My wife and I are celebrating ten years together.
Six months as friends, ten months dating, seven months engaged, and eight years married.
We were pretty young, and no one expected us to get married so quickly, least of all us.
But we were in love, and wanted to be together. We were at a religious stage in our lives where we would rather buck the trend of simply moving in together and just make it official. Why not? What could go wrong?
As the youngest in our families, with all unmarried siblings, no one really saw this coming.
But then an even crazier thing happened.
Five months after I got married, so did my sister. And then my brother six months after that.
And now our family was growing exponentially.
Now after all these years, we have six nieces and nephews.
But we chose to push off having kids.
The rabbi who married my wife and I had expectations for us.
We had our own thoughts.
The hints began as blessings, and as time went on- our single friends got married, had kids of their own, and progressed with the carousel of life- the blessings became like demands.
We would jokingly tell rabbis, family and nosy friends that our art projects are our babies. They would get suspicious.
People started to worry about us. And it became worse.
Let me state clearly right here that infertility is no joke, and as far as I know, that is thankfully not an issue for us.
We are choosing when to start a bigger family when we feel it is right for us. You are not in our relationship and don’t get a vote.
Sometimes it has felt like the badgering is just there to legitimize the decisions of others.
If an alcoholic can get a buddy to join them for a 10am drink, they feel like their problems aren’t really problems. If we all get pregnant at the same time, our kids can play together forever!
But maybe we aren’t all on the same path. Maybe some of us need more time.
So stop impregnating us with your expectations. Playfulness can give way to uncomfortable moments that then go too far too often. Your constant judgement of our lifestyle is pushing us away; for our own health and peace of mind we need to distance ourselves.
Sometimes religion is used as an excuse to be insensitive to real life. What we are discussing is bringing new life into the world and that shouldn’t be taken lightly.
From an outsider perspective, I see kids used as band-aids for bad relationships or pregnancy comes on without proper consideration for what a child really means.
Birth control is a complicated subject in Judaism. Many rabbis have debated what they understand of it, but it is sadly looked down upon without enough thought about the woman and her own choices for her own body.
Typically, the “Pru Urvu” card gets played. “Be fruitful and multiply” is often referred to in these situations, with the trump being “it’s the first commandment in the Torah”.
Chronologically it is the first one we derive from the Torah, but the first commandment is actually to bless the new moon, which comes as the Jews left Egyptian slavery. Its message is simple: Everything has a cycle, and its right time.
And my trump? Before “Be fruitful and multiply” there is an entire chronicle of all the things G0d created before a person. They each needed to happen to set the stage for mankind.
My wife and I are artists. We want to be like G0d. With Its help, we will get to the “person” stage one day. But let’s create some lights and universes and trees first.
My pat answer is partly true. Each work of art we make is like our offspring, each with its own challenges and lifespan.
They aren’t a replacement for real children, but they make life more complex and enriching for the time being. They are part of the process. Please respect that.
Each of us has our own trials in life and artists are hypersensitive to that. We spend a lot of time reflecting on the experiences that shape our lives, and how we can repair that through external creation.
It’s important to sort through that before slinging another person through the very feelings we are trying to sort out.
Building a good relationship as a couple is too often overlooked. Year after year your marriage evolves. It’s important to form good habits and take regular moments to reevaluate with each other.
“Tikkun Olam” -Repairing the World- gets thrown around a lot as a concept. But changing the whole world starts with you and those closest to you. It’s time we repaired ourselves more.
I know children, for all their trouble, can be very healing.
And I look forward to that one day.
But not yet.
Some people can only create humans, and I respect that. It’s truly a miracle. I love kids, please don’t think otherwise.
But please give us the breathing room to do so and fulfill our specific potential at our own pace.