December 21, 2014

We Forgot to Have Kids: Gas Station Condoms and Childfreedom

We Forgot to Have Kids

We Forgot to Have Kids

It’s Friday night CFers! What’s on your sybaritic to-do list? Ain’t childfreedom a $#@%?!?!

Okay, snark aside, I’m confident that you’ll have a wonderful evening (and weekend), especially once you check out Kevin B. Morrow’s (@kbmrg) lighthearted but sincere reflection on his childfree marriage. His HuffPo post is called “Childless by Choice – Gas Station Condoms and Rumors of Infertility“, but the subtitle should be, “We forgot to have kids!” I’ve used this awe-shucks explanation often enough myself, so his words resonated for me. Might for you too. Anyway, it’s a quick read. You can squeeze in this quick read between your après-work massage and happy hour! You know, when your friends are picking up the babysitter…

But if you’re feeling too mellow after your massage (or you’ve already jumpstarted happy hour), I’ll pull a couple of my favorite quotes.

It’s very strange that I had no problem buying liquor or illegal drugs when I was in my late teens but I was too embarrassed to buy condoms in a drug store… My solution to this dilemma was to buy condoms from a vending machine in the bathroom of a gas station that was at the end of the airport runway.

It honestly is odd how uncomfortable males are about buying condoms, many even once they’re all grown up. Why is that? Maybe we need to make it cool so that teens will make smarter choices…

Anyway, Kevin grew up and now he’s buying his wife’s feminine hygiene products and condoms without even flinching. I’ve got to admit that I’m still working on the cool-as-a-cucumber tampon purchase. Maybe I’ll update you once I master it. Kevin tacks from here to the first subtle look at why he and his bride opted for a childfree marriage.

Children can’t be let out in the yard to play until you get up at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday because you were out late the night before. Dogs can.

Obvious humor here, and I have a weakness for folks who can shine light on serious stuff by making me laugh. But there’s another aspect of this droll throwaway that’s less droll and not really a throwaway. When I grew up we were out in the yard, the woods, and everywhere else all day on weekends. And summers. And snow days. But somehow this basic and wonderful aspect of childhood vanished over the last decade or so. Poof! Gone. It’s uncanny how few children wander neighborhoods nowadays, how few sleds and snowballs fights criss-cross postcard perfect snowy lawns. I know this isn’t what Kevin’s talking about, but it’s on my database of reasons why I’m child free. Somewhere we lost something. How? When? Why?

The reality for me and for Kevin and many others, we just sort of forgot to have kids.

The reality was that neither of us ever had a strong desire to be parents. The wonderful mental images had crossed our minds; coloring with a cute three year old, taking them trick or treating on Halloween, or seeing their faces on Christmas morning as they opened presents. We recognized however that this was a romanticized view and not everything that was involved in parenting.

It’s interesting to me how often I hear this explanation. This is the main reason that my bride and I skipped breeding. We love children, but we felt no burning desire to make one of our own. We borrow them. We spoil them. We return them. And so far that’s worked out just fine for us. We weren’t – and we still aren’t – anti parenting/kids/etc. We just had a lot stronger interest in other parts of life. And the prime breeding years shuffled past without provoking much interest from us. We forgot to have kids!

I’ll wrap up with Kevin’s final funny anecdote.

My father-in-law had some sort of surgery and my wife had gone to Florida to be his “nurse” during this time. As he woke up from the anesthesia, she was standing there and he asked her “Have you had Kevin tested?” her response was “for what?” Thoughts of STDs and AIDS ran through her mind. He then said “well you’ve never had kids.” Her response:

“I guess it might help if we stopped using birth control.”

If only that were enough for most people…

The Happiness Project – “Lighten Up” on the Childfree

Cover of "The Happiness Project: Or, Why ...

Cover via Amazon

The NYTimes bestseller by Gretchen Rubin is a year-in-the-life exploration of a writer trying to live her life happier. What does that mean? Each month is broken into a theme: energy, love, play, etc. April’s theme is “Lighten Up” with a subtitle: Parenthood. Hmm. Maybe that means you don’t need to “lighten up” if you don’t have kids or you are already pretty enlightened?
Nope. Not according to the author. Rubin cites a study that says “child
care” is only slightly more pleasant than commuting, and one that says
marital satisfaction declines after the first child is born (picking up
again after they leave the nest). Then she disputes these findings, all
the while complaining about her kids and marital satisfaction mostly
relating to fights about her kids.

“Now as a parent myself, I realize how much the happiness of parents depends
on the happiness of their children and grandchildren.”

Really? But then again the kids did give Rubin a reason to write a bestseller.
We at WNK believe that by being childfree, everyday is a project in
happiness.

From the Happiness Project Blog:

Do your children make you happy? Some research says NO! I say YES!

Read the article here

Hey WNKers have you read The Happiness Project?

 

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Childfree Travel: No Kids Allowed

While we at WNK are pleased to see that the childfree travel discussion is happening more publicly and frequently, we are frustrated with how the questions are framed in many of these types of interviews that make the quest for quiet and serenity seem discriminatory. The participants in the following video actually question the legality of childfree travel destinations. While virtually every hotel is child or family friendly and there are plenty of kidcentric places: Disney World, Chuck E Cheese, etc., we wonder why it is such a problem to have a few adult only hotels, floors, pools or even sections of hotels?

Childfree Travel Questions

The following childfree travel questions come from the article at NECN.com:

Is it really right to ban children from hotels and other establishments?

o While it’s not precisely legal in the US (it is in other parts of the world-so during international travel in hotels and on certain sections of airlines, do check), some establishments advertise themselves as “adults only” (but not in that sense). Restaurants led the way on this, but now many hotels are joining in.

What is driving this change?

o The biggest source is changing demographics. We have many more DINKs than ever before (Double Income No Kids) who have the resources to want to travel in the lap of luxury.

o Additionally almost 20 percent of women today won’t have kids-a number that has basically doubled since the 1970s. This means that some may be less tolerant of children than before, and that this new/growing market segment wants tailored services.

Is not allowing children in hotels and other establishments really the best strategy?

o Probably not. How else will children ever learn to behave properly unless they are exposed to these situations?”

As you take your February break we’d like to hear your thoughts on childfree sections of planes, hotels and restaurants. Please share your favorite escapes for childfree serenity!

Related articles:

 

 

 

2012 Childfree Data Dump

The Ultimate Christmas Present

Ultimate Christmas Present (Wikipedia)

So it’s almost Christmas and you’re sending your third post card (easier for elves to eavesdrop) to Santa asking for a sexy digital tablet. An iPad, Kindle, Nook, Nexus,… anything!

“I just want to read Why No Kids? from the comfort of my sofa! Is that so wrong?”

No. It’s not wrong. It’s your childfree right. And it’s very, very good.

In anticipation of your glossy new, backlit ereading device we’ve compiled a WNK digest to turbocharge your first day on the sofa. Er, ahem, your first day on the sofa reading Why No Kids? on your sexy new tablet.

Actually… that’s not 100% true. The reality is, 2012 is winding up and we’ve got almost four dozen post “stubs” that we haven’t managed to finish and publish. And we don’t want them to drag into 2013 without you’re getting a chance to plunge into the wild and wooly world of WNK wonkery. Really. So, we’ve decided to wrap up some of the best almost-published posts in shiny holiday wrapping paper and frilly Technicolor ribbon for you to enjoy. Before they get stale.

Don’t worry, it’s not four dozen. Or even one dozen. But ten. Ten you’ll-thank-us-afterward childfree gems for you to savor on your new toy. I mean, your new tool. Enjoy!

Childfree Aggression

There are two types of childfree people; those who like children but are happy without their own, and those aggressive ones who down right hate children and wish they would disappear from the face of the planet – or would at least be locked up with their breeder parents into a kennel somewhere out of sight until they turn 18, or preferably 25. The later mentioned are to the childfree what “breeders” are to parents – the ones that give all of us a bad rep.

What troubles me the most about aggressive childfree people is that they often demand respect for their choice to not “breed”, but offer no respect to the parents choice to have children. ~ Sebastyne (insightfulpath.net

Laura Carroll on Childfree Myths

The Childless Revolution, by Madeline Cain

Childless Revolution

Laura Carroll, an early and inspiring friend of Why No Kids? is the author of Families of Two. Watch this video excerpt of Laura Carroll on The Early Show exposing myths about childless couples. “When asked about making a childfree choice, Laura recommends seeking mutual understanding, being open and truthful with family and friends as well as being selective about who you tell…” (YouTube)

42% of American Women are Childless

A blast of Pure Oxygen with Madeline Cain, author of The Childless Revolution, reveals that nearly half of the women in the United States do not have children. This interview includes two early middle age adults who’re childfree by choice. Discover why… (YouTube)

No Kids Allowed: Childfree Movie Theaters

When I went to see Spider-man… A young couple had a child of about 3 who yelled, cried, and squirmed throughout a good portion of the movie… The parents tuned out the child and blissfully watched their movie… When Jake and I were at the Avengers, there was a couple a few rows up who had about 5 children under the age of 7. Up and down the aisles they ran, while the youngest cried and fussed. The parents took nary a notice… Parents, you have to understand, whatever disturbance your children were to you during the movie, it was 10X worse for everyone around you. (Hackman’s Musings)

Bill Maher on Children and Childfreedom

This pair of Bill Maher videos uploaded to YouTube by somebody less worried about copyright than about spreading the childfree gospel is entertaining if occasionally chaotic: Politically Incorrect, Childfree People and Children, Part 1 and Politically Incorrect, Childfree People and Children, Part 2.

Malaysia Airlines Childfree Change

No children under the age of 12, including infants, will be permitted in the airline’s 70-seat coach-class zone, which will be located on the upper deck of the airline’s new Airbus A380s… The posh airline will only allow children in the 300-seat main lower deck… Malaysia is the first airline to ban children from any economy class section. Last year, Malaysia Airlines banned infants from first class sections of all of its long-distance flights. (budgettravel.com)

3 and 6 Year Olds Crash Car

A large hole is in a wall of a Fairborn [Ohio] apartment building after a young child drove a truck into it Saturday morning… Fairborn police said a 3-year-old and 6-year-old were operating the truck when it smashed through the building’s wall… The two boys took the keys to the truck while their parents were asleep in the family’s apartment, Fairborn police said. The boys hit a pole with truck before crashing through the wall… (whiotv.com)

Do Parents Matter?

In his new book, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids: Why Being a Great Parent Is Less Work and More Fun Than You Think, Caplan tackles the conventional wisdom about parenting. In a world of Tiger Moms and helicopter parents who monitor and agonize over every minor activity in which their children engage, the father of three says that parents actually have minimal influence over long-term outcomes for their children… (Reason.tv.)

No Kidding!

No Kidding! International is an international non-profit social club created for singles and couples who have never had children… There are numerous chapters in Canada, the United States and several other countries… The stated purpose of No Kidding! is to give childless and childfree adults a place to talk about interesting topics without being alienated by peers who consistently talk about their kids, and the opportunity to make new childfree friends. (Wikipedia)

Childless Women: From Pitied to Empowered

Off to Ireland for our final childfree gem, this time to explore the increasingly open dialogue about and among childfree women with — among other unencumbered women — unmarried and childless Cameron Diaz. After you’ve read “What to expect when you’re childless” let us know what what you think about the present and future of childless women. (Herald.ie)

Bored Child Nightmare

“A bored kid at home might be dangerous…” (Childfree Commercial)

Aside from the generally crumby quality of this video (Let me guess, recorded on smart phone from a hazy old school television?) the imagery is disturbingly hilarious.

Wait. Did I just say that?

Please scratch that insensitive remark.

The commercial for a kid’s crafting book to occupy your bored child is amusing. In a decidedly sick way.

Better?

Part of what makes this video sticky is that you don’t really know whether the bored child is pulling a prank or trying to help. Favor? Or Oedipus Complex.

Bored

Bored Child (Photo credit: John-Morgan)

A bored child might be dangerous either way. In fact, that’s one small part of the concern with kidlets. Sometimes the line between prank, favor, and devious retaliation is blurry. And shifting. And unpredictable.

During a recent visit with my darling nieces, the four year old straight arm cold-cocked me in the family jewels. Bull’s eye! For a few minutes I stood on the pier sucking wind and seeing stars. When I got my act straight and bent down to ask her if it was an accident she smiled and shook her head from side to side slowly.

“You hit me on purpose?”

Still smiling, she nodded her head up and down.

“Do you have any idea how much that hurt?”

Side to side.

“Do you think it’s funny?”

Laugh. Up and down.

We sat. We talked. She apologized. And went back to building her sand castle.

I haven’t the slightest doubt that she considered the sucker punch to her uncle’s zipper zone a prank. I’m big. She’s teeny. I’m a man. She’s a girl. I like to roughhouse. She likes to roughhouse. We’re both pranksters, and we’ve frequently conspired on practical jokes. But her 4-year old filter for sifting appropriate from malevolent is limited. And sometimes it can’t keep up with her actions.

The video is goofy. And real. And sort of pitiful if you’re willing to purchase a kid’s craft book as a simple plug-and-play alternative to parenting a bored child. Lesson needed? No nut knocking, kid!

And then on to the next learning experience…

Happy Non-Parents Day!

When I was in my early-ish twenties I asked a lot of questions of friends and colleagues that had kids and/or were married. What’s the best part? What’s the worst? Would you change anything? What are you not telling me? No, seriously…

As you would expect, I got a wide range of answers, and some questions in return. A lot of men that were then my current age, 40, cautioned me about marriage. No one with kids told me they regretted it, but several made sure I knew that kids would change my life and my relationship drastically.

Most repeated thoughtless shit they heard somewhere (everywhere) else.

“You have to work at it.”

“It was the best day of my life.”

“Marriage is hard.”

“It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

“… a miracle…. a blessing”

And when I asked again, “how?” or “why?”, they said nothing. I was young and dumb, but knew that skepticism is warranted whenever people are saying the same damn meaningless things, repeatedly. And what the hell does “marriage is hard” or “kids are a blessing” mean anyway? Nothing! People just said, and say, what the culture tells them they should say.

Looking back on this non-parents day, I want to thank those that were honest with me. I also want to express some regret that I didn’t really have any committed childfree adults to talk to. So I also want to encourage readers to share (in the comments or on Facebook) their most bare, honest answer to:

“For you, what is the best thing about being child-free?”

Because I know there are young people out there with no one to ask or no one that will respond honestly; and because I think all of us should be able to note, today at the very least, why we are celebrating.

Related articles:
August 1st Happy Non-Parents Day! – (whynokids.com)
Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 3) (whynokids.com)
Childfree? Really? Common Questions and Comments (Part 2) (whynokids.com)
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Childfree News: From Tubal Ligation to the Baby Matrix

Topless in the Adirondacks via virtualdavis

Topless in the Adirondacks via virtualdavis

Drowning beneath the avalanche of childfree news? It’s staggering how quickly and widely childfree news has been transformed from whisper-only taboo to mainstream media fodder. So much is being pondered and debated, it’d hard to believe that even a few years ago childfree news was so hush-hush that television, newspapers and magazines didn’t want to touch it with a ten foot pole.

Childfree News Glut

Today we’re awash in childfree news, and not just in the blogosphere. Mainstream media finally read that memo about more and more couples are opting to remain childfree by choice. Concerned about spiraling audiences, niche audiences took on a sexier appeal. Result? It’s tough to find a new outlet who isn’t flogging the childfree news horse. It’s always fun to swing from the fringe to the mainstream, at least at first, but it’s actually become challenging to keep up with the latest childfree news because there’s just so much of it.

We’ll attempt to distill the best from the rest, making it that much easier for you to join the childfree intelligentsia! Or at least wile away a sleepy afternoon at the office…

Top Childfree News

Sterilize Me, Please: Why is it so difficult for young women to get their tubes tied? (By J. Bryan Lowder) There are some people who don’t want to have kids. Then there are some people who really don’t want to have kids… some men and women never heed (or even feel) the tick of the biological clock. But others are more proactive. Monica Trombley is in the latter camp… [she] decided at the age of 26 that permanent sterilization by tubal ligation—a procedure colloquially called “getting your tubes tied”—was the right choice for her. But as Trombley quickly learned, many gynecologists disagreed. (Slate Magazine)

I Wish I’d Never Had Children (By Sonja Ebbels) Over coffee with a group of friends recently, there was an understanding atmosphere when one of the mums, a close friend of mine, started discussing the struggle she was having with her children. We all nodded sympathetically and sighed with agreement, until she announced that if she had her time over again, she wouldn’t have had children. At once each of us looked around, ensuring our children hadn’t heard her comment. (Stuff.co.nz)

Please, Please, Please: Do Not Make Your Kid The Center Of Your Universe (By Cassie Murdoch) It’s so hard to know whether becoming a parent will ruin your life or be the only thing that makes it worth living. We may not get a grand verdict anytime soon, but new research has at least figured out one thing: moms who believe they are the most important person in their baby’s life and that they should always put the kid’s needs first are way more likely to be unhappy. Perhaps feeding them like a bird or hovering over them like helicopter is the key to their lasting happiness, but is it the key to yours? (Jezebel)

I Want to Want a Baby (By Liz Ference) Having a baby would, of course, be terrifying – but at least I’d have the benefit of knowing that everyone else around me would be going through the same thing and I wouldn’t be alone, and that my remaining days would now be filled with a very definitive purpose. Going it alone… means that I’d be, well…alone, and entirely responsible for defining my purpose in life – coming up with some reason why I’m walking the Earth and making meaningful use of my time. (Maybe Baby, Maybe Not!)

Accidentally Childfree (By Farzana Gardee) I never imagined that I would one day be discussing a childfree life, let alone my childfree life. I had never been taught to think of this as an option… My family is large — babies popping out of every crevice — with only a scattering of childfree women… They lead fringe existences when compared to other robust women speed cycling between pregnancy and breastfeeding and changing nappies and doing school-drop offs and living lives as full as their engorged breasts… And today, I am childfree. (The Huffington Post)

10 Things Never to Say to Childless Friends (By Charlotte Latvala) When you’re an enthusiastic member of the mom club, it’s natural to want your pals to join too. But making assumptions about your buddy’s baby-making plans can be offensive and invasive—and thinking you know better because you’re a parent can hurt your friend’s feelings… Whether a couple is childless by choice or struggling to conceive, prying questions are likely to hit a nerve… Here are some gaffes to avoid with childless friends–and what to say instead. (Glo.msn.com)

Laura Carroll Interview About The Baby Matrix I want people to know what pronatalism is, its origins, and why it remains so pervasive in our society, even though in so many ways it is to our detriment. I want readers to understand why we have believed seven long held pronatalist assumptions for so long despite the fact that they either no longer serve us or have never been true to begin with. I want readers to understand why it is time to stop blindly believing pronatalist beliefs, realize their serious costs, and why it is time to move toward what I call a “post-pronatal society.” (Laura Carroll)

Childfree News Recommendations

What are you reading in childfree news? Anything we missed that you think we should pass along to other WNKers? Please add your recommendations in the comments below. Thanks!

Dr. Seuss: “Celebrity No Kids” Funny Follow Up

Cover of "Green Eggs and Ham (I Can Read ...

Cover via Amazon

WNK readers were amazed to learn that the guy who wrote the most notable kid’s books of all time, Dr. Seuss, never had kids of his own.

We recently stumbled upon a funny blog post from our friends at “I Kid You Not” waxing in Seussian rhyme about the argument to be or not to be child free:

(From www.choosingkidfree.wordpress.com)

“Except in this version, Sam-I-Am is a chick named Mindy Sue who believes everyone should procreate and green eggs and ham are the little buggers themselves.

I’m Mindy Sue.

That Mindy Sue.
That Mindy Sue.
I do not like that Mindy Sue.

Don’t you want a kid or two?

I do not want one, Mindy Sue.
I do not want a kid or two.

Do you want one in a year?

I do not want one in a year.
I’d rather shove glass up my rear.
I’m happy being childfree.
Now take a hike and let me be.

But don’t you like kids when you fly
Even though they scream and cry?

I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Don’t you like them where you eat?
Don’t you think they’re cute and sweet?

Not where I eat.
Not at the beach.
Not at the park.
Not on an ark.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them anywhere.

Do you like them at the store?
I’m sure you would if they were yours.

I do not like them at the store.
I don’t want kids.
But wait! There’s more:
I do not like them where I eat.
I do not like them at the beach.
I do not like them on a plane.
I do not like them on a train.
I do not like them here or there.
I do not like them ANYWHERE.

But every little girl and boy
Is a precious gift, a joy!

Holy balls, give me a break
I just don’t think kids are so great.
I like to fly and eat in peace.
Now please go take a flying leap.

  • http://whynokids.com/uncategorized/dr-suess-didnt-have-kids/
  • http://americanvision.org/975/dr-seuss-had-no-children-of-his-own/

Childfreedom: More Happiness

It may be my imagination, but my friends without kids just seem happier than those saddled with parental responsibilities. Parents certainly have more responsibilities than those of us not saddled with all the daily feeding, changing, driving, homework helping and the like so it makes sense that they are more tired and squeezed for time.

Then again, those of us without kids often tend to take on more (work, volunteer activities, friendships, social obligations and so on) and people expect more of us precisely because they expect us to have more free time without the burdens of childrearing. The end result according to research? Those of us without kids are happier. Childfreedom equals happiness. Having that extra time to ourselves (or to give to others as we choose) really does seem to pay off, apparently.

A panegyric on the happiness and

A panegyric on the happiness and “Pleasures of the Married State”, published in London ca. 1780. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Independent studies show that married people are happier than singles, but married couples without children are the most content. When couples do have children, their happiness increases dramatically once their children grow up and leave home. This is all revealed in a three-part PBS series called: “This Emmotional Life.” In it, narrator, writer and professor of psychology at Harvard, Daniel Gilbert explores the endless quest of the human species to find happiness. The series features various celebrities and non-celebrities (everyday people, scientists, experts in the field of psychology and the like) with their thoughts and studies on the search for a happy life. Daniel Gilbert explains some of these findings in an NPR interview below:

“Mr. GILBERT: It really is true that if you look at the happiness of people’s marital satisfaction over time, you’ll see that the day people get married, they’re extremely satisfied with the relationship, and it kind of goes downhill from there. Relationships usually are the gateway to hard work: the hard work of raising children, establishing a household, et cetera. The good news is it begins to go up again once children have grown, and according to most studies, it reaches its initial level, or at least very close to it, when the children leave home.

… without children, your marriage might be happier in the sense that you would report more daily satisfaction. People are surprised to find this, because they value and love their children above all things. How can my children not be a source of great happiness?

… although children are a source of happiness, they tend to crowd out other sources of happiness. So people who have a first child, often find in the first year or two that they’re not doing many of the other things that used to make them happy. They don’t go to the movies or the theater. They don’t go out with their friends. They don’t make love with their spouse. All the things that used to be sources of happiness are no longer there.

So yes, the child is a source of happiness. On the same hand, it may be that average happiness goes down.” (NPR)

What do you think? Do your childless friends and acquaintances seem happier to you? Does childfreedom equal happiness?

Here’s a sneak peak at “This Emmotional Life.”

Is Having Kids Selfish?

The Selfish Gene

The Selfish Gene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In his monumental book Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins suggests that we are basically envelopes to carry our genes around and make sure that these get copied and passed on into the future. It’s perhaps a little extreme a view, and he tempers his arguments, but ultimately the whole goal of existence is, well, to keep existing, and the best way to do that is by making fresh copies of the genetic material — which would otherwise suffer wear and tear — and for most of us multicellular organisms that means by having kids.

This is probably not the reason any of us would state first for reproducing, but is having kids selfish? Based on an unofficial summary of what I’ve been hearing over the years, here are the top 5 reasons people give for having kids:

  1. Because they’re so wonderful and fun!
  2. Because that maternal urge is just too strong to ignore
  3. To pass on my values and beliefs
  4. To keep me young and active
  5. To have someone who’ll love me even when I’m grey and saggy

Notice something all these reasons have in common? They’re pretty selfish. They’re all based on the parent, not the kid. So I’d be wary of labeling people who choose not to have kids as selfish. Surely deciding we’re so important that it’s worth procreating to pass our genes on into the future is the most selfish thing there is?

OK, so there will be a number of years characterized by almost total self-abnegation, as you feed, wash, cuddle, play with, protect and nurture  your offspring, but it’s like altruism. Under that selfless devotion, there’s a hidden agenda: you’re actually batting for your own team.

And then there’s the issue of overpopulation. Surely we don’t need more humans on our small planet? So to all those of you who have taken the decision not to have children — which cannot have been an easy one, and which will probably continue to be the source of much debate — I say, “Bravo!” You have overridden that seflish gene impulse and are working for the good of the planet by preventing overpopulation, at the cost of sacrificing your own genes. Luckily thanks to writing we can pass on values perhaps more effectively than via offspring!

So when my friends ask about having kids, my response is always the same : maybe. It’s an ENORMOUS responsibility, and it’s entirely ours: the children never asked to be born. Yes, kids are great, but aren’t our lives great already? Women today don’t need kids to fulfill our lives now that we have great jobs and careers and no longer live in the shadow of our menfolk.

Many were the conversations my husband and I had before taking this big step. We had such a great life, why change it? We made a list of pros and cons, and finally figured we were a happy, stable and financially settled couple and we could raise happy, stable children to become positive contributors to society. One of our arguments was that so many unhappy and unstable people have many kids, so shouldn’t there be a few stable, happy ones to balance that out? It was almost our civic duty to bear children. But if perchance we couldn’t have children, that was no big deal. It was a very logical, calculated decision. I never understood this irrational maternal urge that some women get, which pushes them to bear children regardless of the circumstances.

Until I actually HAD children myself. Now I fantasize about having more children all the time, and my motivations are purely selfish. To my surprise I loved pregnancy (and getting pregnant was fun), and thanks to epidurals I simply LOVED giving birth, and little babies are so cute, and toddlers are a scream, and my sons are heart-stoppingly wonderful. I want more of all that joy! This passion for children is completely unexpected and it mostly encompasses my own progeny. The only non-selfish reason I can bring up to justify having another child is that it would be nice for my first two to have another sibling to comfort them when we parents die.

My worry as I write this is that some day my sons will read it and think I didn’t want them, or regret having them. They were both babies conceived in love and anticipation, and I love them more than I can express without going all maudlin. They have enriched my life and changed my perspectives, and if I could relive my life I’d do exactly the same. But if they had never existed, well, things would be pretty good too, and almost certainly a lot less noisy.