[Part of my mission to “live deliberately” involves ruthlessly cutting out anything that saps my time, energy or money to no good end. I’m calling these things my “Quits,” and this is one of the many items that have found themselves on my Quits List.]
Not wanting kids isn’t a decision my husband and I came to just recently. It’s been pretty clear all along. See: my very first ever guest post as Cordelia, titled Things I Want to Punch in the Face: Baby Worshippers, which will also give you a rundown of the “whys” behind our decision.
What’s new is my finally accepting that crazy mommyhood evangelists will never stop trying to convert us, and nothing we ever say will make an impression on them. The thing I’m quitting isn’t having kids (that Quit set sail years ago), but the irrational sense that I should even be attempting to explain myself to these people in the first place.
I’m cool with our decision, and I’m cool with them not being cool with it—so what’s the point in talking about it anymore?
I’m O.K., You’re O.K.—O.K.?
For all the ranting and raving I do on this blog about how evil the 9-5 is and how liberating it is to pave your own path, I rant and rave because I know my audience. You’re here because something about these topics speaks to you.
Maybe you agree with my p.o.v. wholeheartedly. Maybe you’re curious to hear a different perspective. Maybe you hate everything I’ve ever written and get off on reading a new post and counting the many ways you disagree with it.
So be it. It’s your party, to do with what you want. Either way, you’re here of your own volition, so I’ll give you my opinion, uncensored and 100% impassioned. Because that’s what you’ve presumably come here for.
But what you won’t see me doing is hijacking a family holiday dinner to tell everyone at the table why they’re living hollow little sheep-lives and giving in to The Man. Because that’s a dick move, and it wouldn’t do any good, anyway.
If a relative, in the course of some pre-dinner chitchat, should mention how it “must be nice” to work from home, I will gently let her know what freelancing is really like, because the work-from-home stigma is ridiculous, and I can’t stand by and listen to it be perpetuated.
If she sighs and says she wishes she weren’t stuck in a dead-end job, I’ll offer her all the encouragement in the world to pursue whatever her secret dream is, citing the dozens of real-life people I know who have done that very thing.
In other words, if she opens up that topic of conversation, I’ll gladly take part in it.
But I won’t kick off the chitchat with, “So, still kowtowing to corporate America, huh? When are you gonna finally do something about that? No, I know you think you’re happy with your life, but you’re wrong, and here’s why…”
Agree to Disagree, Already
Riki: Oh my gosh, I’ve got so much going on. I got my novel published, I moved, I got married.
Kate: Gosh, you know, everything seems so trivial now that I’m pregnant.
Riki: Well, I also helped end gang violence in Mexico when…
Kate: You know, I can’t even remember what I did before I was pregnant. Everything else seems so meaningless.
~Garfunkel and Oates, “Pregnant Women Are Smug”
The husband and I pretty well know what we’re talking about when we say we don’t want to have kids. We’ve had the talks and heard the arguments, and we’re all set, thank you. It’s really not for us. (Again, see here.)
But people simply cannot seem to accept that without feeling the need to try to set us straight. They’re certain we’ve missed something. It hasn’t been explained to us properly. Yes, there are plenty of reasons we might not think we’d like to be parents, but we obviously don’t realize how worth it it ultimately is!
But here’s the thing: What’s worth it to me and what’s worth it to you are not necessarily the same things. Because we are different people. So trying to convince me of the value of parenthood because you personally find it fulfilling is like trying to convince a vegan to try a steak because it comes from the highest-rated steakhouse in America. It doesn’t matter. They don’t freakin’ eat meat.
There are pros and cons to everything. When you want something enough, you deal with the cons and celebrate the pros. They even out in the long run, and for you, it’s “worth” it. Some people aren’t made for the freelancer lifestyle, and if I shared all the positives with them, they’d only see the negatives and think it sounds like the worst thing in the world. That’s how parenthood is for me. I see the upsides you’re outlining, but they wouldn’t be upsides for me, because I’m not wired for it.
I am decidedly lacking in any biological clock, mommy gene, or whatever else it is that drives beings to procreate. I do not find every baby adorable. I actually do not find any baby particularly aww-worthy. I just don’t care. I am baby tone-deaf, just as I’m tone-deaf to the entire parenthood experience.
Détente Through Non-Engagement
I don’t “hate” babies, mind you. (The other lovely misperception that comes with this life decision.) I am genuinely happy for my friends when they have babies. I don’t get it—I’d never in a million years do it myself—but I’m happy they’re happy. I get that most people are pro-the-notion-of-raising-children. I would never react to a friend’s joyous declaration of pregnancy with, “Ugh. That sucks. Hope you’ve enjoyed your life up to this point…”
Because, again: Why?
So why can’t we say, “Actually, no, we’re not having kids” and have it be left at that? Why do we need to explain ourselves (often to the same person we’ve already explained ourselves to once before) or be subject to our millionth hearing of The Wonders of Parenthood?
Sadly, I know we will be. It can’t be avoided. Which is why all that’s left to me as a tactical move is to stop engaging when the subject comes up. Question, answer, move on to a different topic.
I hear there’s some stuff going on with Syria right now. Or Miley Cyrus with that tongue thing—what’s that all about? Oh, you have to go check on something? Awesome. You go do that.
My womb and I will stay here and do (or, rather, not do) our own thing.
Image: Elvert Barnes / Flickr
Never miss a post! Sign up here and get a free copy of Your Guide to Calling It Quits.