While I was having dinner with Jen and Eddie last Thursday, my friend Wyatt gave me a ring and asked me to call him back right away. It sounded urgent and any number of awful scenarios sprang to my mind, in large part because it seems so many people in my peer group have become afflicted with out of the ordinary traumas and ailments. But it turns out Wyatt, my former co-worker from 2005-2007, had some good news to report: he and his new bride Monica, married last August, are expecting.
Once I recovered from the immense dread that weighed in my chest as I dialed the phone, I experienced a strange brew of joy and shock. I guess I shouldn’t have been so surprised as the 37 year-old Wyatt, who declared he’d never remarry when I met him, had obviously waived away that vow. So naturally, I should have seen the claim that he’d never procreate was also in jeopardy. I found my equilibrium and gave he and the Mrs. my most genuine congrats.
But here is the problem this creates for me: for each friend of mine, no matter how wild a partier in their former lives, who takes a step toward parenthood, my own excuses for abstaining, presented to my in-laws in a weekly web chat, become more and more flimsy. First I was just too young, then I was too newlywed, Eddie was traveling, I was attempting to get this writing career off the ground (still true), we were moving, etc. As I sit here rounding the corner toward 32, husband firmly on the ground and home each night, about to move into a fabulous condo, even I can see that the sands in the in-law filibustering hourglass have nearly run out.
So what’s next? It seems, gulp, honesty. The truth: I do not want kids and probably never will. Eddie almost entirely echoes my sentiments (though the vain part of him is curious about a mini-Bon Jovi or Bon Joviette). But we have talked endlessly and we just don’t, for a variety of reasons, think childrearing is for us.
However, we have not been brave enough yet to say this out loud, definitely, to stand down the intimidating force of the Indian parental unit. Call it a cultural difference if you want, although Eddie is not subject, but native Indian parents just do not see the point of getting married without the “blessing” of children. They feel that life (naturally, mostly for the wife) can never be complete without procreation.
Once we gather up the sack to make clear that the likelihood of Boop Jr. is minimal, I expect horror, tears, pleas, anger, not the least because Eddie is my in-laws only viable option in terms of grandchildren. Eddie has an older brother, Sonu, who has been bedridden since the age of two (a sad story for another time). I have complete sympthy for my in-laws desire to move forward with the future generation after a lifetime of taking care of their own sick child. I just can’t share their desire, and in the end, it isn’t right to bring a baby into the world to make someone else happy.
I really have no ending argument for this post. I am simply sharing my fears of a confrontation that is soon to come, one in which I must hold my ground. In the past, I have been known to buckle and take certain steps in my endless quest for others approval, but I know instinctively, this is not a time for ingratiating myself at the sake of my own vision.