Why don’t my wife Catherine and I have any children, you ask?
Actually, you totally didn‘t ask that. In the past two-and-a-half years, some 15,000 comments have been left on this blog—and not once has anyone asked me why I don’t have kids.
Laggers. You know my life is an open book. I can’t imagine what you could ask me that I wouldn‘t answer.
Wait. Yes, I can.
Yikes. Thank goodness you guys never asked me anything about that.
Anyway, yesterday a fellow did write to ask why my wife and I are sans youngens. And on the very off chance that you, too, are curious about that, here are the reasons that, some thirty years ago, Cat and I decided to fashion our lives in the way that we did.
1. We knew that it was going to take the rest of our lives to understand and (frankly) heal from the unbelievably awful childhoods we each suffered. I’m not generally keen on beginning one thing until I’ve concluded the first.
2. Like Cat, I have no emotional model in my head for Family Togetherness. I know a lot of people are motivated to have a family as a way of perpetuating the good, healthy family relationships they’ve always known. And what a beautifully nurturing thing that is! But for us, that would be like trying to sing along to a distant echo of a song we’ve never heard before. It’s a great song—maybe the great song! We just don’t know it in that personal, build-your-life-around-it kind of way. It’s not what you’d call a natural theme song for our lives.
3. All my life I’ve known that I had to be an artist whose medium is the written word. (I’m not proud of that, and I’m certainly not saying I am an artist with the written word. I’m only saying that I’ve always known that I would spend my life trying to produce art through writing.) Dedicating your life to one thing means not dedicating it to anything else, such as properly raising children. (Plus, I knew that being an artist could very well mean spending my life entirely poor. That had to be okay. And I knew that wouldn’t be okay with me if I were a father.)
4. This’ll sound insane (and insanely negative), but here it is: When I was about ten, I sort of all at once understood (and I’m not saying I was right, just that in my little 10-year-old brain I felt it true) that our planet was doomed. I was walking to school; I looked up at the mountains in the distance; and whooom: I knew we’d clog this earth beyond its capacity to recover itself. Talk about … stopping in your tracks. From that moment until now I’ve watched for evidence of it being Actually True that our race would fail from us destroying our planet. The fact that I’ve always been sure that would happen is why I was okay with not having children. I know it sounds terrible to say, but if our current system hangs together for just another forty years or so, I personally am good. But if I had kids of my own, I wouldn’t be even almost okay with such short-range hopes. Having no children leaves me free to shut the book on this story without really caring how it ends. (I want it to end well, of course! But people need to do whatever they do. And they/we will, as ever. Maybe that’ll involve saving the planet. Maybe it won’t.)
5. Cat and I figured we could always adopt. Why have a kid of your own, when the world’s already filled with perfectly great kids whose parents, for whatever sad reason, had to give them up for adoption?