To Father or not to Father
So, it happened again. I’m not as upset or shocked this time. I mean, it’s not like it is the first time it has happened; although it has been a few years since the subject was last broached. And while my answer always remains the same, my natural curiosity has me thinking that maybe my answer should change. I can’t help but get carried away with thoughts — as a writer or as a human (sometimes the two do not overlap at all) — and I find myself needing to vomit excessively over the page.
An ex contacted me the other day. Again. She has off and on for the last 9 years. We stopped dating 10 years ago. Okay, it was serious then. Very serious. But it didn’t work out. Life has a tendency to not always be sunshine and rainbows. Sometimes cute little kittens grow up into really antisocial and psychotic cats. And sometimes you realize that you’re heading down a disaster-filled slope where hatred and regret are waiting to greet you with open arms and a cold beer. And possibly porn because, hey, you need to look at boobs to make you feel better about yourself.
The long and the short of it, so I don’t ramble forever, is that she would like me to provide her with the certain material that a man can provide so she can have a baby. I have another friend who has asked as well. The second friend says “we can actually f*ck like bunnies though, so it isn’t weird”. Yet somehow, it still is.
I’ve never wanted to be a father. Children did not feature highly on my list of things I wanted from this life. Some people have called me selfish for that. Some have understood and agreed with my stance. Others just wonder why on Earth I wouldn’t want to have kids.
Deep down I’ve always feared I would make a terrible father. Truly. As far back as I can remember, even as a teenager, the thought of becoming a father terrified me. As a teen I was socially awkward (more so than all teens), had the attention span of a dying guppy, and if I did anything for too long I would get so bored I would consider any number of felonies to make up for the boredom. How no felonies were committed is probably a minor miracle, if you believe in such things. I just think it was because I lacked any kind of drive to start something new or challenge myself.
So this fear has been bouncing around the world with me for going on 30 years. I have spoken to “professionals” about it. I have tried to convince myself it is irrational or just the mindless remnants of a shy and teased teenager. None of that works. And I live with it. And most days I smile too.
Nowadays though, the fear also has a friend. Fear is not alone in my no kids for me mantra. On most days, I will come home from work determined to hit the treadmill, go for a walk, anything to get the blood circulating and lungs working. Those plans usually fail as soon as I sit down. Once my butt hits the sofa, and I’m greeted by my cats, I stay there. My energy levels are not what they used to be. And yeah, I know it’s a double-edged sword. My energy levels would be much higher if I was getting regular exercise. But I’m finding it so hard to start at the moment. Even in the peak of my fitness, all through my twenties and mid-thirties, when you could wash your clothes on my stomach, I found it difficult to take those first steps on every run I would do. And I ran 5 days a week (and played soccer 3 times). Now, that first step would kill me. While I look like I’m in shape (I have a mega-fast metabolism it seems), I know I’m not. I haven’t been for a run in months. But that’s probably a story for another blog.
If I were to become a father, I would want to be a hands-on one. I wouldn’t want to be one of those ones on the periphery of everything and only got up to do stuff when mum was really preoccupied. My lack of energy these days leads me to believe it would be an epic struggle for me. I don’t know if I could cope. And I don’t want to cope. I want to succeed. When someone else’s future is in the balance, coping just doesn’t cut it.
So the offer arrived again. Neither of the two girls has stated they want me to be around when the baby arrives. In fact one of them says she’d prefer to be a single mother. I’m sure there’s a guy out there somewhere that would jump at that chance — the chance to father a child and not have any responsibility for it at all?? Wouldn’t that put half the talk shows around the planet out of business? She even said the child could have my family name. I’m the last line to my family name. When I go, it goes. I must interject here and say I have never had any pressure from my family to ensure it doesn’t die with me. You know, so that’s good. Like others they don’t understand where this fear has come from. Like others, they trot out the line that “no one knows if they’ll be a good parent until they become one”. I get that argument; but it still falls on my fear-blocked ears.
As much as the possibility of seeing the family name continue would excite some people, my answer never changes. I do think about changing it a bit more often than I ever have done. I don’t think I’ll be a good father. Having a child I’d have nothing to do with would certainly ensure that. Not even I would be that stupid and selfish (and trust me, I OWN stupid).