The selfish truth about baby making

There’s been an influx of baby talk hitting the front page of my Facebook stream lately, and I don’t like it one bit.

Now don’t get me wrong, I actually adore my little niece and nephew in laws, and I’m fascinated by my close friend’s little ones – but I know those kids as, well, little people.

En masse, cute as they may be, they scare me. And what scares me even more: mums. (Disclaimer: in case you’re reading this mum, I don’t mean you – like I said, en masse.) To be more specific, mums who seem to only talk about babies. On one hand, I admire their dedication and obvious devotion to their little ones, but on the other, I must admit I’m slightly worried that their single mindedness may actually be more aptly termed “obsession”.

That aside, I guess what’s really been gnawing away at me whenever I see another of my friends announcing a pregnancy, birth, or child’s birthday is that it serves as a stark reminder of what I don’t have: a child of my own.

Thing is, I still don’t feel ready to have a kid (I have enough trouble getting myself dressed in the morning if I’m being honest), and I love the life I have. It’s horribly selfish, and completely irresponsible – the better half and I have no mortgage, no car, no debt…actually the only things we own are bed linen and a multitude of electronic devices (because who doesn’t need an iPad, small laptop, big laptop, personal phone, work phone and work laptop?). We go out to eat whenever we feel like it, we stay out as late as we want, we go on multiple holidays a year, go on occasional shopping sprees for disgustingly disposable fashion, and get up at whatever time we can be bothered – well, I do, then I wake the man up whether he’s ready or not because I get bored (see what I mean? I can’t even entertain myself!).

But whether I’m ready or not, I have a good many people constantly reminding me why I should be thinking about starting a family. Not least of which is my steadily increasing age (don’t be fooled by the youthful Asian looks, underneath lies the cholesterol choked insides of a woman well past her child bearing prime). Or to quote my mum “you’re not getting any younger, you know”.

Logically, I know they have a point. From a biological perspective. And you often speak to people who apparently never felt ready to have a child but made the decision to jump into parenthood regardless (this declaration is usually followed by “and once you’ve done it, you wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!”). But when I really think about why I should start trying to make a baby soon, it boils down to this: fear of being alone.

I don’t see myself enjoying having a baby now. Yet, when I think about myself when I’m older, and probably not quite so mobile, I see a picture of me serving up huge family lunches, the house being full and noisy and overflowing with family bickering and laughing, all mixed up together.

Is it wrong to consider having kids so that you can grow old and have someone to sponge off? So that when my eyes go to pot, I can ask someone to come over and reprogram the sky box? So that when I finally lose my license, I can guilt someone into spending more time with me “after everything I’ve been through for them” just so I can con them into taking me to the supermarket?

The irony of it is, they’ll probably, like me, go traipsing off around the globe and end up living on the other side of the world – once again leaving me alone, damn them! But unless I try, I won’t even have the option of nagging them to come home, right?

Image courtesy of stock.xchng


5 thoughts on “The selfish truth about baby making

  1. Completely agree that mums are scary for many, many reasons.

    As the husband of a ‘mum’ though the one thing I will say in their defence is that if when you are talking to them it seems that their world is snot, sh!t, crying, wee and aching boobs, that is because their world is actually snot, sh!t crying, wee, and aching boobs; looking after the little tinkers is a 24/7 job, and there is little a partner or helper can do to substantially lighten the load (especially if you still go through the trauma of breastfeeding). Dad’s at least have work to give them a counterpoint! (Please don’t hate me for adhering to social stereotypes).

    I appreciate that the above level of care is a choice, as is having a child in the first place, and like most choices there will be people who agree with it and people who do not, with varying levels of conviction. This is not meant as a complaint; far from it.. I make the point for two reasons:
    a) First of all mums and dads often like talking about things other than their child, but more often don’t have that much to add beyond what junior did over the past week (mine has been filled with the tremendous extremes of spontaneous smiles and diarrhoea). We hope that we emerge sometime in the 22nd century as the witty conversationalists we once were, being able to wax lyrical about the state of sub-Saharan African socio-geopolitics or our view of Cheryl Cole’s latest dress disaster, but in the meantime we have a challenge for our friends doing different things; we like to live vicariously through other people’s lives.
    b) Similarly, don’t for one minute think that there are not multiple occasions during a week that they don’t envy a debt, responsibility free existence filled with exotic holidays and restaurants (okay you got me, Pizza Express and GBKs) and an opportunity to use the gadgets you actually own.

    Of course, most mums and dads ‘wouldn’t go back to how it was before’, and I am fully in this camp. But the key point is that this is a ridiculous statement; it’s not like there is a returns policy, so you can’t go back.

    Not wanting to make that irreversible change before you are ready; is that selfish or is it responsible?

    • This is such a great commentary from a Father’s point of view, and I can actually say from personally knowing you and your lovely other half that you actually are not those parents who talk of nothing other than being parents. I think you make an interesting point regarding living vicariously through friends, as being childless can actually sometimes make you feel that discussing your adventures or “worries” is quite trivial compared to what new parents are going through. Frankly, I’m more in awe of the abilities of new mother’s to cope with their world of snot, sh!t, crying, wee and aching boobs 🙂 It’s great to know that you do appreciate the insight into “what life used to be like” though!

      • I definitely feel a bit guilty talking about my life to mothers who are “obsessed” with motherhood and their offspring. I feel like the stuff that I do (and stuff that THEY also did before children) is trivial, like you say – to rave about the holiday I just went on, or to bitch about how many hours I’m working, or to talk about how excited I am about trying a new restaurant – just seems to be such poles apart from anything a mother with their hands full would be remotely interested in hearing. I figure that they just want to hear from other mothers about how they cope with juggling feeding with kids birthday parties with the important issues of baby seats or something or rather.

  2. I have to agree with my husband, I would much prefer to be talking about the latest restaurant, tv series, holiday than exclusively about babies. I have a set of new mums that I socialise with during the day when everyone else is hard at work and we do nothing but discuss wee, poo, teething, breastfeeding so it makes a refreshing change to discuss something else with non parents. I may obviously not have much to add to the conversation on ‘best date venues in SW1’ but that doesn’t mean I’m not interested or can’t have a conversation about it 🙂

    Obviously, if you are interested in whether my little man has sprouted his first tooth or how many outfit changes he’s had today, I can fill you in.

  3. Pingback: Education and success = childlessness and too much choice? | Laugh Lots, Travel Often

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