Let me preface this by saying that, until last year, I probably would have been happy going my entire life as a marginally attending Catholic like so many in the Church today. That was before I moved across the country to take a job at a religious Protestant-affiliated university. That university required that I be involved in a religious congregation of my choosing, and rather than convert, it prompted me to attempt to commit myself more fully to the Church in which I was raised, which I was taught to love, and in some way, I still feel myself a part of.
But, I don’t think I’m ever going to see children, having children, and parenting in the way the Church wants me to.
My father was a heavy drinker and physically violent to me, my siblings, and my mom.
He received a cat-of-nine-tails as birthday present and used it to discipline me and my brother. Perhaps that may find favor with some folks who think that children have no ‘fear of God’ in them anymore.
I remember how mouthy my brother was, how he always had to have the last word. Why couldn’t he just keep his mouth shut like I was able to?
He now has high pitch hearing loss in one ear from having his head slammed into a wall.
I remember a lot of fights between my dad and my mom. Loud, angry affairs that would go on all night while trying to sleep.
The scariest times where when she would get in the car and leave. Usually she would come back. But one time my dad got so angry he jumped on the hood of the car and smashed the windshield in while she was leaving.
He stayed up all night. I did too, I asked him when’s mom coming home. His response: “Your mom is crazy now to back to bed before beat the ---- out of you.”
I’m not a parent, but I would think no matter how angry you are at your spouse, one should have enough empathy for a 7 year old son who is just scared and misses his mom.
Fortunately, that episode had a happy ending, The police came and picked me and my siblings up that morning. I later learned this was because my dad called my mom and threatened to shoot us if she didn’t come home.
But…I didn’t want for anything materially. We had a nice house, a boat, a pool, had vacations. I have two graduate degrees and still will probably never make enough to provide for a family as well as I had it, materially.
My parents divorced when I was 12 (they got an annulment), and things got better after that, when we went to stay with my mom. My dad had a heart attacked and died about 5 years later. Christ forgive me, but I can’t say that I miss him.
I put a good amount of effort into school and college, won a full ride to law school, graduated in the top 10 percent of my class. Then coming out of school in Michigan, I couldn’t find a job.
The job I found was at a small firm that paid me less than my fiancee was making as a teacher, I couldn’t live up to the firm’s expectations, and I quit, not under the best of circumstances. Fiancee and I broke up soon after that.
That’s when I really had my first crisis of faith. I came to see that I really should have been aborted. Indeed, when I looked around at thousands of my fellow college graduated who managed to get out onto the job market in the Midwest in the early 2000s, who needed jobs that weren’t there. I feel all of us really should have been aborted.
I’m better now, in some ways. I have a decent job in a new state that I am happy with. I’m still tormented by my situation, though. I know from bitter experience that the “happy family/kids are joy” way of thinking is a delusion that I cannot indulge. I don’t have the hubris to think that I could do a better job than my parents. I hope I don’t have the sadistic temper of my father, but I know I don’t have the patience, He raised us like he was raised. It seems like the deadly sin of Pride to think that I can break the cycle. Better to just end the chain now by remaining childless. That way it ends; it ends with me. By making sure there is no next generation, I would be better than him by making sure the pathology doesn’t continue for another generation.
This is especially the case when I know I will never make enough to give any kids all that I had. That’s not supposed to happen in America, where each generation should do better than the next. Sure, I suppose the pious response is “oh you might not be able to provide as much materially, but you’ll provide for them better emotionally.”
I sincerely doubt anyone truly believes that.
Sometimes, I can’t help but think that people have kids either 1) on accident, 2) out of a sense of duty, or 3) because they need someone smaller and weaker than themselves to put down and hurt.
Still, I hope I can fall in love with someone and marry, and find happiness, love, and security in a relationship as an adult that I never really had as a kid. But, if that means being obliged to raise a family, it’s not worth it to me. To me, families are capsules of conflict, paid, and fear. I want to be part of a couple, but not a family.
I wish there was some kind of dispensation I could get for a preemptive vasectomy just to take care of this, once and for all. But from my readings, that doesn’t look like that’s possible. Do I have to choose between the misery of family life of the misery of lifelong celibacy, and to continue to seethe with hate and anger toward my dad who put me in this situation? If only he could have made an appropriate choice and not had me, I wouldn’t be in this situation.
Anyway, I guess that’s all I have to say. Happy to hear anyone’s thoughts on the matter, especially if they go beyond the trope of “We all have our crosses to bear so just suck it up and deal with it.”