The other day my husband and I were debating what invention constituted the greatest scientific achievement. I said that besides electric power, the birth control pill was definitely the most significant. My husband disagrees, but think about it - being able to reliably control how many kids you have impacts the most fundamental ways a society functions and organizes. For instance, there's no way women could achieve equal status to men without some form of birth control.
It's kind of interesting that we even get to ask ourselves whether or not we want to have kids. This wasn't a question women could lightly toss around prior to the pill's invention. By all accounts, Jane Austen didn't get married because she knew that the work of raising a family and perhaps the disapproval of her husband would prevent her from writing. But today, I can be married, write, and dilly-dally about having children pretty much to my heart's content. What a privilege that is.
I like kids. I like hanging out with them. I have childish tastes. I wouldn't mind having someone else in our family to love unconditionally and be loved back. I like the idea of watching my child grow up and teaching them things.
But I'm also selfish. I want to write books and live in interesting places. I get overwhelmed and resentful when I don't get to work on my own projects. I get irritable and snap.
Not long after I started writing more seriously, we got a dog. My uncle's German Shepherds had puppies, and my husband and I couldn't resist. We chose Hammie (aka "Miss Virginia Ham") who's the second puppy on the left in the image below, peaking out from beneath her brothers.
We fell in love. She was (and still is) the smartest and sweetest little girl. She was my first dog, and it was just incredible to have this little creature in the house following us around everywhere.
Those first few weeks were hard though, especially because we were so sleep deprived from having to get up once or twice each night to take her outside to pee. And if I'm being honest, despite all the love I felt, I also remember thinking that getting a puppy was probably a bad idea if I wanted to write and publish a novel.
But you know what? I wouldn't go back and change it. Sure, for a few months I did write less, but then she grew up and could sleep through the night, and slowly the writing returned.
I imagine it would be similar for children, only more intense and for a longer period of time. Maybe I wouldn't get back to writing for several years, but I know that eventually I would.
On the other hand, if we didn't have children, it would be easier to travel. We wouldn't be so stretched for money. We'd have more time to focus on each other and on our goals and projects. We'd pour our love into dogs and cats, no doubt. Play auntie and uncle. Be a Piggle-Wiggle woman. It would be nice, I admit it.
But I thought about it, and I realized that if I could do it either way, kids or no kids, then I should probably try to have a kid. And if doesn't work out, well, I'll know I tried, and then I can lead my child-free life without regrets.
So I think we're going to try, maybe not for another year, but sometime soon. And that makes me happy, which makes me think it's the right choice.
Did you debate whether or not to have kids? What was your thinking?