Sunday, June 28, 2015

I’ve grown accustomed to receiving text messages and Facebook posts wishing “Happy Father’s Day”, even though I don’t have children and it’s widely known that I do not want children. However, by nature of the work I do, many people juxtapose the role I play in the development of young people with that of a father or father figure. I understand. I guess. Some of these messages come directly from these students and are heartfelt reminders of just how important the role counselors, advisors, mentors and others play in filling the voids so many young people are growing up with. Hell, one of my former students has called me “Dad” for the better part of ten years and he’s nearly 30-years-old. So, yeah, I get it. I’ve come to accept that those messages are going to continue to come each year and will likely increase the longer I stay in Higher Ed; what I reject are the messages encouraging me to have children of my own, imploring that I’ll be a great father or telling me that I have to want a son or daughter of my own.

Emphatically no.

I’ve known for quite some time that I didn’t want to have children and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become more absolute in that thinking. There’s a litany of reasons I’ve never wanted to be a father and at the top of my list is my selfishness. I’m still at a station in my life where my wants outweigh the needs of others; I’m honest about that and okay with it. I’ve been married four and a half years and I still struggle with making sure I’m meeting all of my wife’s needs in the face of my whims and wants. I work at it daily; it’s a constant sacrifice and she has to compromise far too much to put up with me. There’s a freedom to being childless that I am not willing to trade. The ability to get up and go without pause is something I have enjoyed far too long to turn away from now. That didn’t change with marriage, because I found a partner who shares in my passions and the same freedom, who also doesn’t want children.
I think that’s the hard part for people to grasp, that my wife also doesn’t want to have children. There are people who openly ask if she made that choice because of me, but the truth is, she probably wouldn’t have dated me if I had or even wanted to have children. Not every woman wants to be a mother. Not every man wants to be a father. There are people who simply want to love one another and enjoy a healthy and successful marriage, accomplishing the goals they set, seeing the world and helping people along the way. We fit into that category, regardless of the designs people from the outside may have on our marriage. It’s always funny when we’re told that we’re going to change our minds or to wait a few years to decide, challenging our conviction on the issue.

Too late.

Two weeks ago I took the necessary step to ensure that Sharea and I wouldn’t have any biological children of our own when I got a vasectomy. The decision wasn’t hard for me to make at all; I flirted with the idea for a few years, mentioned it in a conversation with my wife and had an appointment and date for the procedure within two days. A vasectomy is the most effective birth control for men, short of abstinence and I felt it was my responsibility as head of my family to have the surgery. There are those who consider birth control a “woman’s thing”, but that devalues her and the partnership of marriage. We could’ve opted for tubal ligation, but I’m far more comfortable with surgery than my wife and the effectiveness of the vasectomy is higher. There was also the option of the having her remain on birth control, but why not free her body of the hormones distributed through her body?

The finality of the decision didn’t rest easy with my wife initially; I imagine a moment or two was needed to come to terms that this meant forever, but that’s her story to tell. I was ready, not because I was excited about not being able to have kids, but just anxious to get it over with. Having surgery of any kind generates those kind of feelings in most people, when you’re just ready to get to the other side of the anesthesia and start recovering. The pain was minimal for the first few days, more of an annoyance than anything and there was some uncomfortableness in my everyday actions for a week or so, but I’ve been through more with less at stake.

There was no change of my mind on the horizon; I’m closing in on 40 and the desire to be that old with a newborn or toddler is not appealing to me. I don’t judge anyone’s decision to have children (under ideal circumstances), so all I ask is the same consideration of my choice not to have any. I don’t feel like any less of a man because I’ve decided to remove my ability to have children. In fact, I feel more secure that I was man enough to remain steadfast in my decision and make a choice for my family going forward. It wasn’t a decision for you or your notions of the intention of marriage or anyone’s desire to be a grandmother, grandfather, aunt or uncle, this was based on the goals my wife and I made for our marriage long before we said “I do”.  


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