Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Most Satisfying Thing(s) about Delaying Children

One of the most satisfying things about delaying children is the pleasure of adult friendship. Whether it's traveling with old friends to visit new cities or catching a play on a Thursday with a new friend from around the corner, I thoroughly enjoy and appreciate grown-up company and conversation.

Kids are cute (and just maybe getting increasingly cuter), but I do not envy my young friends and family members who have babies and toddlers right now. I believe them when they say they are experiencing some of the highest highs and lowest lows of their lives, but I'm also quietly noting how sleep deprivation can contribute to emotional roller coasters. 

Friday night, Sonia and I made tacos with chicken in adobo sauce and cabbage salad. Then I drank the better part of a bottle of red wine while we watched a few episodes of Homeland. Short of her reminder that I wouldn't want to be groggy for my Saturday (a good one, although I don't always like to hear it), it was a perfect evening. 

We're lucky enough to have evenings like that fairly often. When we talk about it to a couple with two children, however, their mouths hang open in envy. 

Ok, so one of the most satisfying things about delaying children is the appreciation of time spent with your partner. The other is adult friendship. 

Tonight (Saturday), Sonia's staying home while I go to an art opening and poetry event with my newest friend, a professor of creative writing at a local college. She's a thirty-something writer like me, at once confident in the ways she's spent her years so far and a little nervous that she's wasted some time. 

Can I blame this one on the patriarchy? What better way to cut women off at the knees than leading us to question, while at the height of our productivity, energy and power, whether we should be having children instead?

About a year ago, the professor invited me to sit on a panel at her college. The audience were undergraduate writing majors, and the topic was life after graduation. Two of the four panelists were MFA professors encouraging young writers to saddle themselves with another two years' of graduate school debt to "pursue their art." 

I couldn't in good conscience stand for that. I told them to travel or get any job they could, get some experience in this thing called life, start paying off loans, and see if they had the discipline to write every day. I think the professor liked my attitude, and we went out for our first beer shortly thereafter. 

Two of my twenty-something coworkers recently decided, in my general proximity, that no one makes new friends after college. While that's not true, it certainly gets harder. In recent years, I met one of my closest friends through OKCupid, two others because they lived in the apartment above me. One by being overconfident and a little bit bitchy on an otherwise-male panel. 

As a young person growing up in a rural area, I was a poet. I dreamed. I gazed up at the stars and marveled, imagining my future and its possibilities. Even then, those possibilities included culture, travel, theater, community, close friends, lovers and a commitment to remember what it felt like being a child. 

As I've written before, childhood didn't suit me. It was awkward and monotonous and quiet. I wrestled with vague demons and kept to myself. I promised myself that when I got out, I'd travel to all of the cities, read all of the books, see all of the theater and connect with all of the friends I could. 

So far, so good. 

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