We spent the weekend staying with some friends and their small children, and it was actually quite nice and not as annoying as I thought it would be having curly haired tots running around all over the place.
As often happens during any mention of children and families, I was asked the question ‘Do you think you’ll have kids?’ by our friends.
People like to ask us you see, because they don’t want to assume we won’t have children just because we’re gayers and don’t have a vagina to rub between us, and probably because it makes them feel quite hip and trendy to be so natural about the idea of gays having children. I’m not sure if they would ask straight friends in quite the same way, because the presumption is slightly more that yes they will have children one day unless they have vehemently said in the past that they never want any.
My answer used to be that yes one day I would like to have children, even though I didn’t know how we would achieve it or at what point in our lives ‘one day’ would be reached. I’ve always felt that I would be a good father, that I would enjoy raising a child and teaching it things, and that I have a duty to bring up one or two children properly just to dilute the number of god awful children and terrible parents that there are in the world.
Over the last couple of years though I have come to realise that no, it’s not going to happen. Quite aside from the technical issues of finding a willing oven for my bun, I don’t think that I’m ever going to arrive at that ‘one day’ point where I want to change everything about my life, stop doing everything that I enjoy doing, and completely slog my guts out for years (even if it does feel rewarding) raising a child.
We have a few friends who have had children now as we’re getting to that age when everyone starts popping them out. And while they seem very happy with the choice that they have made, and are happy with how their life is, they’re just not the same people that they were before they had children. It changes everything, everything, about your life, and consumes every single part of every single day. Where you can go, what you can do, what time you can do it, what you experience, what you talk about – all of it is swept aside and a completely new order is imposed with the child at its centre.
And that’s fine, for them. That’s their choice, and I’m not criticising it. But I can’t see myself ever wanting that.
I like eating out. I like going on holiday. I like spending money on myself and my partner. I like having a tidy house full of nice things. I like peace and quiet. I like being able to go somewhere on no notice, overnight if I want, and it’s up to me.
That all goes away when you have children, or at least goes away for so long that you’re a different person by the time your children are self-sufficient and don’t need you all the time.
And in return you get the joy of children, and their love, and their company, and that’s fine. I just don’t think I can give up everything for that.
So my position in recent years has become that I want to contribute to a child’s life, but not to have my own. I want to babysit nieces or nephews; I want them to be excited when I come round and to run out to greet me and see what I’ve brought them; I want to take them out and show them things, and chase them and scoop them up.
But then I want to give them back.
And I think that’ll be fine, and will be fulfilling enough for me. I can love them and be loved by them, and shop for nice things for them, and give their Mum and Dad a hand and a break by taking them away for a bit sometimes, but they’ll be an addition to my life not a transformation of it.
So now all I need is for someone to have some. Chris’ brother will, at some point I’m sure. He’s been married a couple of years and is in his 30s, so it can’t be all that much longer. They live far away though, which is a shame, because it means visits will be more infrequent. My own brother and his wife are a bit closer, but I honestly can’t see them having any – again, it’d be too much of a change to their lifestyle. And those are my only options for nieces and nephews.
So I suppose I’ll keep my fingers crossed for Chris’ brother to have some soon, and reconcile myself to long drives on the motorway with sackfuls of Ben 10 merchandise in the boot.