I recently read some rather astute words by a writer of an opinion piece, who had heard them from someone else (who probably heard them from someone else): “Do whatever you want with your life – but don’t have kids with a dickhead.” Actually, feckin amazing words! And, one of the best pieces of advice I never received as a young person. Not that it mattered too much, because I was also never going to have kids, anyway. If I’d ever become pregnant, I would have terminated the pregnancy. My body, my decision. Every time. I may have had the biological capability to have kids, but I wasn’t mentally or emotionally wired for it. No regrets, not even for a second, because I don’t know how to feel any other way.
However, if I had wanted kids, there’s a good chance I would have had them with a dickhead, because I did have relationships with one or two in my fertile years. The term ‘dickhead’ in this particular nugget of advice, I take as an umbrella term for all the crappy characteristics in a partner that keep us constantly on the back foot. The crappy characteristics that keep us always having to deal with the fallout of their crap behaviour and decisions. And I’m not talking about the sort of human flaws we all have. Nor am I only talking about male dickheads, although that’s where my personal knowledge and experience happens to lie.
Would I have taken any notice of this advice, if I had heard it when I was young and if I had wanted kids? There’s a good chance I wouldn’t have, especially if it had come from either of my parents. I didn’t think they knew anything. If it had come from a person with whom familiarity had not yet bred contempt, I might have listened. But, that also depends on whether or not I had the love googles on at the time I heard it. In the throes of love, when the love goggles don’t come off even to take a shower, we’re stupid. Being in love, and being loved back is fantastic. We all get high on it. But we’re also not thinking or seeing straight when we’re in the first stages of love. And although it might propel us to do amazing feats, it’s also a time when we can be pretty damn dumb. I’ve been there. More than once.
Butbutbut – love conquers all, doesn’t it? Even if having a kid ends up not being the smartest move, the fact that it was wanted in the end, and is loved, will be enough to surmount any hardship, won’t it? Well, good luck with that. The world is paved with (mostly) women struggling to bring up kids on their own, who thought that loving their kids would be enough, regardless of who the other parent was. Somehow, they’re sure they can make things work out. And you know what? Against massive odds, some do make it out of the quagmire in one piece. I take my hat off to them, because single-parenting is one of the most desolate jobs in the world, and if anyone manages it with even a modicum of success, they’re a legend. There are those, of course, who become single parents through no, or little, fault of their own. But there are also plenty who just unthinkingly have kids with a dickhead – and that tends to stuff life up somewhat.
However, we seldom see the bigger picture when we’re in the middle of it. No-one can tell us we’re making a mistake, because we always think our own situation will be different, or we can make it work out okay. Ask me about that someday. I also know through observational experience that when a woman wants a baby, she’s having one! It’s like the saying about men: “A stiff dick has no conscience”. Well, apply that to a woman who wants a baby, and neither conscience nor commonsense come into it much, either. Yep, both the owner of the stiff dick, and the owner of the womb who wants it filled with a foetus, are known to lie, trick, and deceive to get what they want, if that’s what it takes. And afterwards? Well, neither of them are thinking much about an afterwards.
From the point of view of men who don’t want to have kids with a dickhead – or any kids – take charge of your sperm. Never think that saying “no” is enough of a contraceptive. Ask the women in your life how well saying “no” works out for them. Take any hysterical laughter as a reply in the realms of “not so well”. Sperm control is the man’s job. Check out this development on the subject of the male pill. If you leave all contraception up to the woman, then you’ve relinquished control, and you might end up with a kid you didn’t want to a woman you don’t want to be with. No good pouting and sulking about it afterwards. When the kids arrive, it’s the parents’ job to step up and look after them. End of story.
Being young and being smart don’t often go hand in hand. We have to be young and dumb, before we get old and wise. This isn’t a totally bad thing, because it gives us good stories, after all. But, we can still screw up when we’re older, too, even though we know we should know better. It’s a human thing. Not having kids with a dickhead is damn fine advice, but not many of us – myself included – have, or have had, a clear and lucid understanding that we’re with a dickhead, when we’re with a dickhead. We need to learn how to weed out dickheads long before we become involved with them – and I suspect that’s more about having personally healthy self-esteem, and some sort of direction in life, than anything else.
So, to those who’ve never messed up – bravo! For the rest of us, I like the quote (attributed to various people) “You can’t go back and make a new start, but you can start right now and make a brand new ending”.
I know that most women love their kids and would die for them a thousand times over, regardless of the circumstances of their conception, or the circumstances they end up in with them. Men can too, although a lot more of them do abandon their kids. And the single women who choose to have no kids? According to surveys, it turns out they’re the happiest group of all. Just saying 😊
Header pic by Tom Swinnen.