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Spawn

I am lucky to have some friends who are acting as advanced scouts into growing up. I can look at them and think, "Well, they're a few years older than me and they're still cool, looking good and enjoying themselves, so I've got at least those few years before it definitely all starts going downhill." Thus far they're still out there, keeping that event horizon moving, and I'm deeply grateful. That doesn't stop me from worrying though; few things do. A long time ago I was at a party discussing my fears for the future of me and my peers, when a wise and beautiful sibyl prophesied, "First there will come the wave of marriages, then the wave of babies, then the wave of divorces, then it will all happen again." Thus far my peer group seem to have weathered the first wave intact, but the second approaches and that's the one that worries me.

I know people who've had babies, of course, including an ex-girlfriend and some old OUSFGers, but they didn't have quite the same impact as learning, at the end of last year, that iruineverything and pinata23 are expecting. Unlike the aforementioned, these are friends who were very definitely of my generation at university, who are still living in Oxford and that I see on an irregular but fairly frequent basis. I find it impossible, therefore, to characterise them as Others, as grown-ups; they are people like us.

Now this event (or perhaps process is more accurate, after all I'm getting regular updates on its progress) is unnerving in and of itself, but I was slightly saddened to learn that iruineverything was worried about telling me because of what I might say. I was and am genuinely surprised that anyone might treat me that way, but I guess it's a reminder that what I say is who I am for most people. I have indeed been rather (too?) vocal in my trepidation about the prospect of the baby-wave, but I hadn't intended to come across as so dogmatic, to blur the line between expressing 'what I think' and 'how things should be'. I suppose that as a man of few convictions and no evangelical inclinations, I'm always surprised when people take me seriously, or even think that I expect it.

Still, it did lead me to consider my (apparently vehement) aversion to reproduction. After all, it is true that not only do I not favour the idea for myself but I also don't favour it for my friends. I don't expect them to pay this the slightest heed, of course, but the fact remains that I have said as much and people have apparently listened, so it's an opinion that's overdue some serious thought. Not in order to marshal a more convincing case, you understand, but to understand my motives better, with an embarrassed suspicion that I should have shut the fuck up on this topic all along.

I had initially framed my objection in terms of disappointment with people for caving in to the demands of biology and/or societal expectations. However, if that were really the case I'd be equally disappointed when my friends had sex, or wore clothes, so that's clearly pretty spurious. I think the true explanation is an extension of why I don't want children myself. tinyjo and I have a nice life, and children would change that (in fact, we believe, they would spoil it). However, a vital part of that nice life is our peer group, and therefore them having children would also spoil my life, albeit to a much much lesser extent. It's as simple and selfish as that, and hopefully if I do continue to share my opinions I will at least be able to explain this. After all, it's quite a flattering reason, really, and its unabashed immature selfishness might help lessen the sting. I'm just one of the Lost Boys, and not only do I not want to grow up, I don't want my playmates to grow up either...

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
autodidactic
Mar. 5th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
OMFG! L. and her American-football playing boy are having a baby? Tell them I said CONGRATS!
oxfordhacker
Mar. 6th, 2009 04:13 am (UTC)
Yes indeed! I'll pass on your best wishes!
autodidactic
Mar. 5th, 2009 11:43 pm (UTC)
And as far as not wanting your friends to have babies, either: I was among the first of my friends to give birth and try (for a short time) the parenthood thing. 3 months in, I knew I couldn't hack it.

He's seventeen now, raised by the same woman who partially raised me, but a little better this time around. (She had a ton of wonderful mistakes to learn from in me.)

Odds are against a high school dropout welfare mom being the best parent in the world. But a couple of smarties like that?

You want THESE to be the ones to reproduce.

I guarantee it.
oxfordhacker
Mar. 6th, 2009 05:14 am (UTC)
You want THESE to be the ones to reproduce.

I guarantee it.


Yeah, I know. Or rather, I know that they are the sort of people that should reproduce, I'm just worried if it's those particular people it'll cramp my style. Some people are so selfish...
sdn
Mar. 6th, 2009 03:16 am (UTC)
the thing about children: they are an irrevocable decision. i've never wanted them, either, and here is a page about it. i love the kids i do know, and make sure to have people of all ages in my life, but i wager that more people regret having kids than not having had them (if you know what i mean). not having kids doesn't mean you haven't grown up; in some ways, the examined decision makes you more grown up than those who just blindly do what they are "supposed to."

so, go you!
oxfordhacker
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:49 am (UTC)
Thank you!

I agree with pretty much everything on the page you linked. It's rather blunter than I'd be, but then again I've not experienced the same weight of expectation that you obviously have (go patriarchy!)
sdn
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:56 am (UTC)
i actually had a bunch of mothers (!) vet it before i posted it.
vinaigrettegirl
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:53 am (UTC)
I see the reasons for everything you said. All make sense. I can only say that yes, people DO ask you why you are pregnant/wanted children. Trust me on this: had that conversation with my own parents, for a start. ("But you've got your doctorate!" was perilously close to part of their extended trope.)

Only topped, in my experience, by the person who said "But you're such a feminist! I thought you'd be having a daughter."
sdn
Mar. 6th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
::bursts out laughing:: that's hilarious.

Edited at 2009-03-06 01:19 pm (UTC)
jinty
Mar. 6th, 2009 07:59 am (UTC)
I said to my sister that having a baby would change her life and she looked at me blankly and said it wouldn't. And while I was taken aback by her firm statement on this - after all this is one of the fundamental principles that surely everyone agrees on, like gravity? - she was kinda right. Obviously there are some differences, like it taking a lot longer to get a baby ready to pop out to the shops, but to be fair, she didn't stop nipping off to Barcelona for a long weekend or other travelling with her husband, and from the outside her lifestyle and general demeanour didn't really change all that much.

(I didn't even say it to her as something novel I was telling her, it was more of a preamble saying something "we all know" before going on to something more interesting, but I was quite amused by her reaction once I'd had time to give over being a bit gobsmacked.)
ginger_princess
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:42 am (UTC)
I don't want children because it will mean I can't be in a band at any sort of serious level anymore.

There. I said it.

vinaigrettegirl
Mar. 6th, 2009 10:48 am (UTC)
Sermon-ette, affectionately
Let's face it, if you don't have kids - especially if you're female - you'll be criticised by somebody for something, starting with "unnatural", "selfish" and "unfeminine"; if you're male there are fewer criticisms, but there will be some (possibly revolving around the question of impotence, I'd guess).

If you do have kids you'll also be criticised. Climate change, for a start, demanding flexible hours and screwing up the long hours work ethic, driving up taxes, acting like an entitlement monkey (even if you don't), etcetera, etcetera, etcetera [/Yul Brynner].

Simple; if you don't want a child for heaven's sake don't have one. But try to be easier on those who do because frankly, if you are managing to raise a kid who is decently behaved and not a trial to civilisation, life is hard enough without your friends implying that they won't like you or make time for you less than they used to because of the kid. It can lead to harsh feelings and broken friendships both ways.

Deo gratia, missa est; carry on as you were.
oxfordhacker
Mar. 6th, 2009 11:45 am (UTC)
Re: Sermon-ette, affectionately
...if you don't want a child for heaven's sake don't have one. But try to be easier on those who do...

Yep, that's pretty much the conclusion I'd come to.

... life is hard enough without your friends implying that they['ll]... make time for you less than they used to because of the kid.

It's more the reverse, that they'll have less time for me. Now I've realised that this is at the root of it, it's clearly a pretty poor basis for objection, not least because it's fairly obvious and they'll already have taken it into account. After all, I could discourage friends from starting committed relationships on exactly the same basis, and that would be stupid too.
sdn
Mar. 6th, 2009 01:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Sermon-ette, affectionately
oh, i think that it is a little more complicated. for example: i have friends who had already started their families when we met, and it was an entirely different experience from watching my single friends get married and then have kids. in the latter case, there are a lot of choice points: do i like their SO?; do i like their child? do i think they are good parents?

but this is not your discussion, i realize ...

Edited at 2009-03-06 01:18 pm (UTC)
monkeyhands
Mar. 6th, 2009 02:08 pm (UTC)
Re: Sermon-ette, affectionately
they'll already have taken it into account.

Exactly! That's what's upsetting! You know that they've consciously decided that at this stage in their lives, having a baby is (at least temporarily) more important than playing World of Warcraft or drinking beer with you. I think you're allowed to bleat, "But what about the holiday we were planning?" even if you already know that the answer is "It's cancelled for the foreseeable future."

You're allowed to whine and feel hurt and feel excluded and mourn the temporary loss of a fun friend. But after that emotional reaction, you choose whether you want to be supportive and renegotiate the friendship on new terms, or continue stomping about and slagging them off. As more and more of my friends have babies, I'm shortening my stomping periods.
brixtonbrood
Mar. 6th, 2009 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Sermon-ette, affectionately
Actually, I think our circle of friends is unusual in that in the outside world it's much more common for new relationships to get in the way of friendships, and it's very socially acceptable for the old friends to moan about it - and semi-seriously claim that it's wrong to dump your mates for some new bird/bloke.
But I don't think anyone, however blokish or Sex and The City addicted, ever claims that it's unfair to blow your mates out for some baby you only just met - doesn't stop you resenting it though, if you miss them.
oxfordhacker
Mar. 6th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC)
Re: Sermon-ette, affectionately
in the outside world it's much more common for new relationships to get in the way of friendships

An interesting point and I'd certainly agree, in that it's something I hear about but don't see much of. While I can understand not wanting to cross the 'work' and 'friendship' streams, I certainly feel that if you're in a relationship with someone you don't want to introduce to your friends then it's a bad sign about one or the other...
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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