As of last week, I officially transitioned from my late mid-twenties to my early late-twenties. By my age, my parents were married. They were both firmly entrenched in their respective career paths. While I do have a career of my own, I’m not close to home ownership or marriage. Neither are many of my friends. While my parents’ generation settled down and started families, my peer group seems more comfortable chasing our dreams while letting our personal lives remain in stasis. We have roommates, not mortgages. We have OKCupid dates, not weddings. Still, lots of my male friends, unsolicited, like to tell me: “Dude, I don’t think I ever want to have kids.”
Okay, guy. Sure. But who’s trying to give you kids? Is this happening? You’re not married or in a relationship. Where is this pressure coming from? Are there people on the street just pawning their children off on you? Are lesbian couples begging you to be a surrogate father? None of these things seem likely.
I understand that it’s not cool to want to be a dad. You’ve got to trade all your belts in for suspenders. You’re legally required to grow a mustache for at least ten years. And, whenever the situation absolutely does not call for it, you have to make the corniest possible pun. (Example: Saying “Ice to meet you!” as you walk by a snowman.) It’s a tough life. But let’s slow these protests down a little bit. Remember fifteen years ago, when you thought you’d never want to kiss a girl? Things change.
Yes, we’re adults now and not preadolescents. But none of the people who walk around telling me how little they want children are even almost in a place where having kids would be remotely possible. They’re all guys who live with six people in a four-bedroom apartment. Everyone shares a single futon. They go out every night and work at jobs they plan to leave as soon as something better comes along. That guy doesn’t want kids? He shouldn’t want kids. In fact, if he had them, the government would take them away. He’d be an unfit parent.
Of course you don’t want children. It’s hard to have kids. Well, getting them isn’t always hard. Sometimes it happens to people by mistake. But keeping kids up and running is tough. You’ve got to spend time with them and buy them diapers. You have to somehow childproof your bong cabinet, dude. Plus, what would you want a kid for? A baby can’t chip in for the rent or play Call of Duty with you. Babies don’t even have the muscle tone to make a beer run. There is no reason you’d want a child. A single guy who’s barely making rent saying he doesn’t want kids is like a horse saying he doesn’t want an iPad. Of course you don’t. Those things are not for you.
I have female friends who say the same thing: “I don’t think I ever want kids.” That I understand too. Adoption is a lengthy and expensive process. Live human birth is horrifying. We’ve all seen The Miracle of Life and Alien. It seems at least slightly uncomfortable to have a living person push itself out of your body. I think if I were every human woman, when I heard what pregnancy and birth entailed, I would just shut it down. “Folks,” I’d say. “Go nuts with those SUVs and disposable plates, because there will not be another human being born on this planet ever. It’s gross, and I will not stand for it.” I can sympathize with the impulse to not want your body treated like the banner a football team runs through before a game.
Personally, I’m not sure whether I’d want to have kids. On one hand, they are expensive and smelly and annoying and slimy. On the other hand, everyone that has them on purpose seems to recommend them. I used to be a teacher. Having a child of my own doesn’t seem like so much of a stretch. And, at one point in my life, I let a girl talk me into eating sushi, which is raw fish. That seems way crazier than raising a child.
I’m not saying that children are for everyone. If you’ll notice, I didn’t even say they are for me. All I’m saying is that when you’re in your 20s, it’s easy to sit in your ivory tower/ seventh story walk-up apartment and talk about what you’ll want in ten years. There are plenty of things I never thought about wanting ten years ago that are very important to me now. Health insurance, for one. That’s a grownup desire. It just seems shortsighted when people are like: “Of course I don’t want kids. I have red wine and/ or Xbox and 1,300 Twitter followers, and that’s all I’ll ever need.” I’m keeping my options open.
I’d say more on the subject, but one of my roommates needs to convert the futon into a bed, so I’ll be making toast and washing my hair in the showeritchen.