Okay, some may consider this TMI, and others may read on. Whichever you are, I do not care.
Nine years and ten months ago, I had just returned from a deployment to the Arabian Gulf, and my wife S and I had determined that after 18 months of marriage it was time to start having children. We now have four beautiful children, two of each. When we started we actually thought about having two more, but four will keep us busy and poor enough for a while. So we are done procreating.
Tomorrow at 1030 am, nearly nine years to the day after S gave birth to our first child, I will head to the urologists' office to make it officially impossible...or as close to impossible as possible.
I remember lying in bed one evening when we had decided to start trying, and thinking about what it meant. Not about being a father or anything like that; I don't think the reality of that really hit me until the first time I told L to do something and he yelled "No!" back at me. I think it was more about "taking my place" in the evolutionary history of the species, if that doesn't sound too hokey. In the billions of years since life first showed up on the planet, it has had but one purpose - to make more life. Life has adapted to its environment, it has transformed and even actively shaped its environment, for the purpose of being able to make more life. As much as I thought I had achieved by then, or would go on to achieve, here I was simply taking my place among the billions of other organisms of my species that were working to ensure its continuation.
One might think I found this depressing. It was just the opposite. I was overcome by a sense of wonder, like I was a cosmologist catching a glimpse down the road to a unifying theory of physics. It was more of a religious experience to me than most anything I'd experienced after. I was "doing my part".
I think of Jurassic Park by the late Michael Crichton. One of the many excellent morals of the story is that "Life finds a way". Whether on a molecular level (remember amphibian gene splicing allowing female dinosaurs to change sex to male) or on a group/societal level (remember the dinosaurs (velociraptors?) watching the tankers come in and leave) life finds a way to move forward. We have children because we want someone to carry our legacy on, to carry on our name, to make us happy, because our religion tells us to - all reasons "designed" to benefit us as organisms or our community. In reality, these machinations are simply "life finding a way". Our evolved brains and ability to reason expresses the primal drive to "find a way" in a way that better suits our more rational construct of the universe. At least in the developed world. In the developing world, "life finds a way" in part because larger families can experience greater economic benefit. Simplified, I know, but this is a philosophical rambling and not a research paper.
So anyway, for whatever reason, life has found a way in a very minute sense (exactly 4 ways in 6.2 billion) through me, and tomorrow we're making sure it doesn't find any more ways, so we can focus on making the ways we've found the best ways they can be.
Which means I'll be sitting around a lot. Which means I'll be on the computer a lot. Which means that the the first (and ONLY!) Cthulhu's Family Restaurant "Ow-My-Balls-A-Thon" starts tomorrow afternoon. From when I get home and settled in, I will either post or produce some modification to the format of Cthulhu's Family Restaurant every 1-2 hours (hey this isn't going to be an exact thing!) until I go to bed between 11 pm and midnight. I hope to finally get some changes made and things added I wanted to do, and pad my monthly NaBloPoMo stats as well.
As I ponder tomorrow and the experience, I'm reminded of a conversation I had with my 10th grade health teacher regarding human reproduction.
Young Stickthulhu: Mr. Health Teacher, I'm confused...what's the difference between a testicle and a seminal vesicle?
Mr. Health Teacher: Well, Stick - there's a VAS DEFERENS!
Ummm...not for long. TMI!!! TMI!!!
Son of Dracula (1943)
8 hours ago