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.

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Posted on 2012/11/29, in childfree. Bookmark the permalink. 23 Comments.

  1. One thing that is inherently problematic is that this isn’t true for men. While I agree with everything you say, and I personally do not want children (and cannot have them, for that matter), it is a problem that, disproportionately, it is women who are forced to choose between motherhood as a career. When has parenthood been a setback for men?

    That said, I didn’t read the article, but I’m familiar with similar rhetoric. At a recent high school reunion, a number of members of the “Mommy crowd” (and the size of said crowd was scarily large for a five-year reunion), told me that if they could be just as successful as me if they were unable to have children like me (I don’t know how they knew). Even worse was the implication that I would just be another college drop-out changing diapers if I were able to have children (they said that one, too). If motherhood is really the great calling that they all claim it is, why are they all so bitter? Why are they attacking me (without any provocation) if being a mother is the end-all-be-all of existence. Furthermore (and I know this may be where I seem smugly superior, but it needs to be said), even if I was able to have children, wanted them, and had them once I had reached a point in my career where I could afford to have them, why would that be my proudest accomplishment? Why, as a I highly educated woman, would the one thing that I have in common with the cast of 16 and Pregnant or Teen Mom be the “accomplishment” about which I’m most proud?

  2. Julie – when I first saw the headline of that article, I thought to myself: “Yes, yes I am too clever to have kids. I am clever to have seen through the LifeScript and not been fooled by it.” Tough shit if they don’t like it. Not my problem.

  3. This is a glorious rebuttal. I couldn’t get past the first few paragraphs of that article because it was just so whiny. “Clever” shouldn’t be spat like an insult – cleverness is a virtue. A clever woman interested in being a mother might be able to swing it, too, because she would be smart enough to have married a supportive partner (if she did at all) and wait until she (and her family) were financially stable enough to properly raise and care for a child. Clever women can be mothers – it’s just a lot of smart people, men and women alike, have this tendency to think for themselves and recognize that they don’t have to want what everybody else wants for them! They’re not “too clever” to be mothers, they’re just clever. And also don’t want to be mothers.

  4. I understand how and why this article is so derogatory and negative, why we childfree could take offense to it. But when I read it, my reaction was opposite. Yes, the writer’s are being bitchy and subtly complaining about our lives, but only because they don’t have the same freedom we do.

    You said you could rewrite the article to ooze their complaints. I read the article with the thought in my that these women are inspiring. Try rewriting this article in your own words and using these women’s quotes. The words are so inspiring. It speaks of having everything you could ever want and how that want doesn’t have to fit traditional standards. This article’s equation of writer and quotes makes a negative read. However, take the bad out of the equation and you have some decent, structured proof to site in your blog (to the world) about your lifestyle choice.

    I mean, take it or leave it. But I was simply impressed that the author didn’t paraphrase the quotes and show our lives in a worse light than they already attempted to. Most of the article is made up of these quotes, so the fact they didn’t do much to them means they just don’t have a lot to go off of. To me, I take their writing as a complaint and the quotes are inspiring words. But we are all entitled to our perceptions…just trying to possibly let you see this article in another light.

    • Julie Was Here

      Oh sure, the women quoted were great, despite the author’s attempts to demonize them and level them as “incendiary.”

  5. Amused Muse

    Here’s the deal for me – having children in inherently discriminatory and sexist because it’s the woman who carries the little golden parasite. I don’t care how “naaaaatural” it is (so is death and measles), or how “beyootiful” it’s supposed to be: in the final analysis, an ostensibly intelligent and educated woman whelping the thing is not unlike an abuse victim succumbing to Stockholm Syndrome. Nature isn’t fair, but thank science for birth control!

    Every mother should be bitching about having kids, and every woman should try to avoid it unless she’s really a glutton for punishment! Seriously!

  6. My mother awhile back tried to give me the bingo that ” I could still have it all with kids only it would be more difficult”. Well, maybe, but why make life more difficult than it already is? I realized from a young age that I didn’t want kids and only since being an adult did I really think about the great reasons for staying CF. You can actually live your life.

    • Julie Was Here

      I could walk a mile with my feet in buckets. It would be harder, but I could do it. But as I don’t want my feet in buckets anyway, why would I want to get them and then make my walk harder? It’s stupid.

  7. ValiantBlue

    “But, as therapist Marisa Peer says, the women who believe they are too clever for children will cost future generations dearly. ‘Recent studies show intellect is passed on through females not males. So for very bright women not to pass on those genes is a great shame.’ ”

    So… intelligent women are supposed to bear the compensatory burden of ice-skating uphill against the masses of imbecilic breeders pumping out dumb, undisciplined kids in massive broods? No thanks. That’s as fair and logical as doubling my insurance premium because some kid thought it’d be the coolest YouTube idea to go drag-racing while lighting his balls on fire.

    • Julie Was Here

      Smart women have to breed, which means we dont get to make full use of our intellects. The only use for intelligent women is producing intelligent sons, it seems.

      • ValiantBlue

        Indeed. Interestingly, the implication seems to be that women don’t want to breed, they can’t really be all that smart. What kind of mind-fuck is that? “You’re smart, you should have babies. If you don’t want to, you’re just dumb.”

  8. Amused Muse

    ValiantBlue: first of all, I question Peer’s statement about intellect being “passed on.” A lot of things are passed on, including junk DNA and your grandfather’s quirky mutation. “Intellect” is such a complex adaptation that I doubt it is confined to only a few genes, not a whole array of them, and only from the mother. That strikes me as ridiculous (and propagandistic). For Pete’s sake, simple eye color requires a gene from both the father and the mother.

    Secondly, why is Peer assuming that childfree women, who are “costing future generations dearly,” are more intelligent than the moos who ARE bequeathing us our fyooture? Isn’t that rather like, “The people who should be running for President are too smart to get into politics”? Bwahahaha! Now, that’s a statement I can get behind!

  9. I hate how they use the word of “childless” in that article instead of child-free. It’s kinda like calling me spouse-less instead of single/happily divorced.

    • Julie Was Here

      Can’t call women by their preferred term, especially when they’re trying to make those women look bad

  10. “Many women do lament their decision.” I think that’s a bit arrogant right there. I certainly haven’t lamented over jack shit. I’m not exactly getting the whole intelligence thing being guaranteed to be passed on, either. There are some cases of smart parents having dumb kids, and vice versa. As far as being too clever for kids, maybe there’s some truth to that…at least for me. I’d like to think I’m clever enough (and many others, as well) to break from this societal auto-pilot of the ‘life script.

  11. I have all

    Well, Im a 35 year old mother of twins and I have it all,really. My husband has been really supportive of my career and all. I have a beautiful life. I would say you either find a husband that will be really supportive or don’t have children. My kids hasn’t really stopped me at all, I have nannies and friends, If I want a holiday,I take them along etc. But, now that they have started school, I wait till school is over before we travel. So I have everything, Im lucky:)

    • I’m thinking that you intended for that comment to sounds a lot better than it actually does. Good for you if you’re happy, but by your own admission, you don’t have freedom.

  12. I have all

    @child free voice. You have a career,probably a demanding one since you gave chosen not to have children. How much freedom has that provided you? You,just like me still have to wait till work is over before you do your own thing. It’s like having children,only that my children are mobile. Im guessing you are an employee because by choosing not to have kids, you sound inflexible. I am my own boss amd I choose my work hours. So it’s really good for me.

    • Actually, my career is actually not demanding. It pays well, but isn’t demanding at all. And I do have a lot of freedom with this job. I take time off pretty much whenever I feel like it.

      I don’t have to work my schedule around a nanny, or around kids’ school. That’s my point. I often go on vacations at times people with kids just couldn’t, and have a better vacation as a result. My work does not preclude me from traveling out of state in September to go to theme parks, or from traveling put of state in February to go to romantic destinations. And I don’t have to drag my job along with me when I go either.

      I’m not commenting to argue with you. Like I said, good for you if you’re happy. I’m just saying that your comment probably sounded better in your head, and that you probably didn’t notice it all but admitted that, because you have kids, you’re restricted.

      You make some very odd and nonsensical assumptions. I’m childfree so I must have a damning job? I’m childfree so I can’t be self-employed or a business owner? Where is the logic in that?

  13. I have all

    …I ve being a business owner before I had kids. I’m not argueing either. But, by saying women can’t have it all. You’ ve just proven society right by showing women as the less privileged and weaker sex after all…the one that needs to choose between. Women don’t need to chose one, just as men need not. You really can have all. On top of all I have,…I have angels to spoil…Btw, have you heard of Sheryl Sandberg? Im sure you have because, she’s just so successful, the world couldn’t ignore her…with two kids. Keep slaving away for ur boss while he leverages of you and grooms kids that will take over soon anyway. End of discussion.

    • I never said women can’t have it all. In fact I say the opposite. Childfree women have it all. We have what we want and are free of what we don’t. I have it all, as do other childfree men and women.

      But anyone who has kids must lose a lot to do so. You said so yourself in your own comment. You spend money on nannies, have to include kids in vacations thereby spending more money and time, and you have to schedule our vacations around their school schedule. If you’re ok with this cost, good for you, but don’t pretend you haven’t had to lose anything. Children are a heavy restriction. Like I said, your comment probably sounded much better in your head.

      Lol keep slaving away for my boss and be replaced? Oh dear, are you actually lashing out now? How unfortunate. For some reason I made the mistake of believing that I was talking to an actual adult, someone who would be above such pettiness.

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