I’m at that age when many of my friends are either talking about having kids or they already have a couple of wee ones in their designer strollers. Before reaching my mid-thirties, I even knew a few folks who started early (one friend my age has a daughter in college!).
By most accounts they all seem to be happy parents who like to share their photos of the kids on Facebook almost as much as I post about my dog or the new restaurant that opened down the street. But as my own biological clock ticks and tocks, I’ve come to a conclusion that doesn’t always make the rest of the world quite so happy: I just don’t want to become a parent.
As more women opt to work outside the home (or in my case, in the home doing outside work – confusing, I know), this shouldn’t be such a surprising statement. Plenty of people wait longer to have kids if they ever decide to have them at all.
For a long time, being surrounded by gay people usually guaranteed that this conversation never came up. Picture it: a table at happy hour outside of Knock. The drinks are flowing and no one – no one – mentions anything that might not require at least a PG-13 rating.
But things are changing. And they’re changing fast.
Now, even some of my gay and lesbian friends are being bitten by the parenting bug. I don’t mean to make it sound as bad as Lyme disease, but it’s all happening at a rate that’s making my head spin.
The same people who once regaled us with tales of nude beaches are looking for a surrogate or (faster still) picking out onesies for the kid. Have you seen the window at Open House lately? And where once there was a strip club on 13th and Locust – there’s a child’s fun center. And more than ever, brunch – that favorite, and dare I say gayest meal of the week, when drinking before noon isn’t just accepted but expected – has turned into a veritable Romper Room.
Don’t get me wrong – I couldn’t be happier for the parents I know with kids. I’m especially proud of gay and lesbian parents who have the opportunity to become moms and dads, too. But that’s not stopping this childless chick from occasionally receiving the side eye for (gasp) not wanting to become the next Angelina Jolie.
I see the same raised eyebrows whenever someone finds out that I don’t own a home. While I never personally thought renting was a strange phenomenon in a big city bursting with rental properties (was I the only one who grew up watching those Neil Simon movies where everyone in the city pretty much rented in high rises?), for some reason 37-year-olds like myself are now somehow expected to buy a house (in South Philly or some other far-reaching ‘hood) as they are to (gulp) have babies.
When did this happen? I’m not stunted, I swear. I’m not just interested in becoming a parent or owning a home.
And while the homeowners, like the parents, I know seem to be very happy with their nests, they are the same people who – shouldered with responsibility and saving for that new kitchen – are the last ones to tag along on a long weekend in Fire Island or Rehoboth. And I get it. But I just wish they would get me.
I wish they would get me when I don’t always coo over their child. Or attend a birthday party for someone in the single digits. Or understand why they insist on saying Suzie is 18 months old when we all know that means she’s almost two (by this logic, I just celebrated my 444th month – hooray for me!). And don’t be surprised if my reaction is blank when you tell me that Johnny was 11.5 inches when he was born. It would make much more sense if we noted the size relative to, say, a Lorenzo’s Pizza or line to get in Voyeur on Friday night.
The thing is, I was never great with kids. I never babysat. I can be clumsy and these short people never seem to get my jokes.
Truth be told, I’m more of a dog person anyway. If you have a dog and a kid? I think you already know who gets my undivided attention. And though I would never admit it to a parent with a human kid, I like to think in my own way, I’m a mom, too. But my “baby” has four legs and a tail – and I’m not saving for her college education.
So what’s the big deal if some of us don’t swell with pride at the notion of having kids of our own? There are plenty of great parents – including many more gay and lesbian moms and dads – who are doing humanity right by raising the next generation of smart, thoughtful (and fashionable – these kids sure know how to dress!) people – you know, the ones who would never bully a grandmother on a school bus.
But does that mean I want one of my own? Sorry, I’m too busy visiting the dog park.