I have been noticing something odd lately.
Theoretically I may also suddenly want kids, but it seems pretty damn unlikely. There are no warning signs, and a lot of signs to the contrary. I have no maternal feelings towards my own species whatsoever. Show me a baby and I see something red and squashy and unpleasant. (Show me a PUPPY, and I’ll be making idiot noises all afternoon, mind you…) My kid brother is great, Kevin’s kids are great, I like ’em fine, but there are no parental stirrings in my breast. They’re just like…short incoherent people that I happen to know.
Even my own mother eventually stopped saying “It’s different when it’s your own,” and started inquiring after the health of her grandcats. Various parties have told me that I could be a great parent if I put my mind to it, to which I generally replied that I could be a really first-rate deep sea diver if I put my mind to it. Or yak rancher. I’m sure I could kick ass at yak ranching. It’s really not a matter of potential ability so much as it is inclination.
This is not to say that I’m one of those strident childfree types who give the rest of the movement a bad name by unilaterally despising everyone under the age of eighteen as a “crotch-dropping.” I’m really not. The analogy I always use is ostriches. I am glad that ostriches exist, the world is a better place for the presence of ostriches in it, I would like to think that I would stop anyone mistreating an ostrich in my presence….but I do not wake in the night going “Gotta get me an ostrich!” For most of my life, I simply did not come into contact with ostriches. They formed no significant part of my existence.
Then I started dating an ostrich farmer.
And…here’s the weird bit. Still no interest in having kids. Still no maternal leanings. But every now and then when Kevin is committing some act of rampant parenting–carrying his youngest out of the theatre when he’s fallen asleep, say, or the sort of general sheepdog behavior of a dad with two energetic kids–way back in the old reptilian hindbrain that generally spends its time sunning itself on mental rocks…something wakes up and says “DUDE!”
Ursula: What? What? What’s going on back there?
Lizardbrain: DUDE! DUDE! DUDE!
Ursula: What? WHAT?
Lizardbrain: ….that’s totally hot.
Lizardbrain: It is! Totally!
Ursula: You are not allowed to find parenting behavior hot. That’s…just…wrong on so many levels.
Lizardbrain: Can he kill mammoths? If he can kill mammoths, we totally have to keep him.
Ursula: …you’re scaring me.
Lizardbrain: (waves tiny piece of paper) I have this mate-selection checklist, see…
Ursula: Can I see that?
Ursula: I think I liked you better when you were just trying to get me to buy a big-screen TV.
The first time this happened, I dismissed it as just one of those things–new relationship, disgustingly smitten, you tend to be attracted to practically everything about the other party. We’ll call it a fluke.
Except it kept happening.
Lizardbrain: DUDE! DUDE!
Ursula: Oh god, not this again.
Lizardbrain: I’m serious! This is HOT! This is prime mate behavior!
Ursula: No, it isn’t. It’s completely irrelevant.
Lizardbrain: Did you ask about the mammoth thing?
Ursula: What is it with you and mammoth?
Lizardbrain: That’s it. I’m getting the ovaries!
Ursula: You stay away from the ovaries!
The Ovaries: We are fantasizing about Alan Rickman. If you bother us, it will go badly for you.
Ursula: That does it. You’ve obviously lost your mind. Don’t make me stop feeding you.
Lizardbrain: Bring it, bitch! Let’s see how you like regulating your core temperature without me!
Biology is scary stuff. I still don’t WANT any, and can’t see that changing, barring an Act of God–and believe me, God would have a fight on his hands–but apparently some chunk of the ‘ol lizardbrain finds “good with kids” to be a terribly appealing quality in a potential partner.
*It should be noted that Kevin’s anticipation of this event strongly resembles Fry and Zap in that Futurama episode with the Amazon women.