In the last four months or so four of my close friends have had babies and in the next two months another couple are set to pop, which gets a man to thinking – should I be having babies too?
I never wanted kids, I don’t know why exactly, I don’t dislike them I always just imagined what more I could achieve if the time and energy I spent on kids were ploughed into something else, something that not everybody can do. You see having kids is often regarded as an achievement and, for some couples that struggle to conceive, it is. But, if the majority of people on the planet end up becoming parents how much of an achievement is it really? Typically we human beings celebrate extraordinary feats of artistic, sporting or political success; rare triumphs that take years of practice and discipline on top of a natural born talent – but getting sprogged up? British teenagers manage that all the time through a complete lack of practice and zero discipline!
No, the achievement is in raising kids and, unfortunately, you don’t know how well you’ve done for about 20 years when you can finally sit down with your son or daughter, over a pint, and know whether or not they’re the type of person you’d actually choose to have a pint with. That seems like a huge gamble to me. I mean what other task of that magnitude would you undertake with absolutely no skills, qualifications or experience? You wouldn’t decide one day to just design and erect a building, brick by brick, over 20 years as a monument to your name hoping it will stand up straight would you?
And of course a large part of it is out of your control. As soon as your baby is old enough to go to school or preschool or kindergarten or whatever you call it they are spending more time with external elements than they are with you. Who knows what kind of bad habit’s they’ll pick up? So much of life is down to chance and the kids your kid ends up sitting next to at story time will have an enormous impact on the rest of his or her life. Look at me, I have friends I have known since the first day of infant school, thankfully they are mostly intelligent, considerate, respectable people but they just as easily might not have been.
Last summer I travelled back to the UK to meet up with some of those friends who couldn’t make it to my wedding in Singapore six months prior. Many of them were proudly showing off their baby bumps or those of their partners. It was wonderful and strange to see them entering this next era of their lives together – partly because they seem to have got pregnant en masse – but I couldn’t help asking some of them, was it planned? Are you happy? Is this what you really want? They agreed unanimously and enthusiastically that is was but, be honest, is anyone ever really going to admit to you that they don’t want their kid, that they regret it and wish they could just turn back the clock? Of course not.
Don’t get me wrong, I believed every one of them and am delighted on their behalf. At Christmas I went back again and met some of the rugrats, little beauties every last one. But there must be some parents out there thinking to them selves “This isn’t me, I shouldn’t have done this.” We can’t all be cutout for it surely?
As it happens most of my friends and family think I’d make a good dad, I certainly had an excellent role model for it and I think if/when it happens I’ll throw myself in to it with gusto. The new dads I spoke to at Christmas were elated, relishing their new role as provider and guardian, despite the tears and the terrible, yellow poo (what IS that?)! And aside from all my bluster I’m starting to think that if I don’t have a kid I may miss out on one of the most enjoyable and enriching experiences a person can have. I guess I just want to make sure that it is absolutely mine and Mrs Lore’s decision, not one arrived at because “Well, we’ve been married a while so…”
There is one wild card of course – biology. As a man, you are told from the age of about 11 that pregnancy is the worst possible consequence of sex so you spend the next 20 years doing everything in your power to prevent it. Then, as nature would have it, when you finally push through that psychological roadblock, you might find you can’t get pregnant when you want to. I think that’s another reason why I don’t want to put all my eggs in the baby basket; I need to know that children are not the only way to an enjoyable and enriching life.
Luckily Mrs Lore and I are blessed to be part of a big family already with five siblings and nine nieces and nephews between us so, as it’s Chinese New Year this weekend, here’s a pic of the Singaporean side all in auspicious red – can you spot me?