It’s very rare that I dream about having children. If I have any memorable dream at all, it’s more likely to be about something that’s actually interesting, rather than what I find to be the most tedious and unnecessary lifestyle in the world. As far as I can remember now, it has only every occurred twice. One dream, I already wrote about here. Sometime after I had my tubal IRL, I had a dream that I inexplicably was the mother of an infant, and my life had pretty much gone to hell as a result. At the end of that dream, I abandoned the infant on a random city bus just to be rid of it. End dream.
Recently, I started playing The Sims 3 again. I only just now got the Pets expansion pack, and I’ve been seeing just how much work having a cat, a dog, and a horse is in game, a matter made all the more difficult by the fact that my lifetime wish in-game was to adopt a whole bunch of animals. It got to the point that I considered having a child just to make my Sim’s life easier, as I could then put the child to work. I can’t help but be reminded that this was often the mindset in agrarian cultures of previous generations.
In The Sims, however, babies are pretty much useless. They’re more like annoying objects than actual people, which, I suppose, is much like real infants. Toddlers are more likely to cause destruction than do anything productive. And with modern conventions like mandatory school, it’s not like I could keep fully mobile kids at home working the farm all day. It was more trouble than any of it is worth, so I discarded the idea. So even in The Sims, I played childfree.
Recently, I had a dream which I think had a lot to do with my Sims game. I had lots of animals to play with and love, but I also inexplicably had a baby which apparently just appeared on my lot much like the animals did. The baby was left in its crib and shoved into some random, rarely-visited room and was immediately forgotten in much the same way one might forget about a houseplant you never wanted in the first place. It wasn’t out of malice that the baby was abandoned. I didn’t even resent it like I did in my other dream. I had absolutely no feeling for it whatsoever nor any interest in it at all, so I forgot it even existed.
I loved my pets and spent all of my time playing with them, training them, and showing them. It was because I was so occupied with them that I forgot all about the baby (isn’t it often the tragic opposite in real life for many people?) I didn’t remember the baby again until several days later when I happened to wander into the room to retrieve ferret food or something. The baby was still lying very still in its crib, starved and only barely alive (I guess my dream is like The Sims, meaning babies can’t die.)
My reaction to the discovery was much like that one would have when discovering some wilted houseplant and realizing they’d neglected to water it for some time: a slightly guilty shrug and an “Oops, oh I guess I forgot about this.”
That’s when social-services arrived to retrieve the baby (as they do in The Sims.) I watched the social worker carry the baby away and said to myself, “Meh, it’s for the best.” In my dream, I found the visit from social-services slightly embarrassing, but was mostly relieved that I would be free to return to playing with my pets, which is what I immediately did. End dream.
In real life, would I forget a baby? No. Real life doesn’t tend to have every house made of soundproof walls and doors, nor do most people have homes with completely un-used rooms to shove babies in. I couldn’t forget about a baby even if I wanted to as I would have no peace from the awful racket they tend to make. And of course I would never starve a baby; I’m not cruel. Of the people who do have babies which they’re too busy, say, playing World of Warcraft to feed, I make no excuse. In real life, this would be inexcusable. But this was just a dream, after all.
I don’t look to dreams for deep meaning, but they can be a reflection of our thoughts and views. The truth is, I don’t think babies are interesting or useful. I don’t necessarily hate them because, to me, that would be like hating an inanimate (though noisy) object (but I do hate the horrible sounds babies make, and the culture that insists we all revolve our lives around them,) but I don’t love them either and know that I wouldn’t want to have one. Frankly, I really do prefer non-human animals to human animals.
I’ve heard those among the childed who are so insecure as to feel threatened by the mere existence of childfree people actually claim that there are no true childfree people at all. We MUST want kids, be that a secret desire that we purposely hide, or a subconscious desire that we are in denial of. This claim is, of course, ridiculous and stinks of bitterness and jealousy. Still, it is an argument that I remember on the rare occasion that I dream myself into parenthood. In these dreams (nightmares) I am never happy to have a child, even though the child in my dreams is always far less monstrous than those I encounter in real life. And in my dreams, I always find some way to be rid of the baby, and am always happy to do so.
It appears that my subconscious mind is as staunchly childfree as my conscious one. Maybe even more so.
Oh, and as for my Sims game, I hired a butler. Much better.
Dear gamer culture,
Yes, “gamer girls,” that is, people who play video games while having two X chromosomes, DO, in fact, exist. It turns out, people don’t typically use their genitalia to manipulate controllers or keyboards, so women are just as a capable as men at playing and enjoying games. We really mean it when we say we like games. It’s not something we pretend to like to get attention, impress boys, or entertain our boyfriends.
“Gamer girls” may occasionally play games in various states of dress within the privacy of our own homes, just like boys do. However, we don’t typically lie around naked in our own beds, using only miscellaneous console controllers to cover our bits. That’s a fantasy, and a silly one. Sure, you’ve probably seen images of women posing suggestively with video game accessories, but you can blame the industry for it, not us. Using women to pander to immature, sexist males is nothing new in advertising That is to say, marketers think male gamers are stupid. You should be as insulted by it as we are.
We would like the industry to recognize our existence. You shouldn’t be afraid of this. When we say that we want game developers to recognize us as a demographic, we are NOT demanding that game companies put out Barbie games. We already like the games that exist pretty well.
We don’t want every game to feature female protagonists, or protagonists with selectable genders. But SOME would be nice. Why should every story be about the same kinds of people, right? It would be nice if at least a FEW “Game of the Year” titles reliably passed the Bechtel test.
We do have an issue with sexism in games (see earlier commentary about advertising ) and so should you. Games shouldn’t be insulting to their audiences, and if games weren’t so frequently hostile to women, the existence of “gamer girls” wouldn’t be such a surprise. Addressing this issue can only lead developers away from lazy design and on to better games as a result.
Watch these videos. Shut up and do it.
Alright, let’s be serious. The other day, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek post about things I “regret” about being childfree. This was in response to a troll in a childfree group, a grandmother who showed up one day and never left, who insists that childfree people regret our decision and secretly envy her for having bred.
Finding this assertion absurd to the point it doesn’t deserve to be taken seriously, I wrote a list of things that I “regret” about being childfree. My list included things like not being woken up at 3am by screaming babies, not having to change diapers, and not suffering the bodily harm caused by pregnancy and birth. Obviously, this list is sarcastic. I don’t actually regret any of what I listed, and that’s exactly the point. Most people who read it, got it. A number of people even wrote their own list of fake regrets.
But it seems some people just didn’t get the point. It flew right over their heads. A few people on Reddit complained that they were hoping for an honest list of pros and cons. Actually, it kind of was, but more on that later.
Childfree people are often told that we will regret being CF. Some of the less secure among us find this possibility a source of doubt. Most of us just dismiss the notion, sure we won’t regret a thing. However, few us us seem to question the notion that there is even anything to regret at all. I feel like I’m explaining a joke here, but that’s the point of my list of fake regrets.
What is it, exactly, that I am supposed to regret about being childfree? Living in too nice of a house? Spending too much quality time with my boyfriend?Am I supposed to regret being too healthy? Too successful? Too financially-stable? Too happy? Too free? Too satisfied? Really, what is there to regret about not having kids? I feel like I’m being told that I will regret running a marathon without a ball and chain shackled to each ankle. The idea is laughable. It doesn’t even make any sense. I am clearly better off without the burden.
The truth, as I see it, is this. For one thing, not only do I not now, nor will I ever, regret being childfree, but I contend that there is nothing at all for me to regret. In the list of pros and cons of being childfree, I can not for the life of me think of one single “con.” Likewise, I see no real “pros” to parenthood.
My second realization, however, relates to those who insist that the childfree will regret being so. None of them can name a single thing that I should regret missing out on. It’s more likely that they claim that I will regret being childfree, not for my sake, but for their own. Maybe they feel insecure about their choice, perhaps even regret becoming parents, and as a result, they think that believing that I am the one who regrets living my own life differently than they makes them feel better. Too bad for them that reality doesn’t play along.
This is what I really regret about being childfree: Absolutely nothing!
So this list was originally written as a response to a rather persistent troll on another website, who tried to insist that the childfree (namely, me) are envious of her life as a grandmother (by her own admission, breeding is about all she ever did with her life,) and secretly regret being childfree. I won’t go into details on the attention-seeking troll who is clearly projecting, because it really doesn’t matter. My list of “regrets” was well-received among a few CF communities I’m part of, so I’ll post it here. (Warning: Snark.)
I regret that I know what I want out of life, and what I don’t. I regret that I have the ingenuity, intelligence, and courage to set my own course in life. I regret that I make solid plans and responsible decisions. I regret that I have and the motivation and will to do the right thing. I regret that I don’t just mindlessly follow the herd like any lazy, unimaginative cow.
I regret that I have done amazing, worthwhile things with my life. I regret that I’ve served my country proudly, gotten a pilot’s license, competed in and won art competitions, traveled the world, and generally do all the things most people only dream of, and all by the age of 24. Similarly, I deeply regret that my future remains bright and open, such that I can continue to do even more with my life. I regret that my life is one of freedom, accomplishment, and potential rather than conformity, monotony, and resignation.
I regret that I can say more about my life and how I lived it than “I bred.” I regret that I don’t have to desperately try to convince myself that breeding, which any rat can do, somehow counts as an accomplishment, that I haven’t just wasted my only life.
I regret having a healthy, fit, thin body, complete with perky (though admittedly small) breasts, an unmarred abdomen, and a tight vagina that has never been ripped apart. I regret that I maintain a youthful appearance, rather than appearing a full decade older due to the ravages of childbirth and tedium of parenting. I regret that I can dress fashionably, rather than in spit-up encrusted sweats, and that I can sport attractive hairstyles rather than “mom-cuts.”
I regret that I have the intelligence to figure out how birth control works, and therefore never had to go through pregnancy. I regret that I have never looked nor felt like a bloated whale. I regret not puking my guts out or pissing myself. I regret not being a burden on my employer or co-workers. I regret not having my insides ripped apart. I regret not shitting myself in a room full of on-lookers. And I regret not having nasty vaginal discharges before and after the delivery, just like I regret not pissing myself every time I sneeze or cough. I regret not looking or feeling like a deflated balloon.
I regret not being covered in the bodily fluids or wastes of useless sacks of human flesh. I also regret enjoying peaceful slumber every night, not interrupted by screeching shit-factories. I regret that I never have to listen to stomping feet, annoying babbling, stupid questions, constant demands, inane commentary, screaming, crying, or slamming doors. I regret living peacefully and unburdened.
I really regret having an actual healthy and happy relationship with my boyfriend, which I don’t have to blatantly lie about for the sake of appearances I regret that all of our sexual escapades are real, rather than fabricated for boasts that no one actually believes anyway. Yes, indeed, I regret that our relationship is not strained or destroyed by children, just as I regret the fact that we’re together because we want to be, rather than resentfully being stuck together “for the children.”
I regret having a well-paying, agreeable job, the earnings from which I actually get to keep rather than waste on children and their needs. I regret too that I actually get to work where I want, when I want, rather than having to structure (derail) my schedule and career path around children. I regret that I don’t have to take crappy jobs I don’t want due to the restrictions having children would inflict upon me, or their financial burden.
I regret that I live in a nice, large home, in a nice part of town, rather than having to settle for a smaller, less-appealing one due to budget constraints brought on by children. Yes, I regret being a home-owner at 23, and that I do not have to share my home with anyone, child or adult, other than my partner (no room-mates, like you have.) I also regret that my home is clean, and quiet, and that I can own nice things without worrying about them being broken.
I regret that I now type from my custom-built, high-performance gaming PC, which is neither covered in childen’s boogers, nor needs to be shared. I regret too that I keep my PC in my own home office, which has not been converted into a nursery. I regret that while all computers and capable consoles in our home connect to our wireless network, I only have my boyfriend to compete with.
I regret that I have a hot tub in my yard instead of some garish, plastic kinder-crap. I regret that my typical free-time resembles what other people consider a rare vacation treat. I also regret that I drive around in a classic sportscar, which enthusiasts often try to buy off me, rather than some ugly, mess-UV. I regret that I can just get in my car and go whenever I want, without having to deal with the hassle of kids and their accessories, or deal with their whining.
I regret that I never get calls from school about bullying or being bullied, about grades, or about attendance. I regret that I never have to pretend to care about lame school functions. I regret that my day doesn’t have to revolve around a school I don’t attend.
I regret that there is no one around to smash all breakable objects in the house, attempt to feed inappropriate items into disk drives, draw all over the walls, hit baseballs through my windows, flush toys down the toilet, or scratch up my car. I regret that there is no one around to steal my things or my money. I regret there is no one around to cause my car insurance to skyrocket in cost or to actually crash my car while borrowing it or “borrowing” it. I regret that I do not have to hide or lock up adult items in my home. I regret that I have no one for the police to return to my front door at 3am.
Yes, I regret that I’m not forcing new people into an ultimately doomed existence, perpetuating the cycle of misery, suffering, and death, to people I would, supposedly, love. I regret that I’m not forcing new people to live, knowing full well that they will die. I also regret that I’m not placing further burden on the world, hastening its destruction, for the sake my petty whims.
I regret that I actually have a life. I am productive and happy. I regret that I have friends and family, and that we get to talk about things that are actually interesting instead of tedious child news. I regret being successful. And I regret that I don’t have to troll pages where I clearly don’t belong just for attention.
Yes, moms who think I’m jealous of you, I regret being childfree and envy your existence. You go right ahead and believe that if it makes you feel better. I’ll just be here, laughing.
To the childfree, tell me, what do you “regret” about being childfree?