People have said to me in the past that as I grew older, I would regret not having children. Well, at age 50, I have to admit that I do have some regrets for my decision to never be a parent. Damn me for being childfree! What was I thinking? Why didn’t we have six children when we first got married? These regrets haunt me daily now, like athlete’s foot or a bad hernia. Here they are, in no particular order:
1. I regret that I can stay home, and not teach this semester, and write a novel. Why don’t I have to go to work every day just to feed my kids? Why didn’t someone warn me about this before! I hate all this freedom!
2. And I can work nude? Oh, fuck my life!
3. And I can listen to John Coltrane while I work instead of Barney or Dora? SHIT!
4. I really regret that I can write about a childfree woman who is a pagan, an enchantress, sexually active, and rather foul-mouthed. Oh, I’m damned! Why don’t I have to write child safe books? I hate myself!
5. Dammit, I really regret that I had the time and money to go back to school! I can’t believe that I earned a masters degree instead of having children! I mean, it’s just a piece of paper on the wall that doubles my salary. Plus, I graduated with a perfect 4.0 GPA. Does that seem right to you?
6. Why, oh, why can’t I drive an expensive SUV? Why do I still drive a paid-for pickup truck? HELLNATION!
7. What do you mean I can fill my living room bookcases with erotic art books?
8. Nobody is playing with my Alex Ross Justice League action figures but myself? Life sucks!
9. Why does my wife still look awesome in a bikini, or out of it?
10. Why don’t her breasts knock against her knees? I don’t want a woman with firm, perky breasts! I want one whose breasts have big purple veins and stretch marks on them, and which were pulled out of shape by three and four years old sucking them dry. Why can’t I get what I want?
11. Why doesn’t her stomach look like she was disemboweled by an allosaurus? Is that why they call them “tiger stripes?” Because they look like they were attacked by sabertooth tigers? Why doesn’t my wife look like that? Oh, right. I never impregnated her! STUPID, STUPID, STUPID! I could have made her body look like Freddy Kruger’s face? What was I thinking?
12. Why can she still feel me when we make love? Why are her girl parts still nice and tight, like the night we were married? Why isn’t making love with her like shooting a paintball gun down the Holland Tunnel? WHY DID I THROW THAT AWAY?
13. Why does she even still make love to me, much less two or three times a night?
14. Why can’t she be like all those other suburban women who have had two or three children, and save sex for the next “baby dance?”
15. Why is she still a sex kitten? Kill me now!
16. Sigh. Oh, the loneliness of sitting at home on a Tuesday night with my wife, eating homemade spaghetti, and listening to a PBS special of Paul McCartney singing standards, instead of fighting through the noise and crowd at Chuck E. Cheese.
17. And it’s going to get worse people, all because we don’t have children! In a little bit, we’ll retire to the porch for a glass of wine. I’ll puff my pipe while we watch the moon rise. Then, we’ll repair to the bedroom and give ourselves a good reason to sleep until noon. WHAT KIND OF MESSED UP LIFE IS THAT! What was I thinking???
18. My wife and I can make love in any room of the house at any time of the day, and the only small minds we have to worry about are those inside the skulls of politicians? Oh, fuck!
19. Seriously, why is it that we can watch softcore on TV instead of Disney? That is more kinds of wrong than I can name!
20. I can drink alcohol tonight? WHY? WHY? WHY?
21. Goddammit, I can fucking curse all I want to without some son of a bitch calling me an asshole of a bad parent? Oh, the fucking regrets!
22. My wife can be a Wiccan without someone calling CPS? NO WAY! That ain’t right! I want to be hounded by the Sunday school department!
23. I hate it that I can live in any part of town without taking the school district into consideration. WHY ME?
24. God, I hate living in a small, inexpensive apartment where maintenance is taken care of.
25. With no toys all over the floor.
26. And no Juicy Juice stains on the carpet.
27. And no piles of broken playground equipment and smashed Big Wheels in the front yard. DAMMIT!
28. Fuck my life, I get to sleep eight hours a night.
29. Ten if I feel lazy.
30. Until noon on Saturdays. I hate it that I don’t have sleep deprivation like other men my age! Isn’t that my right?
31. NO! I don’t have to share cartoons with anyone!!! That is the height of wrongness!
32. I get to have adult conversations with adults, instead of speaking down to everyone in a whiney sing-song voice like a brain-dead lab chimp. What the hell is wrong with me?
33. I don’t have to put up a Christmas tree if I don’t want to! Something is dreadfully wrong with that picture.
34. Why is it that I can watch the director’s cut of Slime My Naked Body instead of Dora the Dinosaur? I want to watch only films that are safe for the whole family! ARGH!
35. My life is ruined because I have no idea what the interior of a Chuck E. Cheese looks like.
36. Oh, my God, no! I’m going to go out to a used book store, pick up a few fantasy novels, and sit in a bar for a few hours with my wife! I could be going to a toy store and to McDonalds instead! DAMNATION! I really regret this!
37. Why do I still have all my hair, while all my high school and college friends who are fathers today are totally bald? I want to look like Kojak!
38. And I want wrinkles in my face! Where are my damn wrinkles!
39. I have never heard someone tell me that she hates me. I want to be hated by a twelve year old!
40. Or that it’s her life. I feel like I’m missing something.
41. I really regret that I will never know what it’s like to have the police knock on my door at 4 AM, asking where my son is.
42. Or telling me that my daughter was raped.
43. Or that my daughter raped my son.
44. While I’ve thrown a lot of cool stuff in the bed of my truck, I’ll never know the joy of fighting a doublewide stroller into submission and cramming it in the back of an SUV. The things I’m missing out on!
45. Why does it only take me a minute to get ready to go somewhere? Don’t other men my age have to wait for their wives to pack up all the kid stuff, dress the kids, and herd them all to the SUV? Where’s MY wasted time?
46. I will never know the pleasure of sitting by a telephone as an elderly man, waiting for a call that will never come because I’ve been forgotten.
47. I will never know what it’s like to talk like my father and scream, “TURN THAT SHIT DOWN!”
48. I have still yet to say the phrase “Kids these days.” Isn’t that a rite of passage into middle age? Am I doomed to remain young forever? NO!
49. I get to vote based upon my own conscience, not upon traditional family values? You’re kidding me!
50. It’s quiet. It’s so quiet in here that I can hear John Coltrane on the stereo.
51. No, it just isn’t fair that I can afford to shop at a health food store instead of having to buy the family packs at Wal-Mart!
52. I’ll never have to go to Sunday School again. There is something wrong with this picture!
53. I can’t remember if PTO means Parent Teacher Organization, or Power Take Off! Why me?
54. I hate it that I have the time and energy to go to the gym, instead of exhausting myself chasing toddlers, small children and teens all over God’s green earth.
55. Why can I even afford the gym membership? None of my friends with children can. All their money goes to school supplies, clothes, hot pockets, soccer memberships. Dammit, I wish I didn’t have all this surplus cash!
56. Sigh. I really want to know the joy of having bodily excretions spewed on me, such as vomit, urine and feces.
57. I’ll never know what it’s like to fill garbage bags with dirty diapers.
58. Or do more than two loads of laundry per week.
59. Or sweep the kitchen every day for Cheerios and Goldfish.
60. Or wonder what the heck I’m doing to my child because he’s six years old and weighs 200 pounds.
61. Why can’t I pass on my personality disorder to a fifth generation! My child deserves to be as crazy as I am!
62. No one else keeps glass objects so close to the floor! Why us?
63. Nor does anyone else keep cleaning products stored in convenient spots that do not require elevators to reach. What is our problem!
64. I’m carving my own name into the culture of America, instead of sitting back and letting my child do it for me. What a lazy bastard I am!
65. I really want to know what it feels like to be hated by the other customers in the restaurant because my child just threw a temper tantrum, vomited on the table, tossed a bowl across the room, or pulled the hair of the woman in the booth behind us. I really want to experience all that!
66. What’s it like to live with the fear of being labelled a bad parent? Why didn’t I think about wanting to experience that!
67. Oh, it sounds so delicious to shock all the patrons in a bar when I take my toddler inside to watch me get drunk! My grandfather wasn’t allowed to do that with me! It was against the law. YAY! Times changed! BOO! I don’t get to experience it! Fuck me!
68. “Shhh, you’ll wake the cat,” just doesn’t sound like a good reason to not have loud sex in the middle of the afternoon. Dammit, I want a celibate life like other men my age!
69. ARGH! I want the right to be a hypocrite by failing my students for plagiarism by day, and writing my son’s term papers by night. Why can’t I do that? Huh? It’s my constitutionally guaranteed right!
70. I can write something like this and I’m permitted a certain level of humor, unlike the growing number of parents who join “I hate being a parent” forums so they can legitimately bitch and complain because they ruined their lives subscribing to the Lifescript (TM) and having children that they did not want. Well, screw me for being smart!
I could write so many more, but I’ve put my heart through the ringer as it is. Sigh. The only thing to do is get another cup of coffee and go sit on the porch with my pipe and enjoy the warm rains on this Texas afternoon, and know that my wife will be coming home soon and we can make love all night. Then, we can get ready for a road trip to see some scenery, instead of dropping in on relatives to show off the kids. That is my penance for choosing to be childfree.