Here’s an anecdote that is simultaneously funny, timely, and exasperating. When I first met my husband, he was steadfast in his claim that he didn’t want to have biological children anytime soon, because the state of the world was such that he couldn’t conceive of bringing a kid into it. Also, when I met my husband, he was a big believer in the 2012 phenomenon (really. I can’t. He was twenty?) and tended to base a lot of long-term life decisions on this belief. See also: “The 6 Best 2012 Apocalypse Theories (Are All Bullshit).”
I guess he thought I’d nod and agree, but I’ve never been one to let outside forces or authority or bullshit end of the world scenarios dictate too much of my life, and I promptly shut him down and laid out all the reasons why letting The State of The World or potential transformative experiences dictate when you do and do not bring children into your life is a bad idea. (Also, P.S., if you feel strongly moved to not conceive biological children because of The World, there are hundreds of thousands of children who are already alive and who desperately need homes, regardless of what’s going on politically or otherwise.)
Since Trump was elected in November, I’ve heard echoes of the same argument from friends and family: “I just can’t imagine bringing a child into a world like this.” You know what, though? The world has always been shitty. Just as there have always been joy and light and goodness, there have also always been dictators and famine and war. I’m sorry if Donald Trump’s election has brutally awoken you to this fact, but guys, it’s always been a terrible time to bring children into the world.
And yet… we keep doing it. You know why? Because no matter how they come into your life (through family, adoption, biologically, IVF, donors, and so on, etc., forever), if you’re open to them, kids are downright legit. I don’t mean that everyone should have a kid because they’re super cool, but if parenthood is a game you want to play in the first place, then the first thing you need to know is that there are no rules. You don’t get to cherry pick an ideal time to have children (you can try, but even if you try, you may well fail), you don’t get to pick the kids you get, and you don’t get to choose the world they grow up in. You just do it or you don’t, and let the chips fall where they may. And I’m of the opinion that if you know you want them, and you feel ready to have them, then the time to have kids is right fucking now, no matter what.
you actually don’t control… anything
Here’s what I’ve learned in my nearly eight years as a parent on this planet: we don’t control any of it. I’m forever grateful that my child was born during President Obama’s first year of his first term, because it made it downright easy to explain our left-of-left politics, to raise our kid in a wildly liberal home, and to even point out that our super fantastic president had his shortcomings, failures, and problematic moments, all while knowing that at the end of the day he was a badass president, and we were lucky as hell to have him around. It was excellent.
But, we conceived our kid before we knew who the president would be. I was three months pregnant on Election Night, but we didn’t know who would win until that day. And while he looks glorious these days when compared to the bulk of his weak as hell party, John McCain in 2007 and 2008 was then the furthest from the vision of a great president that my husband and I shared. We were pretty stressed out.
But we had that kid anyway, and we have never looked back. And it’s partly because when my husband told me that the political events of the day (and, um, doomsday scenarios) would dictate when he had kids (if he had them at all), I told him that I would not let the world take the joy of parenthood away from me (without a fight). I knew I wanted to be a mom. So. That was that.
really: you control none of it
Before you have a kid, you think you know what’s up. You imagine your dream child and assume that of course your kid will be just like that, because why wouldn’t he or she? And then you actually bring a child into your life and realize that maybe you know some things that about kid, but you don’t know all of it. And just when you think you’re catching on, that you’ve got their number, they go through some kind of cognitive mindfuck, and you lose it all over again.
On top of that day-to-day parenting truth, you don’t control what medical conditions your kid is or isn’t born with. You don’t get to say, “No peanut allergies, please!” You might not find out about disabilities until after your kid is born, and you might not understand the many, many ways those disabilities will impact your lives until years down the road. You don’t get to decide if your child gets cancer when he’s three. You don’t get to decide if your child falls into a pool accidentally. There are so many things that can go wrong, and you’re not in charge of any of it.
It’s the same with the state of the world. As much as we might want to, most of us don’t really control anything that happens. Sure, maybe on a local level, we can get out and get involved and be part of our communities, and obviously we can all vote for the president and other assorted elected officials, but as we’ve learned… that doesn’t mean we get our way. You can’t create the perfect world for your kid, because your kid is just one of billions of people on the planet, and I’m not sure we can create a perfect world, period, for all of us.
in the end, you have to pick what matters most
But hey look. Kids just being kids are probably the closest thing we have to perfection anyway. I don’t mean it in some “OMG we should all have kids because they’re perfect” way (because they’re also gross, rude, wild, and dirty). But on their best days? Kids are magic. They are gritty, hard, delightful, gorgeous magic:
Have them or don’t, but don’t let Donald Trump be the reason you decide not to.
are you thinking of putting off having kids right now? why or why not? what kind of conversations are you having about parenthood?