Friday, July 24, 2009

I shouldn't rile up the MiniVan Majority (they'll cut a bitch in a hot second), but I just can't resist.

No Kids, No Grief

A new manifesto argues that parenting is bad for your career, your marriage, your bank book and your love life

Well, duh!

This article features one of my favorite bloggers, Elaine Lui of Lainey Gossip.

“It was just an assumption, ‘You get married, you have kids.’ ” Front-line exposure to a close relative’s three young children and the work they required provided a wake-up call, Lui says. “That killed it for us. We just looked at each other and said, ‘We don’t want them.’ ”

In the ensuing six years, the couple has been barraged with reasons why they should change their minds, from “Your life will have no value if you don’t” to “You’ll be so lonely when you get old” to Lui’s favourite: “Don’t you want to know what your children would look like?” “Any baby we’d have would be of mixed race,” she says. “So everyone says, ‘Oh, it would be so gorgeous!’ ” She laughs. “And I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s really going to make me want to change my whole life.’ ” It’s a life the couple enjoys: they work together on her website (he handles the business side), golf together, engage in community volunteer work, and dote on their dog, Marcus.

As baby refuseniks, Lui and [husband Jacek] Szenowicz belong to a tiny but growing minority challenging the final frontier of reproductive freedom: the right to say no to children without being labelled social misfits or selfish for something they don’t want.

This article piques my interest for the forthcoming book by French psychotherapist Corinne Maier, No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children. Love this:

Are you prepared to give up your free time, dinners with friends, spontaneous romantic getaways, and even the luxury of uninterrupted thought for the “vicious little dwarves” that will treat you like their servant, cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars, and end up resenting you?

No. Uh-uh. NEVER.

I mean, I'm not going to go as far to say “If you really want to be host to a parasite, get a gigolo," but if I am honest, the book sounds great because I want to revel in a little smugness. Because I get the same ridiculous questions Lui gets ALL THE TIME and it would be great to finally have something shut those people up. Because it drives me up the wall when people assume I want to be around their children, and that my life is unfulfilling or unhappy because I haven't experienced what I see as the often dreadful drudgery of child-rearing. Because while I suspect most people respect the decision to have children (I do, but within reason -- I truly believe you should only replace yourself) I think that often the same respect is not afforded to the decision to be child-free.

I once had a very smug (and exhausted) coworker with three kids who grilled me on why I wasn't having children and then had the nerve to tell me that when I got older (read: grew up) she knew I would change my mind. That kind of rude behavior is completely acceptable in our society, but can you imagine what would have happened if I had told her she was going to change her mind about her kids someday? Yeah, not pretty.

I guess the extreme feelings on both sides simply illustrate that the smug pendulum has to swing both ways so people don't drive themselves batshit asking themselves "what if?" The decision to be childless feels invalidated by those who say we're missing out on the "joys" of parenting, and the decision to have kids feels invalidated by people like me whose time is their own and who have freedom and disposable income -- among other fabulous perks. :)

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Blogger Trevor23 said...

Yep. I totally agree (obviously). Might I add that your labels are especially apt this time? ;)

July 24, 2009 at 7:21:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Funny Face said...

'vicious little dwarves' grins! Love that.
All I ever hear is "You'd love it and you'd be such a good mother" What a larf, I dont have the patience and am far too selfish. It shows how much my friends really know me!

I've been going through the 'last chance saloon' feeling recently, thinking my age/body is against me if I want children.. and I get a pang of, well, not longing, just kinda 'what if/well, it would be nice to watch my kid grow up'.
Any vague maternal feelings vanish the moment I see a kid cry, a kid misbehave, a kid be a bitch and I feel bloomin lucky I dont have a one.

July 25, 2009 at 2:10:00 AM PDT  
Blogger saudade said...

A gal friend of Trevor's who is almost 40 and is militantly childless told Trevor to warn me about the mind/biological clock rebelling against you in your mid-thirties. She said she often gets the pangs too (to her horror) but also said all it takes is to see all of the rotten children to put her back on track.

I used to say I was too selfish too, but I've since stopped -- in large part because this is what people with children tell me all the time about my decision to not have children. I realized it's not selfish; it's a practical, private, and well-reasoned decision that is no one's business but mine and my partner's and affects no one but us. It's much more selfish to have kids because you don't want to be lonely, or just because that's what you do, or "because you'd love it and be such a good mother." Bah!

July 25, 2009 at 10:41:00 PM PDT  

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