Catch 22

choicesToday’s prompt from Writing 101 is to be inspired by a quote and utilize it in the post. This is very familiar territory for me; I frequently assign my students to respond to a choice of given quotes for their essays. This was difficult for me, though, because I was spoiled for choice. I did what I rarely do and pondered the assignment before beginning. This is not a good idea. When the Writing 101 group responded to the word procrastination, I commented to several fellow bloggers that I am not a procrastinator because the longer I put a task off, the more daunting the task becomes. An almost blinding epiphany solved my dilemma, as I realized, “Oh, I can write about the quotes I dismiss today another day!” So, buoyed by my new-found enlightenment, here goes!


Today’s post is a bit more polarizing than anything else I’ve written; I have no intent to offend anyone. I actually had a different example in mind when I chose the quote I wrote about, but as I started writing, this is what developed.

I am a very cautions person.    I write lists; I make plans.     I know where I’m going.

And sometimes this is a problem. As I think about this particular aspect of my character, I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, by Bertrand Russell.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.”

Russell was a British philosopher, logician, and social reformer who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950 “in recognition of his various and significant writings in which he champions humanitarian ideals and freedom of thought.” (

no-returns-signI’m not saying that I’m particularly wise, but I am full of doubts. One thing that this makes me think of in particular is my husband’s and my decision not to have children. We doubted our abilities to be good parents. We pondered and pondered how taking on such a monumental responsibility would affect our lives: Would be be effective parents? Would my health allow me to be an appropriately involved mother? Could we make a child feel loved, safe, and happy? What if we simply felt overwhelmed? There’s a strict NO RETURN policy on children. In the end, we decided that in light of our doubts, we should abstain from having children. We have never regretted this decision. We feel very complete, and we have accepted some of my students and former students into our family, defining family as determined by the bonds of love, rather than blood.  I don’t think our lives would have been better had we procreated, but I do, however, believe, we would have been responsible parents had we made that choice. I have a six-year-old nephew who has given me my first real contact with a young child, and I love him and delight in his company. When he cries, “Aunt Tracey!” and runs to me for a hug, my heart melts!

sad childAs a teacher, unfortunately, I see children on a daily basis who were the result of a fanatical need to pass down DNA, thoughtlessly fulfill a societal imperative to reproduce, certain that they didn’t need to think about this prodigious responsibility. They did not give the same amount of forethought to their decision to bring children into their lives. It’s a classic Catch 22 situation. Those who truly consider the awe-inspiring commitment that having children truly may be those least likely to have them, their doubt helping them to understand what is required to be effective parents. I’m certainly not saying everyone who chose to become parents did so without thought. Obviously, many people are wonderful, nurturing parents; their children are happy and loved. Unfortunately, I see far too many cases of fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.

For you loving parents reading this, I am in awe of what you do every minute of every day of your lives, and will continue doing forever. I remember my 93-year old grandmother still mothering my mother. The minuscule tastes I have of parenthood through my relationships with my nephew and Chelsea and some of my other students are exhausting–but rewarding.

heart-605359_1280To my parents who gave me what I now see was a charmed childhood, I say, “Thank you!”

16 thoughts on “Catch 22

  1. I commend you for your ability to see both sides of the coin, as it were. As a parent I tell you this; you have not offended in any way. As an educator you get a front row seat to (give or take) 20 – 30 little lives for a period of time each day. Then the period is over and 30 new little lives walk into yours. You see the herd, where most only get to see the sheep. (I hope that makes sense?)


  2. I applaud you and your husband for making that decision of abstaining from having children. that must be a tough choice not only for you, but for him as well. I wonder and doubt if could be a good father if I every have kids. could I live up to the responsibilities that come with have kids. Right now am known as the scary uncle to my nieces and nephew, even though I don’t have say a word. All they need to hear is uncle going to get upset from my mom and the about does it. Sometime:)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. […] Now call me crazy, but I think if you’re going spit out a mini-version of yourself you should do it when you are best prepared to deal with it. I mean, that’s an 18 year contract, at least. It seems to me that some of the people who care the most about caring for and protecting children either don’t have any or can’t. The decision to not have children is an educated and compassionate one: there are well over 7 billion people on this planet straining for limited resources. Limiting your own procreation to one or no children is the socially responsible thing to do. The problem with this is it leads to less educated and compassionate people passing down their genes. Like one blogger put it, it’s a Catch 22. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Don’t think you needed to be unsure about your post, but then again that would in a way be entirely in line with the theme of this post.
    My wife and I met late in life and decided like you to go childless. I think it’s a decision that is different for everyone. I do cringe on occasion though, when I see some parents. I remember one young girl who had a kid way too early. The daughter came up and excitedly started telling her mom about a new book she was reading, and the mom just sort of said, “Whatever”, and ignored the girl. My heart went out to the girl, who seemed bright, loving, and a real treasure.

    Think it’s great you’re able to make a difference in so many lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I love this post.
    I put off having children. Then, suddenly, around age 39, the biological imperative hit. I now have a ten year old daughter who is the light of our lives, the song in our hearts, the apple of our eye, and all those other cliches (true, nevertheless).
    I totally understand your choice, and the deep thinking that went into it. It is only right.


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