Ah, behold the adult without children: unburdened and carefree, the next great adventure up ahead. And over there, meet the parents: anxious and sleep-deprived, muttering about attachment-this and self-esteem-that. I have two kids but the childfree are my real people. As Liz Lemon would say: “I want to go to there.”
Sunday, September 30, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
An airline in Malaysia has created a "quiet zone" in the front of its planes where children under 12 are prohibited. Unlike Malaysian Airlines, this perk isn't restricted to first class passengers, but is the same price as their other economy seats. Now all we need is some North American airlines to follow suit.
Friday, September 21, 2012
One woman who got pregnant at 42 wrote, "I hate being a mother too. Every day is the same. And to think I won't be free of it until I am like 60 and then my life will be over." Another, identifying herself only as k'smom, said, "I feel so trapped, anxious, and overwhelmed. I love my daughter and she's well taken care of but this is not the path I would have taken given a second chance."I'm sure plenty of women enjoy motherhood, at least in sum. Maybe even most. But the fact that not everyone does sometimes seems like this dirty little secret. A secret often confessed to us childfree friends in hushed whispers away from the prying (and condemning) ears of their mom friends. I've even heard confessions from complete strangers when they found out about my work for No Kidding!
Gianna wrote, "I love my son, but I hate being a mother. It has been a thankless, monotonous, exhausting, irritating and oppressive job. Motherhood feels like a prison sentence. I can't wait until I am paroled when my son turns 18 and hopefully goes far away to college." One D.C.-based mom even said that although she was against abortion before having her son, now she would "run to the abortion clinic" if she got pregnant again.
It isn't like we hide the difficulty of parenthood, and, specifically motherhood. Hell, sometimes those difficulties mount to near-martyr status as women bemoan just how busy and exhausted they are, and how reading a book, taking a bath, and even going to the bathroom uninterrupted is an unheard of luxury.
But there's a rule. When they're done garnering sympathy for their plight, they must, must end by telling us how rewarding it is. How it is all worth it. It is a trope so unrelentingly uttered that I sometimes suspect there are parenting police waiting in the wings with a gun pointed at the writer's head mouthing a command to include the hackneyed sentence. Certainly there's a figurative enforcement brigade that will attack with a slew of angry comments to punish the rare failure. Furthermore, when faced with the notion that some women don't want kids, these same women surge from all sides to tell us we're missing out on the best experience ever.
It isn't. Not for everyone. Not for all mothers. If women who chose to have kids can end up with regret, it stands to reason that it would not be a worthwhile experience for those of us who lack that drive to begin with.
Do you think we will ever get rid of the script? Or will voices like Valenti's forever be drowned out by the cacophony of parents ending virtually every single article ever written on the hardship of parenting with a mandatory sunny outlook?
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
I can't fault them for the method (offering free childcare) but the message is ridiculous. People should have more babies because the nursery industry is suffering? I also doubt these couples are failing to have more kids just because they don't have time for sex. That's something that either is a priority or isn't. It's not a casual decision.
"I have so many friends who don’t have children and are happy. Being a woman isn’t about having children."
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
If, from beyond the grave, Betty Friedan were to review the Facebook habits of the over-30 set, I am afraid she would be very disappointed in us. By this I mean specifically the trend of women using photographs of their children instead of themselves as the main picture on their Facebook profiles. . . Where have all of these women gone? What, some earnest future historian may very well ask, do all of these babies on our Facebook pages say about “the construction of women’s identity” at this particular moment in time?
. . .
But this is how they choose to represent themselves. The choice may seem trivial, but the whole idea behind Facebook is to create a social persona, an image of who you are projected into hundreds of bedrooms and cafés and offices across the country. Why would that image be of someone else, however closely bound they are to your life, genetically and otherwise? The choice seems to constitute a retreat to an older form of identity, to a time when fresh-scrubbed Vassar girls were losing their minds amidst vacuum cleaners and sandboxes.
It's amazing how many of the comments miss the point. "But my children are my number one priority!" Well, fine. That's not the same thing as your identity. I suspect a lot of them are wholly unfamiliar with The Feminist Mystique. They think that total, complete and unyielding devotion to your children, to the point you cease to matter, is a virtue.
I think this is a cultural ethic that has emerged in the past few decades, along attachment parenting and the shunning of formula moms. We have somehow engrained in ourselves the notion that every small benefit to child is worth the greatest sacrifice to mom. That it is not a careful weighing of the interests of both that should be used to make decisions, but rather that baby wins. Every time. And if you put even the slightest consideration of self above your child, you lose.
Unlike our mothers, we were not pushed into homemaker status by all-male law schools and hiring discrimination. We're not even pushed into it by cultural expectations exacted upon the moment of high school or college graduation. It is far more subtle than that, replaced instead by the concept of "having it all" and perceptions of virtue that kick in when you have a child (and in some regions, when you marry).
I think it is because of this that we have forgotten Friedan's essential lesson. A human being cannot disappear and still be happy and mentally healthy. Nonperson-ness is not a virtue, it is a recipe for slowly boiling misery. No matter how important our role, no matter how much we love our children, we need to retain a sense of self to be healthy. We need to matter.
And although this should not be the most essential point, perhaps it will get them to listen: it is not good for your children. Do you want your son to grow up thinking his wife is a mere vassal to her family? Don't you want your daughters to have a role model of independent femininity? By wearing self-sacrifice as a badge of honor, you prioritize their immediate wants while subverting your long term responsibility to raise happy, healthy adults.
But still the comments here glaze over all we have learned in the past 60 years, instead droning the mantra that children matter most, and really meaning that only children matter at all. I wonder if they have even thought this through?
Friday, September 07, 2012
The Times identifies a second issue: “Who, if anyone, has the work-life balance higher ground: The mother with three children, the son taking care of elderly parents, or the 20-something who is learning Mandarin once a week? And should the reasons even matter and be brought to the table in the first place?”
The answer is no, according to Cali Williams Yost, chief executive of Flex + Strategy Group/Work + Life Fit. She tells the Times her advice is “to remove the why.”Technorati Tag: childfree
Thursday, September 06, 2012
The news program hired child actors to act like terrors, then filmed the reactions of other patrons with hidden cameras. The funny thing is, the behavior isn't much worse than I have seen in real life, especially if I eat in a chain restaurant in the suburbs.