I have never liked children, even and especially when I was one. As a child, I preferred the company of adults, eschewing the juvenile recess activities of tag and hopscotch in favor of reading the New York Times purloined from the teachers’ lounge.
There is nothing that makes my blood boil faster than the sound of a screaming infant. When I look at a baby I never think, “Oh how adorable,” more like, “Please don’t be seated anywhere near me on the plane.” I loathe infantile games, baby talk, Disney World, and don’t find anything endearing about a creature that wakes up in the middle of the night wailing for its soiled diaper to be changed. It’s not just babies I don’t like; any child up to the age of eighteen makes me generally anxious.
I was certain, as much as anyone can be, that I would have a childless existence of nice furniture, expensive vacations, and several rescue Pomeranians. What could a child possibly add to my life other than overwhelming expense, responsibility, and a room full of Fischer Price crap? I don’t even pick up my dog’s poop, so I can’t fathom how I would ever change a diaper.
It seems almost a selfish act to bring a child into a world as fraught with misery and pain as ours. What propels parents to produce offspring other than a narcissistic desire to replicate themselves when there are arguably too many people on the planet as it is? I had always thought of having children as a stand-in for creative achievement. In lieu of leaving behind a great work of literature or film or art, one births into the world another meaningless life.
As a gay man, I didn’t really have to think one way or another about it. It wasn’t like I was going to bring forth a child from between my legs or run the risk of impregnating someone else. The choice was purely hypothetical.
But gay couples are increasingly getting married and becoming parents. Elton John, Neil Patrick Harris, and Matt Bomer all have husbands and kids. Suddenly the gay ideal is less about rosé-fueled soirées in Ibiza and more about toting the latest designer diaper bag to PTA meetings.
Still, I wasn’t ready to hop onto the baby bandwagon so fast. It wasn’t that I wanted kids but couldn’t have them, it was that I actually didn’t like them. But then something unexpected happened recently when I met someone I liked so much, who seemed like such perfect husband material, that I could actually envision having children with him. Not at that very moment, of course, but it seemed like something plausible in the future. I told my mother this and she asked if I had a lobotomy.
There are some people who dream of having children from the moment they get their first Cabbage Patch Kid, and others who only become inspired later when they meet someone that awakens a desire they never knew they had before. Then there are those who just get knocked up in high school, but I’m not really talking about them.
Despite my selfish tendencies, I realized that the kind of man I want to be with is someone who values family and is willing to put others before himself. To have a child, you must be ready to sacrifice. My sacrifice in finding the man of my dreams would be to have a child. I began to see raising a child as something that deepens and solidifies a love between two people (ideally). Creating a family is something noble and beautiful.
Upon further consideration, being a father wouldn’t have to mean the end of all civilized life as I know it. My fear stemmed from thinking that I would have to endure years of torment at the hands of a dictatorial tot wielding fistfuls of puréed goo, but then I realized that’s what nannies are for.
I’d want to raise my child the way that I imagine Tom Ford is raising his son: enlisting the aid of a full-time French-speaking au pair, enriching them with the sounds of Frédéric Chopin instead of Teletubbies, and reading them Voltaire at bed time. When they were old enough to count to ten, they’d be off to boarding school in Switzerland to learn European sophistication and mingle with other international students.
They might turn out to be completely unrelatable to most people, but that hasn’t worked out so terribly for me.