Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Self-extinction of Generation Narcissus.

Who needs children when you can you have a career!?!?!?!

Or dogs?!?!?!?

Or Other People's Children!?!?!?!?

This Slate essay is an amazing exploration of self-discovery into a world with the depth of a petri dish:

Six months ago, a friend asked me if I regretted not having children and it was like a great dam bursting from the bottom of my soul, and I said "yes, yes, it was the biggest mistake of my life!" There it was. The secret wrenched from my gut. Or so it seemed. I do regret it in some ways. We would have been good parents. We wouldn't have screwed up the kids as badly as we thought we would have. Maybe they only would have needed five years of therapy and not 10. I'll never know. But, after I had finally wrung these words from the depths of my being, I understood clearly that indeed it wasn't meant to be for me, and that my life was much better for having made this choice.

We've always had two or three dogs at a time, and they've had our love, attention, and affection. They're spoiled rotten. Better dogs than children. We have been able to go to a lot of interesting places, and we've gone with friends who have kids. I don't think these things are mutually exclusive.
I know that we've missed out on a lot. I just wasn't ready to take the good with the bad. By bad, for example, I mean the screaming kid in the restaurant. I have no patience for that. Oh, but when it's yours, you don't mind; oh, but I knew I would, and even today that noise drives me crazy, I just don't have patience for it. Or for kicking the table or for banging on it ... I would not have been the kind of nurturing mother who could deal with that.
OPC. Other People's Children. Rent not buy. I have the best of both worlds, a long-term care policy, a retirement fund, and a deal with a loving niece—you make sure that I'm in a nice place that doesn't rip me off and takes care of me if it comes to that, and you get the trust. Everyone wins. We love her. She loves us. We trust her.
That's what it's like for me to be married and not have children.
Well, at least she didn't have to deal with screaming in the restaurant, and dogs can be put down when they become incontinent.

Here's an idea - the best life is one that is fully human. A fully human life is one that learns to die a little to itself out of love. There is no greater love that one can have than the love that one has for one's children.  Denying oneself children is therefor to deny oneself a life that is fully - in the sense of "filled in completely" - human.

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