Do I Think I’m Too Clever To Have Kids? Yes, I Do.
“You can’t have it all.” The hell I can’t.
By “have it all” people mean success (career, education, a life,) and children. If I skip the breeding, am I not having it all? I don’t want kids, and not just because they conflict with category one. I just don’t want kids in the same way I don’t want malaria. No one says that I don’t have it all if I lack some nasty disease or other thing that I would find unpleasant and undesirable.
Oh, and as for the argument, “you can still be successful (education, career, etc) with kids, “ well, yeah, you might be able to, but it will be a hell of a lot harder than it needs to be. Sure, you can maybe complete a marathon if you hamstring yourself at the start of the race, but it will be a hell of a lot harder to do and you’ll get to the finish a lot slower than you otherwise would have – if at all. It doesn’t matter how you define success, whether it means being a wealthy CEO or just having enough that you never want for anything, it’s easier without kids.
So if you have high aspirations but, for whatever reason, also want a litter of babies, well, good luck now. You’ll need it. And if you do eventually manage to reach what you consider to be a high level of success, despite parenthood, then I hope you are not bothered by the knowledge that you could have gotten further, could have done more, could have seen more, and could have been more, because I would be. Such a thought would haunt me forever. No amount of sticky-finger hugs (one of the Kodak moment benefits people trying to sell parenthood often cite, despite it being less representative of the reality of parenthood than screaming and shitting,) could ever make up for the loss. Certain as some (not all) parents are when they comfort themselves about how their lives turned out by insisting that the childfree will regret our choice, the reality is quite the contrary. I would deeply regret ever having even one child – and by then it would be too late. I only get one life. Why should I just throw it away?
So what bugged me about the recent The women who think they’re too clever to have babies article, which had the subtitle: “They’re educated with dynamic careers – and believe motherhood is beneath them. Warning: their views make incendiary reading…” besides the misleading title and subtitle (nowhere did any of the childfree women quoted say anything rude or negative about motherhood other than that they weren’t interested,) was the overall tone. The article absolutely reeked of sour grapes. It’s like it was written by some bitter, jealous school-brat, complaining in the “you think you’re so smart” manner.
With little noticeable difference, I could re-write the entire article like this:
‘Waah! These women made a different life choice than I did. What, do they think they’re better than me? Whereas I chose to follow the crowd and breed, they just had to be different – the freaks! I guess they’re just too good to be mommies – bleh! And look at all this stuff that they got for it: Successful careers, self-confidence, youthful bodies, happiness! Who do they think they are?! Wah! Where’s my happiness!? I had kids just like we’re supposed to and all I got was this lousy gig whining on the Daily Mail – I’m not even a real journalist! Oh, and look at them being so polite in their interview too – they’re just playing nice to rub it in! They think they’re sooo clever! Well, they’ll be sorry! Someday they’ll change their minds and wish they had my life because… just because! But then it will be too late for those stinky doo-doo heads!’
The comments tell much the same story. Many share the author’s delusion that the childfree women interviewed are stuck-up and condescending, that they somewhere went out of their way, in describing how happy they are to be childfree, just to insult parents. I’ve read the article myself and found no such thing, despite the author’s attempt at creating a fake controversy.
You can read the article yourself, and you should if you can manage it without your head exploding, but the women who were interviewed were most like this: (not a real quote) ‘I don’t want children and never have, and having children would conflict with the things that I do want. And so, I decided not to have kids. Since your asking, person conducting the interview, yes, I do credit my success in achieving my goals and my happiness in life with this decision. I’m just not interested in trading that for motherhood, a lifestyle that would simply not satisfy me.’ That’s incendiary, apparently.
So if there is to be outrage, let it be about something that has actually been said. I’ll say what the women interviewed were too polite to say. I don’t just think I’m too clever to have babies, I actually am. It would be pretty stupid enough of me to sabotage my own life, but even worse to do so by having something that I don’t even want anyway. You know what else? Statistically, the better educated a woman is, the more likely she is to be childfree. It’s easier for her to pursue an education if she doesn’t have children, and if she is so driven to achieve a high level of education, she’s less likely to want to waste her degrees by spending the remainder of her life changing diapers. And do you know what else? It’s easier for women to work more, get promoted to higher positions and faster, and make more money (not to mention get to keep it) if they skip motherhood.
That’s reality. You might not like the truth, but it’s the truth all the same. Intelligent people make their decisions based on facts, not fantasies, and weigh the pros and cons and consider the impact on their other life goals. If you find that inflammatory, you might want to address your own insecurities and take a long hard look at how our actions (yours and mine) impact our lives.