To reproduce or not to reproduce

Jen,

Long time reader, first time writer.  I really love your blog and how matter of fact you are with everything, it’s so refreshingly honest.

I’m 28, my husband is 26, and we’ve been married for about three years and both of our parents have been pressuring us to have kids.  Aside from the fact that we’re two gay men and that process is a bit more involved than with a straight couple, there are a number of things that make us hesitate to go through with it.  Most notably, and maybe most selfishly, we like our life.  We like having time to ourselves.  We like being able to do things on our own schedule.  Most of our friends have kids and it’s all “I need to check with my sitter” and “I need to get back and relieve the sitter” and “I have a soccer game that day.”

And that’s not to mention the kink aspect.  I’m mostly submissive to my husband and one of the things I love is the spontenaity.  I could literally be sitting on the bed folding laundry and he’ll walk in, grab me by my hair, and just start fucking my face, just without a word.  Or I could be putting dishes away and he’ll walk in, bend me over the counter, and just start fucking me.  It’s one of my favorite things about our sex life.

You’ve talked about having a kid and how it has impacted your kink life.  I’m really just looking for an honest, matter of fact answer because everywhere I look all I see is stuff about how kids are the most amazing thing ever and “Oh I wasn’t complete until I had kids” and “You haven’t lived until you’ve had kids” and honestly, it’s all just overwhelming.

I need someone who can be honest with me, who can tell me the good and bad, and can tell me if it’s worth it.  I need someone who can tell me what life as a kinky parent is like without all the ooh-ing and ahh-ing that everyone does.

Please, anything would help.  And thank you so much.

Will

Will, dear, I actually take quite a bit of pride in saying this: You’ve come to exactly the right place.

And before I get into all this, I do want to do the obligatory I-love-my-kid thing.  In my specific case, yes, I think it’s worth it.  It comes with some pretty major fucking caveats, and some massive fucking disadvantages, but at the end of the day, I’m glad my kid is here, and if I could go back 7 years and do it again, knowing all the disadvantages and bullshit that goes along with parenthood, I’d still do it exactly the same way.

But what’s right for me may not be right for you.  And the only one who can make that decision is you.

Yes, having a kid will have a massive impact on your life, including (and perhaps especially) your kink life.  That spontaneity will all but disappear.

I mean, it won’t disappear completely.  You’ll learn, and your husband will learn, to be more opportunistic.  The kid is taking a nap.  Cool, come ride my cock.  Quickies in the bedroom while the kid is watching Barney, a quick blowjob in the shower in the morning before waking the kid up, a hurried, frenzied fucking before work while you’re making the coffee, I mean, there are ways around it.

But nothing really prepares you for that kind of loss of freedom.  Even when I was pregnant, I could still go where I wanted, when I wanted, and do what I wanted.  I could get up and go to the grocery store.  I could go out to dinner.  I could go to munches and play parties and doctor appointments and whateverthefuck I wanted.  I mean, I had limitations placed on me because of the complications with my pregnancy, but you get the general gist of it.

I had no damn idea.  And that was the first big revelation I had about my new reality as a parent.

Once she was born, even things like running out to get a quick lunch at a drive thru became an event.  It took planning.  Forethought.  And going out to dinner?  Yeah, that wasn’t something we could decide to do on a whim.  At 5:30pm, I couldn’t turn to my husband and say, “I don’t feel like cooking.  Let’s go out instead.”  We had to make arrangements.  Plans.  All the shit your friends say about sitters?  I’ve said those exact words so many times, it’s comical.

And let me just tell you right now: babies fucking suck.  I mean, you’ll either be adopting or using a surrogate, so there are some things (like breast-feeding vs formula, and then breast-feeding in public) you won’t have to worry about, but that doesn’t mean you get a free pass.  Midnight feedings, lack of sleep, exhaustion, frustration, resentment of the baby and/or each other, I mean, it’s fucking brutal.

Neither of you will be feeling very horny those first few months.  Newborns are the worst kind of baby.  They suck the hardest.  Every spare moment you get, all you’ll want to do is sleep.  Luckily, that part only lasts a few months, and then things start getting easier.

I love my kid, okay, and I loved her when she was a baby.  But I can also be completely honest.  There’s not a whole hell of a lot about the first six months of her life that I can look back on as a positive memory.  I mean, her first smile was awesome, her first laugh was amazing, watching her personality develop was fantastic, and really helped me bond with her.

That’s one thing you might actually be spared from, I’m not entirely sure.  Unfortunately, I don’t know many gay men who have kids, so I don’t know.  But for me, and many mothers, there’s this assumption and expectation that you’re supposed to be completely, 100% in love with your kid from the moment it leaves your body.  I don’t know if you’ll experience that expectation, but I imagine you’ll get at least a portion of it.  If you go through a surrogate, you’ll likely be expected to love it just as much as a biological mother would, from the moment it’s born, and if you go through adoption, you’ll likely be expected to love it just as much as a biological parent would, from the moment you sign the papers.

Either way, I’m going to do you a favor right now, and tell you that it’s completely bullshit.  I mean, I know even less about adoption than I do about surrogacy, so I’m just going to write the rest of this assuming that you decide to go through a surrogate.  I’m also going to write it from the perspective of a biological mother, since that’s the only perspective I can speak on with any degree of authority.  Obviously there will be things that are different with adoption, and with you being fathers, but I imagine the gist is about the same.

But there’s this expectation that you’re supposed to be completely in love with the kid from the jump.  And for some people, I guess that’s what happens.

It sure as hell didn’t happen for me.

I mean, I wasn’t completely indifferent to her, it wasn’t like that.  I’d been waiting for her for 9 months.  I’d been feeling her growing and moving around (and kicking the shit out of me, consider yourself lucky you don’t have to deal with that).

The point is, some people fall in love with their kids right away, and some don’t.  I didn’t.  Hell, I didn’t know her.

And then of course there was the guilt, because I didn’t fall in love with her instantly, that I must be a terrible mother, and then all the baggage with my own mother made its way to the forefront of my hormone-crazed mind, and what was I thinking, and what have I done, and how badly am I going to fuck up this poor kid?

Now I know it’s all bullshit.  You may not feel anything for the kid right away, and that’s fine.  I personally was reassured when the IV they had in her leg (she had to stay in the NICU for a week) started causing her pain.  I saw it, I recognized the IV burn, and I told the nurses.  Who promptly ignored me.

And then the mama bear instincts kicked in, and I went on a rampage until her next scheduled dose of antibiotics, where they realized, “Hey, it’s an IV burn,” and moved the IV.

She still has a scar from it, by the way.  Almost 6 years later.

So that was reassuring for me, because even though I didn’t really love her the way people say a mother is supposed to love her newborn, she was still mine, and I would do whatever it took to protect her.

So that’s something I tell new mothers, and it’s something I’ll tell you, too.  You may not be completely smitten with your kid right away, and that’s fine.  You don’t have to be.  You don’t know anything about the kid.  It’s a complete stranger.  It’s fine.  Because if something happens, if the kid needs you to protect it, those instincts will kick in and you’ll do what it takes without a second thought.  It’ll just come naturally.  Whether you’re a mother or father, whether the kid is biologically yours or not.

Because even though you didn’t carry it, and even if you don’t share a biological connection, you know that’s your kid, and if it needs you, it’ll flip the same switch in your brain that it flipped in mine.

We carry so much guilt as parents, because we put having kids up on this pedestal, and it’s all just stupid.  I’m glad I had my kid, I think she’s worth all the bullshit that comes with reproducing, but I can admit that there are parts of parenthood that just suck.

But while I didn’t feel that connection to her immediately, and I resented her more often than not, I did enjoy watching her learn, watching her personality develop, and that’s where we really started bonding.  That was really special, and for me, that’s the one thing that made all the other hell worthwhile.

Once they leave the baby stage, it’s easier.  And now, she’s almost 6, and she can do things independently, she does chores, she can hold conversations and she’s actually really into politics, interestingly enough.  I mean, it’s all got to be watered down, she’s fucking five, so there’s a lot that goes over her head.  But she does not like Trump.  Which is an opinion she formed on her own, independent of my thoughts or Kazander’s thoughts of the man.  I mean, she knew he was the president, and she’d seen a couple of interviews and speeches from Obama (most notably his Thanksgiving speeches, with all the dad jokes), but that was about all she knew.

It started when we were in NC, in the hospital room with my mom, who was watching a press interview with Trump.  I didn’t think she was paying attention, I was too appalled and disgusted to notice that she was actually watching, until she said, “Mommy, he’s mean.”

I said, “Yes, baby, he sure is.”

“I don’t like him,” she declared.  “You’re not supposed to be mean to people.  Especially if you’re the president.”

“You’re absolutely right.”

“I miss the old president.  He was nice.”

“I miss him too, baby.”

So she, quite proud of her new opinion of the president, started telling everyone she met.  Which was fucking adorable, okay.

The problem is that a small town in North Carolina is probably not the best place to voice that particular opinion.  Reactions ranged from awkward silence to dismissal to feigned cheerfulness.  And she picked up on that, and started to doubt herself, so a few days later, she said, “Well, I like him a little bit.”

“What?  Why?”

“Well, he’s the president.  You’re supposed to like the president a little bit.”

“No the fuck you’re not,” I corrected.  “You’re supposed to respect him a little bit.  There’s a big difference.  You don’t have to like him at all.”

“You don’t?”

“Not even a little bit.  I don’t like him, either.  And neither does Daddy.  You absolutely do not have to like him, and you don’t have to support him or stick up for him.  He’s a cruel man, and I will never like a cruel man, even if I have to respect him, or even if other people like him, or even if I feel like I’m supposed to like him.  If you want to like him, that’s your choice.  But there has to be something more to like about him than him just being the president.”

That made her feel better.

So I mean, it’s fun now.  She can have these kinds of conversations, she can develop opinions of her own.  She says she wants Michelle Obama to be the next president, and she was quite irritated when she found out that she won’t be allowed to vote in 2020.

Seeing the world through the eyes of a little kid is pretty fucking awesome, too.  You kind of realize how jaded and cynical you are, and it’s so refreshing to sort of let go of that for a little while, and look at the world completely differently.

But there is one thing I’m noticing here, in reading your email.  And I mean, forgive me if I’m wrong, but it sounds like you don’t even really want to have kids.

So if that’s the case, I’ll do you a favor now, and tell you this:

You do not have to have kids.  At all.  Ever.  Like, literally ever.

I know exactly that attitude you’re talking about, and I despise it.  Every time someone said that bullshit to me, about how I’m “not complete” until I’m a mother, I wanted to hit them in the face with a chair.

Uh, no.  I was not an incomplete human being before my spawn was born, m’kay.  I am more than just a baby-making machine.  That is just as true for you and your husband, even though neither of you will actually be carrying the baby.  You are two whole, complete, autonomous people.  You do not have to reproduce in order to be human.  You are more than a series of chemicals and DNA that must be passed down to another generation.

That being said, I’m my father’s oldest child, and he came from a very old-fashioned Mexican family.  Legacy was and is a big deal.  He could trace his roots back a dozen generations.  He instilled in me the spirit of our family, and that as his eldest child, it’s my job to carry that on.  I mean, shit went a little sideways, so that fell off a bit, but the attitude is still there.

The point is, having been brought up like that, I mean, family was everything, legacy was everything.  So yeah, I felt obligated to carry that on in a way my little sister and my cousins never really understood.

Because I’m the oldest child of my grandparents’ oldest child.  In an old-school Mexican family.  Yeah dude, I was told basically from birth that it was my job to carry on the family line, and have lots of babies.  I have male cousins to carry on the name, but it was my job to carry the legacy.

So that was great.

But there’s this pressure to reproduce, this idea that reproducing is the end-all, be-all of existence, and that’s all just utter bullshit.

“Oh, you haven’t lived until you’ve had a child.”

“Your life isn’t complete until you’ve had a child.”

“I didn’t know what love was until I had my child.  You have no idea what real love feels like until you have a child.  Your life is just empty.”

Jesus Christ, shut the fuck up.

I mean, honestly, how much does your life has to suck to think that you were incomplete before you had a kid?

I kinda liked my life before the kid was born.

Sure I like who I am as a mom, I’m damn good at being a mom, it’s a role I take a great deal of pride in, but I also liked who I was before my kid was born.

And some of the bullshit was ridiculous.  I remember, early in my pregnancy, before I even started showing, I wore a T-shirt that had Cartman on it, from South Park.  My mom saw it and said, “You know you’re not going to be able to wear that once the baby is born.”

Um, what?

“Why the hell not?”

“Well, that show isn’t really appropriate for kids.  And you won’t be able to curse, either.  You have to change a lot when you have kids.”

Yeah, fuck everyfuckingthing about that.

I’m not going to stop being who I am just because I made a person, m’kay.  I don’t lose who I am, I don’t become reduced to nothing but my spawn’s mother.  I still curse, I still watch South Park, I still drink, I still party and have fun, I still am who I am.

And my kid understands that some words I say are “grown up words,” and she will be able to say them when she’s a grown up.

Which works.  She just doesn’t curse.  Even though I curse all the time around her, and even when I’m talking to her.  I talk to her the same way I talk to anyone else.  I don’t pretend to be something I’m not around her, and I’m not going to change who I am as a person because she exists.

I haven’t changed who I am, I just added “Mom” to it.

And I’m still not a kid person.  I still hate other people’s kids.  I love my kid to death, I think she’s fucking awesome, and I get compliments on her behavior all the time, because I believe in discipline, goddammit, and I’m not going to raise an obnoxious heathen who cannot sit quietly in a waiting room, or who annoys the hell out of people on an airplane, or who screams and throws tantrums in a grocery store, or who whines and throws shit in restaurants.

So I love my kid, but I am not and will never be a “kid person.”

You don’t have to change who you are when you have a kid, because there is nothing “missing” without them.  I mean, if you want kids, and you honestly do feel like something is missing without them, then cool.  But not everyone feels that way.  I didn’t feel that way.

There’s nothing wrong with not having kids, if you don’t want to have kids.  You sound like you’re happy with your life, like you enjoy the life you and your husband share.  If you don’t want to change it, then don’t.

You like having free time and disposable income?  Feel like giving it up for the next 18 years?

Right now, you can literally be driving in the car with your husband, and you may drive past a new restaurant that just opened up.  And you can turn to your husband and say, “Hey, that place looks nice.  We should check it out.  We can go literally any time we want to.”

Giving all that shit up is not something you should do on a whim, or because your families tell you that you should, or because you feel like that’s what people are supposed to do when they’ve been married for a while.

If your families are pressuring you to have kids, tell them to fuck off.  I got it when my kid was about 2, and everyfuckingbody and their damn dog suddenly were all like, “Well, it’s time for a sibling!  You’re going to give her a little brother or sister, right?  Isn’t it time to get started on that?”

“Uh, no.”

“What?  She needs a sibling!”

“She really doesn’t, actually.”

“Kids are always happier with siblings.”

“They are?  Well shit, I never got that memo.”

“They’ve done studies.  You need to give her a little sibling.  It’s better for her developmentally.  Besides, you’re not really a parent until you have more than one.”

“Oh wow, I’m not?  I never knew that.  Well fuck, and I’ve spent the last two years raising this thing for no reason, then.”

Holy fucking shit, dude.  And no, none of that is even remotely an exaggeration.  I literally did have people try to guilt me into reproducing again, and I literally had people tell me I’m not a real parent because I only have one.

Just ignore them, or tell them to fuck off.  They’ll shut up eventually.  After about a year of those kinds of conversations, I started getting less and less tactful.  They stopped after awhile.  I haven’t heard any of that bullshit for… shit, probably 2 years, now?  Something like that.

Don’t let people pressure you into having a kid if you don’t want one.  You don’t have to have kids.

I mean, I can’t tell you whether you should or shouldn’t.  That’s not a decision anyone can make except you and your husband.  And for me, yeah, it worked out, and I love it, and I think my kid is one of the coolest people on the planet, and she’s more than worth all the disadvantages and all the limits it places on my time and my kink life.

For me, yeah it’s worth it.

Is it worth it for you and your husband?  That’s not something I can answer.

Fun with “Feminists”

So I was sitting outside the spawn’s acting class, trying very hard not to interact with the toddlers-in-tiaras parents, keeping my nose buried in my phone, when one of the moms leaned over and nudged me.

After the obligatory your-kid-is-so-cute thing, she asked what I do for a living.

“I’m a stay-at-home mom.”

I have this conversation at least a couple of times a year, always with other women.

Most of the time, when I utter that sentence, the woman I’m talking to will react either by smiling genuinely and saying, “oh that’s so awesome,” or by doing that fake-smile, wide-eyed thing, their voice rising half an octave, and saying, “oh, that’s so awesome.”

And then life, and the conversation, goes on.

But every few months, I’ll get a different reaction. It’ll be anything from disbelief to disgust, as if my lifestyle was personally offensive to her.

Oh honey, you have no idea.

That’s what happened with this woman. She curled her lip and asked, “Are you serious?”

giphy

Why does God hate me?

I was way more interested in the email and text conversations I was having on my phone anyway, so I just said, “Yep,” turned my body away from her, and buried my nose in my phone, using every body language trick I knew of to let her know that the conversation was over.

She didn’t take the hint.

“You know, that’s the problem with society today.  We can’t move forward as a culture until we stop living in the fifties.”

I couldn’t help but grin.  This reaction is by far my favorite.  Don’t get me wrong, the “lazy” accusations, and the I’m-not-contributing-anything-to-society accusations, and the “I-have-a-full-time-job-and-work-out-every-day-and-still-have-time-to-spend-with-my-kids” comments are entertaining in and of themselves.  But the “feminists” are the most fun.

You know the ones.  The ones who find a reason at least once a week to declare loudly and proudly, “I’m a feminist,” and are quick to condemn any woman not living what they think is a “feminist lifestyle.”

Sure enough, she uttered those very words.  She said, “I’m sorry, I don’t mean to be insulting.  I’m just a feminist and I believe that women are better than being kept barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen by their husbands.  I mean, you do know you’re contributing to the patriarchy, right?”

I had to laugh.  Because come on, that’s funny.  “Am I?”

She seemed stunned that I was laughing, and then seemed to get a little irritated.  “I don’t know why you think it’s funny.  Women have suffered for our rights, so we can live our lives the way we want to.  And you’re basically spitting in their faces by supporting the patriarchy.  That’s the environment you’re choosing to raise your daughter in.  You think that’s funny?  Is it a joke to you?  Don’t you think your daughter deserves a strong female role model?  Don’t you want to do right by her?  Do you think teaching her to obey the patriarchy is funny?”

I couldn’t help it.  I mean, I’m all about self-control and all that.  But it was just too perfect.  I couldn’t resist.

“I think it’s hilarious.  I’ll make sure to tell my husband and both my boyfriends about it tonight so we can all share a laugh.”

And seriously, the look on her face was just priceless.  Like, I felt like I was in a Mastercard commercial.  But I took the opportunity to impart some knowledge.  This is obviously not word-for-word, but I’ve repeated this lecture a few times now, and it’s always about the same.

There is nothing wrong with patriarchal relationships, or relationships where the man is the dominant partner and primary decision-maker.  If that’s the relationship both partners want, then there’s nothing wrong with it.  That’s not the problem.  “The Patriarchy” isn’t evil. Men are not our enemies.  There’s no reason to be hostile toward any situation where a man takes a position of authority over a woman.  “The Patriarchy” isn’t the problem.

The problem is that you’ve become what you hate.  The first feminists wanted women to be treated as equal, to be given the same rights as a man, and to have the ability to live their lives the way they want, without being ostracized for it.

You assume that my relationships are patriarchal, which you don’t approve of, so you become condescending, choosing not to see me as your equal, and you condemn the choices I’ve made regarding how I want to raise my daughter.  In one breath, you acknowledge the struggle that the first feminists went through to give us the freedom to live our lives the way we want, and in the next, you condemn me for living my life the way I want.

My situation is the exact opposite of a patriarchy.  I am the dominant partner and primary decision maker in all three of my relationships.  There is no patriarchy. But even if there was, why should I not be allowed to choose that life for myself?  Women aren’t allowed to think for themselves anymore, is that it?  They’re only allowed to lead the lifestyle society deems appropriate?  They’re not allowed to want to submit to a man?

Haven’t we come a long way in our attitudes toward women…

I am in charge and in control of every aspect of my life, including the raising of my kid.  Hell no, I don’t want someone else raising my kid while I’m at work.  I want to be directly responsible for every aspect of her raising.

And it’s paid off.

She was potty-trained before her second birthday.  She’s 4, and she knows the difference between weight and mass.  She knows the difference between mammals and fish.  She knows what symbiosis is, and can provide multiple examples of two different animals having symbiotic relationships.  She knows what sonar is and how whales use that to navigate.  She knows what the biggest shark and smallest shark are, she can tell you the biggest fish in the world, she can tell you what that spike on a Narwhal’s head is made out of, and how tall the average male polar bear is (she’s been on a huge marine life kick for the last year or so).  She knows what bioluminescence is, and can name a few species that live in the midnight zone that have it.

She can sit quietly in a doctor’s waiting room, a nice restaurant, or at an airport gate indefinitely (the wait at the airport was 4 hours).  She hasn’t thrown a temper tantrum in public since she was a year and a half old.  She constantly gets compliments about how well-behaved she is, and people are stunned at her vocabulary (even though she mispronounces some words.  Like frost-er-rated, instead of frustrated, and tech-lick-ly instead of technically).  She always says please and thank you, “yes, ma’am,” and “no, ma’am,” and “yes, sir,” and “no, sir.”

She recognizes her emotional state and will acknowledge if she’s feeling grumpy or having a bad day.  Granted, she’s just a wholefuckinglot on the melodramatic side, so telling her she can’t have a second serving of M&Ms often gets the “I’m not having a good day” comment.  But she can acknowledge it and has a few basic techniques to try and control it.

She can do simple addition and subtraction in her head, and while she needs paper and pencil to do simple multiplication and division, she can do multiplication and division.  She can also interpret bar graphs and pie charts.  Finding the mean of a set of numbers is still a little too difficult for her, but she can tell you the median, mode, and range without missing a beat.

While her weakness is English, and she’s only just recently mastered the concept of letters making sounds that form words (she knew that A makes the “a” sound, she had all that down by rote memorization, but if you showed her a picture of a dog and a picture of an apple, she couldn’t tell you which one started with letter A), she can write letters just fine, and loves having stories read to her so much, she’s memorized a couple dozen books.

She’s the youngest in her acting class by 3 years.  The class is technically supposed to be for 7- and 8-year-olds.  But she holds her own just fine, and the teacher often points her out, saying “Our 4-year-old can do this, so I know you guys can do it, too.”

Yeah, that happened tonightAgain.

So unless your kid can do all of that at 3 years old, I have exactly zero interest in anything you have to say about the way I choose to raise her or the environment I choose to raise her in.

I’ve got this, thanks.

Would I like to have financial independence, and not have to rely on Kazander for money?  Hell fucking yes.  Particularly in recent months.  But I never planned on having kids, and now that I’ve got one, I want to make sure I do right by her.  In my opinion, doing right by my daughter means staying home and giving her every possible advantage I can, using every tool and resource I can get my hands on.  I’ve decided to make raising my daughter more important than something as petty as a paycheck*.

That’s my choice, and I’ve always lived my life the way I want to.  I’m not about to stop just because it’s looked down upon.  Being a stay-at-home mom is not the only lifestyle choice I’ve made that’s looked down upon by the bulk of society.  It’s just the one that I catch the most shit for, because I’m around snobby, entitled, bored, sexually frustrated moms so often.

*This statement is always made for shock value, directed exclusively at the women who feel the need give me shit for my life choices.  I do not think there’s anything wrong with working moms, and I certainly don’t think working moms are petty.  I’m driving a point home, that’s all.