Monday, June 25, 2012

On having kids part 2

Prospect Park, Brooklyn










































I wrote a post a while back on my old blog about not being sure if I ever wanted to have kids or not. The focus of the post wasn't really about which one was the right choice for me, but more about feeling a strong dismay for having that uncertain feeling, and often feeling like I'm one of the only people who just doesn't know.  Here is a little excerpt:
While I read these posts and other "mommy blogs" that I truly enjoy, I can't help but wonder two things- 1: why do I feel like I just don't get it?  And 2: why do I feel like I should?  If I really do never have children, will I regret it?  Will my life be in some way incomplete?  Even though I can't see myself wanting to be a mom right now, I think I always just assumed that some day I would be, without really giving it much thought.  I played with dolls for a very long time!  I'm domestic, I actually enjoy cooking, baking and cleaning!  I work with children!

And yet, I have to wonder, did these working moms really think about how their lives would change with kids (like I feel like I'm always thinking about) or was it just this hormonal gut urge and instinct to know that they had to have children?  Or do they just see it all differently than I do?

Not wanting to or not being sure if you want to have kids feels a lot similar to being an atheist.  What about it does everyone else see that I don't?
So fast forward almost exactly one since I wrote this post.  I turned 30 in March and I swear to god, it's such a cliche, but it was like that baby gene that I was waiting for kicked in...sort of.  I started having a different point of view about having kids.  Really focusing on the joy that having a family with children in it can bring rather than the huge changes it would bring to my life like I was before. Also, (and this has to be the purely hormonal part) babies suddenly started looking way cuter to me.  Almost as cute as kittens- but not quite.  Like I'd see a baby and think, I want to hold that.

Even so, none of this made either me or Alex think, let's get pregnant right now!  But it put us more in the mindset of creating a plan with the end result being this is most likely going to happen in the next few years or so.  So yeah, a lot has changed!

But I still feel like I'm on that yo-yo of emotion about the decision.  And also still feel like others aren't burdened with this problem. Here is a perfect example, which got me thinking about writing this post. Yesterday, I watched this TED Talk video.



I highly recommend watching it.  But if you don't have time, the gist of it says that due to global warming our children's children and most likely our children will not have a future like we do.  To quote Metafilter, where I found this link:
"Climate change will take on a life of it's own and spiral out of control. Something like half the earth's currently-inhabited land would become too hot to survive on. I don't mean it's difficult to grow beans, or your air-conditioning bills are inconveniently high. I mean, if you go outside you die of hotness. Places that were an average of 80F will now be an average of 170, 180F. Will there still be human civilization under those circumstances? 
This really worries me. And yet, I feel like saying out loud, "I'm not having children becuase I am afraid of climate change," makes me sound a little crazy.  People just don't really say this.  It seems like an irrational fear, like I think the end of the world is near.  And if the prediction made in this Ted Talk never comes true, will I have sacrificed a huge amount of happiness in my life?  Because let's face it, while I believe that parents are often truly selfless, the choice to have a child is selfish.  The human race is not in danger of extinction.  Not having a child will selflessly make the world a better place, by a tiny bit.  Having a child will selfishly make my life better.  Probably by a lot.  And part of that selfishness includes not being certain about what kind of world my children and grandchildren will inherit.

Because when I think about what I assume most people think about when they decided they want to have kids are things like this post that Jenna from Sweet Fine Day just posted about her amazing Brooklyn weekend with her family.  Picking out library books with her daughters, watching them play with water guns and catch fireflies and then watch an outdoor movie during a classic Brooklyn block party made me think about not only how awesome my city is, but how awesome it would be to raise kids here.  And how having a family is what life is really all about.  How Brooklyn isn't just a place for 20 somethings who like to party, it could actually be a really amazing place to stick around with a kid or two.  Unless they will have to face unthinkable catastrophe.


I guess the bottom line is this- worrying about climate change to this degree (no pun intended) makes me feel totally crazy, but also makes me feel a little smart.  Like a believer in science.  And I'd like to know, does anyone else, with or with out kids think about these things in such detail?  Or do I need to just stop worrying about the future and live in the now.  Go with the flow and see where it takes me? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.  Thanks for reading, everyone.


And PS- This post is about human children.  I'd like to show off my cat children right here:



16 comments:

  1. Interesting read! Have you ever thought about adoption? It's definitely on the table for my husband and I. You're absolutely right that the choice to have a child is selfish, even through adoption. But it could possibly selflessly make the world a better place and selfishly make your life better..?

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    1. Thanks for your comment Jennifer! Yes, it is something that I have thought about. Maybe that will end up being our route...

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    2. I was going to offer the same thought. My husband and I have been having inexplicable infertility for a few years and the more it seems that I'll be needing help with getting pregnant, the more I want to adopt. It doesn't seem fair to spend so much money trying to force a pregnancy when there are so many babies and children that can't be cared for by their birth parents.

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  2. There are some blogs that I read where the women are obsessed with living off the land, hoarding food, etc. because they are sure that disaster/end of the world is coming. These same women tend to have baby after baby and I always wonder why they keep having babies if they really think the future is so bleak. I try to be more positive about the future, not dwelling on it and just accepting and dealing with things as they arise. Having children makes your heart vulnerable. Yes, the future is uncertain as far as climate change and economic problems and war...but so is tomarrow with accidents, with health concerns, and any other number of unknown lurking catastrophes. It's such a heavy subject on the hearts of all parents. I just figure that my kids are individuals who have their own lives to live and with all life comes the good and the bad, you just hope for more good.

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    1. Thanks for your comment Heather! Could you send me a link to one of these blogs that you mentioned reading? I'm so curious!

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    2. I'd rather send you a link through email than through the blog, because I'm not sure if posting a link here might be a little disrespectful to the woman. I can't find an email for you, though. You can email me through my Blogger profile and I'll send a link back to you if you want.

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  3. Climate change aside, I think you're expressing what many women who consider having children go through! I've always assumed I would have kids, and I do still want to. But I think about how much my life will change with a child, and it's a little bit scary. The future is so uncertain, maybe it's comforting to pick one specific thing to worry about ... but I think parenthood is just something you have to jump into. I feel better when I remind myself that people with a lot less resources, education, etc have babies every day. If they can do it, I can do it. And so can you, if you decide to :)

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  4. I vacillate on the kids issue too. Sometimes I see babies and children and definitely think "yeah, that would be nice one day". Then I hear small children screaming or having tantrums and I think "glad I don't have to deal with that". I get that (for most people) it's incredibly rewarding to have kids (so say most parents), and that there are many things about the experience that make up for the rough spots. Still, I see this as something I won't be seriously contemplating for awhile yet; although the older I get the more aware of it I become. I try to mentally turn this off, but the time line for having kids is a real thing since women aren't fertile forever.

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  5. Although I know having kids will rock my world and I do worry about the future they are being brought into, it wasn't a question for me, I've known for years I wanted to have children. I guess I'm one of those folks that say we will do our best to live simply as to not harm the earth more than we can help and so on and so forth. At the same time, I hate to think of all the do-gooders and intelligent folks I know not having kids and contributing more awesome people to the world while those who don't give a care about the earth continue to up the population without a second though.

    Really though, what it all comes down to for me is that I can't predict what will happen in the future and I don't even know what tomorrow will bring, but I know that I want to have a family to experience that future with no matter what is in store.

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  6. We talk about these very same issues over at Shina-Dry manor, Sarah. You're not alone. I assumed I'd always have kids, and didn't really put much thought into it. It's sort of what the women in my family do. Then I decided that it wasn't for me, because I felt like I'd make this terrible mother and that kids sort of creep me out. Then, to change things up again-I decided that I'd actually be a really good mother but that kids weren't for me, mainly because of the state of the world and I would feel awful bringing kids into it. THEN, again, I started realizing that there are already children in the world who could use a loving home. It's a roller-coaster of emotions, thinking about having kids. I think it was sort of something that I never thought that I'd get to think about-and it would just happen. Now I think about it, a lot. I'm turning 30! Ack!!! Babies! Let's have babies so they can hang out and be awesome and we can talk about them. Wait, no. No. No! Help. me.

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    1. OMG we are totally twins. As in let's both have twins and our babies will be friends! JK!! Seriously though, thank you for this comment which not only made me feel less crazy, but it also made me laugh. xo.

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  7. Ah, let's toss in the approaching 40 without much time left scenario too! There are so many reasons why it is probably not the greatest ides for my dh and I to have kids. I worry about my mental stability with kids. I can barely deal with a husband who acts like a kid. Also I am VERY aware of the changes taking place in the world and a lot of them are not good. I don't want to toss that burden on my offspring. Also, we are not great financial planners...let's just leave that one at that. There are more reasons too but the top reason is...I did not get the PING on my ovaries that makes you gravitate to wanting kids. I like other people's kids...but I can give them back when I am ready. Not so with your own. We have considered adopting but we will only do that if we know we are financially sound for that child's future. It is hard when all of your best friends have kids and then insist that the don't talk about their kids ALL THE TIME when they really do. It is hard not to be part of a community of mommies walking their kids and doing playdates and forming friendships over a common bond. BUT...unlike some people I have met/seen, it's not a reason for me to have kids. Whew! I caould never write that on my log. Sorry for the REALLY long comment. ;) Found you on Not A Mommy Blog

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    1. So glad my post inspired you to write a long comment! I so relate to that giving other people's kids back when you've had enough thing! That thought has occurred to me A LOT :) Thanks again for your comment!

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  8. I'm approaching 33 and my "baby gene" hasn't kicked in. Sometimes I worry about that and feel like I'm wrong for not wanting to be a mom. But other times, I'm thankful that I don't have that strong desire at this point in life since I'm not married and wouldn't want to have a child without a husband/father in the picture.

    Maybe it's one of those things that lots of women think about, but not too many ever really talk about openly.

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  9. I'm 38 and I'm still not sure if I'd want kids. Earlier, I mostly was afraid I would suck as a mother, because I didn't think I had enough patience, was stable enough, etc. Later I thought as you do about the future we have to offer kids... not so much environmental stuff as things like criminality, unemployment, that the world is getting more and more hateful, judgemental, kids hurt each other in school, too much stress at work and bad working conditions, the list goes on and on. I still think about those things a lot. A few years ago I started feeling that if I became pregnant it would be ok (progress!), but then I started studying and we didn't think so much more about it. Now we think we are too old to plan for kids.... and my job is a total mess and I don't know how much longer I can put up with it. I'm too easily stressed now and know I would NOT handle kids very well. But.... still if I became pregnant I would keep it. But then I would stop working.
    You are not alone and your thoughts make very much sense. You are NOT crazy. This world's future does not look good, not at all. I'm glad someone speaks up about this because it seems to be taboo to write about it r even think about it!

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  10. Yes, Sarah, I know exactly how you feel when you say "saying I'm not having kids because I'm scared of climate change" can make you feel a little crazy, I feel it too. It seems to be business as usual all around, and our present lives can seem so beautiful and joyful at times that it is can feel almost unimaginable that the planet is hurtling towards catastrophe.

    I am really struggling with the issue of having children or not as my 42 yr old boyfriend (of 6 yrs) wants to have kids with me (I'm 33). I have been soul-searching (and web searching, hence finding your blog) trying to find conviction that it's the right thing to do, but without any luck.

    I have friends who are very environmentally conscious, who have chosen to have children. In the rare times that I can talk to them about their views on the subject, they tell me they have hope for the future and that human beings are ingenious (true, but I lack faith that we can find the political will) and that people have lived through other horrible times in history (true, but this seems more all-encompassing. And if people during horrible times in history had the option of a) birth control and b) knowledge of what was coming, surely some would have chosen not to have children).

    Friends with kids also tell me I should have kids because I have the right values, and my children will grow up and work on the solution to the climate change problem. To me that seems like their own weak justification to have children -- why burden your offspring with that kind of responsibility when the science now tells the story that fighting climate change is a futile cause? And who says your kids are going to grow up doing what you've planned for them?

    I feel anxious about what the world will be like within my own lifetime, let alone think about the burden the next generation will suffer. I think it would constantly break my heart to have children and observe the continual warming of the planet and the consequences of this as they are growing up.

    The best explanation I got from a switched-on friend with kids was "having children is an illogical decision. But we really wanted to have them, and our heart won out over our head." Since I heard that, I think I understand that I probably don't REALLY want kids anyway, since my head is always winning out over my heart.

    Thank you so much for your article, it's really hard to find this subject matter out there on the interweb.

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