I get asked at least once a week whether I’m having kids. (My male
friends don’t, but that’s another story). Other childless friends, who
also get asked, say that when they answer that they can’t have kids,
that they’ve tried, that they’ve spent their retirement savings and
house down payments on fertility treatments (and subjected themselves
to hormone treatments, torturous procedures and endless needle jabs)
people respond with awkwardness and pity, and emphatically tell them
what else theymust try.
And it’s never enough, by the way, whatever answer you give to the endless questions.
If you’re trying not to get into all the details of your personal life with people you see at Christmas and funerals and so you say something like, “Well, not yet,” you get “Can’t wait forever, you know!” or “You’re not getting any younger!” in that bright perky tone that makes you go home and research the justifications for self-defense homicide.
If you actually admit that you can’t have kids, no matter how painful that admission might be, you get admonitions to adopt, questions about when you’re getting on the waiting lists, an interrogation about exactly WHAT the doctors said and did to your vagina, and stories about how so-and-so took vitamins and took a vacation and — surprise! — got pregnant BY MAGIC BASICALLY. For which generously given information you are expected to be very grateful.
If after the 20th time you finally snap and say, “I should have kids? You should lose 20 pounds and put down that jug of chablis. What, it isn’t Very Rude Unsolicited Advice Day? Could have fooled the fuck out of me,” then you’re just an unreasonable bitch. Which is probably why you can’t have kids, “relaxing” being a key component of conception.
And forget about admitting you might not want to adopt, or even that you’re ambivalent on the subject. People look at you like you’ve just admitted to barbecuing kittens alive, and talk about the Chinese baby their cousins or co-workers or friends “just got,” as if you shouldn’t be allowed doubts and uncertainties and freaking time to make up your own goddamn mind.
My point, in amidst this ranting, is that the societal pressure to have kids is fierce, and that accounts for some of the defensive bitchery towards parents in this piece. That you must have kids, and if you can’t after a while, not only must you keep trying, you must avail yourself of every medical advance no matter how painful or humiliating or unlikely to succeed, you must go to any length possible including to the ends of the earth to have a child. And if you don’t want to do something, if you want to stop at one point and not another, well, then you’re just being selfish and childish and not trying hard enough, and maybe you don’t deserve a child, if you don’t want one enough to ruin your life over.
The rest of the piece is just stupid; of course you’ll have more money and sleep and sex if you don’t have kids. You’ll also have those things if you don’t have expensive hobbies, or don’t contribute to charities, or get a different job, or … And of course kids are a pain in the ass. Everything worthwhile that you love is, at one time or another, a pain in the ass. I spent the morning hand-feeding a sick weasel this goopy mushed-up food off my fingers because that’s the only way he’ll eat right now. We all prioritize the things we want. My personal opinion is that you
should have one kid, no kids, a dozen kids, you should do whatever you
want and whatever works best for you. I have a feeling people are smarter than the author of this piece imagines, and more able to handle the consequences of what they want.
Some people do desperately want children and are willing to do whatever it takes for them, including going to the ends of the earth. Some people don’t want any and don’t really want to get into it with you about it. Crabbing at each other about how your choices suck and mine are virtuous may support the bullshit-artist industry that is our relationship/parenting press, but it doesn’t do dick to help actual parents cope with the reality they’re facing, nor deal honestly with those who don’t have kids and wish you’d just stop asking.