16 Jan 2018
“Would you like a second child?” People have been asking me this intensely since the day I placed out of the birthing wing of the Chelsea Westminster hospital. People are f-cking obsessed with women having children, women themselves are obsessed with having children, it seems like every single person around you insists you have more children. Truly, I would love to give this impression of mine the benefit of the doubt and ask if it’s no more than just that – an impression – but no, this time I am certain I am not simply “hearing things”. People want other people, and me specifically, to procreate. And when I say wither a firm no or that adoption is my only preference they flat-out refuse that either one is the right option.
So much to unpack here, I will never tackle this in one post, I don’t think.
I am going to have to start by admitting that babies leave my emotions untouched. A mere existence of a baby in the room is not going to make me want to turn my head in their direction and smile the obligatory smile. This is not my baby, I have never before and will never again see this baby, please don’t impose on me how cute this baby is because even if it’s the case I do not care. And I shouldn’t be expected to care. A random chubby toddler making unsure steps while learning to walk? Pass. A little girl in a fancy dress and a bow in her curly hair? Next. Photo albums of a friend’s kids? Jesus. No. A whatsapp photo of someone’s baby’s first tooth? Delete. Which I am sure by now begs the question: did I even enjoy having a baby when Sofia was born? I don’t know if this takes some kind of bravery or I will forever be judged or come across as the biggest asshole ever born but the answer is no.
Not the “no” where I would find no joy in taking care of a human being, that part I actually really loved, but the “no” where I will tell you with absolute certainty that I will never want to do it again and I miss nothing from that confusing, turbulent, physically draining part of my life. Except the baby smell – I miss the baby smell. I struggled with everything: breastfeeding (you have not lived until you’ve had your nipples bleed out), depression (a conversation for many more future posts), sleep deprivation (a given), suicidal thoughts as a result of all of the above. There is zero chance I would be ok with willingly welcoming any of that back in my life. Some might say that the fact that you end up with an actual baby is “worth it”, I will go on and argue that, for me, it is not. Next.
The truth that we already all seem to know, at least on paper, is that everyone is different. I have met a woman who has four children and, I kid you not, she would bring the three older ones to school while the fourth would make the school-run in his buggy, two days after he was born. That is organisational skills of another level. I know a woman who insisted on having a second child because surely “one can’t be enough, you must have more than one” and I haven’t seen her in almost a year, though we used to be friends, because she hasn’t been able to find time to leave home. Is there a parental term for loving your children but hating your life? Should it be invented?
While we are on the children subject, can I please be allowed to play the game of Captain Obvious and state that having a child is EXPENSIVE. Even if you don’t count the private education (I do believe that state education in both London or Moscow are, if not ideal, then close to it), there is always, every single day, expenditure you don’t want to make but it’s not a choice. So yes, even if I felt a sense of belonging to the throngs of baby-induced melting hearts, I wouldn’t be able to afford another one, not with all this whining I do on the reg about being a jobless tortured blogger.