"The Other F Word" is a documentary about punk rock dads, discussing how some of the icons of punk are reconciling fatherhood with their anti-authoritarian history. It's more than good. It's brilliant. Flea (Red Hot Chili Peppers) made me cry. It's a story about how, for some people, parenthood changes them completely. It's on Netflix. You should watch it.
This is the bit of parenthood that makes me the most envious. It's an emotion I'll never quite understand, and part of being a childfree woman means acknowledging that I'll never have that. Weighed against all I have in its absence, I'm happily choosing my marriage and life as it is, but it is a choice.
Because really? Watch the documentary. Watch your closest friends, the ones who are great parents, and tell me that doesn't look kind of cool. It's pretty cool.
The assumption that many more judgmental parent-types will make about us, the childfree, is that we don't know what we're missing. That we're missing out on something so completely life-altering, that we can't even imagine it. They're right about one thing: We don't know how parenthood would change us. Nobody does. Maybe I would be like my formerly CF friend from the Best Laid Plans posts, and having a child would change my life. Or maybe I would be like my niece's mother. Like my mother. Cold, detached. Resentful. Maybe I wouldn't be able to bond. Maybe something would be wrong with my child and I'd have to go from being a successful entrepreneur to a full-time mom and caretaker. WE DON'T KNOW.
I'm going to be 36 this week, and I see the world a lot differently than I did when I was a 21-year-old childfree woman. One of the things that I'm noticing is that being childfree is a far more deliberate choice than it was back then. I've seen some of my friends' kids grow up. I've seen it change some people, some for the better and some for the worse. But I acknowledge the magic of that change, of seeing your child for the first time. I don't understand it and never will, but I acknowledge that it exists.
But I also look at my husband and know that we achieve a level of closeness that's a lot stronger, and a bond that's much more powerful than many of my friends who have kids. He's my best friend. We go on the most amazing adventures, and we can afford to see the world. Our vacation time is *our* time, and we use it all up, seeing exciting places or leaving on a whim for a weekend away.
Is that selfish? Would it be less selfish if I had a child and regretted not having that freedom? Would it be less selfish if I had a child and shipped her off to stay with others so I could keep traveling child-free? It's important to me as a person.
In the meantime, we spoil our friends' kids. They love us, and we love them. They beg their parents for us to come visit. They invite us to their "friends only" birthday parties because "they're my friends!" Our life is full of children, and we love the ones we're close to. That's enough.
If that's not enough for you, that's okay. I acknowledge that having a baby could change my world around and I would want to give up all the things I hold dear so I could be a good parent like the dads in "The Other F Word". I'm just okay missing out on that. It's a choice I'm making, and I'm cool with that.