“By the time I’m 39, Gabriel will be 18 years old. I’ll have my whole life ahead of me!” That’s been my rallying cry for over ten years at this point- part retroactive justification for having my son at such a young age, part reality. Raising my son and then being free to take my life back at a relatively young age has been one of the pillars of my adulthood. I proudly told my friends that I was a “one and done” parent, and that when Gabriel went off to college he’d have to guess where I was going to be when he came back for break. The clock is ticking, I told them, and then my parenting days are over.
Recently though, another clock has started ticking, even more loudly. It’s the biological clock, and it’s telling me to be fruitful and multiply.
I blame my brother and my ex-wife for this. Khalil and his girlfriend Danielle brought Khalia into the world in February:
Zoraida and her fiance had Soleil last August:
I see these babies constantly. Soleil is at my house almost every week when her mother drops off and picks up Gabriel. I quickly acknowledge her parent’s existence and then talk to Soleil while Gabriel and his stepdad unload his things. Khalia comes to visit less frequently, but I look forward to her visits all the more because of it. As far as I’m concerned, Khalil and Danielle are simply the chauffeur service for my niece. She’s the one I want to see, and I guess her parents have to be around too.
Look at these cuties. LOOK AT THEM!
Now I want one too. Watching Gabriel grow up has been the most rewarding experience of my life, as he’s gone from a blob of flesh that could barely open his eyes to a ten year old boy whose head is starting to peek over my shoulder. I love talking to him and making jokes and riding bikes and playing games, but I miss my two year-old son. I miss the excitement of milestones. I even miss the delirious state of near-exhaustion that a newborn keeps you in for the better part of a year. I think I miss those things more than I covet the chance for an early retirement from child-rearing.
But before I can conjure up another Ragland, I need a few things first. These include (but are not limited to):
1) A woman- Probably the most important ingredient of having a baby is having a woman to impregnate. I find myself recently single again, so I’m firmly in square one on this front. Dating is a skill which I haven’t quite honed yet (ask all two of my exes), which presents its own unique challenges. I think it’s possible to form a long-lasting relationship with another person, and then extend that into a family with a child. Once I figure out how, I’ll let you know.
2) An exorbitant amount of money- I need this for two reasons. First, it can be difficult to woo the aforementioned woman without the means to pay for dating. It’s also a tough sell to ask someone to let you put a baby inside of them if you don’t have a way to provide for the baby.
Secondly, I can’t have children the old-fashioned way, at least not right now. A few months after Gabriel was born, I got a vasectomy to prevent any further pregnancies for me and my-then wife. Most people thought I was crazy, asking why I would preclude the possibility of future children at such a young age. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly. Every form of birth control, and I mean every form, failed us at the time of Gabriel’s conception. Condoms broke. IUDs fell out. Zoraida was on the pill when he was conceived. She couldn’t get the shot for health reasons. We saw a future where in very short order, we’d have five children and no realistic way to care for them if we didn’t find a solution that worked. As we looked into permanent birth control, we learned that a vasectomy was an outpatient procedure covered by our insurance, while tubal ligation was significantly more expensive and invasive. I was the lucky candidate.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way though, and it’s still possible for me to help conceive a child. I can either have my vasectomy reversed, or me and a future partner can go through the in vitro fertilization process. Neither of these options are cheap, or even guaranteed. They will require me to be able to financially sustain efforts to conceive over the long haul.
3) Absolute, 100% certainty- Having friends and family with babies is doubly dangerous because their cuteness overwhelms you, and their ease of care deceives you. After all, whenever Khalia or Soleil start crying, need to be fed or changed I hand them back to their parents. All of the fun, with none of the work. I won’t be so fortunate with my own child. I’ll have to be there through the first fever, the teething, and the general annoyingness of children. I have to make sure I’m really okay with returning to changing diapers after being out of that game for eight years. Despite the challenges, cost, and my own judgement, I want a baby. All of those concerns are real, but they pale in comparison to how wonderful and special raising a child is.
So do you have any single friends?