Monthly Archives: July 2012
Ok, Natalist World? Sit down. We need to talk. Seriously. I’m worried about you. I know that we haven’t always been on the best of terms, but hear me out. You’re kind of gross and really need to get your shit together.
It seems that whenever I run across an article or online conversation about parenting (it’s harder to avoid than you might think) I always notice that there will, without fail, be mommies (but curiously, rarely daddies) complaining about how much they miss going to the bathroom in private.
I will leave that sentence in a paragraph all by itself so we can all just chew on that for a second. Basically, parents find that, ever since they had kids, they cannot go to the bathroom without an audience. Ok, well it’s disgusting enough to even allow that, for one thing. (Seriously, I’ve heard of moms going pee while holding children in their laps, even when those children are old enough to comment on how gross that is.)
But from the way most of these admissions are framed as a complaint, that implies that the parents are somewhat bothered by their lack of bathroom privacy. Now, hold up, Natalist World. Are you telling me that grown adults, who are responsible for the lives of dependant human beings and for the future of the next generation, don’t understand how to use doors? (Come on, even the raptors in Jurassic Park could figure those out.)
Yeah, moms? Most bathrooms have doors, which are on hinges and can be (sit down, because this will blow your minds) closed. Yes, it sounds amazing, but it’s true! Most doors having this handy feature that allows you to actually shut them. Heck, most bathroom doors can even be locked! Welcome to 2012 and our incredible, space-age technology.
“But then who will watch the kid?” Um, is there a second parent around? Or another family member, maybe? If not and the child is so young as to need constant supervision, how do you sleep? Surely sleeping takes a bit longer than a bathroom break. Presumably, you have a crib or a playpen (or a kennel?) Why not use it?
“But the kid will throw a fit!” Surely that’s the problem of the other person watching the kid (or the kennel?) And why would you want to teach your kid that it can get its way by throwing fits anyway? What is it with this generation of parents and their complete inability and unwillingness to stand up to their kids? Is the world, “no,” really that difficult to pronounce firmly?
“The kid will just open the door!” If the kid is old enough to open a door and especially if it’s old enough to pick a lock (because we lock bathroom doors, remember?), it’s plenty old enough to be taught rules and boundaries. Here’s a thought: how about you teach your kid to behave, you know, like a parent might do? (I hear spanking helps.)
No, really, you’re not doing your kids any favors letting them share the bathroom with you. They won’t learn rules or boundaries about bathrooms that way, and that will not only be a problem for you, but can possibly make your kid a nuisance to everyone else too . They’ll be that person that bothers other people in bathroom by doing obnoxious things like pounding on doors, trying to talk to people who are trying to go, or peeking under stalls (in which case I think a swift kick is perfectly justified.)
Additionally, the kid can create an unpleasant sight other people unwittingly walk in on. The kid will mimic your behavior, leaving the door wide open. And when your kid does get old enough to understand the value of bathroom privacy, he/she will be humiliated looking back at how often he/she left the door open, exposed to the view of the world. No, seriously, you may as well teach the kid to walk around naked all the time.
But there’s more to it than that, you might actually be putting your kid in danger. When I was little, my parents always left the bathroom door open. I don’t think it was because the kids really wanted in as much as it was my parents not really caring enough to close the door. So as a kid, I thought that was normal behavior and never closed the door either, no matter where I was.
One day, I was doing my business in the upstairs bathroom of my babysitter when a man who I had never met suddenly walked in. He didn’t mean to walk in on me but had simply rounded the corner in the hallway and walked in the open door without looking. When he saw me, he told me in a disgusted tone that I should close the door, and then he left. I was of course humiliated that this is the way that I had to learn that doors were supposed to be shut, and upset that my parents had never taught me this lesson (I’ve been wrong this whole time!) I felt sort of like Adam and Eve did (or would have were they not fictional characters) when they suddenly realized that they’d been naked all that time (only strangers didn’t yell at them for it.)
But that situation could have been dangerous. An unknown man alone in a room with a little girl with her pants down, the only adult in the house a babysitter who had obviously not been paying attention. I’m just saying that could have gone very badly. Yeah, is that a situation you want your kids to be in? Think on that.
TL;DR – Close the damned door, you slob.
So, I do believe that everyone has heard about the tragic shooting in a Colorado movie theater at a midnight showing of the new Batman movie. The question on everyone’s lips is, “what the fuck were those parents thinking bringing their infant to the show?” (Nothing at all, would be my guess.) It’s not that anyone blames the parents for the child being injured in the shooting. We’re just amazed that the baby was there to be injured in the first place as it clearly didn’t belong there. It’s like hearing of an infant being injured in a fire at a strip club.
I’ve had my share of movies ruined by inconsiderate “parents” who drag their infants and young children into movie theaters, those young ones which then proceed to shriek through the whole show. Amazingly, such inept parents even drag kids out to R-rated movies and late shows (not that I appreciated my afternoon showing of Pixar’s Brave being ruined either.)Even if the baby is quiet (and a parent is kidding themselves if they think it will be) it isn’t going to be watching the move so there’s really no reason to bring it. And yet the babies are at shows anyway. The explanation seems simple, lazy, entitlement-minded, selfish, inconsiderate parents.
Of course, parents in such a category are quick to come up with excuses for their unacceptable behavior, even going so far as to seriously suggest that a baby will sleep peacefully through a loud action movie, as if anyone who reads such a ridiculous thing is so unfamiliar with babies that they’d actually buy that bullshit. Then those parents will wail that it’s so haaard to get a babysitter, as if that should be everyone else’s problem. (By the way, I’m amazed that these same parents who seriously insist that their infant will sleep quietly through a loud movie are the same people who will complain about their babies keeping them up at night to gain sympathy.)
Well, as a childfree person, I feel I can give good advice on parenting (I know enough about parenting to know better than to breed.) So, to all the oblivious “parents” out there who really think their little pweshus simply MUST see the new SAW movie, I’ve created a handy list here to clear up some confusion.
When is it OK to drag an infant to a movie theater?
When you’ve stuffed the baby’s gob so full of Ambien that it will be practically in a coma for the day
When you’ve rented out the theater for that showing and are the only people there
When you’ve bound and gagged the baby so it can’t bother anyone
When it’s an infant who was born without hands or vocal cords
When it’s not a baby, but one of those creepy Reborn dolls
When the theater management completely loses their minds, and sets aside special showings specifically for the purpose of being ruined by babies
When there’s a severe zombie outbreak and the theater happens to be the most convenient hide-out
When it’s just a home theater in your living room
When you’ve encased the baby in a sound-proof and smell-proof bubble
When you’re prepared to personally refund every last person in the audience their full ticket price, should your baby make a peep
And don’t forget to pay a full-price ticket for the baby, spray the stench-sack down with Fabreze, and either carry it in your lap or shove it under the chair so it doesn’t take up seats.
The criticism Melissa Jenna doesn’t want anyone to see.
The article that I am about to quote in full comes from the website MelissaJenna.com and is entitled: Confessions of a Former “Non-Breeder.” Before I even read the article, I noticed something odd in the comments section (I often read the comments first as the discussions on articles related to childfreedom are often more interesting than the article itself.)
What stuck out to me first is how overwhelmingly positive most of the comments were, in support of the author. Ok, that itself isn’t too odd. It’s true that most of the comments that I have received on this blog are positive and in general agreement with me. Mine is a blog that selects its audience and rarely attracts people likely to dissent.
The only criticism came in the form of a single comment which was mostly written in ALL CAPS and carried a few choice insults directed towards the author, but little real meritorious criticism. In an apparent act of graciousness, the author approved the comment (the comments were moderated. I moderate comments here too, but only because I receive a lot of spam,) and, in her response to the comment, made a point of saying that she was allowing it.
“I’m approving this comment, not because I agree with or condone anything it has to say, but because hiding this garbage, or pretending it doesn’t exist, doesn’t help anyone.”
Curiously, despite the response to that particular criticizing comment, Melissa Jenna did not approve and -yes- appears to be hiding the comment that I left after reading the article. When I read the article, I found Jenna to be as self-righteous and judgmental still as she, in her article, laments being prior to breeding. That comment has not yet appeared on her article, despite other comments having been approved in the days in between, of which I was automatically notified via E-mail as I selected “ Notify me of follow-up comments via email” when I submitted my comment (so I know she hasn’t just been away, unaware of comments.) I’m inclined to speculate that Jenna is very selective in what comments are shown on the post, allowing only those that are in agreement with her, or which are so angry in tone as to make her look good anyway. My comment, which fit into neither category, is not shown. So I will show it here.
I won’t get into it too much just yet, as I saved a copy of my comment to her which I will show later down in this post. First, I’d like to show everyone Jenna’s article, copied in full. My response follows below it.
Before I was a mother, pregnancy and childbirth gave me the heebie-jeebies. It just seemed so…gross. The idea of another living-thing living inside of me would literally make me nauseous if I thought for too long about it. I couldn’t help but likening pregnancy to those urban legends about earwigs laying eggs in people’s brains and stuff. (Don’t ask me what was wrong with me, because I haven’t a clue. Not a clue.) And childbirth just seemed so…animalistic. So below the innate dignity of human beings. And I know what many of you are thinking: pregnancy and childbirth are both natural and necessary for the survival of our species. Trust me, I get it now, but for many many years, simply the word “pregnant” made me shudder. (To be honest, I still avoid using the word “pregnant” whenever possible, mostly because we DO use it to describe both animals and people, and that bothers me. So I say “expecting a baby” whenever I can.)
And I already wrote a while ago about how I used to be a self-righteous, judgmental jerk, referring to parents as “breeders” and children as “spawn,” so when I began reading this series on Slate regarding people who are against having children, my interest was piqued. They’ve done a whole series on people who have decided, for a plethora or reasons, to remain childless. There’s one article about a man who was very concerned with his “career mobility,” one on a woman who had hertubes-tied at 26 years old because she was afraid she’d repeat the abuses of her parents, one where a woman called babies “alien parasites,” (me and that girl would have been BFFs back in the day), and one where the writer described a “baby-shower” she attended for a women who was not having a baby, but was releasing her first book. (Yeah, because those two things are SO similar. Does your book wake you up to breastfeed every hour and a half?) I hear so much of my former self in each of the women interviewed for the series: the self-righteousness, the judgement, the fear, the selfishness, the insistence that there “is no such thing as a biological clock,” and the unwillingness (or inability) to value motherhood equally to success in the marketplace. And it makes me so sad for them.
The series of articles makes it very clear that the child-free do not want to be pitied, and that they find my feeling sad for them to be offensive. But here’s the thing: I used to be one of “them,” a self-proclaimed non-breeder. A girl who used to go around proudly telling people that “I love my life too much to have kids.” And now that I’m on the other side, I realize not only how wrong I was, but how immature and completely bone-headed I was being. I was like so many young women, walking around with lower-back tattoos or breast implants: I made a decision that was right for me at the time, without fully understanding the longterm ramifications. Without leaving room for myself to change my mind in the future. I guess the good thing about being a self-righteous non-breeder is that it’s much easier to go back and change your mind than if you’re walking around with a tramp-stamp, or massive barbie-boobs.
The unifying tone that I hear, in each of the articles in the series, is a powerful aversion to wisdom from those who have “been there and done that.” None of the non-breeders interviewed wants to deign to hear anything a former non-breeder like myself would have to say. They effectively plug their ears and “lalalalala I can’t heaaar you” their way through the series, never once really hearing that there are so many women who used to feel just like them. They have the tone of a petulant twelve year old girl, being advised by her mother, that she will, in fact, find love again. (“No I won’t! He was SPECIAL! YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND ME!” I can hear them sobbing, storming out of the room and slamming the door behind them.)
I want to tell the self-righteous non-breeders that I understand that feeling. I mean, honestly, no one wants to feel immature, or that their thoughts aren’t special. But listen: countless women have thought to themselves the very same thoughts you do regarding having children. Most of them, myself included, have found themselves on the other side of the situation, raising a child, and realizing just how wrong they were about the whole thing; motherhood has blessed us with an ability to understand ourselves, and life, in a deeper and more gratifying way than our careers ever could have (not to mention all the other blessings motherhood brings). We know this because we’ve been there, shouting from the rooftops that we’d remain childless forever, and we feel foolish about that whole thing now.
Notice that I am NOT saying that it’s everyone’s “destiny” to have children. If you hate children, I’d rather you don’t. What I am saying is that you need to leave yourself some wiggle-room. You need to keep your mind open to the possibility that you might change your mind one day. Try not to make being a non-breeder so much of your identity, that when your biological clock starts ticking, it ushers in with it an existential crisis. I used to be just like you, and here I am, twenty-eight years old, telling you that having a child was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Just consider that you might not know it all. And don’t go rushing to get any crazy tattoos, either.
(Edited to reflect that one of the articles I originally attributed to a woman was actually written by a man. Oddly enough, I remember telling myself to use gender-neutral language in describing the series, because men do weigh-in, but it look like I forgot that when writing about it. Thanks Laney for the heads-up!)
Should people who choose to be parents give themselves “wiggle room” in case they decide they want to dump their kids? Should they avoid making “parent” too much of their identity? As far as I know, hospitals and the like still accept abandoned children under certain ages. Do you think you might just drop yours off some day? Statistically, those who choose to have children are far more likely to regret it than those who do not, and I see new blogs, websites, and facebook groups every day for such regretful parents. Why don’t you consider that YOU don’t know it all? Having kids is the “tattoo” that you can’t undo. You’re the one leaving yourself no wiggle-room.
There is no such thing as a “biological clock” as you mean it. There is a set timeframe in which a woman is fertile, but there’s no evidence to suggest that biological urge to breed actually changes with it. No, people jump to breed on impulse because they see that they will soon no longer have the option. It’s sort of like when I see a sale on an item I don’t particularly need, but see that it will only be on sale for 24 hours so I jump on it. Those of who actually bother to give the prospect of breeding serious thought well beforehand, however, aren’t affected by an imaginary biological clock. Quit blaming biology myths and own your choices.
I think you’re still very much judgmental, as evidenced by your representation of the Slate articles, none of which I found to be self-righteousness, judgmental, fearful, or selfish in the least. I believe that those accusations are baseless and low. I do agree with what what you said the Slate articles suggest, motherhood is NOT as valuable as career. Not only that, but motherhood doesn’t give anyone some higher understanding of life that is not accessible to non-mothers. Has it occurred to you that you’re biased as a mother and now in a position where you find it advantageous to over-value and exaggerate motherhood (as it strokes your own ego,) and that’s why you lash out with these petty insults whenever other people do not play along with your self-aggrandizing natalsim-worship?
Really, you even attacked a “baby-shower” celebration for a book on the grounds that it doesn’t scream at night. The way I see it, that would make the book MORE deserving of celebration as it’s better on those grounds alone. I’d certainly be more inclined to congratulate someone on writing a book, as that’s a creation of the mind that took much thought an effort. Meanwhile, any rat can breed, it doesn’t take talent or thought (most times, it happens due to an absence of thought.) Writing a book is an accomplishment deserving of praise and attention, and is a gainful contribution to society (unless it’s Twilight.) Breeding is not an accomplishment, and it can be argued that it’s actually detrimental to society when we live in a world that is already dangerously overpopulated, had rapidly depleting resources, and is suffering wide-spread ecological decay. And yet, you don’t hear me criticizing strangers for having baby-showers (although I never attend or contribute myself) do you? No. Check your judgmental attitude.
The truth is, you haven’t changed a bit. You’re just as self-righteous and judgmental as ever. One more thing, you were NEVER childfree. You were only pre-childed. As someone who is actually childfree, I can tell you that those are NOT the same. You may as well pretend that you understand asexuality (look it up,) as there was likely a time in your life where you weren’t interested in sex. Changing your mind is OK, but DON’T pretend you were ever like us. Get off you high horse and don’t even pretend that you understand – you don’t. We actually know what we want with our lives and follow through.
I had a tubal ligation at 22. It was the BEST decision that I have ever made, hands down. I have more “wiggle room” than you. I can still adopt, if I want to (and I can tell you right now that I won’t.) My only effect from my chosen sterility is – NOTHING! Nothing changes. My life is at best, preserved, and at worst, completely unchanged. Can you return your kid if you change your mind about motherhood, just undo the birth and get your life and body back exactly as it was? You’re the one stuck with the long-term ramifications, not me. How would you like it if I told you that I pitied you for your non-undoable “tattoo” that apparently wakes you up more often than you’d like and has long-term ramifications? You might just consider that a tad bit judgemental, wouldn’t you?
Although I admit that my comment response is a tad bit ranty, I think I make some valid points (regardless of whether or not Melissa Jenna agrees.) If it is the case that Melissa Jenna considers my response to be garbage, then I wonder who she thinks is helped by her hiding it?
Seriously, Natalist World, you make my head hurt. If being a parent is so great, then you shouldn’t have to lie about what it is to brag about it. These cutesy-wootsey, natalism-worshipping FaceBook share-fodder pictures with ridiculous captions have got to stop.
Ok, I can think of, like, a dozen examples off the top of my head, but I try to keep these rants short, so I’ll pick just this one example that I happened to find recently.
“Motherhood is the highest-paid job in the world, since the he payment is pure love.”
1. Motherhood is not a job. (Which is why it has no actual payment, but I’ll get to that later.)
Parenthood is simply a lifestyle. If it were really so great and valuable, parents wouldn’t have to pretend that it was any more than just that. I don’t pretend that my lifestyle is a job (I have a real job – that’s my job.)
2. Just because someone has kids doesn’t mean that she loves her children or that her children love her. Seriously, watch the news people. It’s always full of parents and offspring doing horrible things to each other.
3. Arguably, children don’t really love their parents. They depend on their parents, and have no real choice in being around them. That’s not the same thing.
A toddler might manage to say “I love you,” in between babbling, but they’re just saying that because their parents teach them to do it. They have no idea what they’re even saying at that age. By the time an offspring is old enough to form a solid view of what they think love is, and are able to freely make judgments about their parents, they’re a bit old to really be called children anymore.
4. “Love” is not currency. You cannot pay a single one of your bills in love. I have never received a single bill that asked me for 100 loves. You cannot even keep your children alive on love. I may not have children myself, but I’m pretty sure that children generally tend to have basic requirements, such as eating and living indoors.
But don’t just take my word for it, try this experiment: Ask your landlord if he will accept “love” in place of actual money as payment for rent. Try it with your utilities company. Now your local grocery store. And when you get called to court for failure to pay your debts, try to bribe the judge with love.
If you still think that love is a valid form of payment, then put your money love where your mouth is. Talk to your boss at your job (your real job,) or, if you don’t work but your partner does, your partner’s boss, or, if your on the dole, your local welfare office, and demand that, instead of paying you/your partner in the currency of your nation, they should pay you/your partner exclusively in love.
5. Here’s the irony, despite motherhood not being the highest-paying job (being neither a job nor anything that one receives payment for at all,) it’s actually incredibly costly. It turns out, the average cost of raising a child in America to the age of 18 (and not including college tuition) is something on the order of $200,000 (it various by region and a few other factors.) A mother’s “payment” is -$200,000. That’s not a credit, that’s a debt.
But just for giggles, let’s just ignore those points entirely. Yep. I’ll pretend that love is a valid form of equity. Well, I imagine that would make me pretty wealthy as my dog loves me (more than an infant can be said to love a parent, anyway.) And as long as we’re calling lifestyle’s “jobs” …
- Having a dog is the highest paid job in the world. The payment is love.
- Being a girlfriend/boyfriend is the highest-paid job in the world. The payment is love.
- Being a dog is the highest-paid job in the world. The payment is love.
U mad, moms?
Come on, parents. Your love isn’t any lovier than anyone else’s love. (It turns out, you don’t have a monopoly on love.) None of us non-parents pretend that it’s payment for a job. That’s just silly.
Yes, it’s OK to be happy as a mom (you know, if you’re into that kind of thing,) but when you post ridiculous, self-aggrandizing stuff like this, your non-childed friends as well as parents who have identities outside their reproductive status (especially those with real job) are rolling their eyes at you.
Dear Natalist World,
We need to talk.
All this moaning about a “work-life balance,” especially one specifically for parents, has got to stop. Seriously. I’ts ridiculous. It turns out, you’re not special just because you chose to be a parent. Believe it or not, those of us without kids have lives outside of our jobs too. We make it work, as any adult should be able to.
While a reasonable degree of flexibility from employers is nice, ultimately, balancing out your life is your own responsibility as an adult. Employers pay you to work for them, not to have a personal life. If your work and your personal life conflict, then you have to accept that you must either get a new job that suits the lifestyle that you desire, or alter your lifestyle to suit the requirements of the job you voluntarily agreed to work. There is no reason to expect employers to make special accommodations for you ever single time you happen to want one.
I always wonder about the people who complain about employers not catering to them, personally, altering the job to suit whatever “work-life balance” the employee wants, in a manner that is not extended to all employees equally. They seem like grown versions of the children who were always paid whatever allowance they asked their parents for, while doing little or no work to earn it, and having their parents work their lives around them. I say this because that seems to be the expectation some people place on their employers, as if employers are just nannies to adults.
Take responsibility for sorting out your own life, like a grown up. Finding a “work-life balance” is YOUR problem to work out.