By Arlene Istar Lev
Those of you with small children will recognize the title of this column from the movie Aladdin, which my older son watched 500 times in the first few years of his life. My young guy was more into Shrek, which speaks a bit to their personalities. I’m not sure, though, if was because those movies reflected their emerging identities, or because they helped to form them.
I was talking to someone the other day, someone who doesn’t have children, and while she was sharing her niece’s antics, and I was identifying, she said, four times, quite loudly, “And why do people have children?” There was a lot of laughter while we were talking and she kept repeated it, perhaps thinking I hadn’t heard her, but in truth I was just ignoring her.
The bottom line is there is no reason that people have children. Reason is simply not what is engaged when one is thinking about or planning to have children. I do know that for those of who want children it often borders on an obsessive insanity. One look at the money being poured into infertility treatments and surrogacy arrangements, in and outside of the LGBT community, clearly suggests a level of massive insanity – especially given the intense overpopulation of the planet and our diminishing resources.
Despite the billions of people inhabiting the planet, and the wilderness disappearing to make way for suburban housing tracts, the baby boom continues unabated. People want children, keep having children, rearing children, and Disney keeps making movies to keep said children occupied. Even in the LGBT community, it sometimes appears that the queer breeders are winning although I’m sure it’s been such long time since they’ve had time to read a paper they might not know a race was happening.
As I have talked about over the last few months (yes, Mary, you actually need to read each installment), rearing children is not as easy in real life as some might imagine. In all fairness, I have known a few people who seem to find parenting very easy. To be honest they make me very nervous. Certainly some children are easier than others, and I know that for a fact because I have one of each. I think almost anyone with two children has one of each. I suppose statistically parents of one child have a 50/50 chance of getting one of the easy ones; indeed, most parents who say “parenting is easy,” have precisely one child. The rest of them, well, let’s be honest, are rich.
I don’t know a lot of wealthy people but I do know one family that has four children, all under 4, and two are from the same litter. These are babies born from surrogacy arrangements (read $75,000 a pregnancy, I think the twin is a freebie but I’m not sure). Each child has their own nanny. And then there is a night nanny too. I don’t begrudge these men their babies, or their nannies. They are wonderful men, kind, generous, and supporting half of the important initiatives in the queer community. They are lovely dads. But when they say they find parenting easy, well, what can I say? They have nannies, and housekeepers, gardeners, and cooks. They wake up to a clean house, and someone else wakes up to their screaming babies in the middle of the night. And if they do want to be a night holding their babies, well, I guess they can just go into work late, since they own the damn company.
If I could afford to pay people to take care of some of my needs – a housekeeper and accountant would be nice – I’d have about 10 free hours a week. Throw in somebody to drive the kids to school, do my shopping, and make sure the car has new tires, I’d be all set. Yeah, it’s true, there is my butch, but you know (and I know you know) that don’t come free!
My intention is not to discourage anyone from having children (as if you’d listen). I just want to tell the truth from the trenches: although they are very sweet when they are sleeping, they spend most of their time awake. They are very loud (written to the sound on fingers pounding on a keyboard) and are severely hygiene impaired. They grow up quickly and don’t look back much (except to complain in therapy when they are old enough to afford it – trust me on this).
Yet, somehow when a friend calls to say they have a new baby, all I want to do is run to their house and smell the new warm fuzzy creature. In those tiny feet and eyes searching for care and comfort a whole new world is born. Welcome to baby Isaac, your mommies have waited a long, long time for you to come home.