I was listening to music, but it didn’t have the satisfying feel it does when I’m getting ready for work. Or when I’m in my car. No, when I clean my house — or really, pick a room to clean (typically the kitchen) — I love listening to podcasts. Usually conversational podcasts. Today is Monday (at the time I am starting this post) and the podcasts I subscribe to all drop new episodes on Thursday. Maybe that’s a podcast rule like new movies typically drop Fridays and new DVD’s on Tuesdays (if that is still a thing).
I found a podcast called Don’t Go There. It is comprised of four women who all are in the psychology field. They tackle topics in mental health that typically aren’t discussed. The second episode is what caught my eye. They discuss an article from Time Magazine that was based on studies between couples with children and childfree couples and which group was happier on average.
In my own life, I have bounced between wanting to be a parent, and shying away from the idea. Those of you that have been reading my words for a while are very aware of this.
We all have dreams that we know we won’t accomplish in this life. Some people call them fantasies. When I get the desire to be a mother, it’s a dream. It’s a fantasy. I know this for fact because I know I don’t want the reality. Some people dream to be entrepreneurs, but know they may not because in reality they don’t want to do all the work to be successful at it. Another example, I love the idea of being a Neuroscientist or a Nurse Anesthetist. I know it isn’t reality because I could not afford the education that goes into either career, also I have no idea what the work is involved. And lastly, the highest math I have done is Developmental Algebra where I learned the fundamentals of math (common core multiplication and division) before we even got to polynomials at the end of the semester.
That became a tangent fast. I digress.
It’s been said across various sources that 1 in 5 women in America are choosing to be childfree. In the 1970’s it was 1 in 10 women. Everyone – men and women and those who don’t prescribe to either gender, or even prescribe to both at once – has their reasons for choosing to have or not have children.
But there are dicks. There are dicks on both sides of the choice. We all know them. The people with children calling the childfree by choice selfish. The childfree by choice calling parents of children “breeders”. Policing where children can and cannot be, or feeling it to be a compromise if there were child free zones in restaurants and even child free flights. Or parents of children lecturing the childfree on why one is meant to have children, or calling the childfree childless – which is without – which means that childfree person is missing something that the dick parent of children feels gives people more meaning: procreation.
What people in general are missing when it comes to life choices are preferences. It’s simple. Some people like milk, some people definitely don’t. Some people think blue is the best color, some feel purple is absolutely top notch. If you break it down to simple choices we make every day, you realize it is quite silly to frown upon other people’s choices. If you like to be up at 5am everyday, what the fuck does it matter to you that Jane wakes at 7am and John wakes at 9:30am?
What I found the most interesting in the podcast was really two things that were said by different women. One woman has children and she was talking about how she would feel awful when her newborn was going through issues of crying spells and she couldn’t figure out what was the matter. She said she literally felt like her child was judging her as a mother for it, that no matter what – she was failing as a parent. I cannot relate to that in any way as I have never had that moment, but I could feel for this woman who was just a voice through my speaker. I could imagine the emotional pain she was feeling in that situation.
The second thing was what another woman said. I don’t know if she has children or not, kind of hard to keep up with four voices. In reference to what a co-host said about some people choosing not to have children because they themselves had awful childhoods and they wanted to avoid having to face it as adults. That may be the case for some people out there. I don’t know. What I do know is the reaction to that from this woman was, in my own words, well then that isn’t a choice really, that is avoidance.
This kind of made me say aloud (I do talk back sometimes), avoidance is still a choice.
On my mom’s side of my childhood, I had a happy childhood. It was the (non)paternal person where things were dark and murky. To sum up my childhood, it was a child’s seesaw. To believe that the only way to heal a poor or not so great childhood is to have a child or children of your own is not how I feel. I do not believe there’s only one path. If I choose to not have a child because of my rocky childhood, that may be avoidance, but that avoidance is my choice. Just like some people choose to go to talk therapy, some don’t.
What it boils down to is empathy. I may be a childfree woman, but I am a childfree woman who loves children and reads mommy blogs because even though I may not parent myself, I am fascinated with parenthood. And I love my childfree life. Just like others who watch cultural documentaries of cultures they themselves may never experience.
So my advice, understand choices are preferences. Understand that you can respect people’s choices and not have to lecture them on why one choice is best over another. Their lives are not yours and vice versa.
Simply put, don’t be a dick.