Look, I think I probably like you. If we’re friends on facebook that is most likely the case. If I haven’t met you, I’m willing to bet you’re ok, you’re a stand up guy or girl, you dote on your kids and your other half and pay your taxes and all that. This is not intended as a go at your way of life, your decisions or the way you wear your hair. This is intended only as a means of communicating some facts that I think will help us all get along a little better. Ok? Ok.
I think, if you have babies, then more power to you. Babies are great and, I hear, when done well grow into people who will dote on their partners and pay their taxes and so on. I have no issues with babies, in a general sense. I, being a person of 29 years of age, have picked up from a combination of televisual aids, contact with baby making family and friends and common sense, a vague sort of understanding that the job of baby making and raising is difficult, not to be undertaken lightly and as Juno says, “quite the time suck”. While never making the claim that I understand the delightfully web-like intricacies that make up the parent-child relationship (I am genuinely baffled by the core-deep feeling parents can shoot from their mouths like flame should their progeny be in danger), I get that it’s a big deal.
Now, I don’t have children- which you may have picked up already. This is largely the result of me never having given birth to a human, but the fact that I am unmarried (or unpartnered, if you like, I’m not trying to make value statements for other people- just myself. I honestly think a baby will do better with two, than it would with me and my two housemates) and am yet to meet someone who deems me worthy of carrying his seed, has a little something to do with it also.
I am aware that as much as I faff about this being nothing to do with me, that my childlessness has sprung (not altogether suprisingly) at least in part, from my choices.
My not having children affords me certain benefits, which I will outline for you briefly. I can sleep through the night mostly, and on days I don’t have to work, I can sleep in. I have a small amount of disposable income and don’t have to spend it on nappies of the same name. I can go out at night willy-nilly.
Now- before you hurl your computer against a wall in outrage at the pomposity that sees me tricking you into reading self indulgent swill about my life sans children, please, there’s a method to my self gratitude.
This is going to be difficult to hear, it is going against the grain of every person who has ever changed the nappy of someone who’s every inner part seems to have been shot out of their arse in an explosion of greenish brown, or been woken at all hours of the night by the screams of some sort of shrieking ghoul who’s posessed your child but I’m reasonably certain there’s benefits afforded you too.
If in conversation with me (or someone who, like me, has not given birth or come across a child in another way) any of the following subjects come up: Sleep, Poop and my desire to stay away from it, Staying out late, How I rarely see a morning before eight o clock– and your response is any of the following:
“Oh, well, YOU obviously don’t have children”
“‘Ha! You should try having kids. That’d change all that”
“I was up at *insert godawful hour here like some sort of sheriff-of-the-morning-itself badge*. Can’t believe you sleep till 8!”
“Your lifestyle indicates laziness to the point of negligible sloth and the priorities of a madwoman. You should have babies so as to become more of a productive and safe citizen”
..that hurts. The subtle implication that my life is in some way less serious or valid is annoying to say the least. Let’s imagine a scenario in which I talk to my friend Janie about how her day has been.
me- Hi Janie! How’s tricks?
Janie- I’m pretty good, but baby number 1 has a cold so I was up most of the night.
me- yeah, you look like shit! you should have tried not having babies. Like me! I slept like a mo fo last night, similarly to how I sleep every night when I’m not out till all hours having consequence free fun and laughing with my friends about how lucky we are.
Janie-… I hate you.
You see how this sort of competition is hurtful? I live what’s known as a different life. I work part time, and study part time. It keeps me pretty busy, but not so busy that I don’t enjoy a weekend.
On the other hand, I have no one that runs to me when I come home, that I lift into my arms to hold and feel their extraordinary weight. I have no small person or persons to charm me daily with their wit and their incredible heart. I have no one to whom my soul seems inexplicably joined and who’s every breath I feel as though it were my own. So when you remind me of my difference to you, let’s not forget- I already know, just as I’m sure you do.
Now to the other thing. I’m what’s known as a “single woman”. I am from a land, let’s call it Churchland, where marriage is the holy grail, and not marriage is a sort of confusing state of being leading to a horrific wasteland of bleak solitude that one would never choose to stay in and certainly one would want to leave by the time they’re 25 at the latest. I have not left yet. I am something of a scholar in the art of not marriage. This is not solely by choice, the line up of men who wish to join me in the quest for the grail, an analogy I now wish I hadn’t brought up, is slim or, um.. invisible, to say the least.
I am sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. Yes, I am “putting myself out there” if by “putting myself out there” you mean like, walking around, doing my job, going to the shops and generally sort of, living my life without too much hiding in my room, afraid to face to world without a man by my side. I am not on a dating site, nor do I want to be any time soon. This is not because I don’t approve of them or find those that do in any way mockable, but to be frank, I don’t think I’ve got the time or the right amout of can-be-arsedness to get into dating people so that I may end my single career. I am also not hitting on men in bars, mainly because that’s terrifying and altogether un-me, but also when I’m in bars I’m fairly busy having a good time with my friends.
I promise, if someone comes along who is awesome and finds me so, I’ll do what I can to snare him in my talons with my wily girl charms, but you need to know, I’m not sitting around plotting how to join you in married bliss. I’m trying to enjoy myself.
And furthermore, if I wax lyrical about my future as some sort of insane spinster, weaving things from the skin of possums I find dead by the side of the road, then let me! For a start, talking about my imagined future, joking or no, will not make it come to pass. The likelihood of a Husband sneaking cautiously to stand behind me, his hand raised to tap me on the shoulder and whisk me away to some sort of roadkill free wonderland overhearing my statements about future desire to throw full cans of food at all that pass my mansion of horror looking vaguely happy, and deciding that I am, therefore, not the woman for him are shockingly slim.
Secondarily, get ready for this, I may in fact never get married. Gasp. Sometimes, I know it’s hard to deal with when we’ve been raised with Anne and Gilbert and Jo and the Professor and Lois and Clark and every movie in the world telling us that generally, people find the Love Of Their Lives and kiss and ride into sunsets and such and even the freakin Baby-Sitters Club had boyfriends from like, eleven, but sometimes people are alone for a long time. Sometimes forever. I’m not being dramatic, it is a fact. I also have narrowed my chances by my desire to pick from a specific pool, going along with my desire to be with someone who understands me and my heart, so it may well be me.
I am not being self-deprecating. Nor am I trying to garner your sympathy. If I use the conjunction ‘if’ before talking about some sort of fantasy future wedding, or married life scenario, please don’t roll your eyes, or feel you need to save me from my depressed ramblings. I may need to be able to talk to you about these things.
On the whole, I like my life despite the lack of love of a particular kind, and have accepted the possible future of singledom that may lie before me and for the most part am ok with it. I think you can be too.
And so, married/partnered/childed beloved, I hope we can move from here into a future of mutual understanding, growth and respect. I can baby sit for you and you can invite me round for tea, despite the fact that I’ll make the numbers at the table uneven. I can listen to your fears about marriage or child rearing and you can listen to my fears about dying alone, safe in the knowledge that I will not be trying to woo your husband when you go to the bathroom.
Here’s to the future,