There are advantages as well as disadvantages in being childless.
The disadvantages are quite obvious.
I can almost hear the voice of a very concerned tita whining, "But who is going to continue the family name?" Or worse: "Sayang naman your genes."
I almost feel that it is through the unused power of my reproduction that the lineage of the Baratheons and the Lannisters are at stake. Somehow you feel that your failure to produce an heir apparent to carry the torch has somewhat contributed to the eventual extinction of the human race. Or a deterioration of its quality.
Let us leave that to the homo sapiens with a predilection for ceaseless multiplication of their species. They will easily make up for my ... incompetence or lack of cooperation.
But there are definite advantages to not contributing to the world's growing overpopulation --- especially in these parts.
Aside from the fact that you need not worry about sleepless nights adjusting to your baby's feeding needs or changing diapers or that you do not have to work yourself to death to insure that you have a good college plan for your offspring, being childless seems to offer much less stress and worry about the volatile nature of the future.
You don't need to stay up late at night waiting for your post-pubescent child to come home from a night out with his barkada. You do not have to monitor your cell phone to know the whereabouts of your daughter because she is late by ten minutes from her appointed curfew. You do not have to worry about who she/he is chatting/interacting with in the internet. You do not have to sniffing around if he/she is secretly smoking filter (or worse filter-less) cigarettes in the privacy of bathrooms or taking gulps of hard drinks when your back is turned or under the pretense that his/her drink of choice is pineapple juice.
Worse, you do not have to work even extra harder to be able to afford his/her cellphone expenses, the upgrading of his/her laptop for school ... or even the rising prices of his/her favorite brand of clothes in the nearest mall. Truth is that you don't want your kid to look kawawa in the company of his/her peers, right?
What makes the child-less life even more interesting is the objectivity you can practice while observing or even reacting to the colorful lives of your peers-turned-parents.
For indeed, if there is some great mystery that changes men and women the moment they succeed in creating their own little bundle of joy, then let that be so.
The history of mankind seems to affirm this great sense of self-fulfillment the moment man plus woman equals child. But together with this great miracle of life comes another turnaround when suddenly their own existence and even character are changed forever.
That is why for those either determinedly or unfortunately child-less (like me), the shifts in personality that happen to the progenitors of mankind are somewhat completely alien. It takes a little bit of time and a lot of understanding to see why your friends suddenly turn into completely different people the moment they become Mamas and Papas.
"Oh, you will never understand what we are going through because you are not a parent," they would say. "All the pain I went through suddenly disappeared the moment I held my baby." Well, yes ... I have heard that too. "Suddenly my life has a new meaning when I had my kid." You mean that didn't happen when you got married or met the other responsible party for the assembly of your anak?
"It was not my partner but my child who completed me." Ah, talaga?
Once I asked a number of my friends this trick question: "Assuming you were in a situation and you can only save one person ... who would it be? Your partner or your child?" The unanimous choice was the child, of course. And the presumably soon-to-be-dead-partner accepted his/her fate with happy resignation.
"You will never understand that because ..." OK. Oo na. oo na!
I get the picture. Since I am not a parent who has to cut short of my sleep to prepare the milk formula of my infant --- or worse, breastfeed the screaming kid in the crib, I will never understand the value of parental sacrifice even way after the child is born.
I have seen too many of my friends literally lose weight, grow panda bear rings around their eyes and age about ten years in a span of three months when their first born enter their lives.
You only hope that in the future these kids will treasure all the sacrifice that their parents had to go through ( and continue to experience ) just to be able to give them not only their needs but also their wants. And more often than not, as they grow older, children's wants exceed more than their needs. Parents, in turn, are pressured to comply with all these growing requirements if they care to be considered decent providers.
For there are three kinds of parents: those who take their duties far too seriously, those who casually and guiltlessly entrust their responsibilities to others --- and those who should have been spayed, their ovaries and testicles cauterized or turned into eunuchs because they have absolutely no right to reproduce.
Those who take their parenthood much too seriously usually ended up nervous wrecks with children who are even more warped basket cases. They call themselves disciplinarians whereas the truth of the matter is that they are obsessed. Either that or they are so afraid that their kids will pay for all the karma due them because of their not-so-ideal past.
Oh, I do have friends who will stop at nothing but shove the photos of their kids to my face endlessly cooing, gushing or even lubricating at the mere thought that the Universe has gifted them with the World's Most Adorable Children.
Naturalmente, babies are cute. They are even cuter when you do not have to take care of them. They make goo-goo eyes, flash toothless smiles so much so that you want to squeeze them like your favorite stuffed toy overflowing with the toxins of charm. However, the moment they start screaming or walking around toppling things, touching dirty objects then popping their fingers into their mouths, the cuteness immediately disappears --- and you throw them back to the arms of their parents.
There are certain parents who literally so proud of their kids and who have made them the very center of their existence. They shamelessly dominate every conversation about the latest high in the cute index achieved achieved by Junior. They talk about their little bugger as if all the other kids in the world look like oompa loompas.
As a polite and civilized friend, I (and the rest of us who were taught good manners and right conduct --- even when put through a stress test) would listen with rehearsed smiles and the occasional bobbing of the head in agreement ("Uh-huh", "Awwww ...." or the pretentious "Wow naman!") as if we were actually enjoying a parade of photographs kept and treasured in cell phones, photo albums --- and God forbid, AV presentations showing the evolution of their from middle class larvae to young adult with an IPhone 6.
I mean just how long can you endure a video on a smart phone showing a some kid reciting O Captain, My Captain like he were running for councilor or doing the Moonwalk on an ice cube impersonating a very dead Michael Jackson?
Or just how many more monologues can your ears tolerate listening to a proud Mommy talk about how absolute brilliant her son has become not to mention how he so closely resembles Enrique Gil. Or have you chanced upon that Daddy who makes yabang about how his daughter will eventually become the next Filipina Miss Universe. Truth be told, said young man does not/cannot/ will never resemble aforementioned matinee in any manner whatsoever (not unless one is under the influence of highly prohibited hallucinatory drugs) or that the so-called future international beauty queen can only achieve the stature of Ms. Wurtzbach not even through the science of Vicky Belo but via the miracle of reincarnation.
But that is a parental privilege. Mommies and Daddies will see what they want to see even if the whole world sees something (or somebody) completely different ... which is the truth.
Oh, have you also met the parents who decide to take the lives of their children in their own hands?
Let it be known that there is a major difference between being "hands-on" as a parent from handcuffing your children.
How I just hate listening to parents proudly announcing how they are monitoring if not controlling their children's lives. "He is going to be a doctor like his father and his siblings ... there is no argument about that." Or "He wants to take up culinary arts but I told him to take up nursing."
I agree that parents want the best for their kids ... but, hey listen: their lives still belong to them ... and they are not, I repeat, THEY ARE NOT YOUR PERSONAL PROPERTIES.
"Will you give your kid a break?" I would tell some concerned mother who is so afraid that her son will be seduced by some nymphomaniac colegiala who has been stalking her child with text messages and phone calls. "Ang lalandi talaga ng mga babaeng yan," she complained. I could not remind her that she never finished college because she got pregnant at the age of sixteen. Karma, baby, karma.
"Treat your kid like an adult and don't insult him by babying to the point of retardation." Chances are you will hear the familiar reply, "You are only saying that because you are not a parent. You don't know how it is to ..." blah-blah-blah. How is it best to tell a parent that a kid needs to make mistakes. Success is good but failure is a better teacher. And (as I am going to discuss in the second part of my thesis on other children) no parent can completely and fully know what their kids are going through.
Go ahead. Be the Tiger Mom or the Tyrant Dad who literally controls his child by thinking that knowing everything the kid does is a sign of good parenting.
I cringed when a mother told me that she checks on her son's text messages when the kid is in the bathroom or when he leaves his cellphone within her reach.
I wanted to kick the face of another mother who says that she goes through her son's belongings when he is not home and makes sure he knows the phone numbers of all his friends so that she can always find a way of knowing where is in at any given time of day or night.
I simply sighed with exasperation when a father told me that he will not let his daughter go out on a date even with a group until she has graduated from college. Oh, he must also know the guy personally before he can go out with the poor little girl.
Go ahead: embarrass your kids. Tamper with their growth by exercising your dictatorial rights as parents. Spawn your reincarnations of Norman Bates.
Then there are those parents who reproduce --- and then pass on the responsibility to the household helps or the nannies or the relatives who have the time, patience and resources to raise the kids for them. And why? Because they can afford to do so.
It is different when a parent or parents are compelled to entrust their children to others out of an imperative. Such is the case of OFWs who painfully separate themselves from their families because they need to find work to provide a better life for their loved ones.
But it is a completely different scenario when parents convinces himself/herself that he/she does not really have the time or the patience to go through the rigors of raising a kid. They lead far too exciting independent lives that being a parent is simply not a priority. Yes, you can have your career ... or maybe you just have better thing to do than to run after your baby's poo-poo. Maybe it is better to spend your entire mornings doing Pilates or playing golf or even playing Bingo in the neighborhood corner store than watching over your kid making a mess out of everything he touches.
Eh, bakit pa kayo nagkaanak? You could have acquired a teacup chihuahua or even a toy poodle to serve the same purpose as having someone/something to gush at pag may time.
Look, if you do not have the time ... or the patience to raise a kid, then don't.
And just because you can afford to hire a midwife, a nanny and a platoon of scrub-wearing minions who will be the surrogate parents 24/7, do not expect to win the Ulirang Magulang Award of any year. Chances are your kid will love his/her yaya more than you and deservingly so.
It is not surprising, like the stuff of so many soap operas, that the nanny ends up knowing more about the child and his life more than his biological parents.
One amusing anecdote is this really rich friends of mine who took such a great delight in announcing that they will have decided to have a child ... as if it were part of a well-designed plan to fit into the template of ideal suburban living for members of Generation X.
After their baby was conceived, the child was immediately photographed and videoed to the max : the kid was the toast of so many baby showers and the likes, with so many social media pictures of this one nice happy family of beautiful people who perfectly belonged to the corridors of Bonifacio High Street. But then, minus the teary-eyed admiration of the public, the same child was left under the care of the ever faithful yaya who was, of course, paid to do the dirty work so as not to soil Mommy's Ralph Lauren dresses or provide obstruction to her Zumba classes.
The baby was diminished more to an accessory --- as part of the beautiful tableau of The Perfect Life. He, together with their Audi, their BMW and their complete set of Rimowa luggage were considered more as a possession that goes with the trappings of a lifestyle.
Well, indeed ... lo and behold, one day my sosyal friend was in panic because she realized after some time that her baby --- now two and a half years of age --- was talking with very strange accent.
Although they only talked to their kid in BGC English, both Mommy and Daddy were appalled by the way their son was enunciating words. I mean ... how dumb could they get not knowing that the kid was talking in exactly the same way the yaya uses English? But the highlight of that entire dramatic event was when Mommy entered the service area to find her son talking relatively fluent Cebuano with the kitchen staff!
"My God! How did he learn to Bisaya?"
I would have wanted to reply, "My God, where were you when your child was growing up?" Most likely she was in her Group Exercise class ... or doing charity work like raising funds to buy Christmas toys for orphans. Yeah, right ...O Great Paragon of Motherhood.
Then there is the third ... if not the worst kind: those who have an addiction for copulation and in the process try to outrace an entire breed of rabbits in multiplying.
Oh, boy ... They are all over ... all over the streets with their sad and somewhat stupid stories that end up with one of the worst punch lines ever, "Aksidente. Nakabuo na naman, eh." I will not go into the imperative of birth control ... nor do I want this to even be a religious issue. You can copulate as much as you want ... as long as you know the consequences as well as the rewards. Regardless of whether you are perfumed or part of the Great Unbathed, you can be fertilized if you are of that age.
By the way, for the record: children are not accidents. They are brought to life because two people decide to do whoopee and there was this really aggressive fastest swimming spermatozoa that infiltrated the quiet sanctuary of a bored ovum. That is that. It makes a world of difference when you are indulging in a moment of temporary pleasure from bringing a child to the world just because a man and a woman were both horny and/or bored.
Considering how those living below poverty level are most prone in multiplying their kind, I greatly suggest that together with the War on Drugs that the government should provide at least one TV set for every home so as to diminish sex as pampalipas-oras. Perhaps this is a birth control method that will not violate the holy sensitivities of the representatives of God. A good telenovela all the way to Bandila or Saksi can be a more than sufficient substitute for a roll on the sahig.
There is absolutely no excuse to endlessly bring children to the world when you cannot provide them even with the basic necessities of a decent life.
I will not even reason to excuses or explanations as to why there are all these children, half-naked and dirty, scattered in the streets with no sense of protection and definitely no guarantee for a better future than their parents. The people who brought these children to the world are not only irresponsible: they live in their blissful ignorance and would blame the rest of the world for their human condition, making us all feel that it is OUR responsibility to take care of them. If a child cannot be provided with proper nutrition and more so --- education --- then the parents should be blamed for bringing them into this cruel world just because they are reckless with their kalibugan.
OK, I need my tranquilizers now. The mere thought of such sense of false entitlement revolts me because it is not the idiotic parents but the kids who will carry the burden of the greater consequence and the even more bleak prospects of the future.
There are times when I feel I have lost all the chances that go hand in hand with the happiness of parenthood ... but confronting all the challenges and responsibilities that accompany such a position, maybe I should be thankful ... and glad. As I keep telling those who care to listen: There is no greater pleasure than making babies ... but there is no bigger challenge and responsibility than raising a child.
It is a delicate balancing act ...and just because one is a healthy and gungho heterosexual ready with his or her deadly weapons that he/she can just go out there and add to the human population. There is accountability needed. And dignity in being a parent. Without those, then tie up your ovaries and cut off your testicles. Do not bring misery to the world by punishing a child with a life that he does not deserve.
There is no such thing as perfect parents but there are so many examples of really, really awful ones. And that is a fact.