When I was younger, I always marveled at how my mother could so easily give up the bigger piece, or in some instances, that last piece of cake to her children. To me that was the epitome of what defines a mother. That extreme act of selflessness, of sacrifice, to ensure that her child never wants for cake. I think this was likely my first inkling that children might not be at the top of the list when considering how my future might play out. And not because I want all the cake. I just don’t like the idea of feeling obligated to share.
And perhaps it would be different if I did have a baby. Perhaps my love for this larval progeny I’ve created would overwhelm any feelings I have of eing unfairly manipulated into giving over my dessert. But it stands to reason that the mere fact I tend to refer to babies as progeny, larvae, brood, etc would suggest that my maternal tendencies are somewhat lacking. And truly, I have no concious desire to procreate. Friends tease, they tell me that I’m 32, my biological clock blah blah blah. As though I’ll suddenly be overwhelmed by the need to have some parasitic entity squirming around inside of me for 9 months until it pops out and pretty much ends any chance I have of seducing a 27 year old flamenco dancer on my 42nd birthday while vacationing in the south of spain.
Of course, I am not immune to the genetically imprinted biological yearnings the species has to propagate. Like all women of childbearing years, I ovulate, so for approximately 12 hours every month I have an incredibly strong urge to copulate with the best the species has to offer. Fortunately, I’m not unaware of it, or a slave to this idea that women must have babies. That’s what we do. Because we can.
I call bullshit.
Don’t misunderstand. The very fact that something which starts off as a single cell, and grows to be an incredibly efficient computing machine (even if it only fulfills a small portion of it’s hard and software potential) is amazing to me. Couple that with the fact that every single one of these entities is unique. The set of cells that compose me will disappate once I die and they will never recombine to form anything quite like me, ever again. It’s quite fantastic. It was fantastic all 6, 752, 099, 100 times it’s happened to get us to the population we’re at right now. It’s likely much more than that even since I’ve typed this sentence. Whether it’s bang on accurate or not is beside the point, reasonable estimate will sometimes do in a pinch. I get my information from worldometers, of course. It’s good to have perspective and interesting to see the categories they’ve added as a result of what’s become culturally embedded as an everyday occurrence. For instance, blogs written, google searches and money spent on obesity related issues in the u.s weren’t there a year ago.
What does all of this have to do with a decision on my part to not have children? Why would I? There are millions already who have no one. And still, every minute there are more being born. Single moms of octuplets aside, what about 14 year old girls dropping out of high school to have a baby because the school advocated abstinence, rather than sex education that actually applies to kids in a practical fashion with all their raging hormones, need to experiment and insistence that pregnancy won’t happen to them. If I’m susceptible to forgetfulness in the heat of passion at age 30, how likely is it that a 14 year old girl will be responsible if she’s never been told it’s an option. And giving it up for the first one who’s remotely nice to her. Yes, I was once a 14 year old girl, desperate to fit in, to be liked, to be thought pretty. It never occurred to me to want to be respected, to be admired for something beyond the flesh. Fortunately for me, it didn’t take long to realize that mating rituals between men and women as dictated by society’s standards are a farce, and I escaped relatively unscathed.
A farce? But that’s a crazy huge number of years evolving and refining techniques in order to best find a suitable mate! How can I call it a farce?
Take peacocks. Female peacocks are grey or brown. Not especially impressive. Male peacocks are blue and green and gold and flashy with tails and fluffy head things and loud cries and dance moves like wow! They are desperate to impress upon a girly that they be the best chance of the species going in a healthy and sane direction. She doesn’t need to dress to impresss, her genes are being carried on no matter what. There’s never any need for a maternity test.
And the human mating rituals? Women spend countless hours on getting all gussied and prettied and shaven and painted and fitted and tucked and enhanced and for what? To go out and all too often ingest copious amounts of alcohol and hope the person she wakes up next to isn’t completely repulsive. Because it’s better to be with someone you don’t find completely repulsive than to be alone. Although, to be fair, these days there’s certainly an increasing trend towards men spending a good portion of their time prettifying themselves to some extent. It seems just as silly and wasteful when they do it.
Cynical with regards to human tendency towards excessive and unnecessary procreation? Yes. By all means yes.
This selfish idea we have of needing to see what a mini version of us and someone else would be like so that we can selflessly give it the last piece of cake? There doesn’t seem to be any balance there. Especially when there are an insane proportion of children who don’t have water, food and safety from being blown up by mines in their backyard, much less cake. If I had any maternal tendencies whatsoever, I would certainly do my best to emulate Josephine Baker and her decision to adopt 12 kids from different countries. Her ‘rainbow tribe.’
All that said, would I consider myself cynical towards companionship and love? Not even a little bit. I understand the need for social animals to act socially. It’s the socially irresponsible behavior that makes me rant so. It seems so reasonable to me to take care, to ensure that the decisions I make have as sane an impact on those around me as possible. And strangely enough, when I express to people ‘no, I’m not feeling pressured to meet someone and settle down because I don’t want to get married and I don’t want children’ it’s me who is considered odd.
Whatever. It takes all kinds. That’s likely why there are so many different flavors of cake.
I LOVE YOU, TRISH!!! Thank you for so eloquently voicing many of the thoughts I also carry regarding procreation. The next time some parent asks me (in that ridiculous tone poised between guilt and envy) when I’m going to “start popping out wee ones?” I’m going to direct them to your blog – I will no longer feel like I’m some freak of nature for not wanting to participate in the destructive “populate regardless of personal/local/global consequences” game. Bravo Sister Soldier!!!
PS – uh, yeah, I am reading this waaaay after you posted it ’cause I initially came here to read how your technicolour adventure in Europe is unfolding… ahahaha! WE MISS YOU!!!!