Category Archives: Bingoed
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?
My dream skipped pregnancy. It skipped how it progressed, how I dealt with it, and how it could have even happened in the first place. My dream also skipped the violence of birth, which I am thankful for. In my dream, I was already a mother. My boy was already here with me, in my arms.
In my dream, I was seated, on a city bus, of all things. I haven’t had to ride one of those in years. I hate them. And I love my sports car. The seat beside me was conspicuously absent. My boyfriend has always said he doesn’t want to be a father. Worst of all, I was also in my home-town, the place I grew up and where my parents still live. I had long ago grown out of this town and left it behind me as I started my own life. And now I was back.
These details alone pretty much told me everything that I needed to know about my living situation. It seems my life had been blown far off-course. I was alone, dependent upon my parents, and quite broke.
I sat there and lost myself in thought. What happened to my goals of perusing an education and bettering myself through learning? What happened to traveling and seeing the world? What happened to my future with the man I love? What happened to living the life I want? What happened to my freedom? What happened to my bright future? It was all gone. I’d apparently traded it all for motherhood, and I couldn’t imagine why.
How could this have happened? I never wanted to be a mother. I realized and announced this proudly from an early age and had never waivered. I had always been responsible with my birth control and my planning. I’d even recently had myself surgically sterilized. I even had a sound back-up plan in the improbable event of an accidental pregnancy – an immediate abortion. How is this even possible? How could I have let it come to this? What had I done?
What about my friends? What will they think? I’d been so adamant about not wanting kids, and prideful in my promotion of my childfree life. They’ll roll their eyes and never believe another thing I say. My elders who had always insisted I’d changed my mind would look at me smugly and say, “I told you so.” And what about my younger siblings? What kind of example am I setting for them, being so irresponsible and quitting on my goals?
I sat there, miserable and lost in despair. I hated myself. I hated everything. My life was over.
I felt something squirming against me. I looked down at my baby boy as I held him in my arms and he looked back at me. He looked like any baby, I guess. Small, pudgy features. I suppose he resembled my brother as a baby, with a pale face, blue eyes, and wispy tufts of blonde hair. He was quiet, not screaming at the top of his lungs as I imagine babies often do. And he didn’t smell either, requiring no diaper change. He just stared back up at me with those big, round, uncomprehending baby eyes. As far as babies go, this one wasn’t so bad, at that moment. It seems like, in my dream, babies were shown in the best possible light. Quiet. Un-demanding. Non-smelly. Content. Sweet. Innocent. It’s like he was the perfect child.
I remember what people used to say to me, when I was young and not yet sterilized and breeding was still an option. They’d make arguments which I called “bingos” because they were so cliché, I could fill out a Bingo game card with them. Arguments like: ”You say you don’t want kids now, but you’ll love them when they’re here,” and, “It’s different when it’s your own.” I gazed upon the child inexplicably in my arms and considered these words. The boy cooed and reached one clumsy, stubby arm up at me, trying to touch his mother’s face.
I pulled my head away from him, repelled. No, it wasn’t different. I still didn’t want him. At all. I felt absolutely no love for him. I didn’t even like him. In fact, I resented him for existing, even though I knew I had only myself to blame for that. He was just an uninteresting object to me, representing a burden I never wanted and thought I had long ago rejected. He was everything that went wrong in my life. I never wanted to be a mom. And in this dream, my nightmare, in which I had what seemed like the most unnaturally peaceful baby in the world, I still didn’t want to be a mother.
I signaled for the bus to stop at some random point along the route. I stood up, turned, and laid the baby back down on the bus seat. I left the baby behind, stepping off the bus and into the sunshine, a free woman. And I didn’t look back.
Then I woke up, glad it was over. I lifted my shirt and checked my tubal ligation scars. Still there. Still sterile. Still safe. People have insisted that childfree women secretly, perhaps subconsciously, desire children, despite our vocal insistence to the contrary. It seems my own subconscious disagrees. Relieved that the nightmare was over and would never and could never become reality, I resumed my rest and slept in late, as I often do. I was never awoken by a baby, real or imagined, ever again.
Juliewashere88′s note: This is a guest post by the wonderful and talented Rayne, writer of the blog Insufferable Intolerance, published here and here with permission from the original author.
For further reading on this topic, see JWH88′s post, Childfree = Selfish?
Childfree maybe selfish but at least we aren’t insecure
(Note: I’m Australian and write in British Standard English – there are less typo’s than you think).
I had a troll come onto my blog recently and post this gem:
“Don’t pretend you’re childfree for any other reason than selfishness. You want time for yourself. You want money for yourself. It’s all about you. I don’t care that you are childfree. It’s your choice. Just don’t pretend that it’s not about self-absorption. Also acting like your pets are the greatest is just as annoying as bragging parents.”
The age-old “Childfree people are selfish” line, the bane of the childfree individuals existence.
Over the years I’ve asked numerous parents exactly how are childfree people selfish? And to no-one’s surprise, they haven’t been able to give me an answer. So unfortunately I don’t have any insights into what the statement means to a parent when they throw it at us but I can give you an insight into what it means to a childfree person.
When a parent says “Childfree people are selfish” all I hear is “Parenthood made me selfless and self-sacrificing! I’m such a great person. That must mean childfree people are selfish because they don’t want to give up anything for anyone”.
I will concede and agreed, yes I am selfish – I don’t want to give up my lifestyle. My partner doesn’t want to give up her lifestyle for a half-formed dependent human being. Our purpose in life is to be happy with each other and to live our lives according to how we want. We don’t want to live according to the life script that others think that we should. Our happiness to us means saving money by not having to spend money on children, we can spend money on Playstation games, books, restaurants, books, holidays, clothing and books. We are able to sleep at night and go wherever, whenever we want. As a consequence of our rebellion against the life-script; we get individuals constantly attempting to police our lives.
So yes I am incredibly selfish but why parents attempt to use that as a weapon against the childfree is beyond me. Those same weapon wielding parents forget that being a parent is a choice; you chose to be a parent and live with the consequences of that – you don’t get to play the selfless martyr card. Remember you chose to A) not have an abortion and B) not to give the child away. You chose to put yourself in the position of sleepless nights, limited travel and debt.
Parenthood is as much of a choice as being childfree is. We’ve elected to not raise children meaning we’ve rejected the massive responsibility that comes with raising a completely dependent human to ensure its survival. While I concede and admit my decision has degree of selfishness (and disinterest in children), it also has a large degree of maturity attached to it. I don’t want the responsibility of a child so I’ve elected not to do something that would make me miserable and ultimately make the child miserable because I am miserable. Childfree take precautions not to get pregnant or get someone pregnant, we use birth control (or in my case lesbianism) and get vasectomies. We’ve thought a lot about our decisions and came to a conclusion. Yes we are selfish but it comes from a place of maturity, honesty and courage – honesty with ourselves and society at large and the courage to rebel against the imposed life-script and do what we want with our lives rather than living in the safety of a nuclear family where we will never be questioned. I would also argue that bringing a child into the world but not looking after it or using the child as a weapon in a custody battle or using it as a way to get things – is quite selfish on the part of the parent.
Thinking about it over the years, the best I can come up with is that the line “Childfree are selfish” is yet another vain attempt for parents to convince themselves that their decision was a good decision and that despite all the difficulties that childrearing brings – it’s still the greatest thing they’ve ever done. It’s nothing more than a validation tactic. Let me just say that if you need to justify your decisions that badly to reassure yourself that what you are doing is right – you probably didn’t make a good choice.
Numerous parents over the years have attempted to validate their life choices via the steaming pile of emotional blackmail that is the “Childfree are selfish, you don’t want to be selfish do you?” line and the fun breeder bingos we’ve all grown to loathe and despise. In my experience there are two types of parents – those who bingo and those who don’t when presented with your childfree status.
Those who bingo you (and bingo they will) seem to be quite insecure about their status as a parent. If they weren’t insecure about their choices – why would they need validation via bingoing and attempting to convince the world around them to make the choices they made? These types of parents don’t care whether being a parent would make you happy as long as you make the same choice they did. My favourite childfree anecdote is when I was attending university; I had this conversation with a pregnant friend of a sibling:
Them: So when are you going to have kids?
Me: I’m not.
Them: Why not? Don’t you like them?
Me: I don’t want them because I’m not interested in raising children.
Them: It’s all worth it in the end! It’ll be different once you have your own.
Me: That implies that either I need to get pregnant which I don’t plan on doing since I’m gay or fork out money to foster or adopt which I don’t want to do. Even if I did want them which I don’t, I’m a poor university student with no money and I’m not in a position to raise a child.
Them: You can just drop out of university and get government money
You heard it first here readers “You can just drop out of university and get government money” I can just drop my career plans in order to appease a random woman and validate her decision to keep an unplanned child. There’s nothing more that annoys me than someone attempting to police my life according to their thoughts as to what I should do with it. Whose life is it again?
On a side note: I really do hate when parents go “It’ll be different when you have your own”, this implies I need to acquire a child, which first implies I need to make the decision to acquire a child. The best I can come up for as an explanation to the above statement is that those who say this believe you’ll be acquiring a child without thinking about it or that a child will just suddenly appear in your life one day much like herpes (both never ever leave). This statement should be amended to “It’ll be different when you have your own when you have an unplanned pregnancy”, even then this statement is pointless because it implies that everyone who has an unplanned pregnancy needs or should keep the child.
Have these people never heard of adoption or abortion? I highly doubt it. The above statement implies that adoption or abortion as a valid choice never entered their minds because those types of people are so wrapped up in the life-script that they can’t see any other way.
And that is why child-freedom freaks them out.
About the authour: Rayne is a constantly hungry, bruise-prone atheist goth bibliophile living with a black cat with a fetish for eating iPhone cords if she’s left alone for too long. Rayne blogs on a variety of issues including atheism, religion, being childfree, gay & lesbian issues, feminism and general queerness while drinking peppermint tea and listening to metal. Rayne is Australian who writes in British Standard English who gets confused for an American who makes a lot more typo’s than she actually does.
Rayne currently has a few projects going on at her blog Insufferable Intolerance:
The Self Harm Experiences Project: Insufferable Intolerance is a looking for submissions from individuals who have had experiences relating to self-harm/self-injury/eating disorders/depression/anxiety/mental health issues.
The Atheist Coming Out Project: is looking for submissions from individuals who have come out or need help in coming out or coming to terms with losing faith, questioning their faith or having de-converted to atheism.
The Childfree Experiences Project: is looking for submissions from childfree by choice individuals about their experiences coming out childfree.
The Abortion Stories Collection: has been created to help combat stigma and decrease the taboo of a women’s right to choose to have an abortion.
The Queer Outreach Project: is looking for submissions from queer individuals whether they be gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, intersex, pansexual, asexual, genderqueer to submit coming out stories.
The purposes of the projects (posted under pseudo-names if requested) is to create a network of stories and individuals for those who need to know that they aren’t alone and may be need some support in a safe environment.
Feel free to send you submissions to the following email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Life is good right about now. This post may come off as boastful, but I swear I have a point to make here and it isn’t how great or how lucky or how rich I am (I am actually none of these.) It’s about one single choice that my BF and I each made before we ever even met each other. It’s a choice that has defined who we are individually and together as a couple. It’s a choice that we owe the present state of our lives to. It was and remains to be a good choice, despite how often we have each been told we’ll change our minds.
My family has moved to our new home and we’re just about done unpacking. Our animals, our dear Molly and our recently-adopted Maine coon kitty, have settled in well. Molly loves her new yard, and she’s doing alright with her new family-member. As for our cat, B.C., now that she’s been released from her confinement in the guest room, where she had been staying in order to protect her from the stress of the commotion of moving, she has become comfortable with us, the dog, and her new surroundings. The cat seems to enjoy all the attention she’s getting, as well as toys, exercise, and her kitty-condo, all of which I’m sure is a fair step up from the cage she had been locked away in before we took her.
As for the BF and I, we love our new home. It’s away from all of those gripes I had about the townhome we were renting. It’s quiet and peaceful and all of the neighbors mind their own business. I haven’t heard one single screaming kid, revving motorcycle, or blaring horn since we moved. Not only that, but there’s no C/HOA to tell us what we can or can’t do with our home (I was able to get a proper security system installed – YAY!), the money we pay month to month is actually going towards something, and I can rely on having somewhere to park my car. It’s fantastic.
Our new house is a bi-level on a ¼ acre lot that has: four bedrooms and three bathrooms; a big, two-car garage with plenty of storage; a wood-burning fire place with a blower; central AC (we really appreciate that!); all of the appliances we need in good order; beautiful landscaping with colorful flowers and a lush, green lawn with an in-ground sprinkler system; a big back yard with a nice, high fence; mature trees including two; Golden Delicious apple trees; a large, wood deck, accessible from sliding glass doors in the kitchen and in the master bedroom; and last but not least, a hot tub. We love it. Our cat loves it. Our dog loves it. And I’m sure our guests will love it too.
Last Thanksgiving, when we still lived in the townhome, BF’s parents came to visit. They seemed impressed with how well we had our lives together at our young ages. BF’s mother was impressed that I even had all of the items necessary to serve a proper Thanksgiving dinner, and was able to coordinate dinner prep so as to have everything ready to serve at about the same time. If that impressed them last year, I wonder what they’ll think when they visit again this year. Last Thanksgiving, I told BF’s questioning family that I’d been fixed.
The other night, as my BF and I were enjoying our hot tub, we looked around in amazement at how well life was going for us. We were able to afford to live this well, and without over-extending our pocketbooks or finding ourselves in insurmountable debt, and all at the age of 23 and 24. We are still amazed. Once, we considered living in a small shipping container with one or two other soldiers to be living the good life as it was a step above living in a tent with dozens of people. Once, we considered living in a small room in the barracks good. That was only a few short years ago, but now it seems like another life. We’re amazed at how our lives are now.
I’m amazed by our happy family of four. I’m amazed by our well-paying, low-stress jobs. I’m amazed by our three nice cars together. I’m amazed at the quality, beauty, size, and comfort of our new home and all that comes with. And I’m amazed by our happy, healthy relationship together.
As my BF and I soaked in the hot water, remarking on how pleased we are with how things are turning out even at our young ages, I cuddled closer to my BF and told him something that I have told him many times before. I feel like we’ve gone over this point countless times, but it continues to be just as true and relevant. The reason that we live the lives that we do, the reason that we have the home, cars, and other material possessions that we have, the reason that we have this wonderful relationship together all comes down to one deciding factor: we don’t have kids. He agreed.
It might seem awkward that one single choice in a person’s life can mean so much, but this one particular choice (to breed or not to breed) is, I believe, the biggest factor in who a person is, what they have, and what they do in life. My life would be so different, were I a mother, that I can barely fathom it. I don’t think I’d be able to recognize myself. We’d have to give up a lot of ourselves, a lot of our things, and a lot of our happiness were we parents. We just could not afford our current lives.
We couldn’t afford to live in such a large, nice house in such a nice, low-crime area so close to work. We couldn’t have our two sports cars (one of which being a two-seater) and our Pathfinder for offroading. We couldn’t have the status as being such reliable workers, able to come in on short notice and stay after if needed. We couldn’t have a dedicated movie theater in our home. We couldn’t have an office each and a guest bedroom for company. We couldn’t be relatively easily able to go to school. We wouldn’t be able to spend lazy days watching movies, enjoying our hot tub, playing video games, or sleeping in. We wouldn’t be able to pick up and visit friends and relatives, or go on vacations to B&Bs just whenever we found a day off. We wouldn’t have a quiet, peaceful home life. We couldn’t go skiing/snowboarding, off-roading, or hiking with ease. We couldn’t eat at restaurants on a regular basis. We couldn’t have such a large yard. We couldn’t’ have a hot tub. We couldn’t’ have our beautiful collection of books on display. I couldn’t have the same level of heath or the same body. And our relationship? If my BF and I were together at all, our relationship would be strained and would have lost the intimacy that comes with privacy and exclusive attention. Worst of all, we would not have the same opportunities for our future. Our lives would be irrevocably changed, should we have kids, and not for the better. Not only we would not have our current lives, but the lives that we would live wouldn’t even be entirely our own any more. It’s a sad, scary thought.
And we wouldn’t even be satisfied with the trade-off, this “gift” I’m told, as a woman, that motherhood must be. I don’t buy the hype. It isn’t for me. No, the truth is that we’d be miserable. Our animals, if we were even able to rescue them at all, wouldn’t be as happy either as they would no doubt lose the love and attention that they deserve, that being replaced, no doubt, with screaming, tail pulling, and privacy invasion. No one in the whole family would be happy, were children ever brought into it. The hypothetical children would no doubt be unhappy in such an environment as well, so what’s the point?
When I think about having children, even if I somehow had the best children in the world, all I can think of is how much I would lose. And I would, indeed, lose. We all would.
As the human with the uterus, I feel the weight of responsibility for such an outcome upon me. Were this childed life to come to pass, all the problems that would follow would all be my fault. I have it in my power to ruin so much, my life, his life, the lives of our pets, and who knows what else. And yet I’m daily bombarded with messages that I should do just that – have a baby. Have a baby despite all of hardship doing so would bring. Have a baby for no other reason than simply because that’s what is expected of everyone. “Its just what you do,” I’m told. Even on the day of my tubal ligation, over a year ago, the day I took control of my life and underwent a surgery that protected more futures than just my own, there were people doubting my choice. I, however, have no doubts.
If, when BF’s family comes to visit this year, the topic of children comes up again just as it did last Thanksgiving, or if anyone else ever asks, we need only answer the question “why don’t you want kids?” by inviting the questioner to simply look around, to see my life. We’re very happy with our lives. Why should we ever want to change that? I laugh at the idea that I will one day change my mind. I laugh because the very notion is ridiculous to me. Why would I go and do a crazy thing like that?
Why don’t I want kids? Nevermind that. Why don’t you, hypothetical bingoer, want a hot tub? (They cost significantly less than children.) It turns out that a hot tub, by the way, is an excellent location from which to do some laughing at natalist expectations and bingos.
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?