I’m sitting with some great old friends from high school, catching up on the last 20 years of our lives. There was a time when we had everything in common, from favorite teachers to lunchtime hangouts to homework due dates. And it’s fun — even comforting — to see how much we’re still alike politically, professionally, socially …
But then talk turns to the way we’re most different: My kids and their cats.
Often there’s judgment implicit when breeders and nonbreeders get to squawking about offspring. But not us. My pals seem genuinely charmed when I brag about my smarter-than-average spawn (whether they find my kids inspiring or my preening adorable, I can’t be sure). And I don’t question it when they tell me their cats are awesome, their life is good, and that they aren’t convinced procreating would improve it. I believe them.
Except … there’s something about the way they say that — is there a flicker of doubt on their faces? a subtle rise in intonation? — that makes it seem more like a question than a statement. It feels like they’re asking me outright: Starshine, why have kids?