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Amused Muse

Inspiring dissent and debate and the love of dissonance

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Location: Surreality, Have Fun Will Travel, Past Midnight before a Workday

Master's Degree holder, telecommuting from the hot tub, proud Darwinian Dawkobot, and pirate librarian belly-dancer bohemian secret agent scribe on a mission to rescue bloggers from the wholesome clutches of the pious backstabbing girl fridays of the world.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Think I Always Knew

When I tell people that I don't have any children, they typically say things like, "Well, you're still young..." (No, I'm not.) "Oh, that's too bad!" (No, it's not.) "Hopefully things won't remain like that!" (I certainly hope they do!)

And when I tell people that I don't want to have any children, they think it's their business to "correct" me. "You don't really mean that!" (Want a bet?) "Every woman wants a baby!" (But I'm not a woman - ask all those women and girls in my life who told me, "You're just a calculating machine!" and "Why don't you pretend to be a girl for a change?") "You must have had a terrible childhood!" (It wasn't so bad - but I couldn't wait to grow up and be an adult!)

Now I've stumbled upon a blog by a childfree woman who asks the question: Were you an "early articulator," or did you realize only later in life that you would have no children and would be happier that way?

I'm really not sure what I am. I do remember writing things like, "I don't want more than three children," in school essays. I do not remember writing, or saying, anything like, "I want at least one [or two, or three, etc.] children." I do remember writing and talking about my educational goals, my career dreams, etc., and dreaming of meeting a man (like Humbert Humbert - the closest thing to a real family man if there was one in that novel!) for the sake of romance and adventure - but not dreaming of having children with him!

Shimmies to Like It Is. We are not alone! And I'm going to enjoy reading this post next... (Don't get me started on how Disney mangled The Little Mermaid. The cartoon that I saw as a child had the original ending.)

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Blogger Kevin Scott said...

Hi Kristine,

Sorry I've been absent.

I told my now marrying age boys they needed to carefully consider whether or not they actively wanted children rather than taking it as a default. Having children is a great thing if it is one's goal (as it was mine), but it is also incredibly emotionally and physically expensive.

I have seen a number of men (not too many women) who somewhat resented the responsibility of their children. Children deserve better.

October 17, 2007 6:42 PM  
Blogger FriendlyAtheist said...

Does this mean I can't bear your child?


October 17, 2007 8:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A ha! Got you! Now we know why you are an atheist. Freedom not to reproduce - not one religion (*Shakers excluded*) would permit your election not to reproduce.

October 17, 2007 8:48 PM  
Blogger vjack said...

Interesting post. I'm a guy, so I've not faced the same sort of social pressure about having kids, but I can at least partially relate. I have never wanted children. I don't waking up one day and deciding "no kids for me," as I can't remember ever seriously considering kids.

October 18, 2007 9:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way I see it, you're free, white, and forty-two; quite capable of making your own decisions about child-bearing, without any input(intrusion) from anyone else.

Folks what don't want chillun shouldn't have 'em.

October 18, 2007 9:27 AM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Rev. Barky and I have discussed that, Kevin, and that resentment is visible to me. Being a male-identified woman, I understand it, certainly. I hate the ugly sight of men being beaten down by demands from the wife and kids, who treat him like a delivery man. That is another reason for this silly “wife must submit” movement – there’s a kernel of truth there, that being, men get sick of listening to a yawping wife who reserves all her love for the kids, and women are not happy when they fall into that trap, either.

This country is becoming child-obsessed. The world has to be arranged around people’s children (their personal way). Now everyone is going to have to watch G-rated movies only on airline flights because some parents complained. Hello, I think the kids need headphones to watch violent movies? Don’t buy them headphones then? Or maybe we should just have family areas on the plane (wouldn’t that be nice!) where parents can shield their screaming toddlers from PG and R rated films?

There are just some places and venues that you don’t bring children to. I think we lose culture itself when parents insist upon dragging their kids to art openings, adult films (Jebus! And the theatre lets them in – more moolah!), fancy dress balls, nightclubs, bars – and then they complain that people aren’t acting G-rated around their innocent children (that is, when they’re not complaining that the museum/reading room/nightclub/bar doesn’t allow children at all) – it’s just insane!

Our nation is turning into a nursery. When I was a child, I understood that there were adult things (and I preferred those things to what the other kids were excited about). Now everything has to be “for the children.” Well, living vicariously through the children isn't good for the children.

(And don't get me started on how children's films must have nothing scary or sad anymore. I used to review children's films. I reviewed a piece of crap remake of The King and I in which the king lives, and he and Anna sing "Shall We Dance" at the ending.)

Friendly Atheist, just pass along my twisted brainchildren (particularly when I post my fiction), and we'll call it a deal.

Anonymous, it's the supernatural that I truly have a beef with. I have no idea why anyone believes in the supernatural.

Now evangelicals are finally taking up the cause of global warming (and soon they'll claim that they were on this issue all along). They're talking about the environment in terms of God and Jesus, and I don't get it - why not just talk about the environment? Why not just speak plainly? Why throw in all this other stuff that I don't get?

Always following behind, then taking credit from, the scientists.

October 18, 2007 9:48 AM  
Anonymous AJ Milne said... is also incredibly emotionally and physically expensive...

Umm. Yeah.

Incredibly rewarding, yes, absolutely. I love my children like you wouldn't believe. Could bend your ear to tedium, I'm sure, raving about them (I won't)...

But there's a hell of sleep deprivation to survive when they're young, there's a massive struggle for some of us who, oh, say, maybe aren't within six billion miles of being naturally patient or effective teachers, when we discover we now have to be, like it or not. There's agonizing over every little thing you think you might have done wrong (and every not so little thing you know you did wrong). There's that delightful potential for ongoing and painful conflict in the marriage when you realize you just don't agree with your spouse about how something's to be done for them, and aren't going to anytime soon, and trust me, there's no fight like a fight over raising children. There's waking up in the middle of the night thinking: oh shit... I'm responsible for how many lives? Me? But... Oh, geez, I'm in over my head. I can't remember where I parked the car, most of the time, and I'm supposed to keep these guys fed, clothed, get 'em to school on time, make 'em feel loved, give 'em that decent start in life so they have a shot at being maybe not quite so screwed up that they actually enjoy some of it? Ye flaming gods, what ever possessed me, that I thought I could pull all that off? What was I thinking, getting into this?

Regrets? No. Never (I mean, apart from those not so little things I know I did wrong). But yeah. There are days I think: this is completely fucking insane. I'm not cut out for this. Shoulda stuck to goldfish. Or mebbe pet rocks. Much, much less demanding and generally terrifying.

All of which is to say: it is absolutely sane and eminently defensible not to. There are plenty of other things people do with their lives. I don't think just anybody should have kids. Hell, as should be clear enough: I'm not always sure I should have. If you're sure enough you don't want to, you'd have to be completely insane to assume you simply 'should' or 'should want to'. That way, I'd expect, lies the potential for a really, really ugly disaster, for child and parent both.

October 18, 2007 9:54 AM  
Anonymous mac said...

Ugh! There's nothing more annoying than people being condescending jerks about my choice not to have children.

I've pretty much always known that I didn't want kids, but it's only recently that I've become super vehement about it. I have no maternal urges, no ticking clock, and I don't think babies are cute. Why would I want to have children?

October 18, 2007 10:01 AM  
Anonymous Butch said...

I’m a 30 year old married male, but I get that too. The worst is when people say something like “You’ll regret that later in life.” What if my wife and I were incapable of having kids for some medical reason? What a hateful thing to say to someone who, for all you know, may want but be unable to have them.

Of course, I have no reason to think we couldn’t have kids, we just don’t feel like anything is missing in our life right now.

October 18, 2007 12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason to have chillun is so's that thar will be sumboddy to take care of ya in yer old age. Then again, the ungrateful little buggers just may knock ya in the skull for the inharrytence.

October 18, 2007 5:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shocking as it may seem, Den. Larry Craig made the same decision.....

His children are all adopted.

Perhaps something about the airport johns dissuade reproduction?

BTW - when LC runs for Idaho Senator, I predict that only one of his traits will survive the election: the blue of his (lying) eyes will translate into the political color of the state.

Meanwhile, not wanting children certainly doesn't preclude practicing the intimacy with another - adult - human that could conceive a child. Giving up intimacy is sick, sick, sick. Just ask Mrs. Craig & Mrs Vitters!

October 18, 2007 11:42 PM  
Blogger Nick said...

I can't speak for anybody else but I'm a 27 year old man, and I've been pretty sure I didn't want children for oh, the past 10 years or so.
However, unlike vjack, I have taken heat over the issue. Particularly from my paternal grandparents. They are Eastern Europeans who moved to America shortly after WWII. They had two children, a daughter first, then my dad came along. My aunt had two kids before I or my younger brother graced the scene as it were, but they had their father's name. Though I'm the third child born , I'm the first name bearing child. Even though name-bearing, my brother still takes second billing to me. Though they love him, my brother is in many ways, the "spare to the heir."

The prospect of their eldest name barring grandson NOT continuing the line... well that was just all kinds of wrong.

Unfortunately for them, I have have carefully weighed their arguments on the issue, and concluded that this was my choice.

October 19, 2007 12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is at least one fly in the ointment involving intelligent women choosing to be childless. The dummies, the ne'er-do-wells, are churning out the little bastards left and right. They swell the welfare rolls, and we taxpayers pay for their rearing, with little or no input concerning the proper upbringing of these byblows. So we have to put them in the slam fifteen or twenty years later. With intelligent women opting out of the baby production line, the next generation is stupider, more likely to go astray.

October 23, 2007 1:04 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

But there’s no guarantee that I would have an intelligent child.

It just doesn’t work that way. Strict Medelian inheritance of traits involving only two genes can still have a blue-eyed mother giving birth to a brown-eyed child, and how much more complex is this trait or traits that we call intelligence?

Many intelligent women are giving birth to children with serious birth defects. And other highly intelligent people may not be innovative, or creative, or have any particular sparkle. Have you ever met a highly intelligent dud? I have (why isn’t there a Boredom Quotient?) whereas some friends of mine told me about some of the things their clients with developmental disabilities would say – holy crap, I put some of it in my first novel. Surrealist poetry, and hilarious to boot!

Besides, there was a dubious flirtation, as I recall, with donated sperm from Nobel prize winners being used to fertilize selected women. The only result I learned about was this poor boy who talked in a voice higher than Janet Jackson’s and “learned to read Shakespeare at age eight” as his obviously average grandmother importantly intoned in the interview. So what? He isn’t another Shakespeare, and he’s more of a wallflower than I was (and I was a disaster), so who cares? I was reading Poe at age nine, with the Latin and all, so why ain’t I a genius, eh? I have just enough IQ to be seriously disturbed! ;-)

I wouldn’t make a good mother, Scotius. I’d suck, let’s face it. And even if I didn’t, there’s no guarantee that my child would share my personality traits instead of being a more “girly-girl,” playing with dolls, planning a lavish wedding for years, getting into trouble with boys, talking a lot about dresses, having lots of shrill girlfriends, etc. I could probably handle a boy if he didn’t run me ragged. (Remember, we’re talking no TV or video games, so I’d drive myself nuts for sure. “Mom, I don’t want a chemistry set for Christmas! I want a Britney Spears Toy Pregnancy Kit with the Restraining Order accessory!” )

October 23, 2007 4:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

By no means am I implying that you should become a baby mill. I am merely saying that the probability of your producing an intelligent baby is higher than that of a dull normal or a moron giving birth to one. There is the business of regression toward the mean. The children of geniuses won't necessarilly be genius caliber. But it's not that likely that they'll be idiots. In a large enough population, the normal distribution guarantees that some of them will be.

October 23, 2007 8:46 PM  
Blogger Kristine said...

Well, the normal distribution is what we'll always have, by definition.

The point is, I don't think intelligence has anything to do with why some people get so up-in-arms about childfree people.

The world is overpopulated and resources are being depleted as it is.

October 24, 2007 12:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, unfortunately it is being overpopulated by dumkopfs.

October 26, 2007 10:14 PM  
Blogger Russell Blackford said...

Hmmm, I'm childless by choice and so are many of my friends - perhaps even the majority of them. I'm surprised that anyone even makes an issue of this in the educated circles where I assume you live and move and have your being. I'm sorry to hear that you have to put up with such nonsense.

November 04, 2007 2:22 AM  

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