To breed or not to breed

baby… is a question I’ve been pondering for a while. As more and more of my friends become proud parents, and I’m inevitably asked whether I ever want kids too. I’m still undecided but currently leaning towards ‘no, thanks’.

It’s not that I don’t like kids. I think they’re great – as well as highly entertaining, (a) once they start talking and (b) before they learn what sarcasm is (they believe anything you say until that point – hours of fun…). It’s just that I think I prefer the odd few hours playing with (some would say ‘winding up’) other people’s kids than having my own. See, having my own would entail The End of Life As I Know It. I like sleep, going away for spontaneous weekends, peace and quiet… need I go on? All these are possible with feline children, but not so much with the human kind. Try leaving your children with an extra-big bowl of Iams and an indoor litter tray for 48 hours. See my point?

Friends (with kids, obviously) give me knowing looks and tell me that I’ll feel differently when I meet my Mr Right. That all I’ll want to do is have his babies. Hmm. I’ll never say ‘never’ but right now the thought of spending several child-free decades with my soul mate doing grown up stuff like travelling and eating in nice restaurants really appeals. And spending time with each other. Hell, it’s taking me long enough to find this guy – I’d really like to spend some quality time with him. Just US.

The Big Question I’ve been trying to answer is ‘Are there any unselfish reasons why people actually have kids?’ People tell me they have them because they really wanted them (selfish – it’s THEIR want); they want a family (ditto); they want to give their offspring education and opportunities (well why not adopt and make a massive difference to a child who exists already?), etc., etc.

So far the only unselfish reason I’ve heard is that one of my friends (who is extremely intelligent, as is her husband) feels that with their combined DNA, their child might just be the one who finds a cure for AIDS or manages to broker world peace. She didn’t actually say it in those words, but that’s the gist. For her it’s about creating a person who might just change the world – and giving her children an education and upbringing (and sense of responsibility) to guide them towards that.

I think she has a point. But I’m still not 100% convinced that having children is not a selfish desire. Ironically, a friend of mine who has been married for over a decade and who is still child-free (by choice, not that it’s anyone’s business – although apparently a lot of people she meets try to make it so) is frequently told by anyone from family to near-strangers that she’s selfish not to have kids. What?!

Anyway, I’m going to be around kids a lot over the Christmas season – one special one in particular. My 9-month old nephew is arriving from abroad with my brother and sister-in-law tomorrow and I can’t wait to meet him for the first time. They’ll be staying with me so I can’t quite wind-him-up-give-him-back-and-then-leave, so it should be interesting!