The media has been opening up festering wounds this week, drawing lines, creating schisms, and pitting Mommy vs. Non-Mommy. It’s kind of a dumb debate, but I’m always surprised at how much conversation it creates. It feels like a very personal decision to me about what kind of life you want to have, where you place your priorities, and what makes you happy. Children don’t make everyone happy; in fact, I’d wager that they’re a bigger source of misery for more couples that have them, than for the number of couples miserable because they don’t have them. Indeed, the studies consistently say that childfree people have a better quality of life than those with children, although those with children tend to live longer and say their lives have more meaning, for whatever that is worth.
As a father of three, I can’t imagine a life without children, but if I could — My God — think of all the free time, the time not spent making meals, doing laundry, and nagging! I could be lying on the couch all day Saturday eating terrible things and watching TBS and TV marathons. It’s the one thing I miss most about my childfree existence: Television marathoning.
We all have our f*cked-up priorities, OK?
There are, as always, pros and cons to each side, but man it it ever fun with a publication like Time gets into it and manufactures a debate:
Any national discussion about the struggle to reconcile womanhood with modernity tends to begin and end with one subject: parenting. Even Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In,” a book focused on encouraging women’s professional development, devotes a large chunk of its take-home advice to balancing work and family, presuming that, like its author, ambitious women will have both. It’s great that we’re in the midst of a cultural conversation about the individual choices and structural barriers that shape our lives. But if you’re a woman who’s not in the mommy trenches, more often than not you’re excluded from the discussion. …
With fertility treatment widely available, not to mention adoption, even clinically infertile women have more options than ever to become mothers, which increases the possibility that any woman who doesn’t will be judged for her choice.
Did you hear that, ladies? If you’re really ambitious, you should have a career and children, and a successful life will mean mastering both! And if you don’t have children, well, you can expect that your Mommy friends will bail on you, and you’ll feel totally left out of the riveting conversations about lunch strategies, daycare, how to deal with sick children, and poop!
Elsewhere, The Daily Mail — which features a somewhat even handed story — leads with this more provocative headline, “‘Any woman who says she’s happy to be childless is a liar or a fool.”
You hear that, fools? Liars? Of course, the story itself leads with a childless woman describing her weekend:
Take this week: I spent a few days on a friend’s sailing boat in Italy, sun-bathing, drinking rose, talking, laughing and dancing until dawn. Back at home after my break, I slept for hours, ate breakfast in bed, and stayed there reading until well after lunchtime. I couldn’t be bothered to cook, so I went out for a Thai meal, bumped into a friend, went to the cinema and then out for drinks.
I want to go to there.
The story then cites studies than say that, in the 50s, only one in 9 women were childless, while now it is one in four, while 43 percent of college graduates are childless.
Meanwhile, have you read Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with its population graded from the top, Alpha, down to Epsilon? If educated, successful women like me don’t breed, are we gearing up for a generation of Epsilon-minus semi-morons?
This journalist has clearly seen Idiocracy. “Social mobility is stickier than ever, so let’s not leave breeding to the idiots.” Amen!
Childlessness is a source of sadness and regret. Most of those 43 per cent will have gone through fertility hell, or never met the right guy, or left it too late, or have any number of unhappy stories.
Few would say: ‘I don’t want, and never wanted, children.’
Damn lady, you just put words in a lot of mouths, and I don’t think that most of those mouths are going to appreciate you speaking for them.