At Batch last night I saw a commercial for St. Jude’s Hospital in which they’re profiling one of their donors, a dude who isn’t much older than I am, and at one point they show a portrait of the donor walking down a suburban road with his wife and four children—which seems like too many children. Like you can’t be involved with the larger world if you’re so afflicted.
But I shouldn’t have that attitude. It’s just a question of values, priorities.
I tend to balk at the sight of such huge families and think, How can you, as a parent, keep track of what’s going on in the news and make time for the gym and still see interesting movies and read interesting books if you’ve gotta take care of all these little ones?
And the answer’s simple: some people would rather have a family than do those things. Or, if that’s too Draconian, I think it’s fair to say that they’d rather have a family than a sustained engagement with those other things.
Having kids obviously doesn’t preclude the ability to stay healthy and up-to-date with news or culture—I was just singing the praises of Noam Chomsky this week. He’s got three kids. Managed to, uh, keep his thumb on the pulse of things. My impression is that having little ones just makes it hard to find Me Time—which is a little unsettling for a person like myself, who owns virtually all of his time. But this is what older writers are always talking about: that you’ll find meaning in life when you give yourself over to something, when you find a person or cause that you recognize as greater than yourself, and you can kinda live your life in the service of it.
Also, I realize there’s a good chance I’m just closing my eyes to the joys of having a family because that’s so outside the realm of what I can handle right now, and it’s like a defense mechanism to keep me from maybe realizing a family is something I totally do want but just can’t have.