No, I Really Won’t.

Today this article popped up on my Facebook feed. (Yes, I know I have damaged my geek cred admitting to using Facebook.)

5 Things You Shouldn’t Say to Women Who Don’t Want Children

By the bullet points:

1. “You’ll regret it when you’re older.”

2. “You just haven’t found the right guy yet.”

3. “Choosing a childfree life is selfish.”

4 . “You’ll have a harder time finding someone who wants to be with you.”

5. “Who’s going to give me grandchildren?”

I don’t normally identify as a “feminist’ because I believe in equality, not female superiority which sadly the feminist movement is full of despite all claims to the contrary. Men and women are not defective for being their gender. Different is not bad. It’s often fun, interesting  and sometimes even enlightening so long as people respect each other as human beings of equal validity.

But this article struck a chord because I am a woman who has decided to not have children and have encountered these arguments and accusations, even from other women.

I could go into the argument about the exploding population and dwindling global resources (which is totally valid), but the truth is when I was 16, I realized that having children was was a very tenuous “if” in my life. *If* I found someone I wanted to spend the rest of my life with (which was always tenuous in and of itself, I take marriage *very* seriously) and *if* he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and *if* we both wanted kids and *if* we were in the right place financially. That’s a lot of “ifs,” too many to make plans around having family.

As I got older I realized that being emotionally in the right place was as much, if not more, important as finances. In a realistic evaluation of my character, I realized would be a crap mother. I had a crappy childhood and have issues connecting with people. I am self involved. I am bi-polar II. (And studies have shown the bi-polar women have a 25% chance of having a major episode during and after pregnancy, right when you should be bonding with your baby.)

And to be honest, I’m just not interested. At 42, I have never seen mommy-daddy-and-baby-makes-three and thought, I want that. I don’t see children or pictures of them or watch YouTube videos of them and desire to have one. I rarely even find them cute. (Though obviously for politeness’ sake I agree with the parents they are adorable.) I have five nephews. Still nothin’. And I like my life as it is. I don’t hate kids. I respect people for having them. That is an incredible responsibility to take on and I admire anyone who does so with care and conscientiousness.

I just don’t want one.

A few years ago, I went into my nurse practitioner and tried to talk to her about a tubal ligation. Immediately I got #1 and #2 arguments thrown in my face.

At 37, I think I knew what I want out of my life. And part of that is knowing that the right man for me does not want to have kids, or at least does not want to have any more kids. I’m aware my dating pool has a majority of divorcees who probably have already have children. So there is #4 dealt with too.

But she prattled on about how I didn’t know what I really wanted and that a man would change my mind.

Look bitch. I am an adult. This is my body, not any man’s. This is my life, not any man’s. Now shut up and tell me what I need to do before I shove that speculum down your throat. (No, I did not say that to her face, but I was thinking it really loud.)

I have also gotten the accusation of selfishness thrown at me. I have a friend whose mother has bi-polar disorder so badly she was refused adoption in the U.S.. She went to China and adopted three children and she has made those girls’ lives a living hell. Not all parents, but some, have children as accessories, or to have something to love them (the parent) unconditionally, or to trap a man into marriage, or when they can’t afford a child or are simply too immature and/or screwed up to care for them properly. The hundreds of thousands of children overcrowding our foster care system shows this. And for being self aware and not wanting to put another human being through hell, *I’m* selfish?

Fortunately, I have not has #5 thrown at me, thank for Gods for siblings, but it’s not our job to give up a significant portion of our lives to provide entertainment for our parents.

I remember my mother told me that when she had my little sister at age 40 in 1979, there were multiple complications with her birth that required a C-section to save my sister’s life. My mother asked the doctor, “While you are in there, can you just..*snip*snip*?” (She probably did not put it that way, but you get the drift.)

“I’m sorry, but we will need your husband’s permission to perform a tubal ligation.”

My mother said she almost stood up on the gurney to throttle him. Forty years old, four children, and she did not have any reproductive rights over her own body. That’s why I am pro-choice and pro-birth control: *That* is the end result of curtailing a women’s reproductive choices because a certain portion of American society still believes that women don’t know any better.

Hypocritically, the same portion of American society likes to blame rape victims for  being raped. Women can’t be trusted to be responsible for our own bodies, but we are somehow responsible for what a rapist chooses to do with his (or hers, there are female rapists as well).

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19 thoughts on “No, I Really Won’t.

  1. I’m a mum of two, but not it’s not likely I’ll be a granny. That sort of makes me sad, I can’t say I like the idea of a world without a Lucy or Alex, but still I could never consider the decision not to have children anything but responsible. I am VERY pro choice, at last we women have some control over our bodies. To surrender that up, just to satisfy the maudlin sentiments of a society still steeped in the values of the Victorian workhouse, appals me.

  2. Well, never say never. 😉

    And I can’t imagine your world without Lucy and Alex as well. I admire anyone who takes on that awesome responsibility of parenting and executes it so well. It just doesn’t have to be all of us. Women are not automatically born to breed. That’s something we can do, but we don’t have to.

    Right now in the U.S. we are facing a polarized society, one half of which is trying to pull us back into the 19th century, socially and economically.

    • I had a few probs having babies, and it’s amazing how, very much like a person’s weight, people seem to think it’s acceptable to comment. I can remember after the first year of marriage it was ‘Are you thinking of starting a family?’ After the second was, ‘when are you starting a family? The third was ‘are you having a problem starting a family?’ And then on it was, ‘don’t you like children?’
      I can never understand how being honest about the whole kid thing is so frowned upon. If more women were honest, and refused to be bullied into it, we might actually have a sensible population level, and fewer people in therapy.
      Sorry for the wee rant, I’m having a grump.

      • It’s not as relentless as it was in your formative years, but it’s still frowned on. Not for men of course, just women. (Of course, both men and women have the “If he/she is not married by thus and such an age, they must be gay.”) There is something wrong with us if we don’t want kids. But like I said to Augustick, having integrity to/for your own life is the most important step. That integrity will flow into all areas of your life.

        Fewer couples are having kids in the Europe and the U.S. (we’ve hit record lows two years in a row now), but it’s not enough to offset India and the countries of Africa. (China has a lower birthrate than the U.S. right now). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_sovereign_states_and_dependent_territories_by_birth_rate The human species treats this planet like it is inexhaustible, and we are headed for a huge crash in drought and famine. Now, I would not have so much of a problem if the only species being affected by our stupidity was us, but we’re creating a mass extinction event too. 😡

      • Well, that documentary on Chernobyl said a lot about the rubbish we put the planet through. It’s not all great, but still, nature does seem to win out, win over us.

      • Over hundred of thousands to million of years, yes. Nature always rebounds. Again, if we wiped ourselves out because we were stupid, ethically I’m o.k. with that. It’s tragic and horrible for those who suffer, but we brought it on ourselves. But we are taking hundreds to thousands of species with us. We are the direct cause of many species extinctions. And that is just wrong. Especially since we are supposedly aware and intelligent creatures.

      • The recovery, adaptation, and survival of wildlife with in the contaminated zone is amazing. Field mice with radiation levels that were considered unsurvivable, are now ten generations on, and going strong. The effects are not what the scientist expected.
        Not that it’s all really ok, more it shows we are not nearly as clever as we think.

  3. But there is a difference between radiation adaption and wiping a species’ environment out by placing a shopping malls, apartment complexes, house tracts, farms and cattle/sheep grazing there, cutting down forests for timber-wood, drinking rivers dry as we do the Colorado and many other rivers in the American west, poisoning the water tables and soil with chemicals and pesticides, hunting species into extinction, raising the planetary temperature faster than species can adapt. Mother Nature can only go so far on a species behalf. http://www.biologicaldiversity.org/programs/biodiversity/elements_of_biodiversity/extinction_crisis/

    “It’s frightening but true: Our planet is now in the midst of its sixth mass extinction of plants and animals — the sixth wave of extinctions in the past half-billion years. We’re currently experiencing the worst spate of species die-offs since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. Although extinction is a natural phenomenon, it occurs at a natural “background” rate of about one to five species per year. Scientists estimate we’re now losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the background rate, with literally dozens going extinct every day [1]. It could be a scary future indeed, with as many as 30 to 50 percent of all species possibly heading toward extinction by mid-century [2].”

    http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/10-animals-presumed-extinct-in-the-last-decade/baiji-dolphin

    The mice bounced back from Chernobyl, the Yangtzee river dolphin did not bounce back from China hunting them and polluting their rivers until they went extinct. The Black Rhino is gone. The Caribbean Monk Seals are gone. Those and hundreds of other plant and animal species over the last hundreds years are extinct due to our direct and indirect involvement. Scientists don’t know if there are any more Java Tigers left. We are fishing to ocean to the point anchovy and cod stocks are down. Sharks are being hunted to extinction. Elephants are being hunted and losing habitat. All the lemur species in Madagascar are under threat. And that’s not counting the basis of the earth’s food and oxygen supply, algae and plants which are also fighting a loosing battle.

    They’re dying out and we have to take responsibility for that and change how we do thing.

    Now there is one good story that came out over the weekend:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/right-whale-population-at-all-time-high-says-expert-1.2681469

    With some care, we can save many.

      • We are supposedly smart enough to find a balance. We have a lot of the technology started to do it. A lot of it needs more research, but it’s possible. The problem is the majority of the human race just doesn’t care. We are about instant gratification, not long term planning.

        The tragic thing is we have a choice. Others species do not.

        It’s depressing the number of people who think there is something wrong with not having children, who don’t give a damn about the world they leave their kids and what their children are going to have to deal with.

      • It’s a sentimental nonsense constructed by various male centric religions and social structures. I understand the survival of the species thing, but we have taken it to a whole other level!
        I’m not a feminist, just a realist and a mother. I wanted kids, maybe it was a failing, a way to make sure I had at least one person to love me all my life. Whatever it was, I don’t regret it, and I respect my daughters choice (even if I sulk a wee bit) The whole process of being a mother swallows you, the woman. You become the mother, and a mother is a facilitator. Your own needs come after the children’s. And it hasn’t ended with them growing up, just gotten more complicated.

  4. As I have said, I have nothing but respect for you and other responsible, loving parents.

    I think that is an issue with parenting, even now. I think men tend to compartmentalize the way they approach the world and their lives. Most women don’t. We’re more holistic. Everything in our lives is going on at once. Men can put parenting aside when they are at work etc.. They can escape one aspect of their life into another. They can escape parenting into work. Most women can’t. They carry that stress and that identity with them 24/7 along with everything else.

    And while it is changing in society, for much of history men have an identity beyond being a father, their career. Women didn’t. That aspect has gotten much better, but there is still a loud portion of society (at least here in the U.S.) that is pushing back against women having identities beyond daughter/wife/mother.

    At least, that is the way I see it.

    • I should clarify: These are mental/intellectual approaches. Of course men carry stress around with them, just like women do. I just think intellectually they tend to compartmentalize their lives more.

  5. Oh for heaven’s sake at the adoption story…. What a nightmare. There are definitely people out there who should not be allowed to adopt.

    I don’t want kids either. They don’t do anything for me. Everyone tells me I just haven’t found the right person or that I’ll want them when I’m older. Still, nope… Kids are expensive, and the world is overpopulated anyway.

    You should write a post on feminism. I’d be interested in reading what you have to say. I identify as a feminist, but I know there are some very zealot-like, overjudgmental beliefs within the community. I view feminism as a diverse community though, so not everyone will hold the same beliefs or come from the same backgrounds, but the overall idea is that women should have rights and that society is too restrictive on women.

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