Friday, May 29, 2015

Freedom of (non) Choice

I don’t like to “throw” people in conversations. When I can tell I’ve said something the other person wasn’t expecting to hear my heart sinks, because then I know I’m going to be asked to explain myself. And goddamnit, I hate explaining myself. It’s why I have a handful of close friends who already know everything about me. So I don’t have to explain anything ever again. Explaining why you feel a certain way about something inadvertently shows the listener a side of yourself you may not have planned on sharing at that particular moment, if ever at all. For private people like me, being asked to explain is the deepest, darkest, smelliest ring of hell, especially when the subject in question pertains to such a personal matter. Though I’m starting to get the feeling that “Are you going to have kids?” is no longer being considered a personal question, as it’s asked of me more frequently than I remember to floss. When I’m uncomfortable in a conversation, my reaction is to flee. But if someone is blocking the door or I’m too many beers in to be sneaky about it, my body fights back by spewing out poisonous barbs of brutally honest truth.

“I’m kind of indifferent to the whole kid thing,” I say to Nosey Person Number 8,011. “I think I’d be happy either way.”

Ugh, there, see that? No one is expecting to hear that. At this point, the listener’s eyes widen a bit, and sometimes they do that thing where they jerk their head back real quick, as if trying to avoid a bee. Sometimes the mouth falls open just a little.  Depending on whether they were raised Catholic or in one of those progressive churches that has a “rock” band and a giant projector, their eyebrows lower or raise.  It becomes immediately obvious that he or she does not believe me, and even though THEY ARE THE ONES WHO ASKED THE QUESTION and therefore should accept a simple and polite answer as truth and move on, I get why they don’t. I, as my husband likes to remind me, have an opinion on everything. I think hockey would be much more interesting if there were random patches of thin ice for the players to fall through. People who eat leftovers for breakfast should raise their standards for living. Unless it’s cold pizza eaten over the sink. That’s the best breakfast in the world. I think it’s disgusting and bizarre that the United States has yet to have a female president. I am adamantly against throwing minor drug offenders in jail. I think people over the age of 70 should have to take a driver’s test every year (or every time they hit someone, whichever is more frequent). Cats are better than dogs unless the dog is my dog. Thai food is far superior to Chinese, and I think climbing Mount Everest is a great way to thin the herd of bored, rich, white people. Opinions. I’ve got them in spades. Until it comes to the occupancy of my uterus, that is.

The reason I am indifferent isn’t because I don’t care. It’s because I’m happy with the way my life is now, but could also see my husband and I being happy with a child. If we didn’t have a baby, we’d spend lots of time together going out to eat, drinking, dancing, talking, walking the dog, arguing over whose turn it is to feed to the cats, making travel plans. There is no hole in our relationship that feels as though it needs to be filled, so why plop a time-consuming, sleep depriving, sex-zapping baby into such a harmonious situation? That’s the reason not to have a baby. But maybe that sex-zapper could deepen our relationship in ways we can’t fathom right now. Maybe having a baby, as Leslie Knope advised April on the same topic, “is like adding another player to a really great team.” There’s the issue of loneliness. If I die first, I want there to be people around for my husband to bother. If he dies first, I’m going to ask out our UPS delivery guy. Our kids would hate it until they met him and realized the reason I like the UPS guy is because he’s really friendly and talks a mile a minute, just like their dad. That weird but wonderful family stuff, that’s the reason to have a baby.


See, I’m such a good arguer that I made equally great cases for both sides. Do you understand why I, and many other women, am feeling indifferent, now? Because there isn’t just one path to a great life. Happiness, security, love, and spontaneity live under a lot of different rocks and whether you choose to have a baby or not, there’s going to be a lot of heavy lifting involved. Choosing not to choose may seem like a cop-out to some, but to me, it’s feels like I’m opening myself up to possibility, which, let us not forget, is a privilege that is assumed by men yet fought for by women. By choosing not to choose, I am gifting myself the freedom to be happy with whatever happens instead of burdening myself with choices that don’t even come with guaranteed outcomes. I’m not choosing baby or no baby. I choose myself. And since I’m pretty fucking fantastic, I guess I don’t see what’s so hard to believe about that.

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