Loving kids and going through a pregnancy are not the same thing.
“So let me get this straight,” my girlfriend said to me. “You coo at literally every child under 10 that you encounter. You have picked out names for your children, decided which books you’ll read them, and are currently debating homeschooling versus Montessori. When stressed you read fanfiction about the Avengers having children. And you didn’t think you wanted kids?”
Never let it be said that my capacity for self-deception isn’t infinite.
My brain has been sneakily going about wanting to be a stay-at-home parent without my permission. It started small: a few parenting blogs, a deep and genuine enjoyment of weeding and sweeping the floors, learning to cook to save money. Somehow it has metastasized to the point that I’m bookmarking articles about how to can your own vegetables. You know, from the garden I’ll have when I’m staying at home to save some money and get a nice outdoors break from my writing career.
I’m in denial about my baby anxiety for many reasons. My parents insist, regardless of my opinion on the matter, that I want children. Perhaps the easiest way to make me averse to anything is to have my parents tell me over and over again it’s a great idea. I don’t want to admit I want kids, that’s proving them right. What else will they turn out to be right about? Monogamy? The stupidity of being an adult My Little Pony fan? My entire world has been shaken apart!
Even worse, I’m genderqueer. The concept of being pregnant makes me want to rip my uterus out of my body with rusty barbed wire. I dream of hysterectomies with the fervor usually associated with Caribbean vacations. There is not very much space in our culture for a person viewed as a woman who loathes the idea of pregnancy and still wants kids—much less to stay home to raise them.
But the reasons I don’t want to admit my baby dreams are much broader than that. I think our culture tends to systematically devalue parenthood. You mean you’re wasting all your smarts and potential, those years of gifted classes, that expensive college education, on nothing more than a clean kitchen and some pretty cool kids? Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer the corner office?
I’m not going to be that jerk who says that parenthood is the most valuable thing you can do. The corner office can also be valuable and, depending on your profession, contribute a lot of good things to a lot of people’s lives. But parenthood is not somehow less valuable because you don’t earn money at it. Work is work. If you have the privilege to do so, make the choice that will make you happy.
I’ve been down this path before. I went down this path with polyamory: “I’m not actually poly, I just like reading books about polyamory and fantasizing about living in a poly family.” I went down this path with transness: “I’m not actually trans, I just happened to read all of the Wikipedia pages on transition and then go press my breasts into my chest in a mirror to get an idea of what I’d look like if I’d been born right.”
I may have infinite capacity for self-deception, but I also have the ability to pick up on trends. I’m not saying I necessarily want to stay at home to raise children, or if I want it that my life will go a route that will allow me to do so. I’m not even saying I’m going to have children. But the time has come for me to say it loud: I love children and I’m proud.
Ozy Frantz is a student at a well-respected Hippie College in the United States. Zie bases most of zir life decisions on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman; identifies more closely with Pinkie Pie than is probably necessary; and blogs at No, Seriously, What About Teh Menz?