one of my fundamental self-concepts has been my aversion to having children. it’s been a constant in my life since, well, since i’ve known that it is possible to have children. over the years, this aversion has grown as the only salient reasons on the whole children thing have been negative reasons.
so, here i am at 35, convinced still that i dont want to have children and until yesterday, completely not understanding on an emotional level why anyone could ever conceivably want a child.
the breakthrough was as i’ve only ever thought of having children as being a biological and co-parent to a child, I’ve never thought of how I would feel if someone I dearly loved had a child who was *not* mine.
To my surprise, my emotional reaction to this envisioned scenario was completely different. I felt a strange tenderness for this phantom child who would (in my mind) have the characteristics of its parent but be a smaller, innocent and more vulnerable version even if some minor and irrelevant changes frrom the other parent might have to be expected.
Anyway, in the case of a near clone, I could imagine that looking after it would not be a chore, nursing its wounds and hurts would be a joy, seeing it grow and discover the world would be a precious privilege, and finally, witnessing its relationship with its parent would only increase my love for that parent.
Huh, I thought, so this is what being paternal feels like. It’s not too bad, really. I think I could live with it.
Of course, if the child bore little resemblence to the parent I loved or inherited very little of that parent’s characteristics, my tenderness pretty much vanishes to be replaced by the mild distaste I feel whenever I see or think about babies or people under the age of 17. Not surprisingly for those who know me, imagined scenarios where the child is biologically mine and inherits mine or my families characteristics provoke a rather large amount of fear and disgust.