I promised to explain why I’m terrified of having children, so here is the promised post.
I’m not afraid of the expense because I know that if I really want something, I’ll find money for that.
I don’t fear that it will impact my career. For one, mine isn’t the kind of a career that requires putting in endless hours at work. I’m not a lawyer or a doctor. I also have really supportive people at work. Last year, a colleague had a baby, and everybody just rallied around her and helped her out. And my female role model at my department has 4 kids, two of whom she raised as a single mother. So I have no professional fears either.
I’m not afraid that I will find it impossible to publish with a kid around. My autistic brain thrives in an environment where there is noise, interruption, and distractions. I write with a TV on and switch constantly between writing and blogging because writing doesn’t happen otherwise. Place me in a quiet environment with no distractions, and writing stops. Put me in a rowdy sports bar, and I become insanely productive.
I’m not afraid that motherhood will spoil my figure because I’m not an idiot.
I’m not afraid that it will prevent me from going out as much as I want because I’m long past my bar-hopping days anyways.
I’m not afraid that I will not enjoy parenthood because I know for a fact that I will.
I’m not afraid that it will be a drain on my time because I can see very well what I can gladly and easily sacrifice to make quite a lot of time for parenting. (It isn;t blogging, so don’t you worry. 🙂 )
I’m not afraid of sleepless nights because I don’t need a whole lot of sleep anyways.
What I am afraid of is the following, beautifully articulated by Elisabeth Badinter in her book The Conflict:
A child can turn the parents’ connection completely upside down. There is no greater antithesis to the couple as lovers than the couple as parents. Even of they do not sleep with their child, it is hard to switch from one role to the other. . . The woman-as-mother may well obliterate the woman-as-lover and endanger the couple.
I’m not an unhinged freakazoid, so it would never occur to me to sleep with a child instead of in the arms of an adult sexual partner. But the issue remains. I’ve seen the phenomenon that Badinter describes happen too many times. And a person who fulfills all of her or his tactile needs through a relationship with the child is a horrible parent anyways. So what’s the point of sacrificing one’s sex life to become a lousy parent?
I mean just on a very basic practical level, how do you combine being an intensely romantic couple with having a child around? If you don’t understand my question, then it is possible you were never a very sexual couple to begin with, so disregard the post.
I wish I saw couples who managed to do preserve their intense sexual connection while being parents. Observing how people actually do it would help enormously. Or, at least, reading about them. Or hearing some urban mythology on the subject. Or seeing them in a dream.
It took me a week to write this post because I’m afraid of getting comments that will say, “Yes, sex life diminishes when a child is born but that is all worth it because you get the happiness of being a parent in return.” Such comments send my blood pressure through the roof, people. It might be worth it for you but, for me, who is not you but a completely separate person, there is absolutely nothing in the world worth sacrificing my existence as a sexual woman in a sexual relationship. This is who I am and this is my system of priorities to which I am as entitled as you are to yours. Which is why I don’t find it helpful to hear how people with a completely different value system don’t find my fears to be justified. So I send you to the title of this post that says specifically “MY fears.” Not yours and your uncle’s but mine.
Would it be helpful if I told you that your fears that you won’t make partner in your law firm if you decide to have children are stupid because I chose not to be a lawyer and feel very happy about that decision? Not very much, I’d guess.
Of course, if there are people who have successfully combined the roles of a parent and a lover, I will be eternally grateful for even the tiniest comment from you. Even if you only say, “Yes, we exist.” That already will be hugely helpful.
Do you exist?
I don’t want this to be a one-sided discussion, however, so people who can confirm my fears (without condemning them as stupid) are also welcome to comment.