You know what I love?
I love not having kids.
I love the freedom of making decisions for myself without having to factor in small ones that I am responsible for. I love not worrying about money or time the way I would if I had kids. I love not having to decide about schooling or homeschooling, transporting a small person, entertaining a small person, feeding or clothing a small person. Or, god forbid, multiple small people. I love never having to arrange childcare or skip doing something I want to do because I can't find it. I love not having to change barfy sheets in the middle of the night. I love almost everything about not having kids of my own.
You know what else I love?
I love living with kids. Who are not mine. It's the best of all possible worlds for me. I love getting to opt into sometimes helping with money or time or transportation or childcare, but not ever having to. I love spending time with kids in an unmarked, close, casual, intimate way. I love the easy familiarity of children and getting a glimpse into their much-less-filtered view of the world. I love their wacky senses of humor, their play, their glee. I love when they snuggle against me while we read books or play games. I love making their lives more awesome, and how they make my life more awesome. I love getting my literal and spiritual and emotional hands dirty with them through fun and serious and goofing and talking. I love playing a broad supporting role in parenting.
I also love hanging out with kids who I don't live with, but it turns out that living with them is even better, and I think it gives me a glimpse into the things that people mean when they say "it's different when they're yours".
And it's true that it is different, and I'm sure it would be even more different if I had a kid or kids of my own, but I'm increasingly sure that it wouldn't be different enough. What I have right now feels pretty much as perfect as can be, and I can imagine having it in a variety of configurations ... but I'm kind of blown away by how happy I am with the configuration I've got, and it's a heck of a lot more tenable (not to mention fully existing) than my occasional fantasy of having a 25% kid with 3-4 other parent-sets in on the parenting deal (I'd take 1-2weeknights a week and one weekend a month).
Seriously, it's super awesome for me.
And it also is bringing me to a clarity that I haven't had before, which is: I don't want kids.
Now, in another phrasing, I've been saying this for a while, but what I've actually said and felt is that I don't foresee myself wanting kids, which is my careful phrasing for my position of not wanting kids but knowing that I might change my mind. Living with kids is giving me -- in an extremely direct, positive, and happy way -- a really concrete and almost physical sense of confidence in my feelings on the matter.
There are a lot of awesome things about living with amber_phoenix and longueur and P and S, and this is one of them. Actually, this is a whole bunch of them, just categorized under one header for the purposes of this post.