Still sick. Got better, up to feeling 75% or so, and then I plummeted back down to roughly 40% two nights ago. I’m hovering around that same point right now, and it’s fucking annoying. I think it’s time to actually go to the doctor and/or try Chinese medicine/acupuncture. Ugh.
So, on one of the advice forums I read, there was someone asking how does someone know if they are ready to have children (indeed, if they should have them at all). Someone responded with a classic column from Dear Sugar in which she counsels the LW to imagine a ‘sister ship’ to the life he is leading (in this case, he’s a childfree man contemplating having children) and to see what that sparks in him.
I’ve been thinking about that since rereading the column. I don’t know if I agree with how she ultimately made her decision (feeling like she’d slightly regret it more if she didn’t have kids than if she did), but I think there’s merit in imagining an alternative life. So. Let’s try it out. I don’t have any qualms about my decision not to have children (and never have. The only decision I’ve consciously made in my life that I haven’t second-guessed), but there are plenty of things in my life that I wondered what would have happened if I’d taken another path.
In addition, it can be alienating to be so persistently on the fringes, but not completely alternative. I’ve written about it before, but it’s my blog, so I’ll write about it again if I want to. Nothing about me is ‘normal’–unmarried, gleefully childfree, agnostic, freelancer, bisexual, Taiwanese, non-movie lover, etc. Something that makes me fringe from both normies and freaks is that I’m completely straight-edged when it comes to drinking/drugs. I don’t do any of that, and I have little patience for it. It’s not fun being the only sober person in a group of drunk/high people, which, unfortunately, many artistic people are.
Then, there’s sex and relationships. In my teens, I was determined to wait until I was married to have sex because–church. The problem was, sexytimes were AW HELL YES times. It felt goddamn good, like, really fucking good, and I became what I later called a TV (technical virgin). I did everything up to PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex, and that’s how I rationalized that I wasn’t breaking my Christian vows, as it were. Even though I never really believed in God with a capital G, I tried so goddamn hard. But, sexy stuff felt amazing, and it got harder and harder for me to abstain from penetrative sex.
In my twenties, I realized I was bisexual, but I denied it for several years. I was already an Asian woman in America–did I really need to throw another label that would make life harder for me into the mix? I couldn’t deny it forever, however, and I came out with some fanfare. It took me roughly a decade to adjust to that, and I also had what I fondly refer to as my slutty years in my late twenties. I did a lot of experimenting, and while it got messy from time to time, it was a lot of fun, too.
In my thirties, I desperately wanted to be in a long-term relationship, though I would have vehemently denied it to anyone who had the guts to ask me. I was in two, both long-distance, and both ultimately not good for me in the end. In fact, the latter really made me question my romantic choices and what I actually wanted from a relationship. I had thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with this dude, but it was more a question of him being a really good writer (I’m a sucker for the written word), him really wanting us to be a forever thing, and my loneliness. He was a mess, to put it bluntly, and all my negative traits really flared up in the relationship. We met online, and his in-the-real-world persona was MUCH different than his written one.
I cringe when I think about that relationship because I was so stupid throughout, but fortunately, it ended after a few short months. The best thing I can say about the relationship was that it had a short shelf life. It was an emotionally-abusive relationship, and it could have easily tipped into physically abusive if it hadn’t ended so abruptly. He was the one to end it, and I really doubted myself after that because why the hell did I stay with him? My BFF says I would have dumped him soon, but she’s always had a better image of me than I do of myself. I
I don’t want to be my mother. That’s my driving fear when it comes to romantic relationships. I see how obsessed she is with his health and how pathetic it is, and I know that could be me. She called me last night, and when I told her I was still sick (she asked), she said, “Well, it’s nothing compared to what your father is going through.” Well, yeah, that’s true, but so the fuck what? I said in as calm a voice as I could muster, “It’s not nice to make comparisons because there’s always someone who’s in a worse situation, and there’s always someone in a better one.” I was pissed, though. What a shitty thing to say to someone. The fact that she chose to jump immediately from my health (which, to be fair to her, I downplayed as I don’t really like talking about it) to his was telling. The last time we talked, when I mentioned I was sick, she immediately started complaining about her own health. Both she and my father have said I need to take care of myself because they’re not here to care for me. Again, they’re making it all about themselves, which is not exactly what I want to hear when I’m sick.
So, let me imagine my sister ship of a more normal life. One with a 9-to-5 job, a husband, two kids, church on Sunday, and, um, yoga. The kid part is a no-go. I don’t even need to imagine it to react with a full-body shudder. The idea of having children is repugnant to me. I know that’s a strong word, but it’s not nearly strong enough for how I feel about it. Let me clarify, the idea of ME having children is repugnant–not having children in general. I don’t get why people do it, but it’s no skin off my nose if other people want to have children.
Side note: I have complex feelings, however, on the idea that we’re supposed to cater to other people’s children all the time. A while back, there was an airline that floated the idea of having childfree flights. Not as a replacement for regular flights, but in addition to them. That sounded like a great idea to me, but so many parents were full-on indignant about it. How dare their darling brats be excluded in such a way??????? The entitlement was strong, and the idea was as quickly quashed as it had been brought up. I was pissed because again, it wasn’t as if the childfree flights were going to replace the regular ones–they were going to be added in addition to the regular ones. Some parents viewed it as discrimination, but as a non-parent, I saw it as saving my sanity.
Look. I don’t blame a baby for screaming on a flight because their ears are hurting and they can’t do anything about it. However, I don’t like to hear it as I’m flying. And, the kids who are allowed to run around like hoydens? Yeah, no. I’m willing to pay extra to be on a plane without children. I know kids are part of the society, but I deliberately chose not to have children because I don’t like being around them ad nauseam. I don’t think it should be a bad thing to have pockets of society that are childfree as long as the same experiences aren’t walled off completely to children. For example, restaurants having an hour or two of childfree dining. Childfree flights. Me being able to grocery shop after ten at night without children running around the store. Children are a part of society, but so the fuck am I. For the most part, people who have children made the choice to have them. I made the choice NOT to have children in part because I don’t like dealing with them on a regular basis. Why isn’t that as respected as choosing to have them?
In addition, parents getting preferential treatment at work is a sore point, too. I believe parents should have generous parental leave, but let’s acknowledge it makes it more difficult for everyone else. Also, parents who always get holiday leave over non-parents isn’t cool, either. It’s a great way to breed resentment among your employees. When I worked for the county, I didn’t mind working on holidays because I don’t celebrate them, but now, I would resent if I was expected to do so simply because I’m single and don’t have children. It’s making non-parents second-class citizens, which is not a good look for anyone. If a parent had a kid-related emergency, that’s one thing. But to always give parents preferential treatment, no matter the reason, doesn’t sit well with me.
The problem with trying to imagine a sister ship is that most of the things I think I should want (or have been told I should want), I simply don’t. I think for me, it’s better to think about what I actually do want, rather than what’s been dictated as important to me. Another problem is that I’ve always been much better at knowing what I don’t want (and what I don’t like) than what I do. I don’t want to get married. I don’t want to work in an office I most certainly don’t want kids. I don’t want to go to church. I don’t want to live with someone. After that, though, it’s as if the crystal-clear focus on my camera has suddenly gotten fuzzy. No matter how much I adjust the lens, I can’t make it any clearer. Literally, in my brain, the images/words are fuzzy when I try to concentrate on them.
If I’m going with pie-in-the-sky, I would like to support myself by writing. Fiction or blogging? Both, please. I’d like to have a few fuck buddies, with the emphasis on buddy. I don’t want a long-term monogamous relationship for reasons I’ve already enumerated in this post and in the past, but I miss sex and companionship. I’m not looking for one-night stands because I’m too old for that shit, tbh. I want someone(s) I can be comfortable with, laugh with, and have great sex with, but not live with. Those are really the two things in my life that I’d change. Otherwise, I like the rest of it pretty much as is. I like spending the majority of my time by myself (and with Shadow, of course. He’s snoozing on my legs as I write this, his face mashed into my feet). Oh, I’m thinking of doing a podcast/vlogging, but again, that’s very much in the development phase.