Need proof that many parents regret having children? Fifteen ‘rents dish As you get older your mind will make up more and more reasons why it makes sense to have a kid. Don’t be fooled, it’s just evolution tricking you into reproducing — no sane, thinking beast would take on the burden of raising a child if the mind didn’t fool us into it. So, does the world need another one of you? Or are you just being fooled into making a baby… (Source: 15 Parents Explain Why They Regret Having Children | Thought Catalog)
“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.
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.
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…
Are we all getting an abundance of holiday cards right now? Are many of those cards pictures of our friends’ very cute children? We must admit that they are, oftentimes, very sweet photos, but is anyone else but me wondering why more parents don’t put their own images in their cards? Admittedly, kids photograph much better than the rest of the aging population, but it seems to me that cards with pictures only of the children sends a negative message. It negates the importance of the parents, like they are non entities.
It’s obviously harder to find photos we like of ourselves as we age but do we need to look like models to our friends? It is interesting to see how the children grow and resemble their parents in different ways each year but I like to see photos of my far away friends, not just their children. Even grandparents seem to be sending pictures only of their grandchildren these days. Of course they are proud, but they should have more to show for themselves in their golden years than the offspring of their offspring.
News of my friends also seems to be vanishing in their letter updates. So much verbosity is wasted on the excruciating minutia of their children’s lives that little or no room seems to remain for me to learn of the parent’s lives. Okay, so little Bob likes soccer and his sister is excelling in ballet. Enough, that’s all I need to know of them. Are their parents still at their same jobs, traveling, or still skiing avidly? Are they happy? Hard to know.
Parents: We do enjoy pictures of your kids. Even when they are in their awkward stage we still like to see them because they are products of you, our cherished friends. But, really how are you? What do you look like? What rocked your world this year (other than something your kids did)? By the way, the picture of your baby with food all over his face – so adorable to you – not so well translated into a holiday card.
- Does anyone still send Christmas cards? (toddpack.com)
- The Competitive Sport of the Family Photo Card (ideas.time.com)
- Leila Revisited (whynokids.com)
- Childfree – What Think You of the Baby and Child Social Updates? (thebritgirl.com)
Ah-ha! My suspicions all along…
A study released by the California Parenting Institute Tuesday shows that every style of parenting inevitably causes children to grow into profoundly unhappy adults. “Our research suggests that while overprotective parenting ultimately produces adults unprepared to contend with life’s difficulties, highly permissive parenting leads to feelings of bitterness and isolation throughout adulthood… [and] anything between those two extremes is equally damaging…” (The Onion)
And this doesn’t even take into consideration the inevitable unhappiness of the parents! 😉
- Are the Childfree More Likely to be Left Out of Wills? (lauracarroll.com)
- Why Are Childfree Articles Magnets for the “Childfree Life Bashers?” (thebritgirl.com)
- Are Childfree Adults All from Dysfunctional Homes? (completewithoutkids.com)
- FlashBack: Standout Stories That Previously Appeared On WNK’s FB Page Only (whynokids.com)
In reflecting on the movie Leila, it is easy to see the conundrum couples face in traditional cultures when they can’t have or don’t want children. Many cultures just don’t accept childless unions. How many people do we know, however, who really might be having children largely for their parents, or for the tradition of having children to carry on their family gene pool, so ingrained in every society, even the most modern of ones? It’s not uncommon.
I have to admit, the continuity of family heritage, and pleasing one’s parents or in-laws with the gift of grandchildren are compelling reasons to procreate. My own parents and in-laws have been exceptionally supportive of my decision not to have children, but if I told all of them tomorrow that I had changed my mind, or that I was pregnant, would they be over-the-moon elated? You bet. Multiple year-long celebrations would be initiated. Who doesn’t like to make people you love that happy (especially because of all they did for you)? Who doesn’t like the idea of having your parents and in-laws helping to shape your child if you know they would be great at it? That part of parenting would be ideal – the part where the baby’s grandparents are cooing over the child, playing on the floor, cleaning up the mess, while you’re reading a book or having cocktails with friends. But, then the grandparents leave, and you’re stuck with all the responsibility.
Perhaps if we lived with our siblings and parents as adults, like in some traditional societies, raising a child wouldn’t be that daunting, what with all those extra hands to help out. Frankly, multiple wives made it much easier too (but don’t get too excited about that idea until you see the film Leila).
Leila grippingly explores the consequences of ignoring one’s own needs and instincts, and one’s own biological destiny to please another entity, or a culture at large. It serves as an important reminder to know ourselves and our partners and to ensure that when our partner tells us that he or she does not want a child, to believe it and to discuss that choice with frankness and honesty.
Moreover, people choosing not to have children or questioning whether it is the right choice also need to have those same frank conversations with their parents. Hopefully, if they love you enough, and if they are not as imperious and opportunistic as Reza’s mother, they will happily accept the grand dog or cat and more quality time together (because you’re not saddled with the time demands of parenting) that you offer them instead.
The sign reads, “Unattended children will be given espresso and a free puppy!”
It has been popping up everywhere from cafes to clothing stores and it’s scaring me!
Why the joke? Why the empty threat? Why bring innocent puppies into this? And why make things worse with caffeine and incontinent animals?
This sign below was seen in Flagstaff, can you imagine if a shop owner posted one of these, but changed it to kids? We would be offended. Parents would be up in arms. But no, coffee and kittens are funny!
In the spring of 2008, I sat down late one night to write the first installment for a newspaper column I called Planet Mom. While my youngest son slept on the couch next to me, I stared out at the night sky and tried to conjure my muse. By midnight, I had it–a relatively clear, concise, and honest introduction to the life I live as a mother to four. (Full installment is here.) In it, I wrote the following:
“This act of mothering is life in the raw. There are moments that threaten to unhinge me, followed closely by those that offer a glimpse of enlightenment.”
Nearly 3 years later, the truth in this statement still holds. Being a mother, especially to a brood the size of mine, is absolutely dichotomous. It’s unhinging and enlightening, sometimes all at once!
Choosing to become a mother was, for me, a no-brainer. I always knew I would have children…. Furthermore, I always knew I wanted to have children. This desire must have been hardwired or something–I can’t explain it much better than that. Having children gave me so very much–the opportunity to lose myself and find myself… the thrill of finding and dancing on the very edge of my every possibility. Being a mother has made me more human, more frazzled, more fully alive, more tired, more fully in love, and more humble than anything else I have ever done.
That said, motherhood doesn’t define me entirely, and it shouldn’t. I am also a photographer, a writer, a graphic designer, and a jeweler, though not necessarily in that order at any given time. I own my own business, set my own hours, and have been turning a profit for several years now. Today, Wednesday, I am a writer and a jewelry maker. I am both writing this and babysitting my jewelry kiln as it sinters tin and copper into bronze (making two sets of custom wine charms!). Next to me, dull gray pendants that will soon metamorphose into fine silver await their turn in the fire. I am an alchemist.
I am also a traveler. I returned from a whirlwind trip to New York several days ago, where I was photographing a friend’s wedding. I was blissfully childfree for this journey, and it was awesome. It was awesome as well to come home and see my family again. A few years ago, I had the amazing opportunity to travel with my husband, kidfree, to Baja to shoot the Baja 1000 with and for a group of firefighters who ride for The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (the prelude to that story is here. I apparently never posted the actual story). In a nutshell, that adventure was awe-inspiring, remarkable, incredible…. fill in the blanks. But again, it was also awesome to come home and see my family again.
Family is the absolute ultimate for me, and of course that is defined in large part by my children. Because of this, I simply don’t see parenting as duty-driven more than I see it as motivated by a deep and abiding love. It is not a job, it is my heart.
I can’t and won’t sell it to anyone, however. It is not something to do unless you feel that undeniable drive within you to create a child. It is never something to take lightly. It should never be a should. It was absolutely never a should in my own life–in fact, quite the opposite, since I was very young when I got pregnant with my son. I chose to have my children when I did–Soren, who is now 17, was born three weeks after I turned 22. I birthed him at home, with a midwife, and when I looked into his little face for the very first time I saw God. This agnostic borderline-atheist truly and absolutely saw God. You see, God isn’t some big judgmental guy lurking about the heavens waiting to smite sinners or whatnot. No… God was the design of my son’s newborn face. God was his first cry.
And I can’t expect anybody else, not even my son’s father, to understand that moment like I did. That was my moment as a mother, and I was fortunate to have three more like it in the years that followed.
It was for moments like this that I became a mother. My decision to do so had very little to do with economics or leisure or opportunity for myself. It had everything to do with feeling and expressing a love that eludes definition. It wasn’t happy happy happy, but it wasn’t sad sad sad either. It ultimately isn’t any one thing. As I recently wrote in another post on my blog (full post here):
“…motherhood is the end-all-be-all of a woman’s existence…except when it isn’t. Motherhood will thresh your very soul and lift you to heights of joy you never thought possible… except when it doesn’t. Motherhood will sweep you up to the pinnacle of beauty…. except when it’s anything but beautiful. When you have shit on your hands because the baby decided to do gymnastics after you removed the stinky diaper and the phone is ringing and the dog is barking and the older kid is whining about cookies or some such… and the diaper pail is full and the room smells like digested green beans and you haven’t showered in two days and your breasts start leaking and then the baby pees all over the changing table and all the while you suspect, in a grim sort of way, that your mortgage check will bounce this month….
Nope, that’s not beautiful at all. Motherhood isn’t always anything except raw, demanding life. Base and beautiful humanity.”
And though it is a commitment, that sometimes makes you feel like you should be committed, it can be–should be?–one gleaming facet in a multifaceted life.
It should follow the sentiment I have tattooed on my upper left arm:
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move. (Alfred Lord Tennyson)
No matter what we choose in this life–parenthood or not–there will forever be more to explore, more to learn, more to love. Or at least, there should be. And that is the only should that I, personally, understand.
Postscript: For anybody who is still unsure about having a child, ask yourself this: if you attempted to place your coffee mug in the cup holder of your car, one frenetic morning, and found that the space was already occupied by a large piece of dusty, hairy, dessicated bacon left therein by one of your children (one of your teens, in fact!), how would you feel? Your answer to this may help clarify your child-bearing decision…. at least a little bit. 🙂
- MOM Takes Manhattan: The First Museum of Motherhood Opens (pajamasmedia.com)
- Beyonce Speaks on Motherhood, Husband, Liberation (thehollywoodgossip.com)
- Seeking Life Balance in Motherhood (joyofspa.com)
Celebrities make it look so easy, with their $17,000 diamond studded pacifiers and twelve nannies, but is parenting easier for the rich and famous?
Here are a few quotes from superstars on the challenging role of parenting and the joys of being childfree. See they are just like us!
“I think it’s challenging for everybody in different ways. My challenges as a wife and a mother are very different from the ones portrayed in the movie, but I think for everybody it’s a hard challenge.”
“I’m always questioning, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I okay at this?”
“The sleep. I used to go to bed around 3 a.m. and wake up at 3 p.m. Now I get up at 3 a.m. and stay up until 3 a.m.”
Mad Men star Christina Hendricks‘ on screen character is currently expecting. Recently, she was asked was asked if she is ready to take on the role of motherhood for real:
“We enjoy other people’s kids very much,” Christina told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush on the red carpet at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, when asked if she and her husband, “Body of Proof” actor Geoffrey Arend, are planning on having children. “We’re having fun right now.”
“We’re having a lot of fun,” Geoffrey added.
The media are obsessed with pregnant celebrities and are on constant baby bump watch. Does it help an actresses career to get publicity from pregnancy? Does it hurt a career to say no to kids? Actresses Kate Walsh and Cameron Diaz have both spoken up about not being moms and have received a lot of press for choosing their childfree paths. The queen of all stage moms Kris Jenner revealed to US Weekly in August that she puts pressure on her famous Kardashian daughters to have kids. It makes you wonder, pregnancy or no pregnancy, if it is all just for the ratings.
- Are Children In ‘Mad Men’ Star Christina Hendricks’ Future? (omg.yahoo.com)
- Is Christina Hendricks Ready To Be A Mother? (nujijnl.wordpress.com)
- Christina Hendricks too busy for babies now (cnn.com)
- Five Reasons Childfree Adults May Be Happier Than Parents (whynokids.com)
I’m obsessed with the television show Teen Mom and the five sixteen year olds that MTV has followed over several seasons. Watching the show is an excellent example of not only why we should have abundant, low-cost and available birth control everywhere, but also why sixteen is too young to have kids. So how OLD is too OLD to have kids?
Like many people, I was stunned to see a recent cover of New York magazine with a naked, albeit Photoshopped, grandma-looking pregnant woman. In their article “Parents of a Certain Age” NYMag asked the question, “Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?” Most readers agreed: YES! Including one reader who was so repulsed he threw the entire magazine in the garbage without reading a single word.
“The age of first motherhood is rising all over the West. In Italy, Germany, and Great Britain, it’s 30. In the U.S., it’s gone up to 25 from 21 since 1970, and in New York State, it’s even higher, at 27. But among the extremely middle-aged, births aren’t just inching up. They are booming. In 2008, the most recent year for which detailed data are available, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45 or older, more than double the number in 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Five hundred and forty-one of these were born to women age 50 or older—a 375 percent increase. In adoption, the story is the same. Nearly a quarter of adopted children in the U.S. have parents more than 45 years older than they are.”
It seems logical that as the average age of the world population continues to rise the age of first time parents will also rise:
“Among the countries currently classified by the United Nations as more developed (with a total population of 1.2 billion in 2005), the overall median age rose from 29.0 in 1950 to 37.3 in 2000, and is forecast to rise to 45.5 by 2050.” (Wikipedia)
So why is there a trend of older parents? Couples are getting married later, and it’s taking longer for wannabe parents to feel financially stable to provide for children. Also, we live in a world where it is possible to have children at a later age through advances in science and medicine. But just because we can reverse menopause and make moms and dads out of senior citizens does it mean that we should?
As a woman on the cusp of forty, I am relieved that I have almost aged out of my fertile years. People ask when I am having kids less and less. My joints are starting to creak and my short-term memory stinks. I am aging, and as my body changes I can understand why it would be difficult to have a baby later in life. I respect that it is a parent’s choice to have kids or not, but I do feel uncomfortable about the risks associated with older parents on both parents and their children.
From the article:
“After 40, a pregnant woman is likelier to become afflicted with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension—the worst outcomes of which can result in the death of the fetus and occasionally the mother as well. It is also after 40 that the risk of having a child with autism increases—by 30 percent for mothers and 50 percent for fathers, says Lisa Croen, a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente. Advanced paternal age is likewise associated with miscarriage, childhood cancer, autoimmune disease, and schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.”
My grandfather once told me that the most embarrassing day of his life was his high school graduation. His forty something year-old mother sat in the audience with her white hair piled high in a bun and a bun in her oven, she was eight months pregnant. So maybe I have good genes and maybe I have science on my side. For me, still, maybe does not equal baby.
WNKies: Can you be too old to have kids?