Saturday, October 3, 2009

Guest Post - On Being Selfless and Selfish

Leo has this habit of confounding me. The seemingly simple things she and Richard tell me, often cause me to pause and think about stuff I otherwise would not. And here she is, asking me to contribute a piece, and prompting me so effectively I’ve been thinking about the topic thoughout the day and even enjoying a good sob (which I’ll elaborate later). Pardon my prose, i’ve written and edited one too many audit reports and I suspect they have a way of making me sound clinical.

I was thoroughly enjoying catching up on Leo’s blog when she asked if i wanted to write about why i did not want children. That’s Leo for you. Always multi-faceted. Many shades of grey. Very nuanced. I think most new mothers prefer to keep their baby blogs chock-full of saccharine shots of the precious one rather than consider why some lunatic prefer to go barren.

Most of my closest friends have become parents, except the unmarried and gay ones. Even the gay ones will eventually want to adopt. Each time a friend tells me the earth shaking news, I am thrilled for her. But i also feel a little abandoned. Selfish i know but hey i enjoy their company and these little ones demand so much attention, not to mention sap the energy of their parents. From experience, these parent-friends start to cocoon themselves away from the rest of the world, emerging only when the little one is more manageable (for want of a better word). And then perhaps I get some attention.

So it was tougher with Leo, because i feel very nurtured with her and Richard. I feel very pampered too. They introduced me to some of the most unforgettable films and books, and broadened my horizon in the process. But let me state for the record how very happy i was for her and Richard when i first heard the news several years back. And i was devastated when Leo miscarried. I wanted to hop on the first flight to Singapore to double-boil soups for her (i was kinda worried coz Chinese herbs and soup making were not one of Richard’s many talents). And I recall telling Leo i’d bring her a bottle of Dom Perignon *cringe* of course i meant Dom Benedectin. I was somewhat consoled when Leo sent an SMS to correct me and i had the first hint that her pain would heal.

So Ryan has arrived. And yet i don’t feel quite so abandoned. I’ve been asked to contribute a piece remember. And thank heavens, the calm and laid back character of Leo and Richard make them pretty relaxed parents who don’t fuss. And so more than ever, i enjoy their company and just feel happy watching them find their footing as parents.

I’ve digressed plenty. So why don’t i want to have children? Let’s begin with the low hanging fruits. I am quite simply selfish. I want to spend all my time and money on ME. If you have a child (i dislike children being described as kids, i remember my pastor saying years ago that children are not baby goats), you need to spend time with them else why bother popping them into the world. My gawd, children need so much attention and time. Play time, development time, bath time, study time, exercise time. And you also need time to clean and tidy after them. Where will i find the time to do the things i enjoy? I shuddered when Cat told me she had not slept more than 4 hours in a very long time when she first had her children. True enough, her children (the eldest whom i am very fond of) would knock on my bedroom door before 8am when they stay over! And i never waste the chance to remind my husband what i am sparing him by not having children of our own. Parents all tell me it’s ‘worth’ it and that they love devoting their time with their children, i’m sure but i’m not convinced.

We humans have sucked big time in slowly destroying earth. World leaders are now taking global warming seriously but still bickering and lobbying on their emission rights in the interest of economic development and prosperity. so our earth is pretty bruised and battered. Apart from considering what kind of world we bring children into, i honestly think the world population should shrink. I’ve recently learnt that a greying population isn’t such a great thing because of the pension and welfare benefit cycle. Still, just merely being alive we are polluting. From cradle to the grave, diapers to coffins, we consume and we pollute. A lot of parents i know aren’t even doing their bit in being more environmentally friendly. And they are the ones bequeathing the world to their offspring. Start by saying no to plastic bags and start recycling will ya?

And here’s the big beast of why i don’t want children. My sister and i have the most loving parents. We were so blessed to grow up in an environment where we were loved. By no means were they perfect, i think not many parents wrote school absenteeism letters coz their children tagged along for poker sessions which lasted all weekend, and which often encroached into the first working day of the week. But heck it was fun and i don’t think my sister and i turned out all the worse. Like most parents, ours were utterly selfless.

My sister and i are the centre of their world. I think this selflessness fed into my wanting to be selfish. Because i do not want to ache with the love for my child. And because i fear retribution. I do not want my children to treat me like those times when i failed my parents, when i was harsh, impatient and well, selfish.

There have been times when i realised the tone i used with my boss was far more respectful and reverential than that i used when talking to my parents. I dared snapped at them but heck certainly not at my boss. So, good sob explained. It’s shameful. Well, i wasn’t totally useless. Whilst just graduating was probably gift enough for my parents, i was so glad i took my parents abroad. My Pa had never travelled overseas and that was the only long-distance flight he took.

People say you appreciate your parents more when you become one yourself. I don’t think i need to be one to know just how confounding it is that one chooses to be a parent. To subordinate your life for another. Of course there are people who want to be parents for selfish reasons, for someone to take care of them in their old age. But that’s probably another topic for another day.

This has turned out to be quite a long ramble. I hope Leona doesn’t regret asking me to write. And to end on a positive note, absolutely heartfelt one though, i think Leona and Richard will make amazing parents. The tricky bit will be to bring Ryan up such that raising his voice at his parents will be unthinkable to him :)


Pinkie Pirate said...

Hey thanks again for this, heartfelt honesty. You're welcome to post on this blog anytime, my dear friend.

Creative Beast said...

i'm participating in Tinniegirl's Blogtoberfest and thought i'd pop by for quick peek...

Pinkie Pirate, thank you SO MUCH for allowing your friend to guest post on your site and speak about why she doesn't want children. i made a choice to be childless for many of the same reasons and it's heartening to know that i'm not alone in wanting to have my time and money for me.

i've also come to believe that it's good for children to have people in their lives who can objectively see them for the individuals they are and are becoming - many times children are seen in the context of the family unit which is a part of what they are and will become in the future as they grow and take flight into the world...but sometimes familiy members get stuck seeing each other in the "family role" they wind up with over the years and can't see beyond that role

sorry for being long-winded but thanks again for allowing your friend to express her view on being childless.

Pinkie Pirate said...

Creative Beast, thanks for visiting, I have popped into your blog before - enjoyed it!

Yes, absolutely agree with you that, while nobody is an island, everyone needs to be able to know who they are without having to reference themselves to someone else. It's not easy sometimes, and ironically the inability to distinguish ourselves from our family and relatives is often the source of many family problems. Well observed.

florinda said...

absolutely loved this post!

i believed there are times in any parents' mind
that what if we should be selfish or be selfless. There is this thin line to decide... then there is a of course the decision to wanting or not to be in that position of a parent.

great insights!

I was shocked to see such a long post from ur blog pinkie... lol it was fantastic for ur friend to contribute this piece.

thank you pinkie's friend... i enjoyed it.. do guest star more often.. *smiles*

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