Once again today my husband got the, “Oh, you should become a parent, then you’d understand….” nonsense from someone with children.
As a childless couple we run across this kind of discrimination a lot. People are constantly telling you that you won’t or can’t understand this or that until you have kids. They treat you as if you’re naive and stupid. As if you haven’t grown up yet, or like you’re defective or selfish (the “selfish” bit is my favorite). They offhandedly make snotty comments or assumptions without realizing how hurtful and annoying said comments are.
Why? Because we live in a society that glorifies parenthood. We’re a society of child-worshipers. It is assumed that in this life we’ll all pair off, have a few children, then grow old and die and the cycle will repeat. For some people that’s all they offer society- their children. They serve no other function beyond being a parent and working. Their children are their crowning achievement. Having kids is the only thing worthwhile they’ve ever contributed to society. These are usually the types who really get down on those of us without children.
Imagine how it is to live in our society as someone who doesn’t want kids, can’t have them, or who can’t afford to adopt them. (Many who hear you can’t have kids always throw out there: “Well just adopt,” as if it’s easy and affordable. It costs tens of thousands of dollars folks!).
Those of you who know me know how hard it was for us when we found out we couldn’t have kids. You know the pain we went through going through the infertility treatments. You also know how extensively we discussed and looked into adoption and that we ultimately decided it was up to fate.
Don’t get me wrong – we’re not anti-child. Never have been. If we end up with a kid or two, great. But if not – our world isn’t going to end. We came to terms with our situation many years ago.
What I AM against is being treated like we’re inferior because we don’t have children. I’m tired of being singled out to work late and on weekends because “You don’t have a family!” Umm, yes, actually I DO have a family. I have a husband, nieces and nephews, siblings, parents, etc… Not having children does not equal not having a family. Nor does it equal no life.
Because I don’t have children does not mean I don’t understand things (and I’m pretty sure my husband would agree here).
A. I was a child myself once.
B. I observe human behavior.
C. I have nieces and nephews.
D. I have deductive reasoning skills.
E. I have empathy (the ability to put myself in someone else’s position)
F. I have siblings and friends who are parents who share their experiences with me.
Please tell me. What don’t I understand? How to put others before myself? If that’s your answer – wrong. I often put others before myself. Were I put into a position where my nieces and nephews are concerned – I would absolutely put them before myself.
The only part of child rearing I haven’t experienced for myself is getting up every two hours to feed and change a baby. However – I have had the trots really bad and had to get up every 15-20 minutes to use the bathroom. I imagine it’s something like that, only less dehydrating and probably not as crampy. Oh – and I haven’t had a child wedged up my ass 24/7 with no break. I imagine that can sometimes suck. I can imagine it though – even without having experienced it.
Because we don’t have children does not mean we have no reason to live or no life to lead. I’ve learned that many women who have children do have to put aside their own identities and interests long enough to raise their kids, then resume their interests and such after their kids are grown. The difference between me and a mother – my circumstances have not made me set aside my own interests. That’s not being selfish on my part (as some have insisted) — it’s simply the lot in life I was dealt. Which means I’ve had more time to concentrate my efforts in my interests and career because that’s what I’ve had to do. It wasn’t really my choice. And no – while a career is no substitute for having children, with my career I am the mother of all I create. Like a mother leaves behind her legacy in her children – I leave my legacy for future generations in the books I write. I think it’s a fair comparison.
My husband will leave behind the music he creates (among other things).
Because we don’t have children we do reserve the right to lament over our pets. Yes, they are kind of like children in that I haven’t been to the bathroom alone in over 10 years and they’re constantly under foot and wanting our attention. Hey – we have to listen to your child stories, you have to listen to our cat stories. Fair is fair.
We also get annoyed when people “feel sorry” for us or try to pawn their kids off on us as if that will make up for our infertility.
We’ve learned to accept and live our childless life on our own terms and we’ve learned to be happy where we are. You feeling sorry for us only makes us feel sorry for you for being so naive to think our sun rises and falls around the children we’ll never have. I’m happy your children have brought joy to your life and you can’t imagine your life without them. But for you to assume we’re missing something and you shoving your kids on us only annoys us. When we want to be around your kids, we’ll let you know.
Besides, the fact that we have money to burn, time to kill, and have been able to follow our bliss more than makes up for our inability to conceive children. ::shrug:: It is what it is and we’ve accepted it. Perhaps those who choose to judge us should, too.