Friday, November 14, 2008

Physiological Change III: Babies

I think I am unusual, or at least in the minority, among women my age, in that when I think critically about having children, my mind sort of recoils.

It's not that I don't have a biological clock. I do. It ticks at me as sporadically as one might expect given I still have a good ten years in which to populate my immediate area with squirming, diaper-soiling, ear-piercing, time-suckers who require me to serve their every whim, entertain them, and pay for their every need for 18 years, all the while contributing to the swelling of the human population and the razing of the earth's resources.

See? Recoils. If it sounds like I'm being harsh on children, let it be known that, cerebrally, biological clock aside, I am. Anyone who requires me to spend all my time with them gets at automatic veto from me. Boyfriends included. I require wind-down time greater than or equal to time spent socializing, and having a child pulling at my sleeve requiring me to entertain them when I'm trying to read just screams torture.

Babysitting was always the most uncomfortable experience when I was a teenager - not because I was responsible for another human's well-being, and I guess their survival, but because of the constant outward-turning of my brain and its resources. I had to constantly think of things that would be entertaining to another, alien person, and engage with them on not a daily but a minute-ly basis. It was like having responsibility for the stimulation of another's brain.

Since I wasn't wild about people stimulating my brain very often when I was young - I preferred reading or drawing in solitude - I don't actually understand what it feels like to be the kind of child that children seem to me to be: demanding, hungry for stimulation, with a super-short attention span and neverending energy. I don't know what they want from me and I don't know how to give it to them, whatever 'it' is. I still have nightmares about teaching preschool-age kids in Indonesia even as I have the same dreams about missing my older students.

So that - coupled with my firm belief that we as a race need to stop creating so many babies and start taking care of the unwanted babies already in existence, and then start controlling our numbers to a number appropriate for the size of the earth and our neighbors on it - makes me a prime candidate for either abstinence from pregnancy or adoption. There's no argument for me having children and every argument for me adopting an older child. Older children are the most in need. I like older children. Therefore...!

But my body will not listen to such reason. It's like,

BODY: You want to have a baby.

BRAIN: But I don't even think babies are cute. I see them on trains and buses and just think, that poor mother, carrying all that baby shit around all the time everywhere she goes. I don't even look at the baby.

BODY: But you want to have babies. You love babies. In fact, you want to have one right now.

BRAIN: But I don't have the income for a baby. And I don't like babies. I don't want babies. Everyone's having too many babies as it is.


And then, something shocking happens: my brain loses the argument! It starts waffling and hemming and hawing. And it starts searching for logical reasons to have a baby. It starts thinking about how differently it'll be forced to view the world when it's teaching everything to someone new, and how that might be kind of cool and freeing. It starts thinking about getting to relive all sorts of nostalgic things like first-grade projects and dressing up for Halloween. It starts thinking about who the baby might look like, all the different kinds of beautiful combinations that could happen.

It starts turning. It starts changing. It starts wanting a baby, not just being okay with it, or accepting it grudgingly, but really wanting a baby. My body wins. It wins! Despite the best logic in the world, and the true and sincere desire to contribute to the decline of the human population, my body wins the argument. All the debating and logic in the world can't help me to help be a part of the change I most want to see in the world - depopulation.

I can't imagine what it's like for people who actually want children.

Let's go back to the fill-in-the-blank, shall we?

Change is hard when you're fighting billions of years of biological programming.


Dan R said...

True that, sistah!


snowmelt said...

BTW, I hadn't read this when I asked whether you were pregnant. -j