I'm at that age ::cough thirty cough cough::: where the majority of people around me are popping out babies left and right. Adorable wonderful interesting funny babies that are growing into even more incredible-to-watch-learn-and-grow mini-humans. I have been stressing/debating about whether to have kids or not considerably more these past few years, what with getting married and turning thirty and all.
Most of my adult life I have felt pretty strongly that I didn't want to have kids. It didn't seem the punk/queer/feminist/anti-capitalist thing to do. Thinking about it usually actually gives me a physical reaction similar to seeing a bag of dog poop or some other abhorrent object. But then some smart and rad slightly older punk/queer/feminist/anti-capitalist friends started making babies, and I saw that being a parent could be this beautiful act that clearly aligns with ones' radical political beliefs and ethics.
Part of my reservations around being a parent involve literally just feeling really weird that I could be responsible for another humans' life. This is sort of out of character, as I'm no stranger to responsibility and taking care of myself, friends, pets, my partners, etc. I've also accepted the inherent adult-ness that comes with a full-time career, getting married, etc. But this situation of creating a human and making sure it grows up happy and healthy and having to sacrifice so much for it for the rest of your life, is a level I just don't know if I can handle.
I have the ubiquitous fears most others have - not wanting to become our parents (even though we all do), not knowing if I'd screw my kid up, etc. But I also intrinsically have this sense of uneasiness around creating life. While I am extremely grateful that I exist, that I am in fact alive, I also have an intense comprehension of the fact that existence is not consensual. We don't ask to exist in this world. But of course, we do. Our parents end up having children, and here we are. They do their best in their own capacity to protect us and prepare us for the realities of living in this world. However, nothing can really fully prepare us for the realities of decades of adulthood better than living, making mistakes, and (hopefully) learning and not repeating those mistakes. Becoming an adult is not easy. It's lonely and scary and overwhelming and intimidating. But of course, once you master the art of taking care of yourself successfully and independently, it's wildly empowering and liberating.
Even with that sense of pride in making it through my 20's and knowing that I'm more than just okay, still moving forward, still ambitious, and still full of dreaminess and silliness --- I cannot in good conscience force another human to exist in this world. I especially cannot do that to someone who would be born now or in the near future -- this world of self-obsession, oppression, destruction, human apathy, too much technology, and overall destructive decadence. I cannot feel okay about knowing my child will have to suffer through comprehending the fact that we cannot do whatever we want. That we are mortal, terribly fragile and absolutely mortal, and that we will spend the majority of our lives doing things we almost painfully do not want to do (school, work, etc). I just don't know if it's fair to force that experience upon someone else.
I know this sounds really negative and potentially bonkers/not very "me", but it's just a reality for me. It's not pessimistic or cynical, necessarily. It's just one way of looking at things.
I also know, on the other hand, that existence is magical and beautiful and random and once you exist you most likely will do everything in your power to keep existing because not existing is just too horrific to really imagine. This world contains beauty and wonder, despite all the destruction. Humans and other animals are funny and interesting and also awe-inspiring. I think getting to exist fucking rules, though it is not necessarily always easy.
Seeing the new mini-humans that are my close friends/family complicates all of my already-complex feelings on this. New life, soft and unknowing and sweet and tender, is of course deeply intoxicating. Watching children figure things out and express themselves with wild abandon is beyond inspiring, and a good way to shake off the grayness of being tired and older and jaded. I generally keep a strong sense of child-like enthusiasm and wonder in my life, and I do think experiencing the world with a child of my own would only strengthen that sense to an even more ecstatic level.
Then, of course, there's biology. As a queer person with a trans partner, I feel deeply saddened I cannot have a child that is both of our biological makeup. I know that many many parents, of all sexual orientations, go through this for a variety of reasons and it doesn't deter them. But it's still disheartening, as part of the magic of procreation is watching this new life that is a combination of you and this person you love super intensely. I can't help but feel sad and cheated somehow that we can't have that experience.
But then again, the human capacity to love is truly remarkable and we have big hearts that love a lot. As queer/punk/feminist/anti-capitalists, we have fought our whole lives to re-define everything, including the meaning of "family." I think I could, in the end, be totally elated with any child that was mine to nurture and protect and teach, whether they were made up of my genetic material or not.
And finally, there's the Shulamith-Firestone-2nd-Wave feminist in me that can't help but feel rage at the fact that my body would no longer be my own if I had a child, and in this patriarchal society my feminine body is very rarely truly my own as it is. I don't like the patriarchal implications of just accepting that things will happen to my body that I'm not actually going to be happy with. BUT on the other hand, the woo-French feminist in me feels intrigued and envious of pregnant bodies, in all of their visceral maternal glory. Like I would enjoy taking up space in a world where women are demonized for doing that. Like I'd relish in growing life, feeding the new born life, showing unimaginable strength and resilience, and showing no shame for the body's natural processes and fluids and changes.
I still don't know what this all means, which is a bit frustrating as thirty-one is coming up quickly and I'm not much closer to knowing what I want. I vacillate between dreams of being one of those fit and fun older child-less couples, with money to travel, tan from all the vacations and with lots of pets to love and dote upon. But I'm also Sicilian, and babies and family are deeply imbedded in me. I also dream of a tiny mini-me, with a traditional Italian name, that I teach all our family traditions to and have wild life adventures with. Maybe that's a selfish motivation, but isn't it always at least a little bit selfish, wanting to see that reflection of ourselves and achieving that slight immortality in having younger generations to cherish our memory?
Whatever, all I know is that I am thirty and baby crazy and baby phobic and I want all the things and I am a Gemini and I am not good at decisions that involve having to pick just one of the options.
Until I figure it out, let me hold your cute babies, and tell me about your life that is child-free or child-filled. Maybe we can figure it out together.