Monday, March 12, 2012

Childfree by Choice

A new Facebook friend posted a link to a post today that kind of hit a nerve with me. Before you read on, I'm not attacking anyone who has made the choice to bring a child into their lives. I actually applaud you for doing so and being awesome (most of you lol) at it. I think stay at home moms have a super hard job and working moms too. Dads who are there for their kids have it rough as well. Some parents would rather chill in bars or spend the weekends with their kids shoved off on one relative after another and never really get a chance to know their kids. Those folks don't get my respect and admiration. Those folks are partly why I feel the way I do about having kids. After I read that lady's post about why she is childfree, I wrote a comment to respond to her and thought about my motivations for the first time in a really honest way. I agree with most of what she said as well: love my life + TEACHER.

Here is the comment I posted in response to her comment:

I salute you for putting this out into the world. What bravery and courage! I imagine some of the 146 comments above me might be questioning your choice or saying rude things, but I hope not and honestly don't have enough life force in me on a Monday to read them and get mad for you.

What I do have in me today is to say that I too question the decision to have children. I'm knocking on 30's door, and that was always the limit I wanted to have kids in, if I wanted to have kids. I've been with my partner for almost 9 years now, and we aren't married. We are kind of failures in the marriage dept. in our families. My parents split, his parents too. As well as BOTH sets of his grandparents. We also feel icky that not everyone who wants to get hitched can do so, and we feel like it's unfair for us to go into that state without being sure we actually want to keep the "sanctity" of our marriage vows when others would die for that right.

However, we both stand on shifting sands about kids. He is the last of his line. If he doesn't have a boy, the family dies with him. We're also from the South. Imagine the pressure to get married and produce an heir (and there's not even any money or title or land to pass down- just the stinkin' name!).

We both have unsteady jobs (teacher at a state school- budget cuts! and a contract employee with county governments- budget cuts!). Kids cost a ton of cash.

My mother and I have a fractured relationship and are not really on speaking terms right now. I am not sure I can be a mother right now.

I also look around at the horrible things that keep happening and the crazy laws that everyone wants to pass to limit the rights of others- how could I bring a child into this mess?

And there's the idea of growing an actual living thing inside my own body- a body that I don't actually take awesome care of right now. This body is no place for a tiny thing to be growing.

So I wind up with the same answer to my own math problem: childfree.

I totally agree that there is something in our culture that marks us as less than if we don't hit those milestones of adulthood.

I haven't bought a house and don't plan to unless I can afford to build it. I haven't gotten married for reasons explained. I don't know that we'll ever have kids.

So am I still an adult?

Even more, am I still a woman? I am overweight and short, so I just keep falling just shy of the mark of womanhood that is fed to me by culture makers and the media. When a friend talked about the fear of breast cancer, she focused on the fear of losing what makes her a woman in her eyes: her breasts. I couldn't really understand that position because I have never seen my body or any part of my body as what makes me a woman really. Yes, I have those physical markers, but I am a woman because of other reasons as well. So the loss of my breasts or my lack of reproduction doesn't really hit me as a loss of womanhood or feel like a reason for being cast out of the womanly clubhouse.

I feel real sorrow for those who want nothing more than to be parents and are denied either biologically or through adoption laws/costs from having them.

One day, I might feel the urge for a child. One day I might feel like the world has moved on and become a place where a child might be a safe addition to my little family. One day, I might be older than 32 (the absolute last age I would feel comfortable having a baby due to the increased risks of birth defects) and feel that maternal instinct rise up in me.

Ok. Rock on. We'll do something on that day about it.

There are faaaaar more children alive on this planet today and every day until the day I want a baby that aren't wanted, loved, or cared for. My little brother is 9 years younger than I am, and he was a total accidental baby. My parents didn't mean to have another kid. They didn't even really want another kid, and they surely weren't prepared to raise him. His life has been greatly diminished by that lack of desire my parents had to bring him into this world. They didn't have time for a baby by the time he got here. They didn't have time for a toddler, a tween, or a teen. He's been bounced around from parent to parent, house to house, city to city, and school to school- always in trouble because nobody had time to look out for him. I was away at school and looked after him as best I could, but that wasn't my responsibility. I didn't bring him into the world. He also didn't get the benefit of a great family support network like I did because our grandparents were in decline and dying by the time he could understand who/what they were.

I couldn't stand to do that to a kid. It's unspeakable.

On the day I want a child, I will look into bringing one of those children into my life to make his or hers better. I want to have something to offer a child other than air to breathe and the possibility of a good life. I want to be a whole person who can afford to give freely of myself, my time, and my money to make that kid's life so much better than mine ever was. Most parents spend less time with their kids than strangers do-teachers, daycare workers, nannies, baby sitters. I want to have time to enjoy my child and give my child every possible advantage and experience he or she wants/deserves/needs.

For those reasons, I don't feel selfish for my desire not to bring a child into the world. I feel like a rational person making the best decision for myself and any future kids I might want to have.

So, bravo sister. I'm proud that you are brave and courageous and am inspired to explain my position as well.

And also, sorry for the GIANT comment. Obviously, your post hit a nerve. :D