My niece is coming to visit us this week and my brother has informed me that she will be a sad girl if she can’t watch the Braves game on Sunday. Rob and I don’t have a television. I don’t suppose that, among my NY based readers, one of you already plans on watching the game and wouldn’t be averse to having a seventeen year old girl and me watch with you? We’ll bring snacks!
Posts Tagged ‘family’
Some time ago, Rob and I made the decision not to have children. I am blogging about it now because, having just had my thirty-ninth birthday, I was chided by people saying some variant on, “You’d better get busy.” Honestly, the pressure to have children from friends and family gets quite wearing. These are people who love me and think that they know what’s best for me. Presumably, they love me because they think that I’m an intelligent person, but they don’t seem willing to accept that yes, I have actually thought through all of this. I understand the consequences of this choice.
It took two years for us to reach this decision.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t an easy one. I’ve never been a girl who has craved babies, though I went through a phase when I was fascinated by pregnancy. That said, I’ve always assumed that I would have children because I come from a very loving and extended family. Of course, it was only natural that I would contribute a branch to the family tree and pass on things. Some of them were ephemeral like Robinette, my middle name, and some were tangible, like my great-grandfather’s bedroom suite.
But when I spend time around friends’ children, even charming ones, there is always a sense of relief when I leave. Yes. I’ve heard that it’s different when they are your own. But what isn’t different is that your time no longer belongs to you. It’s not like having a cat or a dog; a child is forever.
So, coming into our marriage, I was ambivalent about having children. I thought I would want them later, but I didn’t want them then. Rob came into our marriage not wanting children. He was “adamant” that he did not want children, but said that his position might change. It seemed like opposite sides of the same place. We agreed to wait three to five years before discussing children any further.
Now, here is the only piece of misunderstanding in our communication. I took “I don’t want children” to mean, “I do not desire children,” while he meant, “I actively desire to be childless.” One is negotiable. The other is not. He, on the other hand, knew that I might change my mind and was willing to marry me anyway.
If you’ve been reading my journal for any length of time, you know how much I love my husband. He is, quite simply, the best thing that has ever happened to me. Given a choice between having children and having Rob, there was no choice. Sure, I could have insisted. We talked about different scenarios that would fulfill the urge I felt for children while preserving as much of his desire for a childless state as possible. We both knew, however, that these were fantasies. I was looking at taking a really solid marriage and putting a great deal of stress on it for a possibility. The thing with deciding to have kids is that you don’t know who you’ll get. It’s not like picking a pet out at the store; you may get a kid who is severely troubled or is perfect and wonderful. You just don’t know. It’s a gamble. For me, for us, that gamble wasn’t worth the risk.
There are so many children in the world already, too many for the planet to handle, that I think both partners have to want the child to justify bringing it into the world.
Are there things I will regret? Of course.
I will regret never knowing pregnancy. That I’m sure of. I’m afraid of being lonely when I’m old. I love my parents, and I’ll miss being on the other side of that relationship.
But at the end, weighing all the possible regrets and maybes, the thing I am most sure of is that I am not willing to give up Rob for a person who doesn’t exist. There are other reasons, just dealing with myself and a selfish desire to control my own lifestyle, but the big one is that I wasn’t willing to chance destroying something wonderful.
Most of the things I’m afraid of are things that are within my control. I am taking active steps now to develop connections with people in the next generation. I’m trying to become more involved in the life of my nieces and nephew. I’m finding other ways to leave a legacy besides my genes.
And here’s the big thing I want you to understand — I went through a rough period when we were making the choice, but once it was made… I really didn’t realize how much pressure I was putting on myself to procreate until it was gone. If you have a friend who is childless, don’t second guess them. Don’t assume that someone has to have kids to be happy. And please, please, don’t put pressure on them, even by implication.
You may not intend it, but it’s just mean. It’s hard to buck the social and biological pressure to have children. If someone makes that choice, do them the courtesy of accepting that it is the right choice for them. That’s all I ask. I’m happy. Those of you with children may think that I’m a fool, but I’m a happy fool.
Edited to add: I wanted to point out karindira’s very thoughtful post on the question of childless women from the side of motherhood.
Yes, February is quite the eventful month for us.
I’d planned on celebrating today with Mom and taking her and Dad out to dinner at Daniel. My brother and I had also arranged to fly him to NYC secretly to surprise her. Alas. These plans are all postponed.
But the birthday isn’t. I hope it is a happy one and that Dad doesn’t give you the flu as a present.
Well, phooey. Mom and Dad were scheduled to come visit on Friday. My birthday is the 8th, Mom’s is the 11th and she is attaining a Significant Number this year. We were going to do a joint celebration. I had all sorts of things planned.
But, he is ill — as in influenza and in bed — and so they’ve canceled their flight. The doctor has him on strong antibiotics and he’s wearing a mask so he doesn’t infect Mom.
Since Dad’s a regular reader, would you all mind leaving him some well-wishes here?
Granted, her kids take turns coming over to help with housecleaning, but she still cooks for herself. When I was home in the summer, she wanted to talk politics. She votes every election and is very adamant about doing so. It makes sense, I mean, she was alive before sufferage.
When we were home over Christmas, Rob and I took Mom’s turn cleaning (since Mom was prepping for dinner for 24). Grandma asked us to make certain that we got things put back in the same place, if we had to move them. Rob vacuumed the living room and went off to do another room. When he came back into the living room, Grandma was moving her chair. This is not a little wood thing. This is a wingback recliner. My 103 year old grandmother was shoving it back into place and wouldn’t let him help her.
I so hope I have those genes.
To celebrate, I thought I would share this collection of photography from a book called, Living in Three Centuries : The Face of Age.
When Rob and I woke up this morning, our health had taken a swing for the worse. Yes, indeed. My niece gave us the gift that keeps on giving.
So I called the friends that were supposed to come over and regretfully asked them to stay away. We’ve been huddled under the covers with a Veronica Mars marathon pretty much all day. I still made black-eyed peas and collards though because I’m just not willing to chance going into the New Year without them.
It’s funny, even in Portland, at the grocery store the black-eye peas and the collards were always prominently displayed and you could tell that there’d been a run on them. Here in NYC, not so much. People looked at me like I’m a crazy person for saying that you have to have them on New Year’s day.
So how about you? Do you have a New Year’s day tradition?
And with a belated gift from my little niece! Yes, the delightful germ-monger has presented Rob and myself with colds. His struck yesterday and mine began kicking in this morning. We’re fortifying ourselves with Chinese food and heading for bed early.
Just in case you needed to know where Santa was, NORAD tracks Santa and gives up to date reports on his location. You can also tie in Google Earth for real time tracking.
Emily just spoke to the very nice people at NORAD who told her that Santa is on his way but in Africa right now.
I spent the day hanging out with my nieces and nephew. Most of the time involved playing in Emily’s “house” in the magnolia tree out front. There was a weird discomfort for me about that. See, though I acknowledge that it is a superior space for a pretend house, as a child I never, ever played in that tree.
Not after the incident with the turtle.
I’m not sure how old I was, but probably between five and eight simply because I was doing what Emily was doing today. I was “exploring” or playing house. This magnolia tree is great for that because it’s actually a single large tree surrounded by a crowd of magnolia saplings. They grow so slowly that it doesn’t look much different from when I was little.
I remember pushing through the tightly bunched trunks and the waxy feel of the leaves. The slender branches feel like cinnamon sticks. It is dark and quiet in the center of the grove, even at noon. I step over a branch and my bare foot comes down on a dead turtle.
This is my first scream of abject terror.
The turtle’s shell had collapsed so that the inside is visible. I remember trying to run out of the grove, but the branches were so tight that I couldn’t push through. Robby, my grandmother, came running out of the house and made everything safe somehow. Later she said that she’d known that I was really frightened and not just pretending to be upset because of the way I’d screamed.
This is a very sharp memory for me and this is the place that my niece wanted to play with me today. I’m a good thirty years older than I was, but I had so much dread going in there today, even though I know, I know that the turtle skeleton is long gone. I kept trying to find reasons for the Scientist Fairy and I to go play someplace else, but after the expeditions to discover dinosaurs and to throw parties, we kept coming “home” to that blasted magnolia grove.
She’s got no idea how much affection I was demonstrating by playing with her there .And you know, it probably wouldn’t have been as weird and uncomfortable if I weren’t trying to remember what it was like to be her age so that I could play with her.
Such a Halloween story, eh? It was like a nightmare before Christmas in real life. Other than that, today was lovely. We baked and did other Christmas prep. Rob has made eggnog.
Today was largely relaxing, except for our outing to buy Christmas presents. We borrowed Dad’s car and drove to the mall to pick up some things. Now, you have to bear in mind that this is really the first time either of us has driven since moving to NYC six months ago. We’re really used to being pedestrians at this point in our life, so rather than driving from the strip mall to the main mall across the street, we decided to walk. Traffic was icky and it was less than three blocks away.
Except that Chattanooga apparently has a thing against sidewalks. There were none.
Strangely, one of the lights had a pedestrian crossing button, to get the traffic light to change color, but no crosswalk, no crossing signal, no sidewalk on either side. Just who were they expecting to hit the button? Drivers just didn’t know what to do with us. I felt far less safe walking than I did driving. I’d forgotten just how intense the car culture is after living in NYC and Portland.
Meanwhile, I’m probably not going to be online much the next couple of days, so may I offer you some old-time Christmas Radio. This includes such gems as the original cast recording of It’s a Wonderful Life.
With my fourteen year old nephew’s permission, I am linking to his story, the king saved the king of popcorn. He is striving for a dadaist sensibility — he told me so. I think this story succeeds admirably.
Here’s a teaser.
â€œomg! i have a bad imagination. so i have hired a few zombies to come and take out your brains! they will be here in a hour. then they will give your brain to me so i will have a great imagination! hahahahaha!â€.
We just returned from a lovely dinner with Rob’s parents at Cafe Frida. They were on a whirlwind tour of the mainland and stopped by NYC for the weekend. Sadly, I missed them last night and only saw them this evening when I came home from working on the moth. I thought that they were here longer or I would have tried to schedule the moth work differently. They head back to Hawaii tomorrow.
Short though the visit was, it was good to see them.
Okay, first of all, I have to say that you people are so impatient. Sheesh! Second, here are the photos.
|The Apartment in Process|
I’ve started putting the kitchen together, but have to hold off a bit until we mop the floor so we can put the pie safe in there. Right now it’s hanging out in the door between the living room and dining room.
Last night we went out for dinner at an asian fusion restaurant. This morning, we returned the truck, and walked back home through Central Park. It was very nice. There are sections were the traffic noise is no more noticeable than at Woodthrush Woods. My. It feels really good to be done with the truck. Arriving at home, we ate breakfast in the apartment–bagel for Rob and cereal for me. We still don’t have a clear table to sit at, but that should come soon. I’m hoping to have the dining room clear by this evening.
I’m looking forward to the point when I can write something.
That’s right, we don’t yet have internet at the apartment. We get it next Friday, you know, while I’m away at Readercon. Until then, postings will be somewhat sporadic I’m afraid.
We spent yesterday cleaning and unpacking. The bedroom is assembled and has no boxes. Yay! Rob has disassembled the stove and is deep cleaning it. It’s a nice old Welbilt, which has thirty plus years of grease buildup on it. We shudder.
The living room is starting to emerge from the chaos of boxes, but it will take awhile.
Here are some photos from moving day.
|Arrival in NYC|
We have safely arrived at the home of Brad Beaulieu in our first ever early arrival. We were figuring to get here around seven tonight and arrived at five instead. As soon as we got out of Minnesota, we cleared the road construction and it was fast going.
I’m looking forward to a very pleasant evening.
Meanwhile, here are photos from our stay in Avon.