On the next generation: Introduction

[A sometimes foul-mouthed rant about wanting to become a father – or not.]


I should not have children. Not now, anyway. I’m too tense, too wound up about life. It took me ten years just to say: “Okay, I think I’ve got it sorted out. I now have the recipe! Now I just need to bake the cake and hope others find it edible. Or I hope at least I reckon it tastes okay, otherwise I’d have to try again.”

How do I expect to be a father figure to children?! An uncle to nephews and nieces, yes. I’ll be a good uncle, the kind who knows and understand things my brother’s-in-law may not know or understand. But I’m afraid I’ll be the type of father of whom my own son will say to his friend: “I wish my father was more like yours. My father is so anxious about everything. I hope I don’t turn out like him one day.”

My problem is, after all these years, I still look at myself in a middle-class mirror. Still! After all these years! And in this mirror I still find myself too insubstantial! “Already 32 … not married … nothing on the horizon … no house or car … still writing the same pieces over and over since you were 23.” Fuck everyone! Fuck the middle-class world that I still drag around my neck like a burning tyre! For once look at yourself in your own mirror and judge yourself according to your own criteria, not according to what you assume other people’s criteria are!

But it all falls flat because I shuffle embarrassedly through middle-class homes in my plastic sandals, because I don’t think I’m allowed to step on their carpets in better quality shoes! And I feel ashamed when I stand in their kitchens because I wish I also had a microwave oven!

Do I think it’s time to clear my throat and announce, “Ladies and gentlemen, you’re pissing against the wrong tree. I’m not one of you”?

Or am I? Is it not true that I also want to marry and have children at some point? But how can I reconcile that with my current ambitions, and with my anxiety about life and death?

It is indeed time that I crawl from my class closet and announce that a few things should be made clear, and fuck everyone basically, and that’s how it is, how it’s always been, and how it’s going to be tomorrow and next year too.


Does what I said last night mean that I would prefer to be on my own for the rest of my earthly existence, or that I don’t want to make ten times more money than I presently do? No, to want someone in your life is essential for survival in this world, and that large amounts of capital can be a useful resource cannot be ignored.

Particularly good reasons can be pointed out why I should continue to strive for companionship with another person and for financial independence. Striving towards these things so I can say to my contemporaries, “Look friends, I am now one of you!” is, however, not one of the reasons I’ll be pointing to. If the friends don’t want to play, they can go to hell.


Because I want to have children. That is why I still give weight to people’s criticism and negative opinions about me that would otherwise not matter. After all the left-wing politics, after all the talk about creative and personal freedom, there is one thing I can’t fit into my current lifestyle: the ideal of a Good Father who gives his children the best he possibly can, and who sometimes sacrifices his own preferences and ambitions for his children.

Why would the possibility of having my own children one day make me vulnerable to criticism regarding my choice of a lifestyle? Because, to be a Good Dad, I need money. I firmly believe that a father who can’t afford to look after his children will always have a problem looking his children, his wife, his neighbours, his friends, relatives, other people in the community with whom he differs in many respects, and finally himself in the eyes.

Am I good enough to be a father figure to children? I have always believed I am, or could be one day, because I reckon my experience as a teacher has shown that I understand children to a certain extent, and that I get along with them well enough. I also know from experience that I can be strict when I need to be strict, conservative when I need to be conservative, and open-minded, tolerant and patient enough to let children be children.

The problem is, I suffer too much under my own fears and insecurities. I also have no record to show that I can carry the financial responsibility of taking care of a family – or at least to make a reasonable contribution with a salary-earning spouse. This leads me to only one conclusion: I don’t qualify to be a father figure at this stage of my life.

* * *

It does strike me though: Many of the things I’m unsure of have to do with the highest and most necessary evil of our civilisation: MONEY.

If my future does include the basic joys of a spouse and children, I would only be able to declare without reservation my convictions of personal freedom and creative independence, and my own understanding of ethics and morality, if I have enough money. Why? Regardless of how commendable your ideal of creative independence is, or how noble your understanding of ethics and morality, it won’t mean a damn thing if you cannot properly take care of your family.

* * *

The path I chose after university, the path I have been taking the last ten years, is not conducive to being a Family Man who meets my own exacting requirements for the role. These requirements are virtually identical to what is expected of a Good Father and Family Man of the Socio-economic Middle Class. As long as I have daydreams about becoming a family man one day, my own high expectations of myself for such a role would mean that I would tread lightly in middle-class company even as I criticise them; I would be intimidated by them even as I mock them.

The life I have been living the last ten years, the choices I have made and the results thereof, are suitable for the life of a single poet, writer and armchair philosopher. It is suitable for the eternal student of history, religion, philosophy and a language or three. Unless I get lucky, it is a life of loneliness that will most likely end in an early grave.

This is the life I have chosen for myself, for all practical purposes, and that I have to make worth living on a daily basis. This is the life in which I feel comfortable, that enables me emotionally to handle my fears and insecurities to some extent, and to even deal with it creatively.

This is also the life that is not conducive to the fulfilment of another ideal, namely to one day play the role of a Good Father and Family Man.

I have always wanted to be in a class of my own. At 32 years of age I can pat myself on the shoulder and say: “Congratulations, old buddy. Too bad you can’t be everything you want to be.”

Is that good enough? It must be, because this is my life.