Wednesday, November 21, 2007

I'm Not Kidding

After over six years of marriage, strangers and friends continue to ask the question “when are you going to have children?” Amazing after all this time there is still shock expressed upon learning that we are not waiting or infertile and have chosen not to raise children. The lengths people go to in pressing us on our reasons and work to refute them is astonishing; a futile attempt to change our minds. Taking the path of least resistance by pretending we are unable to have children does not work either; lying has landed me a few recommendations to a good fertility specialist and does not raise awareness of our family of two. Bearing and/or raising children is not a marital requirement and “childfree by choice” is a status shared by an increasing number of people worldwide. The reasons behind the non-traditional decision are as unique as each individual and couple who makes it; these are my personal reasons why children are not in my cards which could offend some and enlighten others.
  • Marital Bliss: In today’s high paced world it is hard to find enough quality time with your spouse for dates, romance and intimacy; children make it nearly impossible. I value the amazing friendship I have with my husband and feel our relationship would suffer with the introduction of a child.
  • Pets: I feel extremely fortunate that I get such happiness from the love and devotion of animals. From the time I was a young child I connected with animals in a way that most people do not; understood their gestures, felt their pain and could communicate their needs. Our dogs do require a lot of work and attention, but at least I can throw up a baby gate and leave them at home for a few hours without child protective services knocking at my door.
  • Freedom to Choose: Without children, there is the freedom to choose whatever you want to do, wherever you want to go, whoever you want to see, whatever you want to eat, etc. etc. etc. Eat dinner at 9 pm, no problem. Hop on a plane for a long weekend in Vegas, start packing. This spontaneity is a crucial piece of who I am which would disappear with children.
  • Career Aspirations: Career advancement is limited when jumping out of the fast-lane and taking the Mommy Track, even a few months home these days can disrupt career advancement. I also appreciate that I work because I enjoy my job (most of the time!). If I wanted to change careers we could downsize our home and move to a less expensive neighborhood and make that happen. I’m not stuck in a job because my family is dependent on my salary to stay in a school district or a big house; that sounds vaguely like indentured servitude.
  • Momfia: As if being a mother does not naturally come with its own set of pressure, “Super-Moms” impose additional guilt and punishment to mothers who forego breast-feeding, feed children non-organic meals, use diapers rather then natural elimination techniques, decide to go to work, decide to stay home, decide to put their kids in public school, decide to run a marathon 9 months after giving birth; and they do all this while maintaining a perfect figure, well manicured nails and a full face of makeup.
  • Where's the Owner's Manual: Children do not come with an owners manual which could be a major reason so many people screw up their children. People think that childfree couples know nothing about children, but I argue that childfree couples are all too understanding of the complexities and commitment involved with raising a happy and healthy child who becomes an upstanding member of our society. Parenting is hard, tough, thankless, endless work and far too many people have children without understanding all it entails to be a good parent and role model.
  • Gene Pool: Where others lament that my husband and I will not be bringing a tall, smart, blonde haired, blue eyed child into the world they neglect to remember the less glamorous genes we will not pass on; the world has enough overweight nerdy asthmatic angry alcoholics.
  • Economic Stability: Studies report that raising the average child costs $1.2 million from birth to 18, not having them is my retirement plan. Children are a very high risk investment; historically they have very low ROI. The overall reason for my not having children equates to the risk and investment is not worth the intangible rewards.
  • Gender Bias: If I could guarantee having a girl maybe I would consider it, but raising boys must be the hardest job in the world and I would be devastated to have a son.
  • Return Policy: We often hear people say all our reasons for not having children will go away once they are born and we’ll change our priorities to make room for baby. What if that does not happen and the baby just doesn’t fit; hospitals will not take it back if you decide you don’t want it, even with a receipt. People do not want to believe that there are thousands upon thousands of parents who do not love their children the way they thought or want to change their priorities and it is the children who ultimately suffer.
  • Guarantees: There is not a money-back guarantee that a child will grow up to be a human being you actually like, or who will like you. You can spend your 1.2 million dollars to raise a child and still dislike them or never see them as adults.
  • Warrantees: If babies are born with or develop any issues, they are not covered by an extended warranty; 1 in 166 children will develop autism, 5% of children are born with birth defects, childhood cancer is on the rise. Mathematically it seems that there is a very small chance of having a perfectly healthy child.
  • Boredom: Constantly having to read the same books, talk in mono-syllabic words and follow a small human around is my personal definition of hell. If you are lazy, you can just throw your children in front of the television 8 hours a day, but then Barney, Dora and Blues Clues rot out their brains while causing parents to want to blow out theirs.
  • Family Ties: How do parents living hundreds of miles away from any support network maintain their sanity? My family lives over 1000 miles away. Without grandparents and aunts living in a 10 mile radius to rescue the child from a stress induced murderous rampage I would likely end up in jail and the children would grow up without the love of an extended network of family.
  • Paternal Role: Couples can say until they are blue in the face that they equally share parental responsibilities but the truth of the matter is the brunt of the burden falls squarely on the shoulders of the mother; it all starts with the birth and continues from there. The only way a women can remain equal to men in both the home and the workplace is to forego motherhood.
  • No Basic Instincts: Where many other women coo at babies, love shopping for onesies, and talk lovingly of “the baby smell,” I actually find babies and all the things that go with them slightly repulsive with not the slightest bit of natural maternal instincts.
  • Human Incubator: Many women with children who chose not to breast feed give “not wanting to feel like a milking cow” as a reason behind the decision. How those women feel about breast feeding is how I feel about the entire pregnancy; everything involved in carrying a child is far too functional and utilitarian for my comfort. You think science would develop a much better method for bringing babies into the world rather then relying on women to serve as fetus feeders destroying their bones and figures.
  • Overpopulation: If you think gas prices are high, the earth is warming and the world is just becoming too crowded try squeezing another billion or two onto the planet. Many argue that having children is necessary to the survival of the human race but having too many children will eventually lead to our demise.
  • Minivans: As if this needs any explanation.
  • Aunt Chelle: Growing up surrounded by the love, knowledge and emotional security provided by adults other then parents is crucial to the development of children. While I may never be a mother there are many children in my life who I hope benefit from my love and view of the world. One of the most influential people in my life was my Aunt Joan, a strong, independent woman who showered me with love, instilled my desire to see the world, and showed me the power of a strong and successful woman. Many years ago she said the most profound words and taught me a tough lesson about the world that too few are able to articulate. She told me that the biggest lie we are told is that we could have it all and there is not enough time in the day to have a successful career, happy marriage, be a good parent, travel the world, or do everything else you want to do in life. If you try to do it all you won’t do anything very well which is a lesson too many people learn far too late. So rather then be a bad parent, have a mediocre career, neglect my husband, forego travel and let my hobbies gather dust I will focus on those things that I do well and bring me extreme happiness; marriage, pets, family, friends, travel, photography and being the best Aunt Shelf.

10 comments:

drew said...

I have a hard time understanding why you have such a negative attitude towards minivans. Have you ever even been in a Honda Odyssey?

Booli said...

*round of applause for chelle*

nathan and I are going to print this out, laminate it, insert our names, and pass it out to all of our relatives over the holidays.

thanks for articulating so beautifully what Nathan and I have felt for years

Kira said...

I wonder if all those people who keep badgering you about having children are doing so because they are jealous of your lifestyle. Perhaps they realized too late that parenting is not all it's cracked up to be, and they wish they had had the guts to follow their instincts like you did rather than give in to peer pressure. Maybe now they want others to share in the misery. Of course, they can't say any of this, except maybe to their therapists, because it's not socially acceptable to call parenting anything other than the most fulfilling experience of their lives and the best thing they have ever done. So they are left with the option of badgering single people about having children. I kind of almost want to feel sorry for them. Or throw a rock at them, depending on my mood.

Kira said...

Edit - I meant to say 'badgering childfree people' - not single. BTW - Steve and Emily are having a baby in February. I'm going to be Aunt Kira.

Steve said...

Yo 'Chelle! I am a parent and a pediatric nurse, as you know. I guess I take the point of view that it's nobody else's bloody business as to if you want to have kids or not. I respect you guys for making a well-thought out choice. The choice of being married or having kids is personal as hell, and it is NOT for everybody. We have too many problems in this world because of people bringing children into this world who have no business doing so. And I deal with a lot of them at work. Hang in there.

Diane said...

At about this same time every year, you post on pretty much the same topic. Your posts tend to downplay one important concept - your choice.

You provide many reasons for making the choice that is right for your family, but each year, it seems to be brought on by the same thing - your (extended) family ignoring your wishes and trying to impose their will on you. As much as you verbalize your views to your family each year, what you REALLY need to do is take a baseball bat to their heads and say "if your kids would stop screaming like banshees, you would have heard me say this before - not interested!"

Am I feeling slightly smug today? Yes. My family made it through Thanksgiving without becoming insane mini-mes. Granted, Tasha ate (only) yogurt for dinner, but it was a quiet, polite meal....

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Kira- I can't believe Steve is going to be a Dad! Congratulations on your impending Aunt status and I completely agree with your assessment on those badgering me. As they say, misery loves company!

LousyCook said...

I'm tired of hearing about this issue. Blog something else.

(And you probably didn't know I even read your blog).

Explosive Bombchelle said...

LousyCook, I hardly think that a person preparing for impending fatherhood can comment on the amount I write abou tbeing childfree. Things could be worse, there are whole blogs dedicated to the subject, just as there are whole blogs focused on the "joys" of parenthood.

And I didn't know you read my blog, I read yours too. Very nice photos.

LousyCook said...

Photos? Maybe you're referring to Emily's blog. She's the one with the photo-blog (http://kirkland52.stchur.com).

My blogs are about cooking: http://addwaterandheat.blogspot.com

And Javascript (mostly):
http://blog.stchur.com

Your blog, by the way, is entertaining for me, as I don't think I have ever, in all my life, found someone with whom I so thoroughly disagree on just about every topic in the world!

But that's what makes it fun. ;-)

Printfriendly