On the Challenges of Householding

So a section of my bedroom wall directly underneath the air conditioning unit has mysteriously sprung a leak and managing it in the context of torrential June rains has meant living as if I have an unusually incontinent newborn in the house.

The experience will sound familiar—if greatly watered down (pun not intended)—to a fledgling parent: waking up in the middle of the night to mop up a spreading puddle, stringing one damp rag after another on every available rod, and leaving the house only when necessary and always in a state of anxious tension. I only have a house, but it’s fast developing the petulant neediness of an infant.

And it’s this constant, unrelenting, unremitting nature of the investment of oneself in a completely dependent entity that tops the very many reasons why I cannot fathom having a child. And while I’m fortunate enough to be born in an era where making a pronouncement like this no longer constitutes a minor heresy of sorts, it still does take people aback—especially since: (1) I’m a female; and (2) I’m a female who’s fast approaching her thirties.

The latter fact is especially pertinent. People expect biological drives to eventually prevail over intellectual conditioning, so many never take my assertion seriously and simply dismiss it as the transient obstinacy of a particular phase. Someday, a dormant switch will click and my greatest ambition will shift to fulfilling the biblical imperative to go forth and multiply.

But I don’t know if I’m just going through a phase. I applaud people everywhere who consciously choose to have a child (and the deliberation here is critical), and, my admiration doesn’t translate to a willingness for emulation. I’ve had friends with children wax poetic over everything from the joys of parenthood (the carrot argument) to the morality of genetics (the stick argument) but all the benefits cited have seemed substitutable while all the costs have not.

At the end of the day, perhaps there are people like me whose legacies are best left in the cultural rather than the biological realm. The origins of intellectual children may always end up being a matter of some debate, but their rearing still remains infinitely easier.

As it is, I’ve a hard enough time just managing a house.


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