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The Circumstances under which I Would Have Children

August 22, 2013

Boy howdy, do the childfree take it up the ass in the media. Maybe that orifice confusion is the real reason why none of us have kids.

But damn, even articles that seem like they could be flattering wind up leaving me feeling like the recipient of a left-handed…wait, can’t use that one, even though I’d be insulting myself…okay, Jewish…hmm, same problem…okay, backhanded (tennis players, please don’t beat me with your rackets. I’m not into BDSM) compliment.

Take, for instance, this piece on that most wondrous source of nonjudgmental, in-depth investigative journalism, HuffPo: the recap of a study noting an inverse relationship between IQ and maternal urges in women manages to insult mothers for the obvious reasons as well as the women who are book-smart but not street-smart enough to realize that “there is a mother in all of us, she’s just waiting to be born and it doesn’t have a thing to do with her IQ,” according to a columnist quoted in the article.

Furthermore, “Kanazawa [the researcher who published the initial study that sparked the furor] finds it paradoxical that intelligent women apparently don’t possess the desire to pursue what should be the ultimate goal of their biological existence.”

Oh, shit. Kanazawa’s absolutely right. I need to abandon my goals of getting my racy graphic novel published, writing and publishing my other ideas for novels of the traditional and graphic varieties as well as the stories more suited for stage and screen, climbing Colorado’s fourteeners and Mt. Kilimanjaro, and reset my priorities. Indeed, the ULTIMATE goal of EVERYONE’s biological existence, especially mine since my IQ tested at around 130 when I was in second grade, should be to inflict more diabetic, possibly Asperger-y mini-mes on the world. I’ll get right on that!

All the flap, however, does make me think even more about children and the role in which they shape my generational cohorts’ plans and goals. By now, most of us so-called Millennials have a pretty good idea whether we want kids or not, and some have even gotten cracking (whips and everything, if they are into BDSM!) on that already.

The fact that most men my age have, stereotypes to the contrary, given this matter a good deal of thought and by and large decided that they’re firmly in the “someday” camp on kids is one of my major reasons for not dating. After all, I have gotten to that age where, having decided that they would one day like to do it, they are now in the market for someone who’s more than a one-night stand and would make a good mother to this dude’s genetically well-endowed offspring (or so I assume they think, having trolled dating sites every so often out of sick curiosity).

Which means I’d have to either set my sights at least five years younger than my own age (who would likely wind up heading down the “I want kids!” road in five years or so) or hope that I luck into finding a member of the childfree 20%.

Since the odds are against me, and since some of my encounters with would-be suitors have given truth to Simon and Garfunkel’s line, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest,” it seems easiest to fall back on two options: the one I’m already embracing of never dating again, or playing their game and telling them what they initially think they want to hear.

Which is that there are certain conditions under which I would consider having children.

For the benefit of any and all starry-eyed Romeos to my Juliet (in spite of being twice the second titular character’s main age and, therefore, too old for that emo bullshit), here are those conditions. Feel free to message me if they’re right up your alley, tee-hee!  😉  :-*

1. You find a surrogate for the pregnancy.

I’ll happily donate my eggs. I’ll even consent to have them interact with your sperm. But I am not going through the stress, pain, decreased bladder capacity, and whatever superpowers come from combining gestational diabetes with longstanding Type I diabetes. Since I couldn’t drink or smoke weed to take the edge off, fuhgeddaboutit.

2. You will be solely responsible for the child until it is of elementary-school age, possibly longer.

I can’t stand babies. And since not carrying the pregnancy would mean missing out on that rush of hormones that makes you not want to defenestrate your infant, I’d see my own genetic continuation as being equally ugly, wrinkly, smelly, and noisy as all others. And since I can’t deal well with anything that moves quickly or shoves peanut-butter sandwiches in my computer’s CD drive, it’s debatable as to whether parent or child would have more temper tantrums on a daily basis.

So I’d take a full-time job in the mountains, while you and Junior stay in Denver. I’ll come down and visit for a few hours every so often once it’s in kindergarten.

3. You are solely financially responsible for the pregnancy and resulting child.

The full-time job is strictly so I can continue to support my skiing. YOU wanted the kid, YOU pay for it!

4. However, the kid will have my last name.

My female cousin and I are the only ones to carry on our mutual grandfather’s last name. My male cousins are related to us through their mother, who changed her name upon marriage. And since my female cousin is just as disinterested in babies as I am, the options for passing down the family name (common though it is) are limited.

5. I’m still not going to marry you.

And deal with you suing me for child support when the inevitable divorce as a result of you failing to read the fine print (a.k.a., the bolded points outlined above) arises? Hellllll, no!

So, guys of the world, what do you think? Are you ready to flood my inbox with courtly overtures of love and declaration? After all, there’s a hell of a mother inside me, just waiting to be born once I finally grasp my true purpose here on this earth!

If I can somehow get past all this book-larnin’ enough to grasp the right part and put it in the right hole, that is.

 

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12 Comments
  1. Like you, I “suffer” from a lack of desire to have children. So of course I loved this post–your requirements for having a child are sooo on point.

    Cheers. 🙂

  2. Jeobald permalink

    D**n! I think I’m actually falling in love with you… It’s possible it’s just your way of writing, but still… 🙂

    You make a (several) beautiful point (-s) and I can only hope there are open minded people in the procreating part of mankind – and others, involuntary childfree (childless, whatever) people probably needs some input regarding the benefits of not having kids – who reads this post as well.

    For the record: I don’t know where I am on the procreating/childfree scale, but for every passing year it seems more and more of a bother to hypothetically unbless the world with my offspring – there are enough near sighted allergic nerds in the world as it is…

    BTW, I really enjoy reading your blog – thank you for writing!

    • Well, thank you for reading! I must admit, I’m simultaneously flattered and bewildered by your first two sentences, considering I try to save all my venom and crotchetiness for this blog, but hey, I’ll take a compliment in any form! 😉

      It is my intention to spread the childfree message far and wide. Parenting probably is magical–if you believe in (that particular) magic. And for those who do believe the magic but whose circumstances have conspired against them, definite bonus points if the ever-increasing volume of writing exhorting the wonders of the childfree lifestyle helps them accept those circumstances in even the smallest way.

      So I think it’s pretty clear where I am on the procreation scale, but I forgot to add my own nearsightedness and bizarro metal and floral allergies to my purely hypothetical children’s Punnett squares. I’m not sure if the correlation between nerds and chronic maladies is strictly a by-product of media stereotypes or if there’s something statistically significant to it, but perhaps there are sound biological reasons for us intelligent folks self-selecting out of the gene pool. :/ Not that I’m sure my IQ falls into the “intelligent” range anymore…I *have* spent a worrisome amount of time reading HuffPo and equally philosophical news sources since taking that test in second grade!

  3. 😉

    Oh, yes, your position on the procreation scale seems quite clear and that choice, BTW, is how I found your blog – a friend of mine has made the same choice and I think she sent me a link here after an evening of discussing life, the universe and different aspects of relationships.
    I don’t think there are biological reasons for intelligent people to discard themselves/us from the gene pool, however. Quite the opposite in fact, when looking at the survival and evolution of mankind… :/
    I can find a myriad of logical (and emotional) reasons on a personal level, however 🙂

    Regarding the nerdiness/chronic maladies correlation, my own observations point towards a rather high correlation (most of my friends and acquaintances are regarded as nerds AND live with som kind of allergy and/or asthma). And perhaps that’s not so strange… Kids with asthma, dermatitis and/or pollinosis (or other allergies) probably tend to stay indoors more, reading, playing games or music and generally developing their brains and way of thinking and with a significant probability turn out as some kind of nerd.

    Again: Thank you for writing this blog, it’s a wonderful source of thoughts and non normative aspects on life, relationships and everything!

    • I guess I’m still trying to figure out why intelligent people would be more apt to give in to those logical/emotional reasons to avoid procreation–after all, given the evidence that intelligence is at least somewhat genetic, that means that generations of smart people assessed their options and said, “Yeah, sure, why not?” instead of running off and joining a convent or their culture’s equivalent. I know birth control is a huge factor in the childfree movement these days, but I’m not the only person I know who’s willing to do anything, including abstain from sex entirely, in order to avoid pregnancy and childbirth/rearing. Surely that must stem from somewhere?

      Somewhat OT, but I’m happy to leap on any opportunity to take a ride to Tangentville! :p

      I like your proposed correlation. It definitely makes sense to me that the kids with some reason for not playing as hard with the others would focus on improving their minds…I know the Type I diabetes wasn’t always a reason in and of itself to stay indoors, but the overprotective mother who’d freak at the slightest provocation meant I missed out on a few social skills-building encounters as a child. Of course, as I’ve told myself many times, “anecdote” does not pluralize into “data.”

      I will continue writing on life, relationships, and everything for your enjoyment! Love the implicit Douglas Adams comparison, BTW (if there was no comparison at all, I’m gonna pretend there was anyway :p )!

      • I can’t help myself, so here are some of my thoughts on procreation and the fact that some of us are dubious regarding or outright against procreation:
        It is a bit strange that an unproportional portion of the intelligent third of mankind (at least in the western countries) tend to make the choice of non-procreation – as you say: our intelligent ancestors must have…
        There is another part of this, apart from a clear choice of not procreating, which is more connected to work, career and the fact that there’s not enough time to actually start a family until it’s too late. Both are, I think, a question of prioritizing one self in one way or another. Earlier it was even less socially acceptable to do that – especially for women – and it was more of a pressure to carry on the family name, the heritage and all that.
        In our part of the quadraspere (even though we’re in different ends of this half of the nordic hemispere), these tendencies are growing less and less pronounced and people become more free to live out their dreams, have fun and really enjoying life without regard to the same norms. Procreation isn’t such an important part of the social structure that you NEED to bring forth an offspring. In the case childfreeness isn’t really chosen per se, just a secondary effect of other choices, it can be inconvenient to start procreating e.g. in the middle of a well established career – also probably not needed to feel fulfilled, content and happy with ones life (there still is a very strong social convention to procreate, however, making the choice of childfreeness stigmatized even though the development is – hopefully – heading in the direction of tolerance).
        The reason the choice isn’t normally distributed over the whole population is probably due to the fact that intelligent people tend to think more of what they really want, have higher ambitions and the capabilities to achieve their goals.

        I can’t help being a bit worried about the future of mankind, but hopefully enough intelligent people will keep on procreating to keep mankind from a plummeting spiral of stupidity. (for a really scary movie, see Idiocracy…)

        And the connection to Douglas Adams was very much intended – the Hitchhiker’s suite is one of my favorite book series 🙂

      • Funny you should mention Idiocracy…that sprang to my mind when I read the article that prompted my unkind thoughts in the first place! Fortunately, there’s been credible research suggesting that such misery will not be the future of humankind: http://www.intelltheory.com/flynneffect.shtml. Although it would be interesting to see what happens to the overall upward trend in IQ scores after the childfree movement, combined with worldwide increased access to birth control, has had a generation or two to take effect.

        I think you’re on to something with the notion of shifting priorities as well as (continued!) societal pressure. I know a lot of my friends who are in the “someday” category on kids haven’t done so yet in large part due to extensive analysis of their current and projected budgets within the next five to ten years, and again, that’s accounting for the people who are, unlike me, on board with kids as an everyday part of their lives. Which, now that I think about it, makes me want to read through the actual study, since I now wonder if the women surveyed were the 100% dead-set never-having-kids-EVER-ugh-I-can’t-fathom-why-anyone-would childfree camp that I’m in, or if they were more on the fence and simply had other priorities that they would rather take on before considering adding a child or two into the mix. To my mind, that distinction would help define this nebulous “maternal instinct” cited in HuffPo–I know part of the reason I so adamantly claim myself to be in the first camp is because I spent much of my family’s Rosh Hashanah dinner on Wednesday wincing and recoiling from, rather than cooing and waving at, a toddler that seemed to be occasionally confused as to who its mother was, only to burst into wailing tears when it realized I was not her!

        Even if the priorities were different back in the day, I can’t help but think that a large portion of the reason intelligent people had kids before the Industrial Age and the advent of birth control had to do with the “oops!” factor. Not inasmuch as they had no idea what would happen if they did have unprotected sex (pretty much the only kind around, considering that some of the alternatives included sticking crocodile dung in your nethers–pass, thanks!), but they had a decent idea and were okay with the potential effects, seeing as how they’d have extended family around to help with the results and, in the short term, yay orgasms! Kind of makes me wish I were still in academia and had access to thoughts and studies from people better trained in history, anthropology, genetics, and other aspects of population studies than I.

        Douglas Adams rocks! For me, he’s one of those authors (Vladimir Nabokov also comes to mind) who inspires such magic with his writing that I want to write in hopes of being somewhere even close to his level some day, then makes me want to quit the next with the realization that I don’t think I can even buy nosebleed tickets in his ballpark!

  4. Ah, the “oops!”-factor – I forgot about that one. 🙂 Still a major factor, I would say, although probably more of an issue among the two digit part of the population; a large proportion of pregnancies seems to be unplanned, especially when it comes to younger parents to be (more from not thinking, or failing birth control, than being OK with the consequences of unprotected sex, I think).

    As the world, hopefully, develops and reading/writing skills becomes more common in the yet more or less illiterate part of the world, the IQ scores in these regions should increase (thanks for the link, BTW, I didn’t have a name for the general increase in IQ over time), thus buffering against a possible decay due to selective non procreation. However: What will happen in the long run? Will they come to this point as well? No point in speculating, really, we will be gone by then anyway. But still… I think the Flynn effect might be asymptotic towards a global mean value – or perhaps sinusoidal – at any rate I don’t think IQ scores will keep on rising.

    Anyway, I think it’s rather interesting that the span of the “maternal instinct” stretches from “never ever, can’t understand why” to “will lie about birth control to get hold of his swimmers”, and that the latter is regarded as more socially acceptable or not even strange, while the former is regarded with skepticism, scorn and what not. In moments of naivety I still believe we live in a society of enlightenment and understanding, but then reality hits me with its two-by-four of truth right between my eyes :/

    Ah, well… In moments of too much reality, great books presents a wonderful resort for the mind. I haven’t read anything by Nabokov, but now I’ve added him to my list. Thank you!
    Apropos writing: The topic of childfreedom is what got me here, but your writing is the reason I keep reading! 🙂

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