That, and March is roaring in like a sorry, soggy, mangy sort of lion and with it the annual stations of my personal cross. Ugh.
But thinking about Bryn made me think of parenting in general, and that, in turn, turned me to a couple of news items pitched at me or dropped on my digital carpet like a particularly noisome headless mouse by some friends of mine.
And, speaking of noisome things, when you have come to recognize the sound of your dying cat's ass exploding it may be that the time has come for said moggie to find herself half in love with easeful Death. I'm just sayin'; the laundry list (and I do not speak figuratively here) of the items you have shat on is getting longer than your tail, cat, and you've shat on that, too. I've spent fifteen years with you curled on my lap, little friend, but this incessant incontinence is wearing on my patience and the overall aroma of the house as well.
Still, it seems monstrously unfair to end a life, even a small life, because the end of that life has become nothing worse than a rather embarrassing and physically unpleasant nuisance.
Anyway, the main reason I started this post is because a friend of mine - who is childless by choice and chooses to continue as such - linked to this article and, yes, it is fucking Newsweek but that in and of itself should not be an excuse. The author's point is pretty straightforward:
"As younger Americans individually eschew families of their own, they are contributing to the ever-growing imbalance between older retirees—basically their parents—and working-age Americans, potentially propelling both into a spiral of soaring entitlement costs and diminished economic vigor and creating a culture marked by hyperindividualism and dependence on the state as the family unit erodes."But more to my point is that this is a pretty standard screed you hear from the sort of anti-tax/pro-oligarchy types mentioned above; OMFG! We're not breeding! We're dooooomed!
Not mentioned in these screeds - and not mentioned by the author of this Newsweek thing - is that the subvocal corollary of this wail of despair is that "us wealthy white people aren't spawning..!" Or white people, anyway, wealthy or no. The enthusiastic breeding by the lesser sorts beyond the Law - the blacks and browns, both imported and domestic - aren't mentioned. It's the prospective dearth of precious whities that seems to be being mourned here.
That's pretty goddamn ignorantly racist, but, whatever.
But beyond that is the entirely, painfully, bone-stupid obliviousness of the damn thing.
Because the human bottom line has always, always, been that once people - and the people are usually but not always women because women end up doing the most of it - gain the ability to safely prevent pregnancy they do.
I've talked a fair bit on this blog about parenting and my take on it. That take hasn't changed. It's not really hard and it's not really work. If anything the worst parts of parenting are most similar to the worse parts of warfare; hours, days and weeks of endless, mind-numbing boredom spiked with irritating trivialities interrupted by brief moments of heart-squeezingly frightful terror.
So, not surprisingly, if you're sane and not a Duggar the first thing you do when you find a way to have sex and not have babies is to use it.
L love my kiddos. Usually. They're typically sweet and loving, silly and imaginative and vigorous and gentle.
But they're also kids. Raising a kid is often like playing catch with a Labrador; you're gonna get bored a long, long time before the kid or the dog. What's your limit on My Little Pony or tic-tac-toe or playing with LEGOs? I have no idea in absolute terms but I will tell you that it's way lower than your kids'.
And they're also greedy and short-sighted, demanding, irrational, and their intellectual horizon is typically about the far side of this room. They're often whiny, and fight with each other, and my wife, and me. Their little lives are a constant struggle for attention, which is wearing when you're at the stage where you're constantly struggling for dignity and a little silence.
So what did this Newsweek idiot expect? That all those smart twentysomethings were gonna take a kiddo HEAT-round for Team America? That Joe and Molly were gonna give up that loft in the Pearl and move to Clackamas and start cranking sprogs out of her belly like water out of a hose so our journalist can be sure that there's someone to change his Depends thirty years down the road? That those young white folks would throw themselves on the baby grenade so the national demographics aren't all jacked up in thirty years?
Sorry, pal; people don't work like that.
So my bride and I chose to go down the kid road.
But I won't pretend for a moment that that road's been a cheery nonstop ride, or that there's something wonderful and virtuous about it. The pavement's cracked and rough, the scenery's nice in spots but damn deadly dull in others, and there's not a single goddamn way to be sure that the entire journey won't be for nothing when you get to the end and the sign there says "convict" or "unemployed layabout" or "surly lout" or "whiny drama queen". If you learn anything during parenting it's that you get about 1 or 2 out of the 10 things that influence how and who your kid turns out to be. Or IF they turn out to be; this Friday is an ever closer reminder that all that love and care and wishing and hoping can end in a sifting handful of ashes.
But that's another thought for another day.