cat) dear to my heart and would not sacrifice my relationships with them for anything. Yet, I don't have any inkling to expand that family, nor do I have any excuse as to why. I just don't want kids.
This might change, but right now it's how I feel and no tears have been shed since. I am thoroughly happy and fulfilled. And I wanted to make this statement publicly, just in case there is another woman out there who feels alone in her lack of maternal inclination. Feeling the way I do now in fact, I'll bet that if I ever meet this man again, he'd have a far tougher time putting me in check.
[The above illustration is from an early 90s TV show called "The Dinosaurs" The baby used to say "Not da Mama" repeatedly and bash his father over the head with a frying pan. It was quite the show!]