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A Walk On The Child Side

My boyfriend and I have had a rocky relationship. We broke up and got back together at least three times before we got back together again in April. He used to tell me he loves me, but his attitude has changed. I believe he cares about me, but he says we are just having fun this time around. I have gotten him to agree not to see other women, but I don't see him very often on Saturday nights. This is hard because he has a history of cheating on me; also, he says that he doesn't care if I see other guys. Another issue is his desire to get married someday and have a family. I don't want kids, but I love him and I don't want to lose him. I'm so afraid of ending up alone. Should I change my mind about having kids? He said it would make a difference.

--Mother Maybe

DOES IT EVER occur to you that dogs should be allowed into restaurants and children should be the ones leashed to a sign outside? It occurs to the rest of the world whenever they encounter the children of people like you -- people who go into the mother business for all the wrong reasons: "Ooh, I'm fresh out of boyfriend adhesive. Maybe I'll create a few humans."

Please don't reproduce.

If only parenting were as hard to break into as cosmetology. We're very serious in this country about the prevention of bad hair. If you wanted to cut hair, you'd have to go to hair college, pass a series of tests, then apply for a license. To have kids, all you need are working ovaries. This is stupid. Bad hair grows out. Bad children grow up and replicate.

Actually, the only people who should be allowed to raise kids are those who find the prospect terrifying. Even before they give birth to their first, they picture themselves in a locked room under a blinding light: "It's nine o'clock," a voice booms. "Do you know where your children are?" They know, they just know what they'll have to answer: "Why, yes," they'll stutter. "The seven-year-old is out carjacking, the nine-year-old should be back from robbing 7-11 any minute now, and the twins are busy as bees building a crystal meth lab in the basement."

Bringing a few new felons into the world doesn't scare you. All you're afraid to raise is the truth -- that this guy appears to be keeping you around in case there's nothing good on TV. You know full well that he isn't sitting home on Saturday nights pondering Lamaze alternatives. It's obvious that he either isn't ready to make a commitment, or he isn't ready to make a commitment to you.

What you have here is Boyfriend-Lite -- the romantic equivalent of that yellow substance, "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter." (I sure can. Are your taste buds stupid?) Your brand, "I Can't Believe It's Not Boyfriend!" is man as substitute for personal growth, an attempt to have a man instead of having a you.

While it's understandable that you're afraid of ending up alone, the only way to guarantee that you won't is to go off alone and find yourself. Once you get on your way, yellow boyfriend-like substances should look a lot less appealing, as should the notion of using your ovaries as a compass.

Copyright ©2001, Amy Alkon, from her syndicated column, Ask The Advice Goddess, which appears in 60 papers across the U.S. and Canada. All rights reserved.