Granted, I’ve been having an inexplicably emotional week, and not because it’s the Thanksgiving / Christmas / New Year season (I’m just not one of those people).
Even so, usually, on my most emotional days, it’s animals that make me cry. Rarely humans, unless it’s a really good movie or an overwhel–
Well, who cares, really? Moving on.
I don’t know how many of you watch Giuiliana & Bill, but I do, and I love it. Not because it’s suspenseful (it isn’t) or dramatic (rarely), but because Giuiliana is awesome. She’s just so HAPPY. Her laughter and lightness and carefree personality are fun to watch, and she’s likeable and loveable and I want her in my family.
Now, about last night’s show. In brief: For a long time, G has really, really wanted a baby. She learned she couldn’t have one. G & B underwent a series of attempts, including medical assistance, that resulted in failures and miscarriage, until they finally found a gestational carrier to be the baby-grower for G’s egg and B’s sperm.
In the latest episode, the woman carrying the fetus created by G & B’s biology gave birth, and I was sappy-teary as I watched G and B’s reaction to the emergence of the baby (Edward Duke – ohmygodIrememberhisname) from the warm and cozy womb in which he’d been hanging out.
And what I liked about the fact that I was all weepy over someone else’s new parenthood was that I had not a single thought resembling, “Gosh, maybe I DO want one if I feel these powerful things about this baby appearing in the life of someone I’ve never met.”
There’s something about being confidently child-free that is so incredibly freeing. There’s no insecurity masquerading as disgust or anger, no immediate need to snort and say to the people on TV who will never hear me, “Good luck, ya effing breeder!”, no fear that I’ve made the wrong choice by avoiding pregnancy, no regret as I watched that brand new little boy scream on the changing table because he was probably freezing his ass off.
Instead, I was happy for this woman who seems genuinely good and who wanted that baby so bad, happy for the relationship she has with her husband, happy for his happiness at having a baby, and so incredibly fascinated by the whole baby thing.
I mean, this was a brand-new-to-the-world person seeing earth, people, things, colors, eyes… everything! … for the first time. As someone who absolutely loves life and new and exciting experiences, I was riveted, unable to begin to fathom what that must have been like for him. All I could think, admittedly uncreatively, was, “How cool!”
We arrive here, in life, through none of our own doing, and we have all this stuff ahead of us, whatever it is. So much potential. So many choices to make. So much to learn and see and play with and enjoy.
Isn’t it wonderful?
(Also wonderful: If you saw the episode, you also saw the baby having his hair washed, which was a must-see for anyone who hasn’t seen it.)
I’ve seen asked, too often, “What are you doing tonight/this weekend/this holiday since you don’t have children?” This is asked by parents who think non-parents have nothing to do but pluck at carpet loops because they aren’t breastfeeding or driving kids to hockey practice, and by the child-free who want to celebrate all the things they get to do because they don’t have children.
It’s often asked during the holidays. “What are you doing this Thanksgiving since you don’t have children?”
This is difficult to answer. As someone who chose not to have children, I rarely think about my life as if I could possibly have them in my life and interrupting all the things I could be doing if I didn’t have them (if I’m going to be thinking about them all the time and making them very much a part of my life, why bother not having them?).
But I can tell you that, having seen that episode, and no matter how silly it sounds to say because I don’t know either of them and they’re just people on a TV show, I’m being thankful and happy for G & B and their first Thanksgiving with this baby they’ve wanted so bad, for so long. I’m even thankful for his little life and the lives of other wanted babies who will be treated well and who have so many new things to explore and see and learn and fail at.
I’m also being happy about waiting for my husband to get home from a long work trip, which is probably what I’d be doing if we had a kid.
And I’m making sure we’re ready for his family to get here tomorrow (same as if we had a kid, no doubt).
But it’s such a silly question, “What are you doing now because you don’t have kids?”
I guess I understand why people ask it. One side is probably either genuinely curious or envious, and the other is in a phase when it’s important to be reminded that the right choice was made – that, or the choice has only recently been made and there’s cause for celebration. But, really, the question could be replaced with any of the following:
What are you doing on Thanksgiving since you’re not working in the ER because you didn’t choose to go to med school?
What are you doing on Thanksgiving since you’re not a toll-worker stuck working the tolls?
What are you doing on Thanksgiving since you chose not to join the military and you’re not in Afghanistan and maybe hoping to Skype with your love?
Having children is a choice. Not having children is a choice. Enjoying any choice means, I believe, just living it, and not wasting time and negative energy peering over the fence at the other option and scowling at it on a regular basis.
This Thanksgiving, I hope you’re plain ol’ happy. Happy for yourself and comfortable with your choice, happy for those who have made a difference choice, and maybe just a little bit excited for these brand new creatures who are thinking “What the–?” when they first open their eyes, and who will spend the next many years learning, just as you did.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, including the babies. I still don’t want one of you, ever, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think you’re neat-o.
P.S. None of this means I’m suddenly into babies. DO NOT try to show me your baby or try to get me to hold it or hope I’ll squeal at its curling little feet. I only liked that Edward Duke baby because, thanks to reality TV, me and G & B are like *this* (even if they don’t know it.)