You know that commercial where the guy goes, “I am never getting married,” then he says he’ll never have kids or move to the suburbs? Most of us suburban dads are embarrassed by how perfectly that imitates our lives.
I was so adamant about not having kids as a young man, I tried to get my tubes tied at the tender age of 21. Now that I have three, my only regret is waiting so long. I wish I could have had five. You’ll hear a lot of parents lament that they had too few or didn’t have a boy or had all boys, but you’ll never hear them say, “I wish I hadn’t had a kid.” Whenever I see couples without kids, I plead with them to change their ways because, almost without exception, the ones who refuse to breed are the ones who would make the best parents. Here are the same ten excuses they always make and why they’re wrong.
1. Ew, Diapers? Gross
Do you wipe your own ass? This is the same thing, only much smaller. You’ll be surprised how un-gross changing diapers is. I knew our third would be our last, and each diaper change was getting closer to the last I would ever do. I coveted each chocolate-covered nutsack like I was the White House pastry chef, and when the last diaper went into the trash, I cried like a baby.
2. I Hate Kids
No, you hate other people’s kids. We all do. These are your kids. They don’t just look like you, they are you. Have you noticed that, as you get older, your dad goes from cruel tyrant to just a wrinkled version of you? It’s the same with kids, but in reverse. If my son screws up a drawing, he rips it to pieces and hurls it into the garbage in a rage, where it lands next to the crumpled notes I just threw in there in a similar rage.
3. I Just Don’t See the Appeal
Do me a favor. Smell a baby’s breath and get back to me.
4. Only Egomaniacs Have Kids
“Are you so obsessed with yourself you need to make more of you?” a friend recently asked so I’d stop hassling him about being childless. You can phrase it any way you want, but the biological imperative is the most intrinsically human thing you can possibly do. It’s the meaning of life.
As far as it being selfish, trust me, you are way too busy running around praising, reprimanding, hugging, and giving time-outs to gloat at your prodigy. That’s something only the childless have time to think about.
5. I’m Too Selfish
This is the opposite of the egomaniac excuse, and it’s often followed by, “I can barely feed myself.” Don’t fret, virtue signalers. You will be able to summon the strength to prevent your child from starving to death. It’s an instinct that goes back at least a quarter of a million years. Besides, they scream so unbelievably loud at night, you can’t possibly ignore them.
After that, they learn to walk and develop incredible strategies to avoid being ignored, like growing big eyes and saying the darndest things such as “The Bob Marley has begun” and “Scientists say, when you read a book to love, you just fall apart.”
6. The World Is Overpopulated
Er, I don’t know how to say this without sounding like a eugenics nut, but it’s about quality, not quantity. Yes, India has dead bodies floating down the river. Your local public school having yet another kid named Cody is not going to cause global warming.
These kinds of myths gain traction because of the death of math. We want to save all the kittens and rescue all the pups and kill all the babies, because we think there are a finite number of each. There are seven billion of us. Your gestures aren’t “thinking globally.” They’re not thinking at all. If you go on to the beach and wash one grain of sand, you’re not “doing your part.” You’re wasting your time. We live in the safest, healthiest, and most prosperous nation ever. If anyone should feel good about creating more people here, it’s you. And if you don’t, someone else will.
7. My Parents Were Horrible and I Don’t Want to Repeat That
Yeah, your lineage has been polluted by the crappy parent gene, and you’re doing the world a service by cutting it off. In fact, the opposite is true. My experience has been that the children of negligent parents know exactly how damaging that is and are the least likely to reproduce it (“my experience” is code for “white middle class” and is relevant here because that’s likely who is reading this article—sorry).
Have you been around the dads without dads? The biggest problem with them is they dote on their children too much.
8. It’s No Big Deal If I Don’t
Really? How could it possibly be a bigger deal? Besides the part where our entire civilization is choosing to stop reproducing, what about you? Cavemen fought saber-toothed tigers. Your ancestors survived the plague. World war after world war went by, and your relatives made it through, and you’re going to throw that all away with a shrug? You’re ending that incredible journey through history because you like watching Netflix in the daytime?
9. It’s Too Expensive
So is eating out in New York if you do it wrong. You can have a dinner for $4 or you can have one for $400. Public school is free, and there are still plenty of areas where they’re just as good as private. Bicycles are cheap, toys are cheaper, second-hand clothes are everywhere, and kids don’t really care if they’re in an apartment or a mansion. College and piano lessons are all frills kids don’t require. In the ’70s, we didn’t have any of that stuff, and we loved it. Having a kid is exactly as expensive as you want it to be.
10. We’re Not Ready
Women are convinced they can cram a career in before their ovaries dry up, but did you notice you started menstruating at 14? Twenty-four is already ten years past that date. At 34, you’ve basically told your womb to pack it in. I’ve heard doctors get in trouble for saying this to their patients, but for the umpteenth time: The hour glass of your fertility turns upside down at 30, and five years later it’s all but drained.
Anecdotal evidence to the contrary is dangerous to cling to. I don’t know how many couples my age have realized it’s too late way after their best-before date and have spent tens of thousands of dollars attempting to reverse the clock. When they do manage to pull it off, they have to worry about health issues and autism, not to mention how brutal it is to get no sleep when you’re over 40.
Look, going out for dinner is fun and Barcelona is beautiful at this time of year, but eventually you close that chapter in your life and move on to the next one. That’s what I was trying to say in “The Death of Cool.” I’m not trying to take away the party years where you did whatever you wanted and traveled the world getting blackout drunk. Do that.
However, adults recognize this is only a stage, and eventually you’re ready to move on to the next one. You’ve been a kid for decades now. It’s time to grow up and make some of your own.