selfish, shallow and self-absorbed-sixteen writers on the decision not to have kids (part too)-ed. meghan daum

“Children seemed as far off as false teeth, and interested me about as much. In fact, kids aroused my impatience and jealousy, especially when their parents fussed over them or, worse, stopped everything to reason with them. I’d grown up without that kind of attention, and I begrudged it to others, even babies.” (133, Amateurs, Michelle Huneven)

“In my thirties I began to scrape together a living writing freelance articles while struggling to write my first novel. Again and again, I fell for remote, often unavailable men and tried, unsuccessfully, to make them love me. Love was my grand distraction.” (143, ibid.)

“Some people are energized by risk. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t be. But in a relationship, the risk tolerance of partners should match.” (221, You’d Be Such a Good Mother, if Only You Weren’t You, M.G. Lord)

so, we simply cannot escape the realities of time and mate. even as i have this extremely productive writing day, my aural accompaniment is the work of one that i am unfathomably feeling in layers of ways (though i acknowledge that it’s mostly of my own invention and pattern of romanticizing the unavailable)-love may have also been my grand distraction, but infatuation has been my wifey tho, for real. and though infatuation (like a tootsie roll pop) begets many a pretty writing, a family it does not make. and way before i reached my present “advanced age”, i knew that i probably never meet anyone that i would want to be tied to forever through a child (tlc basically finished me for that), and in another time, i would’ve been first to be burned at the stake. so, there’s that.

“Lately I’ve been hearing from childless female friends and acquaintances about their sense of being judged by this community of other women for not having children, as though their not having children betrays all the women who took a hit for the team.” (39, Maternal Insticts, Laura Kipnis)

“But if being a mom really was something held in high esteem-if it were even regarded with the same respect as other work that people do-women everywhere would probably be a lot happier and more fulfilled than we know them to be.” (116, The Most Important Thing, Sigrid Nunez)

“To this day, whenever someone asks me whether I’d like to hold the baby, I always answer, ‘No, thanks.’ I have been advised that this is an impolitic response. Not long ago my friend Zoey made me hold her one-year-old and took photos of me. Wincing gamely with the kicking child on my lap, I felt the way I imagine women do when their boyfriends cajole them into dressing up as Catholic schoolgirls or Princess Leia, indulging some fantasy that has nothing to do with them. Later, she sent me the photos as ‘proof’ that I am not such a bad man after all. To me, I look in these photos as if I am holding some South American animal I have never heard of before that I’ve been assured is not dangerous.” (267, ibid)

“It’s also my little ‘fuck you’ to a society that sentimentalizes children except when it comes to allocating enough resources to raising them, and that would include elevating the 22 percent of children currently living in poverty to a decent standard of living.” (45, Laura Kipnis)

because this is really it, right? we can’t in good conscience ignore the patriarchy that we live in, and the fact that the scales have not, do not, and probably will never truly tip in our favour-and that’s cool (not cool) but at least we can rally for some kind of equality somewhere, if not for us then for our daughters-and yes, i claim my daughters and my responsibility in raising them/building a world in which they can see other options, and thus i subscribe and believe in the impossible because if not, then what? it’s not coincidence that my friend who posted the tri-generational jada pinkett video about motherhood today is the progeny of the woman who was also supposed to be my mother today, and that we all mourn her for her sacrifice of herself before she could see her willow. but not a day passes that i am not greater-full for something that she taught me, and that is the knowledge that gives me the life and confidence to pass what i know along to whomever needs it, and whomever needs me.

“What do you have when you don’t have a future? You have gallows humor, which, as it turns out, does a pretty good job of turning tinfoil into platinum.” (66, The New Rhoda, Paul Lisicky)

“I couldn’t help but wonder whether people chose to have families to avoid some stranger’s inscrutable projection. If the desire to have children is just a way to build a noisy tribe of distraction around oneself, then I’d rather be alone.” (71, ibid.)

a-fucking-men. because being alone is not the same as being lonely-not even a little bit. a we always listen a little bit better to adults that are not our parents, even when they’re saying the same thing. it’s probably because they listen a little better for us, because they never had to resent us for any sacrifice in time, passion or elasticity, and they can send us the fuck home.

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