Arielle and I tend to get a little roller-coastery on the question of spawning, but taking a long view you’d pretty much have to say declines have led advances. For long luxurious periods of our marriage we’ve enjoyed a warm relationship with the idea of never procreating. In fact we bought this very Web address back in 2012, I think.
The goal was to carve out a space wherein the intentionally childless could explore their condition. Seemed to us that more and more like-minded folks were making that decision. We were thinking big with the concept.
We’d alternate weeks posting blog entries; we’d compile a corollary to What To Expect When You’re Expecting (“Blowing the College Savings Fund”, “It’s a Small World–But With so Many Places to Live!” and “Vacation? Sure!”); we’d interview experts in wellness and psychology and financial planning about the ramifications of never nesting. It would be a wall-less compound of intellectual, social and personal inquiry, not meant (snarky chapter-headings aside) to channel or evoke differences with the birthing set, but absolutely to represent a safe home base for young people making a morally ambiguous decision.
Then I was like, “Yeah but, I don’t know, if we had a little baby it’d be us and that’d be so beautiful because I love you so much!” And she was like, “I kind of feel the same way! I love you so much!” Careered we thus up the track, quietly setting the whole concept on the backburner.
For a couple years we let simmer–you’d have to say unenthusiastically–the idea that we’d ultimately succumb to parenthood. Question was when? And what do we try to do first? And what do we have to do now in order to do the things we want to do before? And isn’t that ridiculous because like everyone says there’s never a good time and if we keep postponing we’ll never et cetera et cetera.
I guess it was just a couple months ago that the roller-coaster executed another sudden turn, this time a nose-diving faceplant into the happy sandtrap of nevernesting, and we said, Know what? Let’s just relax into this. Let’s be serious: we don’t wanna have kids.
Do you always know why you want or don’t want something to happen? I’m not sure I have myself so well figured. When I think of never siring a wee bairn, a bevy of amazingly self-centered and rationalizing reasons attach (“I get bored playing with kids…pretty much right away.” “I don’t actually buy that being is preferable to non-being, so, things being what they are, why summon new pain into the universe?” “I want to retire young. And drink.”).
And when I think of having one, it’s for big, noble reasons that don’t move me at all (“You’re a freaking animal. Make little animal babies. It is the only non-trivial answer to the question of why you exist.” “Your baby might help reverse the wrecking ball of climate change.” “You will never experience the full scope of what it means to be a human being on the planet earth if you don’t play at being a parent for a while.”). Never mind that our baby would be wildly clever and beautiful in a society that deeply overvalues beauty and cleverness.
But more and more often these days I find myself turning off the news.
A politician–I forget which one but you can guess which team he plays for–said the other day that we are the first generations to feel the effects of climate change and the last ones that can do anything about it. Meanwhile there are plenty of very intelligent folks out there who argue that it’s actually too late: we already passed the point of no return.
When did that happen? When did we go from “Geepers, we’d better do something about all this global warming” to “Woopsy-daisy–we’re fucked!”
Meanwhile the NRA. Meanwhile Citizens United. Meanwhile the gluttonous empty-headed cynicism machine that is the Republican Party.
Meanwhile the tar sands and the predator drones and Guantanamo Bay.
Meanwhile the Incarceration Economy and the House that Gerrymander Built and the bees are dying.
In 1994 I had a wonderful girlfriend who told me that smart people had a moral obligation to have as many babies as possible. I guess twenty years ago you could think that.