Terry and I decided a long time ago that we were never going to have children. We have many, many reasons for this. Some we have in common, some we don’t. One of mine, which I don’t think Terry shares, is that I could never come up with a satisfactory answer to the grumpy teenager’s wail “I didn’t ask to be born.” Now I’m sure this is usually said in a spirit of hormonal, rather than existential angst. Nonetheless they’re quite right. They didn’t ask to be born. Someone else made that decision for them. They were dragged into existence at the whim of another person.
For the record I understand that human souls do not hang around in a quantum state of existence waiting for the determination that will actualise them. Unborn children are not able to contribute to a discussion as to whether they should be granted existance. To say “I didn’t ask to be born” is in some ways meaningless since there is no way it could be otherwise. You can’t ask someone if they want to be born. So it is a rather impotent complaint.
Each October Terry and 1 have been together both as a married and unmarried couple for x years and 9 months. A few weeks ago it was 11 years and 9 months since we got together. I realised that if I had become pregnant then, our child would have been 11 years old. That was the age I was when I left home to go to boarding school. Perhaps in that alternate universe, we would have made the same decision and we would be just starting to get our adult lives back to ourselves. Or maybe we would be facing empty nest syndrome and we would realise we had only stayed together for the sake of providing stable formative years.
But that is alternate-universe-Terry-and-Liz’s problem. The other day I saw on Facebook that another old schoolfriend had just give birth. I’m happy for her. But each time I see another peer has joined the ranks of parenthood I wonder if their children will ever cry out in a fit of pique that they didn’t ask to be born. And across the void dividing the universes I hear my own non existant child make that complaint and I think, “No you didn’t. And so I made sure you never would.”