All of Facebook is having babies. I don’t know what your feed looks like, but mine is filled with tiny versions of my high school classmates. Our late twenties hit and—baby boom!—people spawned. Suddenly, everyone is having gender reveal parties and cake smashes.
Everyone, of course, except me. It’s not that I don’t want kids. We totally want to start a family, one day. I definitely want a tiny Grace to shower in feminist values and bookstore love, one day. It’s just that one day, in this case, is at least two-quite-possibly-five years away. Right now, the dear Professor and I are perfectly happy not worrying about college education funds, dirty diapers, or gendered toy aisles. Despite everyone, everywhere, wanting to know when we’re planning to start popping dem babies out, we’re decidedly not planning.
Also, let’s be honest, I’m going to be a crap mom. I’ll love our wee McGregors, sure, but the mom instinct is not strong in me. This week, I developed suspicions that it may be missing altogether. Some virtual friends of mine were all atwitter over an “incident” that happened at their daycare: someone fed the children McNuggets and store-bought cupcakes.
Are you shocked and furious? Congratulations! You are a responsible enough human to become a parent. My reaction was a grand shrug and intense craving for fried chicken slurry. Not once did I fear for Wee Isabelle and Wee Lancelot’s delicate systems or scream “THE CHEMICALS! OH, WON’T SOMEONE SAVE THE CHILDREN FROM THE CHEMICALS!?” on my rooftop. In fact, my only contribution to the discussion was to point out that everything is made of chemicals, so let’s not demonize a perfectly good scientific term, okay?
It’s not like I think children should only eat McDonald’s, but surely a handful of chicken nuggets won’t doom them to a life of crime and obesity. No one ever says “Johnny was such a good kid, until he ate that one nugget. Now it’s all hookers and Pokemon thefts for him.” Humans are way more resilient than that, even the small ones. Why, when I was a kid, I ate mountains of chicken nuggets and my left kidney only twitches occasionally. The moms were unimpressed. Some of them may have intimated that childless people just don’t understand kids. Which is…totally true.
I was never super great at being a kid, in the first place. When I tried dangling from the monkey bars that one time, I let go, fell to the ground, and couldn’t breathe for five minutes. When other kids wanted to play in the woods, I talked nonstop about ticks and Lyme disease. So, the thought of having kids–normal, happy, not convinced there’s a dead body in every empty field kids–is a distant one. It’s like considering the moon, when you’ve never even flown on an airplane. Or a chocolate mousse, when you’re allergic to milk and chocolate. Or children, when you are totally indifferent to their existence.
I have, in other words, the baby shrugs:
“When are you having kids?”
“Don’t you want kids?”
“You’ll want them someday, surely.”
“You won’t feed Isabelle high fructose pork syrup, right?
“Tell me you heard the thing about syrup!”
So many shrugs. Luckily, my beloved is currently shrugging, too. When we do have children, they’re probably going to eat chicken nuggets every once in awhile. However, all cards on the table, they’re going to be so damned weird that those evil chemicals won’t make a dent. Genes are wonderful, horrible things.