The overpowering biological imperative to produce offspring can be so severe that women will settle for some guy simply because he possesses the necessary bits to fulfill her burning desire for a baby. You will note I say baby – in which women see things I know many men do not – myself foremost among these. Women find children – but babies in particular – fascinating in ways I do not pretend to fully understand. Call it emotional connectedness, call it maternal instinct, call it empathy; I do not have it in any measurable amount. Although far be it from me to rule out having children altogether, I think doing so is an act commonly grossly underestimated in both scope and severity, and one that has led to more than a few broken homes, shattered dreams, and rude awakenings.
Creating offspring is no great challenge; some 1,000,000 babies are born on every day of every year, and that number is growing. There are however considerations beyond the physical ability to have children; you also need to be able to take a child and provide it with 24-hour care and all its earthly needs save oxygen for the first 18 or so years at the very least. It comes as no surprise then that people say “having kids will change your life,” all misty-eyed yet full of unmistakable superiority, as though to rationalize for themselves the Hurculean effort they mustered, day in and day out for years, to take something that was little more than an uncanilly noisy, squishy, and highly fragile poop machine, and turn it into something recognizable as a person.
My outlook is admittedly grim, but then a realistic appreciation often reveals the less than ideal, overly romantisized, and unpopular reality.
Still, I understand that for many people having children is something they want to do whether it be for reasons good or bad, and I would not presume to stand in their way, but I often question their motives. What is it they hope to achieve and – perhaps more importantly – what do they believe they will miss out on if they wait until their lives allow for this unpresidented change. What would they miss were they to refrain altogether? I am unsure.
Pride, ego, and the natural desire to procreate all play more major roles than most (women especially) are willing to admit, and I believe this to be a mistake; we are the only species on the planet capable of higher reasoning as well as being in control of our reproduction, yet we commonly forsake both for the sake of having a baby on account of our base instincts and misguided ideas.
I often hear women say “I love children” and that may be, but unlike all the other things you may love, once arrived a child is ever-present, endlessly needy, and presents very real challenges for its parents no matter how well-meaning, loving, or otherwise intentioned. Often times the same people who can barely figure out their own lives have children of whom not much can be expected under those circumstances. Worse, there are too many children in this world whose parents cannot wait to be rid of them – released of the burden – all the romantic notions of childhood fleeting and gone once they reach some arbitrary age of ascension, and in many cases long before that.
Too many children are born into abject poverty, starting life at such a disadvantage that it will burden them for the rest of their – generally much shorter – lives. Too many children too are born to single parents, the physical consumation of their union symbolic for their relationship; all too brief. As difficult as it is to raise a child, doing so alone compounds that difficulty to a titanic challenge.
It is no wonder then that there are statistical correlations between crime, drug use, violent behavior, psychological disorders, and children who were deprived the benefit of two parents.
So now that I have insulted most of you in some way, let me make sure I get the last few of you fired up enough to leave your discontent in the comments; as usual, religion has made things worse still. By forbidding birth control measures, claiming all life as sacred, (excepting of course anyone who doesn’t believe what we do – those people must clearly be murdered, in God’s name, amen) and generally sticking their nose in procreation as though it is readily evident that what happens between a man and a woman is very much the church’s business, religions have had a frightful impact on both population and the social politics of man that govern it. To the thinking man proclaiming every life as sacred, determining that life begins at conception, and subsequently forbidding abortion, is akin to lunacy. The commonly cited example is the violent and traumatic rape of a woman who, being both unwilling, unable, and unprepared to have a child is raped and then raped again as the church commandeers not just her body, but her entire life as she is forced to raise the child of a rapist whose foul seed bespoiled her body. As sickening as this reality is to me as a man, I cannot begin to fathom how I might fear to leave the relative safety of my home were I a woman and subject to the perverse dogma of the church. (This incidentally entirely aside from the fact I do not understand why any women can abide religions that tell them they are subject to their husbands and should be publically stoned to death should they commit adultery whilst no such punishment would befall the husband under the same circumstances. “Good book” indeed!)
I am certain having a child can be a wondrous experience. I am equally certain watching a child grow, become a person as unique as any of us, and then going on to have children of their own is without a doubt one of the most normal and genuinely fine experiences of life, but I fear merely aspiring to these positives ill-prepares would-be parents for the complicated reality they will soon face.