follow up to the baby issue

About the Salon article on whether or not to procreate….I’ve written about this before, once in a fit of anger (see below) and another time with a slightly more relenting viewpoint. 

I wrote the rant below a few years ago out of sheer frustration upon being inundated with comments and overall rudeness by what I felt was an intrusion by some people into what is not their bizniz.  This pretty much summed it up for me back then…

Ok, listen up people. To all those who have asked me, my husband, or my poor parents when we will be “blessed” with a child, no matter how you worded your inquiry – this one’s for you. Here’s the announcement. Please pay attention. At this time in our lives, my husband and I have NO plans to have children. Do I really have to repeat this over and over again?

Yes, I realize that I will be 30 years old in a couple of months and that my “biological clock is ticking”. My husband and I have never said that we wouldn’t have kids SOME day, but not today, not tomorrow and probably not next week either. And if I never have children why does that make me less of a person? Can I not live a happy and fulfilling life without having children? I’m sorry if you can’t, but we’re doing just fine thanks.

Now before some mom throws a soccer ball at my head let me just say that I think mothers are amazing, the good ones anyway. I admire the commitment, love and sacrifice it takes to provide kids with a happy home.  I just know so many women who think that bearing children is just something that they are expected to do in their life; that it is just a given for them. Personally, I want to give that decision a little more thought and decide on my own (along with the hubby) if it is right for us.

Yes, I know everyone says that the positives of having children outweigh any negatives and perhaps that is true although I still need some convincing. Word on the street is that this raising kids thing is a rewarding and enriching experience. I also know that most mothers would never admit that they regret having children after the deed has been done. So I’m not sure how much honesty is involved in all the advice that is bestowed upon me or how much of it is just an evil desire to have me be in the same boat as they are – tied down and responsible for a child’s wellbeing.

Why do we not want kids right now? Not that it’s anyone’s beeswax but I will oblige. We like our lives the way they are. If we want to go out for ice cream at 2:00 am or do the marital dance in the middle of the kitchen, it’s not a problem. I like being responsible for myself, my kitties and my husband only. I like having free time to do what I want, when I want. I like being able to buy whatever kind of car I want without regard to car seat accessibility. I like not having to help anyone with homework or school fundraising. I prefer not to listen to screaming fits or temper tantrums. I like my boobs where they are and my belly flat – but that’s another rant for another day. Selfish you say? Not as selfish as the people who tell me I should have children so that I’ll have someone to take care of me when I’m old.

So to all you great moms out there, you deserve a hot bath and a massage. You have my admiration and respect. But please respect the decision of those who don’t want to be just like you.

Whew, I feel better now….

(Wow, do I sound bitter or what?  Yikes.  I’m not so hard-core now, trust me.  I must have been PMSing that day.)

I always find the sometimes war between the so-called “child-free” and parents to be an interesting debate with both sides raising good points.  But should it even be a debate in the first place?  To each his own, different strokes for different folks and all that jazz right?  That’s why I like the article by Ms. Reiter.  I thought she gave an honest account of both sides.  And I found it interesting that even as a mother, she still was able to be objective and candid about it.  I’ve found that to be rare.

My one and only problem with the whole having kids thing is simply this.  I think those who ask me and others like me “so when are you having kids” are being incredibly insensitive.  What if I had a medical problem and was not able to bear children?  What if one or both of us were infertile?  What if I’d already had a miscarriage or two?  Can’t you see how hurtful that would be to say to a couple in those types of situations?  A seemingly casual question has the potential to cause a lot of heartache.  I know most people mean well and wouldn’t inflict additional emotional pain on someone on purpose but it comes across as being insensitive and nosing into what is very personal territory. 

By now, I’ve been married long enough that most people have stopped asking but I do still get the occasional comment.  I have had to forcibly remain silent when I overheard someone insinuate that a married couple did not have a family of their own until they gave birth to an offspring.  I’ve had to endure old ladies looking at me like I had a club foot growing out of my forehead when I told them that we’ve been married for 6+ years without kids.  I’ve wanted to slug mommies who have said things like “just wait till you have children of your own, then you’ll see” or “there’s nothing like having a child” or “you don’t know what you’re missing”. 

All this to say, the decision to have children is a very personal one and I have nothing against kids, really I don’t.  I just have a problem with folks bugging me about it.  Perhaps this comes across more negatively than I mean for it too.  I imagine, when our time comes, we will have children of our own if it’s in the cards.  And when we do, if I slip up and happen to ask a just-married 20-something when she’s having kids, you have my permission to conk me over the head with a wiffle bat and direct me to this very post. 

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3 thoughts on “follow up to the baby issue

Add yours

  1. I guess I tended to home in on the author’s more negative sections of the article. She does do a very good job of remembering that there are negatives despite having just had a child whom she loves, and that’s unusual honesty, or maybe we can call it objectivity. And yes, I’ve thought the baby comments somewhat insenstitive too and wondered if they even knew the situation. I may have to copy a paragraph or two there to pull out and quote next time someone asks me when my daughter is going to make me a grandma.

  2. Based on recent comments she has made, I think my mom has decided we are trying to have kids and not succeeding. In reality, we are making a conscious decision to wait until we feel the time is right. However, after we hit the 5-years-of-marriage mark, mom started saying some odd things that seem to be directed at comforting my childless state.

  3. Rock on! My husband and I are waiting to have kids until we’re closer to 30 and our student loans are paid off, but – with a few words rearranged here and there – I have given this rant before. I especially hate the “you should have a baby so I can play with it” type of asking.

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