Obviously, mental health is an essential part of one's overall wellness. For some reason, this article particularly resonated with me today. It's by Jill over at www.feministe.us. I am a committed feminist, so certainly an article on a feminist blog would appeal to me. With assorted friends and relatives gestating and popping out babies right and left these days, however, I've got more reason than usual to be thinking about babies and their place in my world.
To be clear about this, I have nothing against babies. I love my friends' children and the children of my kin. I, personally, do not want nor have I ever wanted a baby of my own. I'm turning 34 this year. I'm sure my body knows that it's reproductive days are numbered, yet I have neither felt any impetus whatsoever to reproduce, nor heard any sort of biological clock ticking.
I love this quote, on the benefits of being childless:
I am also sure that right now, I vastly prefer being able to disappear for a weekend on a moment’s notice, stay out too late on a Wednesday, take an uninterrupted nap, jet off to Paris for two weeks and sleep on a friend’s couch, have lots of sex, have loud parties, meditate for an hour, live in an overpriced small Brooklyn walk-up, have a long brunch, own a white rug, spend all day and all night writing in silence.
I have no sanctimonious women around me right now, thank goodness. My parents have always been overwhelmingly supportive of me and my choices, and have never pressured me to have kids, so big props to Mom and Dad. (Certainly statements along the lines of, "Grandchildren would be dandy," are to be thought of more as guidelines than actual rules.) Then my sister went ahead and had some babies with her fabulous husband, so I am really off the hook as far as the family genes being passed along. Plus there's a chance that my youngest brother might have kids with his fabulous wife, which would just be gravy as far as that reproduction thing is concerned.
There was a time just last year--a few months, in fact--when I had a sort of understanding with someone who I would have married and had children with. Then he called and told me that he wanted to start dating someone else. "That's great!" I said. "It's just what I wanted for you." I said. And, yes, his emotional health and happiness really was all I wanted. Part of me knew I was just a placeholder while his life turned around a bit, but part of me really did think about the possibility of having the same life as lots of other people: sharing a home, having a family, seeing the dad's face light up getting to hold his newborn for the first time.
On the other hand, the only reason that I would have married and had children with this particular fellow is that he was well suited for what I would want in a father for my children. Good genes in terms of health and looks, an overwhelmingly sweet and patient and helpful disposition, and a willingness to be a stay-at-home dad so that I could continue with my career.
So thanks to all the people around me who understand that the life I'm currently leading is the right one for me. And to those well-meaning aunts who wonder out loud when I'll settle down, or say that "of course I'll want to have kids one day," I'm going to give you a long list of reasons next time why my life is so awesome.