April 14, 2015

Childfree Series: 15 Things They've Said

These are the top 15 things people have said to me when they heard I didn't want to have kids. Starting with the words I found least offensive at #15, all the way to the #1 comment that breaks my heart.

Why you gotta be so rude?
(For the background on this series, see Childfree Series: Live Your Life!)

#15. "You'll love your own baby."

Love and like are two very different emotions in my world. I like a lot of things/people I don't love and I love a lot of things/people I don't like. I don't need to add to either population.

#14 "You'll love the feeling of being pregnant."

No. I won't. What a strange version of encouragement to give to a thin woman. All I hear is, "You'll love the feeling of getting bigger and bigger and bigger...."

#13. "Don't you want to see what they'll look like?!"

They have apps for that.

#12. "Don't you want grandchildren?!"

Nieces, nephews, great-nieces, and great-nephews will take care of any of those issues, should they arise.

#11. "Who will take care of you when you're old?!"

And if your kids hate you, who will take care of you when you're old? It's okay, you can come over to my place and we'll just take care of each other. (This is NOT a good reason to have children!)

#10. "Babysitting is not even close to the same! When it's your own kids, it is sooooo different!"

You're totally right. It's worse. You can't leave when their real parents come home.

#9. "You would make such a great mom!"

Thank you! Like I said before, I would have also made a great [lots of other things], but I'm not interested in becoming any of them.

#8. "But what if you do get pregnant? I need to know what will happen!"

I don't deal in hypothetical nightmares. Do you want to answer questions about things you never want to happen?

#7. "Nursing your child is one of the most fulfilling experiences a woman can have."

EW. Not all moms are always able to produce milk to nurse their babies (so this is not a guaranteed experience), and this saddens me for those women who want to have this intimacy with their children. But if a woman is grossed out by the prospect of childbirth (like me), referencing nursing is not going to help your cause.

#6. "You'll change your mind."

That's why adoption is the most beautiful act in all the world, and better for everyone. IF we change our minds, you're welcome.

#5. "That's not very Christian of you." // "You're breaking the first commandment."

Because judging me for making a wise decision about my life is sooooooo Christian of you. The commandment breaking thing was just so off-track, it became a 20-minute argument about what the Bible actually says. This guy said the first commandment was, "Go forth and multiply," told to Adam and Eve. I told him the real first commandment of the 10 (no other gods), and topped it off with what the New Testament says about the Old Law and how it can be summed up into two better commandments (love God and love your neighbor as yourself), plus what Paul had to say about married and unmarried people in 1 Corinthians. I "won" the argument when the guy was clearly wrong and tried to shake it off, saying, "I was just trying to make you mad." Seriously, what is wrong with some people? And don't mess with me on Bible trivia.

#4. "You were created to have children."

I was created to glorify God. Some women do that through having babies, I do that through shining the light that Jesus is on all the people around me. If every woman's purpose is to bear children, then have fun explaining that postulate to single, barren, or abused women. Haven't we moved on from the 1850s yet?

#3. "You don't know what you want."

And you do? Thank you so much for telling me I'm an idiot! Clearly, all I do is make poor decisions, just look at how horrible my life is.

#2. "I can't wait until you accidentally get pregnant so I can laugh in your face!"

I don't curse, but if I did, all of those pretty expletives would be inserted here and directed at you.

#1. "Maybe your family would visit you in Europe if you had children."

This hurts me so deeply. My family will only want to spend time with me if I procreate? When I start to think about this too much, I get so angry/upset/sad/crazy.

*     *     *     *     *
These are literally 15 quotes that real people (some men, but mostly women) have said to me out loud. I'm not easily offended, and I have had mostly very calm responses and a good attitude when listening to these comments. But every time I re-read the words and I remember the incredulous tones of their voices, the mocking expressions on their faces, and how completely disrespected I felt in these moments.

If you've been on the receiving end of quotes like these, you understand, and I stand with you. If you've ever said anything like this to anyone: apologize now and never do it again. Your words are so much more hurtful than helpful, and you are ruining the perceptions of young men and women of what it could possibly mean to become a parent.

You think you're being cute and encouraging, and really, you're just stirring up resentment and bitterness. You want to change someone's mind about having children? Leave alone the kids that don't exist, and ask them real questions about things that matter to them right now. Have conversations, and stop bullying people into situations that actually might not be good for them. Not everyone is meant to become a parent, and it's not anyone's job to determine who is and isn't - especially if the person is talking to a complete stranger!!! With loved ones, they should know that they are loved more than anything they could possibly procreate.

The best and most objective book I've ever read on the topic of whether or not to have children is Complete Without Kids by Ellen L. Walker. It was a free e-book on a reading app that I started reading when I was bored. The author is a psychologist who interviews all kinds of men and women who can define themselves as childfree - or childless, depending on your point of view - by choice, chance, or circumstance. Even if you want kids more than anything, this book can help everyone better understand the people like me who just aren't going to have kids.

What's really insane is that even mothers can relate to the comments I've received above. Being pregnant brings on a whole new onslaught of rudeness, from the guessing about due dates to the, "Are you having twins?" lines. Actual motherhood opens up the doors for all the "professional parents" out there to tell you how to raise your child. I'm sure women in all walks of life could make a list like this of ignorant, ridiculous, and rude comments we have received at some point or another.

The reality is that the rudeness will never really end. It sucks. But if we take the high road and each do our part to be a little less nosy and make fewer assumptions, we can better support each other and stop making things worse.

We will never be able to make everybody happy. Instead of wasting our time trying to please the haters, we must learn to be happy with ourselves and our partners, in whatever situations we face (by choice, chance, or circumstance!).

Your home is your sacred place, and it's up to you to make your sacred place a happy one. Whether you decide to fill it with people or things or as little as possible - your home will be what you make it!

Next up in the Childfree Series: Identity, Culture, Home.