the kid question...
we're just as surprised as you are. It's always such an interesting conversation, this one. It comes up from time to time when we meet people, when talking with friends and even just between us. Of course it does...it's one of the most profound, important and life changing decisions that one can make in their lifetime. In many cases it's the first question strangers ask us after hearing about our lifestyle. The questions always come almost verbatim. "what about kids?" "don't you want them?" "don't you need to hurry?"
Jen and I always thought we would have kids. It was a given. We love kids, we love the idea of raising them. We think sometimes, maybe, we might actually even be good at it. Our entire lives together when people asked us about kids our response was always "of course we are". But for some reason, when asked about timeline the answer was always "ask us again in 3 to 5 years".
The timeline never seemed to change and when we left our jobs, moved into a van and drove away we kind of thought the timeline was beginning to force our hand a bit. We needed to go get "this thing" out of our system so that we were still young enough to return, safely have kids and ensure both we and they were healthy. The "clock" still wasn't going off for either of us, but "the age" was approaching and it was there in the back of our minds.
When we returned to portland, and later when we decided to stay we even discussed how likely it was that we would fall in line with those around us, which likely meant getting jobs again, settling down and yes...having kids in short order. After all, the reason we returned in the first place was that we missed our friends and family. Despite the fun we were having on the road, the straw that broke the camel's back was meeting our young nephew for the first time from afar via skype. That call and seeing that adorable boy immediately broke us into tears and it changed the direction of our trip. We still kept driving south for another month or two but as i go back and reread the posts from that period of time it's clear that our hearts had shifted. We longed more for home, we fought it tooth and nail...but we eventually gave in to the call of family and bought flights home in short order.
We fully anticipated that our "3 to 5 years" may have finally begun to shorten. And as we suspected, we loved being at home around those loved ones. We love living with kids and watching them grow. We love them as though they are our own and would do absolutely anything for them. Even now as i type we are staying with friends and one of the best parts of our day will be when the kids (our self proclaimed niece and nephew will come running over and curl up in bed with us to start both our days). We love these days living with them and taking part in whatever small way in raising them and they in turn light us up. But upon our return the oddest thing also happened.
Each day we expected all of our friends to push us towards having kids. We expected the world to nudge us closer and closer to making that decision. We thought the alarm would start rattling on the bedstand... but instead, everything, literally everything told us not to.
Almost every mother and father we talked to told us how much they loved their children, how magical the experience is and how they would do anything for them...but how emphatically we should not have them. Everyone we thought would try to convince us to join them in parenthood told us to run like hell the other way. Many, word for word.
Every opportunity for the universe to nudge us towards having kids, it screamed for us to run away. It chased us away from the house and stayed on our tail until we were down the street and around the block. The universe spoke to us in perfect clarity and the message was clear.
We also continued to meet new friends without children and could have conversations about the pros/cons of both paths. At least in our generation there has always been this push from society that kids (no not kid, but kids...everyone knows you're not allowed to have just one) are simply what you "do" next. We have labels for those who have jobs but not kids. It has been for as long as i can remember...just what you do. It's only a matter of when, which is why we started telling people 3-5 years in the first place. It put people at ease. It took the pressure off us and meant we didn't have to answer any more questions right now. It meant less judgemental looks from whoever was asking.
We have talked about this often our entire lives together... and the conversation continues to this day. Our love for children hasn't changed and we are as shocked as ever...but we no longer feel the stress or anxiety around timeline. What we know very clearly is that we love the path our lives are on right now and we wouldn't change a thing. And the path we're on, quite honestly is very, very far from the path of having kids. Don't get me wrong...i'm aware that people have children every day despite having no income, despite the fact that they live in a vehicle or are mostly if not entirely homeless. They have kids despite not having a plan or a lifestyle that fits what follows...but we will not. For me and whatever small remnant is left of my very conservative very safe upbringing, I wouldn't have the strength to have a child without far more of a foundation. For me, having and raising a child is probably the one remaining thing that makes security and normalcy sound like a good idea.
For us, we are aware that we are now running at a steady pace in the opposite direction. We are also extremely comfortable with the fact that we may change our minds in the future. We are possibly the worst planners on the planet, so if it's impossible for us to know what we'll be doing next year it's impossible to say this couldn't change in the future as well...but what we aren't willing to do (or see a need to do) is to have a child just because we are reaching a certain age. Does the idea of holding a tiny baby in our arms that is a combination of the two of us and that we created together sound amazing? Of course it does. But we also know that that single moment comes with decades of work that we aren't (at least yet) prepared for. We also know that there are far too many children on the planet who need a loving home (probably the closest we ever came to pulling the trigger in terms of child rearing was while working at an orphanage in mexico). While the thought of holding "our" baby is magical, we aren't disillusioned into believing that we couldn't unconditionally accept and love another child in exactly the same way whether we gave birth to it or not.
A couple of our dearest friends just had their first child this month. He is...perfect. Adorable, and magical and he melts our hearts each time we hold him and look into his eyes. He is without question the reason I'm writing this blog, and the reason that these conversations have resurfaced more frequently lately. But oddly, his coming into our lives seems to once again not tell us to change course but still furthers the trajectory we're on. Gives us yet another small adorable face to cuddle and watch grow and get to know as a person and smother with our love through all of it, and... to hand right back to mom and dad after.
We loved him before we knew him and he reminds us how much we love kids. But...at least for now we choose not to have them and will answer the same as we always have. "Ask us again in 3-5 years".