Almost every person I know eventually wants to get married and have kids. Little girls imagine their wedding day, name their not-yet-conceived children decades in advance, and imagine their future with golden bands and the pitter-patter of little feet.
But is this what we really want – to breed and sign a doctrine indicating a lifetime commitment? Is it human nature to be tied to another forever and always, or at least until the divorce lawyers settle the affairs? Or have we been conditioned to think like this?
A few weeks ago I was out with new acquaintances, a guy and a girl, who are both 30-years-old. While each had different relationship experiences, they both expressed a need to settle down. She had been in several relationships, long and short. He had never dated anyone longer than two months informally. She could hear her biological clock ticking and he felt like he “need[ed] to do the right thing.”
I can understand the biological clock as a fellow female. It’s unfair that we have a limited time to reproduce with the strain of every year that passes increasing the chance for complications, while our male counterparts can have children as long as they can find a fertile womb to spooge in. This puts an enormous amount of pressure to find a partner in a shorter amount of time before we are accused of “baby fever.” Men develop this same obsession to reproduce, but rather than being labeled with a psychological-social taboo they are instead considered “ready-to-commit.”
Spinster, old maid, and lifelong bachelor – even the terms are better for guys.
But when this 30-year-old man said, “It’s about time. I need to do the right thing,” I nearly choked on my whiskey. Where did this need come from? And who said it was the right thing? Did I miss the Rules of Life that said ‘All those that can reproduce, should. Damned are those that remain single for life?’
I’ve engaged in some reckless behavior but have made it a point to be honest and open with my family and friends about my conduct and debaucherous activities. As a result I feel like I’m living a life with limited regrets. But at the same time I’ve heard, “What would you say if your kids ever found out?” about a hundred times. It is assumed that I will spawn. Somehow I’ve lost the choice to have children.
Home of the free, land of the devised family regime.
I’m tired of living for a future that I’m not sure I’ll get, or that I even want now. At 27-years-old I’m no closer to my happily ever after than I was at 17. But unlike the restricted teenage knowledge of the world and what life has to offer, my perception has widened to look at the unlimited possibilities.
Getting married, following the traditional path, is the easy approach. The blueprint is right in front of us. Go to college, get a job, find a spouse, have some kids, and wait to die. Even if divorce ends up as part of your plans, there are still examples of how to shadow that lifestyle. Just look at our parents.
“You go to college, you meet a boy, you drop out, you get married. Struggle in New York for a year while he learns how to tie a tie. And then move to the country to start the whole mess all over again.” – Sandy, 16-year-old character in Mad Men, The Doorman episode.
But what about those that take the path less travelled? The ones that don’t get married and have kids, or marry but never spawn, or have children but never marry. These are the trailblazers into a new lifestyle, a new society. Innovators of finding a contemporary approach into the Golden Years that leave others baffled by their lifestyle choice. These trendsetters are scorned in the same fashion as the single mothers in the 1950s that choose divorce rather than legal servitude to their abusive husbands.
Those of us that have neither a significant other nor children are not burden with responsibilities or persons to answer to. What we do and when we do it has no reflection on any individual but ourselves. We can be selfish, reckless, and our time and resources are ours alone. We have the ultimate freedom.
I know a very successful married couple that chooses not to have children but instead great careers, a beautiful home in Beverly Hills, and a lifestyle that fits their interests. The wife is in her early forties and has a better body than most girls my age. The husband goes out with his younger friends and parties until the wee hours of daybreak. They go on expensive vacations and live the lives others dream of. They have the ultimate lifestyle.
I also know many single parents that do not have either of these luxuries. For one reason or another they are in a position of raising one or more children solely. They don’t have the time or resources to go out and have a good time without the consequence of parenthood in the back of their minds. But whenever I have asked them if they could undo what has been done the answer is always a resounding, “No.” The love for their biological offspring supersedes anything else. They have ultimate love.
Now, I’m knocking those that truly want to be married and have little versions of their own to carry on their names and genetics. The concept is, at the very least, enticing to those that have love to give, crave family, or want to live forever through their family tree. But like working in corporate versus being an artist, or choosing veganism over meat, this can’t be the route for everyone.
I have a new perception – maybe that life choice isn’t for me. I told my first boyfriend that I wanted to be a stripper, which he responded with, “Not if you’re going to date me.” That has been the same reaction for many of the unconventional things I’ve wanted to do in my life. Some people aren’t going through a phase. I still want to be a stripper (actually a madam of a brothel would be my first choice), I write smut, have a long history of exploring sexual desires that others would frown upon, and presently am exploring how to be a Suicide Girl.
Which my last boyfriend questioned, “What would you say if your kids ever found out?”
A.) I’m not sure I want kids.
B.) I’m not sure I should have kids.
C.) If I do have kids, I’d want them to know it’s okay to explore their dreams, even if it doesn’t fit into the conventional mainstream. And that daddy is okay with mommy’s past because he loves her for who she is, in spite of what she’s done.
“I’ve never regretted not having children. My mindset in that regard has been constant. I objected to being born, and I refuse to impose life on someone else.” ~ Robert Smith