Here’s the thing: my wife and I have been married for five years…
…and we don’t have children.
We are very happily married. I love her to no end. We were two of the very first among our friends to get hitched. But now, even though birth rates apparently continue to drop, we find ourselves in an ever-shrinking club of childless friends. The vast majority of our friends now have their own poopy progeny.
The blog world is no different. While there are some notable bloggers who remain childless, the vast majority of you are mommy-bloggers and daddy-bloggers. And while I offer no judgement on you for using your offspring as blog fodder, no one really talks about what it is like to remain without wee ones in the house.
But I have discovered a few very important things about being married, without kids.
The Perfect Conversation Killer
Meeting new people is relatively easy. There are a few basic questions you can ask everyone. You can ask them about their job, their home town, and their family.
If you get people going on a roll, they’ll talk to you about their work or where they are from. But most people need virtually no interest from the other person to prattle on about their adorable little ankle-biters. Parents are proud. No one answers the question, “Do you have a family?” by saying, “Yeah, but my kid kind of sucks at everything. Let’s talk about hockey.”
I am more than happy to hear people tell me about their precious little rugrats. But then they ask if I have children. And I have to say, “No…”
“…but I have two dogs.”
Saying “no” is a real conversation killer.
It’s not like I’d have kids just to be a better conversationalist. Just like I’m sure you didn’t have kids just to write amusing blogs or make them bite each others’ fingers to achieve YouTube stardom. But it always stalls the conversation when I have to admit that I have not yet impregnated my wife, resulting in a screaming, bloody miracle careening out of her body nine months later. Not having something in common creates division between acquaintances. Not having something as huge as a family is like a language barrier.
I’m No Expert
I work with kids. Lots of kids. I have worked with hundreds of kids over ten years.
I read books about child psychology. I purchased copies of a particular book for all the new parents we know because it was so good, I just couldn’t keep it to myself.
But that doesn’t matter to most people who actually have a couple of little bambinos.
I admit I’m no expert at changing diapers. I have never awakened at two in the morning to feed a child.
But I have also invoked the wrath of many parents when I have presumed to know something about kids on this blog. Apparently, my experience of being a kid and observing my own parents and working with kids doesn’t count.
We’re in love with the idea that “you can’t know unless you’ve been there.”
So I guess I don’t know anything about kids.
No Child, No Purpose
But more than being a conversation killer or a ding on my knowledge of children, I sense, ever so subtly, that some people feel sorry for us and our “big,” “empty,” three bedroom split level house.
It does sound kind of pathetic when people talk about their little cherubs, and the only thing we have to talk about are our dogs. Some people try to say something like, “Well, they are your kids.” No they aren’t. If I treated my kids like I treat my dogs, I would have child services on my case in two seconds. (Making kids poop in the yard and eat off the floor is a no-no, from my, apparently, very limited comprehension of children.) But I understand what they’re trying to do. They’re trying to make me feel better about what they imagine is my sad, empty life, and also mask their discomfort.
It seems so foreign to us that ancient women who went childless were considered “cursed.” But in some tiny way, I get the sense that the same attitude exists today. I’m not quite an adult in the eyes of some because I don’t have any little sprouts of my own. I haven’t accomplished the “most important” part of life by doing my part to continue the human race…as if the human race needs any help.
Maybe I’m being unpatriotic by not manufacturing new Americans.
Maybe I’m a bad Christian for not expanding the Kingdom of God.
Today’s question is easy. Tell me about your kids! Or the kids you don’t have. Are kids our ultimate purpose, fulfillment, and conversation piece?