When Ethan and I got engaged and then married soon after, I think people who weren’t part of our inner circle were curious about the rush. We were fiances for eighty-five days, and husband and wife just a year after meeting; my imagination went to one place when I considered us from an outside perspective. I told Ethan, “I bet people think I’m pregnant.”
Ethan already had two nephews and a niece when we met. I still felt like the baby in my family, even though my step-cousins have kids they bring around for holidays. I couldn’t imagine being an aunt, let alone having children at that age. But once we got married, that’s all many people seemed to care about.
Considering where Ethan and I are in life, it’s clear as day for me why we choose not to have (or even discuss) children. Ethan works ten-hour days and comes home exhausted. He plans to go to college after leaving the army in 2015, and get a degree to help him find a suitable and stable career. I stay at home for now and work on various prospects that I hope will turn into a career for me in a few years. I do not work because we cannot afford two vehicles (i.e. two loans to pay, insurance policies to pay, and gas tanks to fill). We are happy having Simon be our baby and having the freedom to spend a day in Anchorage without any extra responsibilities. Why would we mess that up just to have a little human to take care of?
I have a confession: I cringe at the thought of having a baby. Seriously. I don’t think messy-faced pictures are cute (unless they are of me or Amanda), and I don’t hold or coddle kids when I am around them. I was the youngest for most of my life, so unless it was my Pug dog or my pet hamster Winnie, I was not holding something (alive) smaller than me. I’m not very good at talking to kids, and unless they are doing crafts or needing a story read to them, I won’t be of much help in entertaining them. This Christmas when we were getting a family portrait taken with Ethan’s dad’s side, my little niece decided to have a meltdown. Somehow I was the only one available to help her. I rubbed her nose with a tissue and tried to slow her into breathing normally, but I was panicked being one-on-one with her. I was thoroughly exhausted after spending three hours around all the kids, and needed some time to myself afterwards.
And with the world in its current state, is bringing one more baby into the picture helping anyone? I think of all the school shootings, kidnappings, and terrorist attacks, and I’m amazed that I grew up so normally. I’m lucky. My future baby may not be. I don’t want to be like Charlize Theron in The Road, choosing cowardice over family. I don’t want to be like Lori in The Walking Dead, birthing a child into a zombie America and relying on raiding grocery stores to find formula and diapers. Those may be extreme examples, but that’s what I worry about when I think of the future’s children.
I say “seven to ten years,” and that range hasn’t changed even when my age has. I can’t tell you if Ethan and I will ever have children, if we’ll have five or adopt one, if Simon will be good enough for us. But I can tell you, I’m happy with where we are right now, and that we have decided to wait.
How did you decide when you were ready to have children? Would you rather be the cool aunt and forgo children? Do you feel hesitant about the direction of our world, and consider basing your decision to reproduce off that? Although we’re nowhere near deciding such things, I do love looking at whimsical photographs of flower children. These are from Leuie.