BABIES: Lovely Lady Lumps. Check it out.
I think it was right around the Lansing border, as we pulled out of the Old Navy parking lot when my niece began her rendition of “My Humps.” She’s three, and I don’t recall ever finding that particular song any cuter. It’s not even a cute song really. It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it…but put any lyric in the mouth of an innocent twerp…and you have what in the theatre we call “a moment.”
I love children. Contrary to what my students, or friends might believe, I truly, truly do. I always joke with my friends that the reason Emily and I don’t have kids is because we simply don’t have the space for another kennel. Or that the day the dishes and laundry get to a breaking point, then we’ll just hire some help, or have a child. I joke of course. Kinda.
I think there’s an old proverb that says “The soul is healed by being with children” and I’m reminded of the simple joys of being around small children every time I visit my sister and brother-in-law and have the pleasure of chillin’ with my peeps, Jane and Rachael.
Emily and I don’t want children right now for several reasons, all of which are none of any body’s business. I will attest that raising a child and giving them positive support, care and nurturing is the most important thing in the world, and (with the consideration that both of us come from broken families) we are very happy with our current schedules and routines and wish to expand on these personal endeavors prior to adding another living, breathing person to the mix. We both recognize the immense sacrifice having children brings and we’re not willing to go there yet. For the record, I do not feel the need to apologize for this.
Which brings me to my next thought: I think that it is every married couple’s responsibility to identify the right time to have children. (Or to have children at all.) The Bible says to be fruitful and multiply. I will say (until I’m blue in the face) that I’m a privileged man to work in the school that I do. But, I would be remiss to say that I don’t see neglect, carelessness and disregard in every other child, most of the time…in even the wealthiest of families. I look at my own family. I think I was raised well. I didn’t do drugs, I didn’t drink, I stayed in school and got good grades…we even ate at the dinner table together. For the most part mommy and daddy did well, I thought. (I will, however, choose NOT to discuss how they dressed me, which is the basis for another blog post and truly the reason I got into theatre. That’s for another day!) But, It wasn’t until my younger brother’s senior year that my parents divorced and I found myself in more ways than one, completely independent.
All too often children these days are expected to be independent before they should be. Bottom line. don’t assume that resilient young man is not in need of a kind word, or that head strong young lady doesn’t need guidance. Unrealistic expectations and entitlement issues override the proverbial group hub and catch with dad in the side yard. It’s not fair. A child is an investment…not a purchase. You can’t strap a child in a car seat and then coast out on fumes into adulthood. It doesn’t work that way. Every freakin’ step of the way….every burp….every nap….every diaper…every homework assignment…every cent of lunch money…every curfew…every haircut….every boyfriend/girlfriend….everything!….is YOUR responsibility as a parent until they move out of the house. Somehow…someway…society has it tucked away in their Blackberries that it is okay to circumvent these demands. Raising a child and those integral moments (yes, that includes acts of defiance and temper tantrums) are not something you can TiVo and deal with later. The focus needs to be 100% on the baby…and all too often it’s about the baby daddy. I never want to be a “baby daddy.” (The mere fact that this catch phrase exists proves that the focus has shifted in a certain dynamic in our society from what is truly important.)
My wife would be the best mother in the world, and if our child is half as smart and half as pretty as she is, we’ll have a winner. But, I also want to do the right thing. I’m still working on me. I’m still working on our marriage. I’m still working on being an effective drama teacher. I’m still working on being an actor. I’m not ready to put these things in the back seat yet, and until I am ready, I think it would be selfish of me to bring a child into this world KNOWING that they would take a back seat to my goals. I think anyone has the right to call this selfish. Absolutely. I’ll take it. I’d rather take it like this…instead of being called selfish when I DO have a child.
Right now…my wife and I don’t want kids. Poo-poo to your heart’s content. (Don’t even start on the whole “clock is ticking” thing. In this fast-food, instant coffee world we live in, I don’t wanna hear it!) I assure you, our minds won’t change as a result of poo-pooing.
This decision is the reason we get raised eyebrows in church. It’s the fuel that burns the ever-present dropped hints from family members. It’s the bait that traps questions like “So, when are you two going to have a child” every time we hold a baby. Arrg.
It is no one’s right to have a child. It’s is no one’s responsibility. It is everyone’s great privilege. I take that very seriously.
I love the fact that you need a license to drive a car, buy a gun, sell a house, own a dog, or to go fishing…but no one needs a license to have child. Anyone with a certain appendage and a little bit of time has the opportunity, and all too often I see the product of rash, or in some cases, no preconceived thoughts.
If you pack your lunch for the day, you think to yourself…”hmmm, I think I’d like an apple. That Twinkie would be nice. Better have a sandwich. I do like peanut butter. Oooo, apple juice!” It’s a process. You know what you’re getting yourself into and you know what to expect later. You don’t strap a blindfold on and shove whatever you touch into an empty sack and hope for the best…which is what a LOT of people do, unfortunately.
I know my child will be a handful, because I was a handful. I know my child will have “issues”…because I have issues. I want to be thoughtful in the decision making process…in the hopes that maybe someday I will raise a child that will likewise be thoughtful. Maybe I’ll never get there, who knows.
So, don’t hope that this post will end in an announcement that Emily and I are having a baby. Ain’t gonna happen. Instead, please help to remember that not every couple is like you and your significant other. The curtains close in everyone’s theatre and people don’t always don’t get to see what happens backstage or in-between scenes, so don’t assume that everyone has the same plans for what will appear center stage.
Instead, trust that each couple (ones with a million rug rats, and ones with zero kids) are making the educated and thoughtful decision to do what is right. I’m not suggesting that everyone’s mind is hard at work, and until the teenage pregnancy rate goes down, I’ll never say that, but I will suggest that thought “processes” are happening in even the most unlikely of places and it’s no one’s job to identify and then critisize that. (Which is probably my ultimate criticism of any friend who has ever raised an eyebrow.) In our case, we’re ensuring our potential investment down the road, should we choose to go that route.
Sheesh, this turned out to be the defense’s closing statement! Well…..good. Whether or not you like it doesn’t matter. Everyone will judge just the same.
But, it is my hope that no one would assume I haven’t already thought about what it might be like for my own proud moment when my child breaks into Fergie’s latest and serenades a friend. I’ve thought about it…and for now I’m not ready. I’m happy listening to Rachael and provide my own backing vocals.
We’ll both be in the kitchen eating out of the sugar bowl.