I have a handful of best friends. We’re talking … people who knew me before politics, people who knew me “way back when” and who I have grown and evolved with over the years. I called one such bestie the other day and she told me that she was about to call me because a recent trip to see her in-laws resulted in a discussion about when my friend and her husband were going to be starting a family and having kids.
This particularly bestie and I have long shared our mutual resistance toward having kids. There was an interesting presumption with her in-law family, however, that it was her that was determined never to have kids. Her normally easy going husband at one point piped up – “We’re not having kids…” They were all shocked. What Bestie realized about the in-laws insistence for them not to wait – was that they were way too old when they had children. Such that the aunt had to endure huge amounts of hormone treatments and it was an all around nightmare to get their daughter. Bestie said to me, “So while I’ve never ever wanted to have children, I realized I now have to either make peace with that or we have to talk about having kids. NOW.”
We talked about how both of us have always been anti-kids. Not that we blame other people of course, but many of the reasons that people say they want children are selfish reasons. People want families for themselves, they want children that come from their genes not from the plethora of kids who don’t have good homes, we also talked about parents we’ve seen who love to live vicariously through their kids, or need someone to love them and idolize them.
We talked about how when you throw kids in the mix, your life is over. Traveling for fun – forget it, picking up and going rock climbing on a weekend – turns out you can’t do it with a baby strapped to you, not to mention the first three years are filled with nothing but body fluids and screaming. And the financial cost is tremendous. The estimations once showed having kids was an investment, but now you run deficits with kids costing upwards of $250,000 from birth to their 18th birthday, and that doesn’t include college. In the end is it more selfish to have a kid to complete you and your needs or is it more selfish to not have a kid because you have no interest in being a parent, raising someone, or disrupting your own life?
Remember back when I talked about The Professor and how he turned 40 and realized he needed to get married and have kids quick and to do that he had to find someone between 25 and 30? I’ll never forget one of the people who commented on that blog post that I was a “selfish bitch” because I would rather not have a kid, which I still find hilarious. There isn’t an argument for having a child that doesn’t involve someone being selfish and “wanting a kid.” The fact is – people who want kids… want kids. They want it for their own reasons. While my Bestie and mine’s reasons for not having children are status quo – nothing changes with our decision and no one and nothing is impacted by a decision to not have a kid.
I’m at an advantage because no one asks me these questions because I’m not married and no one even sees me with a potential partner. I still occasionally get the “when are you getting married” question, I don’t think anyone really expects me to have kids unless they come with a future partner. But this whole discussion reminded me of the bizarre need for our culture to stigmatize couples who are childless, like there’s something wrong with them or one of them have bits that don’t work. We’re so obsessed with this need to continue a DNA chain or have some image of what a family ought to look like. The truth is, some people are different and want different things that aren’t traditional or typical. If you want them, power to ya and have fun. But all you Baby Boomer parents who are pissed at us because we’re not into it just need to calm the hell down.