Monday, December 17, 2007

My Childless Self

I don't have kids. I'm about the age at which, if I don't have biological children now, I'm almost certainly never going to have them.

When I think about that, mostly it seems fine. I mean, I like my life; I'm involved with lots of young people in my life as a professor; although I like children I've never had any special desire to have any of my own. And I know that if the desire should strike, there are plenty of non-infant children waiting for adoption.

It's a sign, though, I think, of the power of cultural women-children whatever, that still, I worry.

1) I worry that I'll wake up one morning, desperate to have children, and in despair that I never did. Isn't that what happened to Wendy Wasserstein?

2) I worry that I'm missing out on one of "life's great things."

3) I worry I'm trying too hard to just have a good time with life.

4) And of course, I worry about who's going to take care of me when I get old.

But then I think, 1) is just borrowing trouble. Who knows what's going to happen? 2) and 3) are both vague and hard to think about specifically, especially since I have no emotive inclinations. 4) is not really a good reason -- all alone anyway -- to bring new people into the world.

So you see I'm basically happy but I fret a bit.

Yesterday I finished rereading The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood. I was ambivalent about it the first time I read it, and I'm ambivalent about it now. It's so, I don't know, straightforward. There's not enough confusion. The types are all so identifiable, and the good and the bad are so basically good and bad.

What's good about the book is its description of the inner narration of the characters. And there was an inner narration in there that suddenly made me feel much less worried and conflicted about not having kids.

Roz is a middle-aged woman with various desires and disappointments. Roz has two wise-cracking teenage girl twins. Reflecting on her dreams of grandmotherhood, Roz thinks, "What grandchildren? Dream on Roz. The twins are too young and will anyway probably grow up to be stock-car racers or women who go off to live among the gorillas, something fearless and non-progenitive."

"Something fearless and non-progenitive." Ha! That made me feel good. That's my new model for adulthood. Stock-car racer and woman living among the gorillas. Indeed.

Sign me up.


The Guy said...

It's a very human thing to be concerned about. Our tendency is to think everything like this is about our choices, to blame our selves. But that is arrogance and hubris. Most of our choices are about what we're going to do with our circumstances, not what our circumstances are going to be. When was the last time you got to choose what the weather was going to be like that day?

Keep your mind open, either motherhood or super-heroine-hood might be waiting out there to greet you when you least expect it. And neither might be worse or better than one's expectations.

Noko Marie said...

Hi, "guy," thanks for the note. I think you're absolutely right that trying to hard to direct things is a recipe for unhappiness. As you say, things will just happen.. it's like the weather.