This new being, this tired old sack filled with chocolate, caffeine and milk..what is it doing, how does it survive? I'm sure you've heard of zombies. Not only are they seen on the Walking Dead, they roam amongst us, covered in spit-up, hiding their rotten flesh underneath bad hair, dandruff and splintered nail polish. What do they do, how do they survive? Let me tell you a little secret. They feed on the smiles of little humans! Disgusting, right! Let me tell you, how annoyed I am with myself for a moment here. Is this baby thing the only thing I can talk about anymore? Are there no other things in my life? Games, movies, books? Meh, pfeh! Apparently not. I am now officially one of those people. I am having a blast so long as I can keep my eyes open. Until comatose sleep grabs my ankles and pulls me into the dark. Oh that boy! That precious little bag of soul candy! He ate my brain after all - little zombie that he is!
I can't say that I ever officially decided to have children - I as in my conscious decision-making self making a choice. I was quite unsure until my thirties if it would be a good idea for me at all. I presume what happened after the glorious age of 30 was that my primate brain did something to me. The cliché of the loud ticking noise, I suddenly began to hear it. First unobtrusively, then, all the time. The tinnitus I got from this must have smashed the insubordinate parts of my brain, the ones that used to yawn whenever I got the feeling I had to do something or to be a part of something, to fit some kind of stereotype. I never exactly knew how to behave around children. I was not relaxed being around them, still am not, at times. Yet it happened one day, when I saw a mother lovingly with her child in her arms, that I noticeably gasped for air. It felt liked suffocation. I wouldn't define the feeling as wanting something. I realized I didn't as much want one, as I needed a child. For my sanity. For my primate brain. This post is not a guide. This is about how I tried to remain sane during the long years of not having one, but needing a child, and badly so. In hindsight, I merely partially succeeded.
Let me think. No. Let's say you've already found out you want a child and you're working hard towards that goal. You've tried for a while and it didn't work out. Or maybe it worked, but then it didn't. What do you do to pass the time until it does? I've had three strikes in five years. Unfortunately none of them made it through the first trimester. Starting fresh after a miscarriage was hard each time. You're losing confidence in your body. You're getting super obsessive about every little circumstance that may or may not be responsible for you not getting pregnant. First of all, you have to accept, that certain things are simply out of your hands. Think positive if you can muster up the strength, but if you can't, don't feel bad for being angry. It is frustrating. It makes you crazy. Babies is probably all you can think about. If all you can think about is what you can't have, that is one very sad mental spiral to be in. It may seem as far out of reach to you as sitting on a rusty bike and dreaming about a Porsche. And then again, it may just be around the corner. Your body is torturous. Biology is a bitch. You know.
Be kind to yourself. You're of worth, you are or were at some point someone's child. What you do and how you feel is important. Find an outlet for your frustration. Do things you want to do, things you know you couldn't do with a child. Travel the world, take that crazy job offer in Helsinki. We're all just finding ways to pass the time. Having a child means passing over time to someone else entirely. You will stay the center of your own life if you don't have a child. There's an upside to that way of existing. People say that having children is the most important thing in life. I know it has changed a whole lot for me, and opened my eyes to another perspective entirely. I have never felt such love for anyone or anything in the world. It's unbearable at times. But in a larger sense, it's not that important for the world if I do or do not have children, at least not as much as it is for myself. I find that caring for someone, for a partner or a pet can do that also. My cats were my babies long before I knew my son. It doesn't matter that they never needed me as much as he does at the moment. Cats are self-sufficient beings. My son will be self-sufficient as well at some point. The transition will be painful, but I care for them either way. Cleaning the cat toilet or cleaning a diaper. One's a little less messy than the other, but in the end, it's all coming out of the same area. Poop, everywhere! Doesn't matter whose. It's all love. Good old sappy love.
It's an oddity, this growing-old thing. When I was younger, the possibility of some day being old rarely ever crossed my mind. Old and dead were interchangeable expressions. Then, as I was steering towards half-old (or middle-aged), having outgrown the cub stage, I felt somewhat lucky to be able to look down upon the children running around me. I had hated the time, not long ago, being one of them myself. I couldn't wait to be middle-aged. Hah. And now, as I have been in the oven for a little longer than "al dente", I wonder where the off button is. I'm not as much growing older, as I'm rotting away. Brain cells lose their sizzle, memories begin to blur. Things that used to tickle my insides only touch me so-so. No energy for discourse, no time to be well-informed about pretty much anything that goes on in the world around me. And us oldies supposedly are the ones in charge, the generation laying the ground work for the next one to come. Shouldn't we better abdicate and relinquish the throne to childless people? I mean, apparently we have no time to be in charge of anything but ourselves. And it's a beautiful sentiment, and a magical time in my life: the time when my brain is on vacation. The time to be content, and mild and happy is clearly not the time to start an intellectual career!
Sad to say, "no time for other things but diapers" simply means we just can't care. It's a thing parents use to say while they're looking down their nose upon the striplings dancing around them with their underwear wrapped around their heads. What they mean to say is they simply have no brain parts to spare at the moment. Imagine two glass jars, one of them is on the floor, broken, with the content spilled all over the floor, while the other one is standing dangerously close to the edge of the table. The one standing at the edge represents politics, external interest, the outside world. The kid is a spilled jar. And if we don't do something immediately, the spill gets worse. It's mere damage control. There is nothing we can do about these priorities, except accept the task for the time being. Is my kid's health more important than equality, religion or whatever topic the world mulls over these days? Probably not. But it's the one that keeps me up at night. And tires me all day. So it's the one closest to my own life and in need of all of my attention.
Until some night, you know, someone in a strange uniform knocks at my door, informing me that there's a change in leadership, law, state religion or whatever. Then I'm really gonna look like an idiot. Because besides clean diapers and something to eat, what our kids really need is a place to live and thrive, a friendly environment. And that is what we all need above anything else.