There is a small storm brewing in my neck of Twitter due to an article recently posted on Medium which posits the idea that those who are childfree (CF) should totes drop everything and help those with kids, because you’re going to change your mind so, karma! And, the article goes on to quote Whitney Houston, the now dead coke addict who farmed out raising of her daughter, because sayeth the dead pop star, the children are our future. OBVIOUSLY, then, a village must be taken and so forth.
There are loads and loads of problems with this article, namely it purports that:
- People who are CF are so by choice (It’s never about they CAN’T, it’s always about they WON’T)
- People who are CF have more time / money ergo our time is not as valuable
- CF people should support the choices of childful people because, “Children raised with security and love make better adults, and better adults make a better world in twenty-some years,” which supposes that this only happens when mom is cheering them on at a soccer game or dad soothing sick infant. These examples given also perpetuates specific family dynamics, which raised my heckles, but apparently these are the only examples/ways a child can be loved
- The author cites the US as being one of the few countries where maternity/paternity leave as well as childcare and other social programs are abysmal for parents. I don’t disagree with these challenges, the US is terrible in many modern social practices but to place the crux of this on CF people as if we are the ones who control the government or that because conservatives reacted strongly to the idea of social care is somehow our doing, is downright preposterous, ridiculous, and a grasping at straws. Better social programs across the board benefit everyone, not just families.
Lastly, my biggest, uttermost issue with the article is that it forces me (and others like me) out. Now we have to defend our decisions (or reasons) of why we are currently CF to explain why articles such as this one, written supposedly with the best intentions, makes us gnash our teeth and shake our fists in anger. It is because of this article, and others like it, that continue to perpetuate stereotypes and lifestyle choices as ones that were made not ones that were made for us, it forces us to defend our reasoning for our private lives which is no ones bidness. You never, almost never, ever see this for those who are childful, at least not in such public forums and with such regularity and acuity as directed to those who are CF.
And that’s bullshit.
Additionally, this perpetuation of the attitude is insulting, it’s degrading, it’s humiliating, and it forces us to put public a very private decision or choice while adding on the layer of if we are not parents or choosing to be parents, our lives are not even remotely complete. Everything that I’ve worked for, TheHusband has worked for, up to this time in our lives means jack. There is not a mini-Lisa running around so obviously I have failed at all the things.
I don’t think I’ve ever discussed my child bearing status in this space and it is not because it wasn’t worth discussing, but it was one of the few things of privacy that I didn’t want to to open up to the world. It begins with that I’m not sure if I can even have children, which I found out about in my 20s. I have polycystic ovarian disease (PCOD), which means there are cysts on my ovaries, which makes my chances of getting pregnant downright miracelous. I’ve been told my chances of conceiving were less than 20%. Now that I’m older, and my child bearing years are closing down, even less. Maybe 10%. Let’s add in TheHusband’s familial history of mental illness and my own mental illness, coupled with my family history of the same, and the wanting to have a child looks even less tempting. Let us not forget my mother had cancer of the vulva and my grandmother had cancer of ovaries, and what should be something pretty easy peasy turns out to be a big ole complicated and convoluted mess.
A lot of conversations stemmed on Twitter today about this, after I started ranting natch, and it felt like everyone, breeders and CFs, were pretty much in the agreement that the author of the article was a self-righteous, over privileged, lazy asshole who wanted someone else to raise her children. It was not about a kumbaya “it takes a village” moment she was attempting to prostylize, rather, it was ALLLLLL about her. TheHusband, who is one of the most rational people I know, threw out her argument line by line by summing up her own inaptitude to handle her responsibilities so she’s shuffling them off to someone else.
No would disagree parents need help, and no one would disagree or shy away from giving them the help they needed, but to demand we do so simply because our responsibilities are different is absurd.
Articles like this also bring up one painful point for me – it’s not so much that I won’t have children, but that my choice to have them was stripped away due to medical necessity. I don’t have an option to choose whether or not I wanted to have kids – I was just told it was not going potentially happen. This fine detail point, this removal of choice, is the open wound I keep guarded and close to me, knowing the day will come (sooner then I had hoped) where I am going to have to grieve over something I may never get to have.
This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2003
4 thoughts on “A Woman’s Right to Shoes: Thoughts on Being Childfree”
Has the author responded in any significant way?
Also: brava to you for writing this.
You and I have had discussions about childbearing, and you know my thoughts on it. In general though, I’d like to say that you’re dead on with this. Regardless of anyone’s childfree status, by choice or by biology/necessity, it’s no one’s damn business why they’re in that situation and it’s not the CF person’s obligation to join in on whatever those of us who do have kids are dealing with. You are always welcome to be a part of my kids’ lives, but I am not going to force you to do so or to “relieve me of my burden”.
Ugh, absolutely the worst thing about Erik the Swede and me being newlyweds were all the “How wonderful you’re married! Now, when are you planning on having children?” comments. And now that we’ve been married a year, it has shifted into, “You’re all settled in, aren’t you! You must be looking forward to babies!” Seriously? SERIOUSLY? Mind your own goddamn business! I’ve started telling them to direct all childbearing questions to EtS, because he just gives them a blank stare and they usually back away after that.
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