When I was growing up, my parents did a good job of making sure I had the freedom to be who I wanted to be, while also making sure that I didn’t go completely off the rails. This can be seen through any #tbt picture I’ve ever posted. I did everything from playing football to joining show choir to starting a pop-punk/emo band, my parents were right there behind me cheering me on.
That’s not to say they treated me like a delicate flower that could break in half at any point. They kept me on track. I didn’t realize it then, but there were certain things that had always been in the picture, no matter how subtle. My dad taking me to University of Illinois basketball games and showing me the campus, to make sure that college was always in my mind. Mom pushing me to talk to neighbors before I left for college so that I can develop some building blocks of networking. Whether they intended to or not, little things like that had a pretty strong effect on shaping my life.
The only thing that’s grown less and less subtle over the years is the push for grandkids, or kids from my perspective. And that makes sense. It’s not an uncommon thing for parents to want their kids to have kids. Let me be clear, it’s not that my parents are hounding me on this, but that doesn’t mean that it hasn’t come up. I wouldn’t know personally, but there seems to be so much love and joy that comes from raising children. It can be the quintessential human experience, something that can never be matched.
I’ve tried to get behind the idea. For so long, I’ve tried to take time to picture myself with kids, sitting at the head of the table while Luke and Skye tell me about how they learned some shit about cows that day. Do kids even learn about farm animals? I honestly don’t know, I’ve been so far removed from the education system in this country for so long.
But no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I smile and nod along when I hear about the excitement that comes with my cousins starting families, nothing materializes inside me. I don’t get excited at the thought of raising a son. No matter how many times I get asked, “When are you going to settle down and start a family?” at holidays, I don’t feel pressured to. I’ve been this way for as long as I can remember, and it’s remained constant inside me no matter how many times my surroundings have changed.
What sucks about all of this is that I don’t think I could ever straight up give an answer as to why. “I’ve just never wanted children,” doesn’t seem to be good enough anymore. Sure, I could blame it on my maturity level. “Want to know why I don’t think about having children? Check here, or here, or, shit, even just look here.” I’m basically still a child myself, naïve and stupid, floating through life trying to figure my shit out.
Even then, maturity level can be a cop out. “You’re only 24. Give it a few more years and you’ll understand.” Sure. Maybe that’s true. Maybe I’ll give it a few more years, meet someone I love and care about, and we can start a family with 2.5 kids and a golden retriever in the suburbs.
But even if I do meet someone, that doesn’t take away from the fact that I worry about literally everything. When I see someone walking with their child in a stroller, I don’t think “adorable.” I think “fragile.” When I walk past an elementary school on the way to the train station, I’m not seeing the kids running around playing with each other. I see the kid by himself in the corner. When I hear about how much love is inside the household of new parents, I automatically think of my friends who despise theirs.
That’s what I’m afraid of. What if I’m a shitty parent? What if I’m not able to get my shit together and I end up fucking up my child’s life? What if my kid gets bullied? What if he is the bully? Would I be able to handle that? I don’t think I would.
Sure, it may be selfish to be thinking like this. For every time that any of those situations have happened, there are thousands of others where they don’t. That said, there are just some people in this world that shouldn’t be having kids. And right now, I think I fall into that grouping. .
Image via YouTube