I’m 33 and possibly in the best physical shape of my life. I’ve never felt healthier, or more vibrant. Emotionally and spiritually I’ve finally come into my own and all the uncertainty that I felt in my twenties, the stress of having to make something out of myself has tempered, and I’m more comfortable with who I am and my place on Earth.
How strange is it that as we age our minds evolve and strengthen, while our bodies begin to fail us? If I had the mind I have now ten years ago I would have been set for life. Perhaps the universe has greater plans, and the cosmic joke of aging will make sense to me at the point of its choosing.
One of the things that you feel when you enter your 30s is a sense of calm. I’ve never felt more relaxed and at ease with myself, and my friendships have never been stronger. I hope that if I’m lucky to make it to 40 and then 50 and then 60 things will continue to improve.
The caveat to all this is that I’m constantly asked if I want to have children. The answer to this is ambiguity. I don’t know if I want children. I know that I love animals and that I would make a good father to some extent but raising a child is a selfish endeavour. What makes any adult believe that they can raise a functioning child when evidence shows that there are few solid examples of how well it has turned out? Perhaps that’s a cynical perspective, but hear me out, if only for a minute.
The world is a scary place. The global economy is crashing, we all know it, and the end of capitalism is nigh with no suitable alternative. We’re no longer working for anything important except keeping the fat cats at the top making tons of money we’ll never see. We distract ourselves from this reality by buying things we don’t need, and spending endless hours in front of the television watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians when we should be reading a newspaper or contributing to the world in a more productive way. Our waistlines are growing and our minds are softening.
Our children are less literate each year, and their sense of entitlement is growing. Keep your ears open and you’ll hear the familiar phrase: “But I deserve this…” over and over again. I once supervised a woman who was 24-years-old who behaved like she deserved a medal for completing a full seven hour work day. Her favourite conversation topic was what she was going to buy to fill the empty void that was her shallow existence. Too rough? Oh well, I’m in the mood.
Animals are slaughtered everyday to feed our expanding bellies with little thought given to their plight. We think that if we can do it, we should, and to damn with anyone or anything else.
Now I know I’m only providing the dark side of the argument, and there are many other more positive perspectives, but I hear those from people all the time, and usually they’re the ones who I am speaking about, only they don’t know it.
Now just to appease my own ego I want to put it out there that I have worked in charitable organization my whole life, and not just as an administrator, but on the front lines. I was an educator for children with moderate to severe learning and physical difficulties, a social worker for a boy with cerebral palsy and I volunteered with adults who had brain injuries from automobile accidents. Given these experiences I’ve seen the very best and worst of our species.
What I have learned is that I don’t want to raise a child in this world, because I don’t believe that I have the capabilities at my disposal to make him or her a valuable member of our society. There are too many variables that will change the course of the life that I would want them to lead, and they’re not great alternatives.
Why would I want to raise a child to be just as fucked up and unaware as the plethora of adults I engage with on a daily basis? People who have put material objects and an unhealthy obsession with their image above treating people with compassion and respect. I would be too afraid that my child would end up like one of these individuals, or worse, be discouraged by one of them.
I also believe that introspection and self-awareness are rare characteristics for most adults, and it can’t be learned easily; you either have it or you don’t. Most don’t. Let’s face it, we’re not very understanding to what other people might be going through, and we don’t care, it’s probably why we experience so much conflict in our lives, because we can’t see anything through another perspective.
People are working harder, longer hours and for less pay, without giving much thought about why they’re doing it. If it’s to buy things, or to save money you’ll never be able to spend, I think that’s wrong. Kids are dropped off at expensive daycare centres because both parents need to work. They take out bank loans because they can’t afford their children, or the lifestyles they’re convinced they have to live to be accepted by their peers.
I don’t know if I’m properly articulating my position here. I do have many friends who have children and are fantastic parents, but they’re the ones who don’t compare themselves to other parents or profess to know everything about parenting. You’re not going to see them talking about their kids endlessly at dinners or competing for who has the best stroller. One of my friends threw a Christmas party a couple of years ago and made a few jokes about her child’s lack of abilities. Guess what happened? A woman in attendance who was vying for the mother-of-the-year award called the Children’s Aid Society on her and she was investigated for abusing and neglecting her child. My friend is the best mother I have ever known, and eventually the case was thrown out citing no merit to the claims levied against her.
Some of my friends who are new mothers have confessed to leaving mommy playdates in tears because the other mothers have lost their individual identities and are vicious and judgmental to any mom who doesn’t adhere to specific parenting techniques or guidelines.
When I was the education director at a learning centre I was appalled at the schedule some parents had their young children on; it was concerning to me how little free time their children had to be kids. When I was a kid my mother gave me a stick and told me to go out in the backyard for seven hours and entertain myself. I did, and I’m a better person because of it. Sure I never learned how to play the piano or skate very well, but who cares? I can write because I have an excellent imagination, and all the dysfunction I witnessed has given me a wicked sense of humour.
There’s also the issue that children these days think they’re special. Every fucking kid is special. They’re not, they’re just like everybody else and we shouldn’t be rewarding them for failing at something, we should be teaching them lessons about perseverance and effort, and give them realistic impressions about their performance so that they can be free to choose something that they like and may be good at.
So these are the reasons that I don’t want to be a parent, at least not right now. Maybe when the dust settles on the problems we’re currently facing as a planet, I might have a change of heart, and if so, I’ll eat this computer I wrote this post on.
Chau! What do you think? Am I a horrible person!?