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No bookstore shelf houses a 100 percent guaranteed parenting guide authored by the Man himself. Children are not born with manuals neatly folded and clipped to their wrists. No amount of dreaming, imagining, or research can prepare any person to be a parent. So, it is a wonder why friends will often ask me (and even my husband), “Are ya sure you still want one?” Typically, they ask this when one of their own children has acted particularly obnoxiously.

Sometimes their smug question snags on my cockles before it has a chance to slide off my back and I wonder: Am I ready for this? Are we ready for one of those?

Theirs is an honest, albeit condescending, inquiry. Do I want a child who will likely have a complete meltdown in the middle of the most inappropriate public arena? Am I really ready for a little being who will likely break remotes (maybe even a TV or two), scuff floors, dent furniture, and throw up at least once all over the backseat of the car? Note to self: research ways to remove the stench of bile from upholstery. I am not confident this is even possible.

The answer is simple, “I don’t know. But, I’m ready to jump in.”

I do not know exactly what it is like to be a parent. That does not mean it is appropriate to hold my inexperience over my head like it is the other shoe life is preparing to drop, especially in light of my (or any infertile’s) struggles to conceive. We are fighting for our inalienable right to procreate, yet friends think it is the appropriate time to ask us this wholly unfair, loaded question.

And, really, who in their right mind would choose to have a child once they calculated the ratio of their investment to their gains? This ever-expanding parasite will spend the next 20 years (or more) draining you of your energy, time, money, and sanity for what? What do they offer in return? Their love? No, no, I don’t think so. If I recall, that is withdrawn somewhere around year 13. Or is it 12 now? You got me.

So, friends and strangers alike, if you could not answer this question when you were childless, why are you bothering to ask me? Now get your kid out of my fountain.