Discover more from TOO DEPRESSING
Odds and ends and reproduction.
“I think we’re like, 60/40 at this point,” I say, taking another sip of my beer and enjoying its carbonated sting as I look over at my husband for what, reassurance? We’re having dinner with an old friend of mine — true childhood friends, inseparable at 14 and then estranged for a while and now rekindling because of geographic proximity — who’s a mother of an almost-five-year-old boy. I was referring, as I often do, to how much we’re favoring having a child someday. 60% yes, 40% no — I’m not sure that this breakdown is accurate, but it’s all I can offer.
“So do you recommend it?” I ask her.
“I barely remember the beginning because he,” (her partner at the time), “was so shitty to me about my body bouncing back and all this stuff, it’s like trauma-blocked. But if you love each other and it’s good and solid, then yeah, why not?”
Why not? I could think of a lot of reasons and it makes me feel like an insufferable weenie: climate change, culture wars, inflation, etc. ad nauseam. This is both reasonable and annoying, since people have been procreating regardless of their generational calamity since the dawn of time. But still, I wonder, can I be one of those people?
I suppose that I’ll be happy either way but then I question that supposition: I think the truth is that I’ll be both happy and dissatisfied either way, I’ll be jealous of families if I don’t make mine bigger and I’ll envy my childfree friends and their carefree vacations if I’m busy breastfeeding a baby or supporting a surly teen someday.
Perhaps the more difficult thing to deal with are all the things I feel I should do before I even think about having a kid: get a job, finish and sell a novel, do more, more, more. How can I confidently raise a child as an unemployed fail-daughter with a track record of shitty blogs in my wake? How can I confidently be an example for a kid when I’m such a bitch to myself all the time? I have no answers and I have 23,000 words of a novel that I avoid adding to every day, but I swear I’m going to break that streak just as soon as I finish this, another blog.
It’s simply too daunting to try to wrap my head around what it is to bring another life into this world. No one asks to be born and everyone one day turns to their parent and wonders, aloud or to themselves, how could you do this to me? The luckiest of us outgrow that feeling, but some don’t. A whole life: humiliations, hurt, failures, triumphs, joys, embarrassments, passions — we can’t understand what it is to create one and send it down this doomed-but-glorious path that is living, not really. But we do it every day.
When I say “60/40” I think I mean “I’m afraid of wanting what I want just for the sake of wanting it.” I grew up with a disabled younger sibling and I have fears that stem from that, an intimate awareness of how much of a dice roll genetics are and how difficult life can become when you don’t win that lottery. I hate to tell people that, but it’s true. I wouldn’t want my sibling any other way than who they are now, but I wish their life had been easier. And it’s all too terrifying to imagine experiencing that with my own child, but then again, I know that the truth is everyone struggles in some regard — no one is without a setback, no one is immune to what comes up after the dice are tossed and shaken. I still feel, though, that my desire for a child who will struggle less than I did flies too close to the sun: how will I be punished for wanting this, I think, and I know that it’s narcissistic to think that there is a God and that God has time to punish little old me, but there it is.
Whenever I write through these thoughts, I want to avoid their dark underpinnings and talk about something more entertaining. It’s so boring: the climate! the struggles! the anxiety! Oh well. I’ll be honest with you that I have no happy ending or easy conclusion. Perhaps that’s life, bare and boring as it is.