Thursday, October 18, 2007

Thoughts on Breeding

This weekend, I met a man who - despite being not that old - was already a great-grandfather. I spoke to him about parenthood, and expressed my intention to never have children. "I'll just screw them up," I protested.

Sheer dismay and confusion crossed his face. Here was a man who supremely enjoyed his family, and he seemed genuinely concerned for me. "No one's perfect," he said. "Everyone screws up their children to some degree. But it's still worth it. It's all still worth it."

And you know what? He's probably right.

My aversion to having children is a little mysterious to me.

On one hand, I am quite convinced the world is headed for environmental collapse, and I would hate to have my children live in a world strangled by war, famine, and worse.

And I'm concerned I won't be the perfect mother. I'll be strict, and I'll pass onto my children all the fears and flaws and shortcomings that I myself have.

And, I'm also scared shitless about the actual pregnancy/childbirth thing - the trauma, the pain, and the lasting effects. Even though I realize it's all totally natural, it's also totally terrifying.

And then - backing up a little bit - there's the niggling voice in my head saying, "Who would want to marry me? Who would want to have children with me?"

Those four concerns are all concerns of the head. And then there's my heart, that tells me that parents may not be perfect, but they do the best they can. An that family is supremely important, and having children - even if the children are handicapped or demented or something - is the most gratifying thing you can do.

So after talking to the man this weekend, I'm open to a little compromise. First of all, I would love to adopt children, or to be a foster parent. I have always been open to this possibility, but now I am more enthusiastic about it. I think that would give me all the gratification of being a parent, while being a bit more selfless than creating more people (when the world already has too many people).

And maybe I'd be open to having one child of my own. Just one. To see how I like it. Trust me - the mere fact that I am open to this possibility is a huge step for me.

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