Monday, March 31, 2008

Having Children

I've been thinking a lot recently about children.  My main exposure to having and raising children comes from my own family.  I have a younger sister and a younger brother.  My parents are divorced and remarried.  My father has two young children.  

I just don't know what I think of the entire affair.  My mom says that without children, life is incomplete.  Implicitly, she means one's own biological children.  Implicitly, she means a woman is incomplete without children.  Since I'm bisexual, technically it's possible that I will have my own biological children.  

But I don't want biological children.  I found my half-sisters adorable when they were younger.  They're still likable now that they're slightly older, but they can also be incredibly rude.  As examples of how children can be a real pain, the older one called me fat and, when she opened my Christmas present to her, threw it down on the ground and said, "I don't want this!"

On the other hand, when my half-sisters were younger, playing with them brought great joy to me.  I just don't want to go through the pain of carrying something around in my stomach area for 9 months then giving birth.  I also don't feel like it's that great to pass on my genes.  What for?  People are people.  Children who are born of me aren't necessarily going to be better than children born of others.

I think the main thing is, I don't have the conventional maternal instinct.  I would say it's a myth, but my mom has it in loads.  For me, the main thing is about caring.  I would move away from the gendered constructions of motherhood and fatherhood.  If I and my partner adopt a child, you better believe the man or woman I love is going to share all child-rearing duties with me, and not based on gendered ideas of what work is most appropriate to men and women.

I think that coming from a divorced household has probably made me wary of perfect and even imperfect images of happiness when it comes to families, thereby laying the road for more unconventional views on having children.  I think also that being bisexual has opened my mind to different structures for caring and loving.

I guess, ultimately, I don't see happiness as being with a partner, surrounded by our children.  I do want a partner I love, who loves me.  I do want to care for this person and for this person to care for me.  I think perhaps we can extend our caring for each other to include one or two children.  It's not to complete me though.  I am complete by myself.  It is instead, somewhat vaguely, to do what humans do, and, hopefully, to do it well and with style.

1 comment:

Lisa R. Pruitt said...

Your ruminations remind me of a paper I heard at a fem legal theory conference last month -- essentially about how third-wave feminism has embraced motherhood as the "be all and end all" -- and how this excludes a lot of women, including their feminist foremothers (no pun intended). Being a woman -- indeed, being a human being -- is about so much more than parenthood.