“When are you having kids?”, they usually ask. Not “if”. And here are the most common responses to my answer:
1) “But you guys would be great parents!”
Maybe. Not likely. But maybe. Problem is, I’m not sure I know what being a great parent means. I am fairly certain though, that WANTING to be a parent is at the top of the list of great parent things. Please enlighten me if you disagree?
2) “Does Amy (my wife) know/agree?”
My absolute favorite!
It came up very early. Not our first date, but maybe the second. We were 27. And the answer to the standard follow-up question is that we arrived in our relationship having made the choice not to have children separately.
Still, the initial conversations were choreographed carefully. We admitted our childfree wishes apologetically, delicately dancing around the word “never”. We quizzed each other periodically; and reassurances came frequently and emphatically, but not absolutely.
For years, we packed an adoption parachute, allowed each other wiggle room, effectively saying “I love you too much to lose you. I’ll do anything else to stay with you, so could, I guess… if you change your mind… oh shit… consider adopting?”
Maybe I could do it, I thought, if that’s what it takes to keep her. And she was thinking the same thing. She wanted to know what would happen if I changed my mind, because “men can always decide to have babies”. I wanted to make sure we were on the same page regarding unwanted pregnancies.
We weren’t. We aren’t. It was the closest we ever came to breaking up, and the discussion forced us to address our childfree choices with more honesty and certainty. It was scary. We argued. Doubted. Couldn’t sleep. Then we both said “never”. Finally. Spared no room for error, we employed belt and suspenders birth control strategies.
We both came to the same conclusion before we started dating and discussed our choices early; but at times we tiptoed along the path to secure, childfree and happy.
3) A silent head to toe assessment in an attempt, I assume, to determine my health, sanity and sexuality.
I know. There’s too much product in my hair. My glasses are suspiciously fancy and my wife is far too pretty for me.
Because we don’t have kids, I have time to read and nap and surf and stay fit. But I’m hetero. And aside from the fact that I habitually heat my testicles with the warm and deadly rays of my pocket-borne cell phone, I am healthy. Sanity is another matter entirely.