The concept of having children is very complex. Some days, I think I want to be a mother. I want to have a family of my own. I get curious about what it must feel like to be a parent.
But then, the vast majority of the time, the idea of children of my own never crosses my mind. And sometimes, I am almost damn-near repulsed by the idea of having children of my own. I feel like I should be kind of ashamed of that response… after all, it’s in human nature to procreate and hey, aren’t women supposed to have some kind of inate instinct to want to be a mother?!
How come I don’t feel it?
It’s an issue I will likely always see as an unanswerable mystery. Like Popeye so eloquently put it, “I am what I am, and that’s all that I am.” At a certain point, it’s similar to asking why men have nipples or why the sky is blue.
I simply can’t relate to mothers very well. I know a lot of you reading this are mothers, but it’s the truth: a lot of what you talk about, the feelings you have, all seem totally alien to me. Kids often turn me OFF and I can’t wait to get away from them! I don’t get the whole “awww, how cute” thing because almost every “cute” baby grows up to be an adult person like all the rest of us. And people are people. We can be awesome, or we can suck. I can’t put our smallest versions on a pedestal. They are just small people. Like how puppies are small dogs.
I understand how we are naturally wired to be attracted to things with big eyes and small, underformed appendages. It was an evolutionary thing: babies had to be “cute” so we wouldn’t leave them in the shrubbery as we foraged for food. We tend to be attracted to baby animals, too, for the same “awwww” factor. But here’s my dirty, little secret: I don’t actually find babies –human or animal– to be exceptional. I prefer the older things, if I could have a choice. I like kids who can use the bathroom by themselves, and dogs that are housebroken. I don’t want to be super vigilant and careful all the time. I like things that can kinda take care of themselves.
Today at lunch, a mom and dad were sitting at the table next to me with their FOUR little kids. Four. All of them looked to be 5 years of age and under. The youngest was a tiny, screeching baby in a carrier. The other kids were moving around constantly and whining here and there. I felt so fortunate that I was not that woman. I couldn’t imagine being stuck with FOUR of those things, 24/7, and remaining calm and not wanting to just leave the kids in a mall foodcourt someplace. I mean, you can’t go anywhere with four little, little kids. It probably takes them a half an hour just to get out of the car with all the carseats and straps and carriers and stuff. I don’t get what drives a family to do that to themselves. Have one, and relax. Sheesh.
I noticed that when the kids were talking and/or screeching, several people in the restaurant turned to look in their direction. I started to pay attention to WHO was turning around, WHEN they turned and HOW LONG they kept looking. I noticed that an older woman, a Grandma type, was the most frequent looker. She would initially look when an loud noise erupted from the children, but she didn’t look away. Not at all. Instead, she was completely, head-on staring at the family. The look on her face seemed to be saying, “Oh, children are wonderful. I must look at these children because I have an instinct to nurture, to be interested in those little helpless things.” A couple of women sitting a few seats away from the old lady would glance over when the screeches occurred, and quickly look away and keep talking. They seemed tense. The men largely ignored it, except the loudest screeches. This one guy in a Roto Rooter uniform shirt sighed loudly, looked super annoyed and shook his head to himself.
As for me? I couldn’t bring myself to even look at the family. I was afraid one of them–a parent, or a kid, it didn’t matter– would see me looking and might want to talk. I was close enough for someone to say hello or even apologize for the screeching, and I didn’t want any of it. I just don’t like being around that. It makes me skin crawl a little, and I feel like I lose my appetite, which is no small matter for a pig like me! Nope, I’d rather look away or do whatever I can to not react to the loud noises the kids made. Ignore something and it eventually goes away, right? 😉
Two nights ago, a really uncomfortable thing happened. I went into a little local takeout restaurant I’d been meaning to try for awhile. It was run by a husband and wife, and the restaurant was named after a little boy, Sammy. I know this, because when I came in, a chubby kid in a shirt with the name “SAMMY” on the back hollered, “WELCOME TO SAMMY’S!!” at me. “I’M SAMMY!”
OK, kid. I got it. Cute. Now let me take a look at this menu here and–
LAUGHING and BANGING NOISES
There was another customer in there at the time, you see. A young mom–she looked younger than me, for sure– was in there with her three young kids. And this woman had no control of her children. It was obnoxious as hell. The kids were racing around the place, talking to Sammy and playing with some of the toys the restaurant had out on the floor (they apparently are big on the family-fun thing and encourage families with little children), and then running up to their Mom and yelling things like “I WANT A BROWNIE!” and “MOM! MOM! MOM!” at her. She would react in that annoying way… “OK, let’s go sit down. If you’re quiet you can get a brownie…”
One of the little boys scowls, looks at her and yells, “NO! I HATE YOU, MOMMY!” and hits her. Yes, he talked to her like that. And he hit her. And the mother just weakly grins, and goes, “Oh, that’s not nice.” ?!?!?!?!?
You know what my Mom would have done if I had acted that way in public? We would have left a vapor trail behind us for how fast my Mom would take me outside, and threateningly lean over me and say “You do not talk like that to me, or anyone! That is bad! We’re leaving now.” And we would really leave. It was not an empty threat.
So anyway, this family was annoying the snot out of me. I could barely make conversation with the woman behind the counter to place my order over all the screaming. As I waited for my order to be up, one of the little brats, a girl, walks over to where I’m standing near the counter.
“What school do your kids go to?” she asks me. I’m surprised, but say, “Oh, I don’t have any kids.” I grin a little and look away.
The girl yells, “WHY NOT?!” So rude!!
I just stared back at her, blankly. I was pretty sure I couldn’t say what I wanted to say, which was “Because I couldn’t risk having an awful, ugly child like you!” so I didn’t say anything. I looked over to the mother for any kind of escape.
The mom goes, “Oh, to the little ones, everyone should be a Mommy!” and she laughs.
I felt so odd. I was kind of insulted, and disgusted by her patronizing tone, and also like that woman, and Society As a Whole, was looking at me and expecting me to be a Mommy. And when Society finds out I am not a Mommy, they don’t know what to do with me.
I was so glad to get the hell out of there when my order was up. I verbally berated that young mom in the privacy of my car and wished for her kids to get chicken pox or something. Yeah, it might sound evil to wish ill upon a precious child, but I don’t really care. I was thinking it. I was not amused, or charmed by their little personalities… FUCK that noise. I want them to just go scream in Walmart, where they belong, and leave the rest of us alone.
So, in conclusion, I don’t see myself being a Mommy anytime soon. Even when I have my moments where I think of adoption, wistfully… the truth is I will never really go through with that. Because a much larger portion of my heart and brain says NO WAY to the kid thing. It’s just not part of my vision for the rest of my life… it’s just how I turned out, I guess.