So what do you really need?

“I don’t need a man to start a family.”

These were the words of a friend in her mid 30s that recently went through an artificial insemination procedure.  “How long had you been thinking about this as an option,” I asked casually as I kept sipping my vodka tonic and she sipped her room temperature water. It’ll be a long time before Jessica has a drink with me again. “It’s always been an option. A man would be nice, but I’ve never felt like I needed one to have a family,” she replied. I was puzzled. My friend comes from a fairly strict Caribbean upbringing where she was raised by both parents, which was also the case for most of the people in her extended family. I was parsing my words in my head before asking a question that probably would’ve gotten a not-so-pleasant response had it been anybody else but me. “So you’re fine with the concept of a family that doesn’t involve a father that’s there to raise his son or is at least remotely in the picture?” I always make the assumption it’ll be a boy first. I guess I’m trying to speak it into existence for myself whenever the time comes for the wife to hate me for something she wanted.

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At this point,  Jessica was staring at me with a smirk that resembled my own and left me wondering what she was about to say next.  I started to understand what people meant when they said my smirk was somewhere between welcoming and uncomfortable. I’m pretty sure I perspired a bit while I waited and then she got all extra deep:

“A man doesn’t make it a family for me. Love does.”

I blinked as if my contact lenses were shriveling up in my eyes. I let out a “hmph” to acknowledge that I heard her and that I was internalizing what she had just said. As logical as I may be, my brain doesn’t always work linearly. My thoughts wandered from A to D to B and then to C which led me to the conclusion that love alone doesn’t make a family. If anything, it holds it together. I have a lot of friends that come from single parent homes. When they talk about family, I know they’re talking about their mother and their siblings, a grandparent and all their cousins, or some other combination. And even with the way they were raised, father in the picture or not, they all  speak of being married and having kids when looking at their concept of family in the near or distant future. Granted, sometimes things just happen that are out of our control.

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Personally, having a family means that I’ll be married and have at least 1 kid. I couldn’t see doing it any other way. Maybe it’s because I’m naturally afforded that luxury as a man? Maybe it’s because I don’t have to think about the Ovulation Factory factory that’s the main employer in a small town shutting down—even though I do sorta have to think about it in the context of considering someone as a relationship partner. Carrying on the Jackson name is a must and you won’t catch me running into a relationship so I can hurry up and impregnate them before it’s too late. Take that how you wanna take it.

But let’s not forget the women on the other side of the table like my friend Jessica. Let’s not forget the women who don’t think having a man around makes it a family, or the ones that are fine just having a man or husband and not having kids at all. It seems the older I get, the more flexible people around me are becoming. I guess this isn’t surprising at all. It does make me wonder if the concept of family changes with age or if some people never had their mind made on what they considered a family in the first place.

What do you think? For the ladies, do you need to have a man in your life and a child to have your own family? Is one or the other enough for you? Would you consider artificial insemination if the potential for a hubbykins looked bleak? For the fellas, what’s your concept of family as it relates to the components?

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So How Much Do I Get If I Tallywack Into This Cup,