(The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday January 7, 2017)
I don’t know how we get on these things. We were talking about the dog. Next thing we’re talking about my manhood.
Did we get the dog fixed? Nobody remembers. The boy thinks yes. The girls say no. The children’s mother isn’t sure. Dad, for sure, everyone agrees, has had the snip-snip. Dad’s fixed. Check.
(I think the confusion arose because the remarkable news of my vasectomy was put on social media around the time we got our dog.)
I know, you’d have to be one roof short of a house to share this sort of news with the world. But when you’re married to an obstetrician it’s easy to lose sound judgment with these matters, which, usually, in our family, involve discussions about women’s plumbing.
“Darling, just give thanks every day that you weren’t born to be a woman,” is how my wife puts it. Which is why I’ve conceded. Men, you’ll know the time, sometime before you reach a Kirk Douglas 100, when the snip-snip is the least any loving husband can offer.
A couple more notes on this. First, one dude on social media at the time told me how I’d made “a grave mistake,” that my wife and I would never know the same, uh, intimacy. To which I replied how wrong he was, that the bells, in fact, are still ringing as beautifully as usual.
Another note is the children’s point of view, a question like, “So, if you don’t want more kids, why not just stop it?” This, from our eldest, who meant, you know, stop “it.”
Which is what I’ll now do – stop it – except to say that my New Year’s resolution for 2017 is not to have more children. No, not one more. Not ever again.
I know what you’re thinking. I can’t have more children anyway. This is the point. I mean, why make a resolution that isn’t within the realm of possibly keeping? So I resolve it now, brazenly, in public.
Yes, I’ve taken polls. My latest (an exhaustive poll of one with a 50 per cent margin of error 19 times in 20), shows what everyone already knows. Children are not desirable. Not cool. Not any more. Not in the i–world.
My research shows why. For one, hipsters in 2017 are beyond something so, you know, provincial. For two, children are expensive. Three, they’re bad for the planet. (Unless you move to Ethiopia where the average kid has a carbon footprint 200 times smaller than the average North American kid.) Four, children will kill your sex life. (This may vary from home to home).
Five, children make you generally unhappy. Unless you actually want children. (No really, this is the actual research. And I can personally confirm that small children make you very unhappy when they, you know, in their pants.)
Six, children put stress on your relationship (sometimes still called marriage). And, finally, seven, children rob you of sleep. (No argument here, but this only lasts roughly half your life.)
These are today’s seven deadly sins of having children according to the brave new social science. It’s out there. This is not fake news.
One wonders why the benefits of children aren’t investigated as diligently. Then again, about 600 kids have been born worldwide since you started reading this. The benefits, I’m guessing, are so naturally clear that they simply don’t need the same diligent analysis.
One benefit I’ve found is that children fit better than a career in a photo frame. (But when facing column deadline, you can still write about your kids.)
I also can’t help but think about regrets. Deathbed regrets. You know the sort. Most of these lamentations relate to being too successful at things that, when looking death in the snout, don’t matter much. Too much work. Too much people-pleasing. Too many grudges and other hopeless things held too tight.
Regrets about not enough dreaming. Not enough courage and truth and being yourself to serve others. Not enough saying “Hey, man, I love you.” And, of course, not enough time with the children.
So if you don’t want children, don’t have them. But if you do, then don’t stop. Don’t stop loving them.