“Vhy youu no haffve baybee, Tiffi?! Whatz’ a’mattah youu?” *Said in the voice of one of my 400 Serbian aunts. The short answer to this question is because there are too many things I’m uncertain about. The long answer follows…
Simply stated, I write these posts to help people and they are inspired by what’s on my mind. As of late, like, the last 12 months, and more highly acutely the last 6 months, I have struggled with the question, “Should I have a baby?” Every single day for the last 6 months I think about this, and I try to find an answer. My thoughts are in a constant old school WWF wrestling match with my emotions, and I can’t figure this shit out. Not being able to “figure it out” is a new phenomenon to me. I’m a problem solver with an active style of coping, and I can usually handle these types of things. However, this topic, oh you know, the one about determining whether or not to make a human life, has put me in a purgatory of indecision. It is overwhelming and often feels like relentless torment. Therefore, I’ve chosen to leave my comfort zone and write this personal piece in the hopes that I can help someone who relates to the struggles I’m experiencing. And I know there are people like me out there because I’ve done research, read articles, journals, interviews, etc. and I’ve seen evidence that this specific pain is a thing. I haven’t come across much information describing just how much of a mother fucker this struggle can be, so that’s why I’m writing this post. It’s not about coping skills, tips, and tools this time around. Instead, what will follow are 10 factors that I believe cause and contribute to confusion, doubt, and indecision (specifically, my own confusion, doubt, and indecision) as it relates to procreating in the modern world. In other words, why the fuck it can be so hard for someone, male or female, to determine whether they want to have a baby, and become a parent. *Full disclosure: I know this can be a sensitive topic, so if you continue reading, please understand that none of this is meant to insult anyone, with or without kids, it’s just information I am sharing.*
(1) Why. Just, why? I’ve asked myself this so many times, and I don’t have a good answer. The best answer I can think of is because I have so much love to give, I deeply love my husband, I love kids, and to create a life from love this pure would be a beautiful thing. LAME TIFFANY!!! Fucking lame. I can express that loving energy in ways other than making a life. This “love” I refer to can be put into other areas and is not accessable only once you have a child. Ok then, why else might I want to have a kid? Do I have land that needs farmhands to help tend to it? Nope. Is my biology telling me to be a mom? No. If it was this would be easy because I’d listen. The only thing my biology is telling me is that I’m getting grey hair and losing ovarian integrity every second of every minute of every day. I’m shriveling up in there and being age 35.5 makes me a geezer when it comes to getting pregnant. So, when posed with the question, “why have a kid?”, I can’t formulate an answer that is logical and sensical, which leaves me unsettled and uncertain.
(2) Has the world peaked? You know, wondering if the world has passed the point of no return and is now on a gradual descent to hell? There is a lot of bad in this world: Senseless violence, rape, abuse, torture, war, hate, corruption, climate change, pollution, animal cruelty (and experimentation @animaljusticeproject). This begs the question: Has the darkness begun to overshadow the light? I do realize that there is a lot of good on the planet, too. The world is a big place and love, kindness, compassion, and empathy coexist with the bummer stuff, but I wonder if the bad has amassed to the point where the good is just a fraction. Albeit a strong fraction, whether it is enough to combat the evil, remains a frightening uncertainty in my mind.
(3) Is having a kid necessary, and, as a global citizen, responsible? *I’m not calling parents irresponsible.* The world’s population is 7.4+ billion. Births outnumber deaths and so far this year, the population has grown 18 million in less than 3 months. Where the heck are we all going to go? I worry about waste, damaging our environment, pollution, depleting natural resources, and the legions of animals killed for consumption everyday, born in misery whose sole purpose of existing is to be tortured and slaughtered (search @sympathy_at_slaughter on Instagram for a painful glimpse- just a tiny glimpse of this world). My kid, like all humans, will contribute to these things just by existing. To no fault of his or her own, that’s just how it goes. Even if I compost, feed him/her organic and farm fresh fruits and vegetables, use cloth diapers, by having a kiddo I will be depleting the world of certain energy and resources, and contributing to its waste.
(4) I feel like a hot fart for considering having a biological child and not automatically thinking to adopt. As I said above, the world is huge and getting huger. There are amazing and innocent little humans across the globe that need and deserve a loving home. Why would I, or you, not adopt? Some reasons I can identify with are to control certain circumstances, like prenatal environmental stress, prenatal diet and wanting to breastfeed (because of the effects these factors have on babies health) but are these reasons good enough? If I’m concerned about the world’s population, the responsible and natural thing to do would be to adopt. Looking for a stroll down harsh reality alley, search “children needing adoption” in your state to see the beautiful kids, ages 0-18 who need a forever home. A picture, bio, and their accompanying case number will follow, along with your heart breaking. I think what will save this planet is rekindling our love for humanity. Not necessarily making a new person to “save the world,” but saving it now, with what we have, by spending time fostering a deepened universal love. A global shift from a “me” or “you,” to an us. Do I want to see what a Tiff / Jeff hybrid human would be like, sound like, look like, and experience that- certainly. But my DNA is not exceptional and there are already children alive, currently in this world, that need, want and deserve a family. Why would I choose not to give him or her a home, if I wanted to have a child?
(5) I feel selfish. *I’m not calling parents selfish.* The parents I’m lucky enough to know are among the most selfless individuals I have seen. They sacrifice their time, energy, and finances to give their kids the best opportunities in life they can afford. My own mom has said she would rip out her beating heart in order to save me or my sister, and I truly believe she would find a way to punch through her sternum, bust up some ribs, clench and tear out her beating heart if she had to. Homegirl does not fuck around when it comes to how much she loves her children. THIS is the opposite of selfish. I get that, but I, TIff Tuttle, feel that having a child has selfish undertones. A kiddo would undoubtedly make me happy, enhance my life, teach me things, reawaken my awe, … hmmm, there’s a lot of “me” and “my” in that sentence. Hence, I experience dissonance and confusion. I know that parents are selfless, yet I feel selfish for wanting to be one and it’s something I struggle to make sense of. Balancing a logical thought like, “parents are not selfish,” with a feeling of selfishness for wanting to be one, causes me a whole lotta strife and internal conflict.
(6) FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. This goes both ways. Whether I have a kid or not, I’ll wonder what my identity would have been like. No matter what I decide, my identity will be impacted. Of course your identity changes once you become a parent, but not having one changes it in another way too. It allots you more time to devote to other things. So, I question, who would I be with a child, and who would I be without one? How would my life be different? Science is no help here if you’re looking for a happiness quotient. Studies comparing folks of various ages, with and without kids, find no real difference between those who are “happy” and not. The stats are similar between folks with and without children.
(7) Anxiety over not being able to protect the human you give life. And I don’t mean from skinned knees after a wheelie gone wrong, rejection from a crush, or a zit on picture day. Those are normal and expected and in the scheme of life, absolutely manageable. I’m talking about school shootings, cancer, nuclear bombs, terrorists, climate change, drunk drivers, freak accidents like getting paralyzed falling out of a tree house, sexual assault, being mugged and murdered by being in the “wrong place at the wrong time,” DRUGS- fear of my kiddo developing an addiction. Additionally, it’s not just about not being able to protect my kiddo, it’s about not being able to guarantee that neither me, nor my husband, will be capacitated enough to care for them. What if one of us falls ill, drops dead when our kid is a baby, or infant? The idea of knowing it is possible that I will not be able to care for my baby or child is painful to stomach. Logically, I know that there are zillions of things that we cannot control. I’m not a total control freak. I drive, work, go out and I’m not consumed by anxiety. But it’s around, leaving me to wonder, Will I be able to manage this anxiety if I have a kid, or, knowing that I am prone to worrying, do I even want to put myself through it? The reality is, there will always be something to worry about so you must ask yourself, can you let go of not being able to constantly protect a life that, once given, will be the most cherished and precious entity of your existence?
(8) Coming to terms with death. I’ve gotten into some mad deep philosophy, especially over the last 6 months, and in an attempt to basically find the meaning of my life, I’ve had to deal more intimately with my feelings of death. If I am going to create a life, give breath to a specific set of lungs, and make a heartbeat beat, I have to be somewhat okay with death. This means that I acknowledge that my husband, our would be baby and I, like all living beings, will someday die. The idea that my child’s death could precede mine is something I should consider. Ideally not obsess over it, but nonetheless have an awareness of.
(9) WHAT is the point? You know, of creating offspring, or offspringing? I know, to pass on family name, bloodline, genes, culture, heritage, or because maybe your religion practices procreation, but I’m speaking on a more micro level. For me, it has to do with experience. E-X-P-E-R-I-E-N-C-E. It all comes down to this. When I try something new that is awesome, I want to share it with the people I love, mostly my husband because we hang out all the time and I love him the most. A new food, song, music video, movie, skit, picture, story, anecdote, joke, article, interview, art, link, etc.. If it’s something he hasn’t tasted, heard, seen, tried and I have, I am eager to share it with him because I want him to have the experience. My natural inclination is to share something that made an impact (big or small) on me with someone I care about in order for them to experience a similar feeling. So, as it relates to creating a life, I ask myself, is life really that fucking fantastic that I want to bring into existence a person to experience it? I’m not saying I don’t like living. I dig it. It’s cool. I’m blessed, mostly happy and content. In other words, I’m glad to be alive. And since I am, I have obviously been born. Therefore, I lack the experience of not being born (at least on a level of consciousness I can access… tripping out here). While I don’t know what it is like to “not be born,” I’m inclined to think that it can’t be that bad. Nonexistence does not imply deprivation (in my opinion). So, I remain stumped and ask myself, Am I enraptured by life to the point that I am compelled to create another life to experience it?
(10) Time’s running out. Worrying and wondering if I should only have one child, and thinking that I need to make him or her a sibling. My sister is my best friend (and in all lifetimes after this, we will find a way to be besties- somehow). Worrying about wanting to make my would-be-but-currently-nonexistent child, a brother or sister to share life and create experiences and memories with, incites anxiety. Way to go anxiety. Showed up again. Now in my hypothetical worry-laden world, there are two tiny humans to permanently be concerned about. Numbers 1-9 above are automatically amplified. Doesn’t stop there, I worry that I’m getting more decrepit as the days go by, and thinking, “Ok, if I get pregnant when I’m age ___, then I’ll be ___ when the baby is born, and 50 when he or she is 13, 11, or 10.” Deciding whether I want to be in menopause when my kiddo(s) is a tween or teenager is something to consider. Same goes for guys. Not that you have menopause, but how old do you want to be when your kid starts dating and bringing home super hornified guys or girls for you to meet?
There you have it. My top 10 issues // reasons why deciding to have a child in the modern world is a mother fucker (my painful pun). Over the course of writing this piece, my feelings have fluctuated more times than I can track. On any given day, there is a tug-of-war between the uncertainty in my head, and the love in my heart. I pass the playground by my house and picture walking there with my family. I see a cute teen with her mom at the Post Office making jokes and laughing, and I grieve for maybe not ever knowing what that will feel like. I spend time with my mom and mom-in-law, and feel guilt because they would be amazing grandmas. Then again, when I drive past a billboard with the face of a teen killed by a drunk driver, or watch the first 10 minutes of any news program, I experience relief. Relief in knowing that I don’t have a child who will be raised in this world. Maybe my indecision (and that of my husband, who pretty much echoes my concerns) is mother nature’s way of preserving herself, and eventually I will age-out of the system and be too old to naturally conceive or adopt? Then again, maybe the world has always been messed up (because it’s so enormous and shit is bound to go wrong) and I just “have to do it” as a number of people I love and respect have advised. In the future, if I have a kiddo, I might feel like a butthole for having so much doubt now, but today is not that day. In the meantime, I guess I’ll just stick to hanging with my husband, minpins and friends, and feeling happy for the life I am lucky enough to lead. Thanks for reading this. If you’re struggling with similar issues, I hope you were able to take something valuable away from this entry. And if you’re a parent, I truly commend you for being the superhero your child and this world needs.