I’m 45 years old last I checked. Or maybe it’s 44. Depends on how you define a fetus. Doesn’t really matter. But it does invoke the following question:
Do you know what people my age are doing right now?
I’ll tell you what some of them are doing: They’re sending their children off to college. Or, at the very least, preparing to. The responsible ones, anyway. Responsible parents do everything in their power to raise their children right, to teach them to stand on their own. The responsible parent will make sacrifices for their children; they’ll do anything for them. Even if it costs them other things. The responsible parent will put their child at the top of the priority list. The responsible parent will die for their child.
And good on them, even if it’s for selfish reasons. Because, seriously, think about it. Intentionally reproducing offspring is nothing short of a selfish act. Ya think? You’ll quickly run out of fingers counting off people you know who’ve squirted out descendants for nothing other than selfish reasons.
Am I wrong?
We’ve even exploited science to allow ourselves to procreate, to create figurative clones of ourselves, to spread our genes. It’s a survival mechanism, really. By procreating, we are, in a very real sense, achieving immortality. We’re creating a piece of ourselves that will theoretically live on after us. We are cheating death.
I don’t have biological kids. Thank God. For them, that is. What a fucking mess they’d have been in by now.
But what are children, anyway? Ever thought about that? In a purely genetic sense, they’re just spawn. From our loins, specifically. Nothing spectacular, when you think about it. Hell, look at all the spawn at Walmart. No shortage of the stuff there. Any monkey can spawn. Reminds me of a popular saying: Any man can be a father, but only a real man can be a dad. Or something to that effect.
That rant out of the way, I admit I’ve never felt more like a father than I do right now, here in my mid-forties. A single father, anyway. While I don’t have living spawn from my loins, I’ve got TONS of spawn from my mind. My stories — my ideas, my concepts, my shit, whatever you want to label them — are as valid to me as any flesh-and-blood children could ever be. Those little bastard creatures. Conceived by my cerebral seed and all those forgettable whores of my imagination. Products of a union that are bigger — and more relevant — than all of us combined.
And like any responsible parent sending or preparing to send their kid off to college, I’ve found myself in a situation where I’m literally willing to do whatever it takes to do good for them. This means sacrifice. This means commitment. This means putting myself second. Like many parents will claim, I’m prepared to die for my kids. Because, after all, I’m dying anyway. Might as well be for a reason.
I suppose I wish what any decent parent wishes. We hope that maybe, just maybe, if we’re lucky, if we’re deserving enough, if we’ve done our job, perhaps our spawn may some day achieve what we could never have achieved ourselves in this painfully finite lifetime. Long after we’re gone.
How selfish — and mortal — we all are.