Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Better Selfish Than Sorry
When I went to Boston and DC a couple weeks ago, all I took was my purse and a backpack. For an entire week. My sister packed a rolling suitcase, carry-on and a large purse, scoffing at my über compact packing. But, as I explained to her, I love the freedom that comes with less baggage. I love being able to weave in and out of crowds without a giant trailer in tow. I love that I don't have to deal with more than what's attached to my own body.
On the trip, we met a lovely man who was one of my brother-in-law's coworkers. He wore an Indiana Jones-style hat. He was in his late 50s or early 60s and was one of the friendliest people we encountered.
But as we sat chatting with him one night in the hotel bar, the topic of children came up. Specifically, whether Mr. Wonderful and I were going to procreate. I told him I thought we would probably skip that step.
"You know what you are," said the man who'd known me a mere 4 hours. "You're selfish."
Now, I could have gasped and fled the bar or retorted with some sort of scolding remark. But I'm used to people reacting this way when I say I don't think I want kids.
Even I am guilty of asking people after they get married, "do you guys want children?" I think to some degree, we're all conditioned to expect each other to do it. And I think our parents' generation is particularly so. Which is likely one of the reasons Indiana Jones responded the way he did.
But as I explained to him, I think the flipside of child-bearing is often far more selfish.
There are women out there who get pregnant simply because they "want someone to love." There are couples who dive into parenthood despite the fact that they do not have the means to properly support a child. There are moms who devote more time to pedicures and pilates than they do helping their children with their homework. And don't even get me started on the stupid 19 Kids and Counting people. There is NO way that mother and father can give each individual child the attention it deserves.
People like me and Mr. W who may spend our lives spoiling our nieces and friends' children: we are not selfish. We're realists. We realize that we prefer things the way they are now and that kids just may not be in the cards. And by the way, we may be doing a favor for the entire world, as overpopulation continues to be a problem.
It would be nice if others could understand this perspective better.
Just as I am genuinely happy any time I find out someone is having a baby (except for maybe the Duggar family), I would love it if other people were happy when they found out I may never have kids.
I wish that people could see that we all have to choose how heavy a load we want to carry. And for me, at least right now, a single backpack is all I want.