Some people, like Oprah, choose to be child-free because they claim they have a greater calling in life. The world needs Oprah, y’all. She doesn’t have time to wipe the runny noses of one or two little larvae; she’s busy handing tissues to tired housewives and cheating husbands and the down-trodden as they cry their stories to her. But most importantly, they wipe their own noses.
I have a feeling Oprah needs the world more than the world needs Oprah, but whatever, man. It’s her choice.
Then you have people like 26-year-old Heather Gentry, a Georgia peach, I guess, who says she chooses to be child-free because, well, because kids are alien parasites. Gentry told Slate.com when they asked readers to explain why they choose to be child-free. Gentry may be a Georgia peach but is no shrinking violet when it comes to discussing children. She says that “even as a middle school parasite-child, I knew I didn’t want children.” Not to mention the “unnatural”, “abhorrent” experience that is pregnancy.
But tell us how you really feel, Heather.
“To have my body distorted beyond recognition for an alien-looking creature to live there for nine or 10 months and use up my food and energy storage? To have doctors poke and prod at my most private places because that’s where it’ll be born? Then, to be free of the creature on the inside, but to have to care for it for years and years, while it eats my food, lives in my house, and takes up my energy? A child is a proud role model for any parasite.”
Well here, just go ahead and read Gentry’s reasons for remaining child-free. Her words are far more interesting than any summary I could drum up for you:
Even as a middle school parasite-child, I knew I didn’t want children. I have two little sisters. They weren’t bad kids, but I never knew what to do with them. They were young and alien, speaking strange languages and far too hyper and loud. Even with my parents there to buffer me from the worst of the crying fits, potty training, and sleepless nights, I just wasn’t interested in going through that again.
But I do live in the South, where there is a certain amount of expectation and tradition, and I fell prey to it in high school. With hormones flying and love blinding me, my high school sweetheart and I dated for three years, and yes, during that time we planned our wedding and named our kids. Four of them. Gross.
In college, I succumbed to another yet newer tradition—the starter marriage. I was married for two years to a man who was six years older than me and ready to settle down. Part of what made me leave was that he wanted to have children, and I just wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with the idea. Then came the divorce and the corresponding re-evaluation of values and worldview that comes from such a disruptive and never-thought-that-would-happen-to-me event. And I realized: Wait, I don’t have to have kids with anyone. I can choose to be with someone who doesn’t want to force me into that role.
It was a revelation to this Georgia peach.
So now I cheerfully tell anyone who mentions it — friend, family, co-worker, overly friendly stranger — that no, thank you, I will not have kids/parasites for reasons that will probably insult you. These include eww, gross, I-have-better-things-to-do-with-my-time, and there-are-7-billion-people-in-the-world-why-add-more. But if I can suffer through your alien ultrasound photo on Facebook or grin at your crying kids without vomiting, then you can be grateful that women like me will always be around to organize an occasional girl’s night out and to keep the population in check.
Not that I begrudge this anti-Southern Belle her choice not to have kids because, my God, I hope she doesn’t have kids for their sake, not hers, but what’s with all the kid bashing that is becoming so popular and prevalent in society these days? Just because you don’t dig kids doesn’t mean you have to impugn an entire population of really cool human beings. There are good and bad reasons to have and not to have children.
Heather got The Business by a bunch of Slate commenters, one who said “ALL REPRODUCTIVE CHOICES ARE INHERENTLY SELFISH– INCLUDING THE CHOICE NOT TO REPRODUCE. People who choose to have children don’t do it for evolutionary diversity or in order to keep the economy growing. Conversely, people who choose not to have children don’t do it for the environment. And the hypocrisy of those who attempt to frame their personal choices — which are perfectly fine standing alone — as some kind of public service, is grating indeed.”
Instead of her condescending “Ew-gross-I-have-better-things-to-do-with-my-time-and-I’m-helping-keep-the-population-under-control rant”, Heather’s reasons for not wanting to have kids can be summed up in one sentence: I don’t want to get pregnant and fat and have to get up in the middle of the night to feed a screaming baby. Which, great, Heather, that’s a valid reason. But get down off your high horse and take a look at the beauty of pregnancy (there is nothing more NATURAL than pregnancy) and parenthood. While it’s certainly not for everyone there’s no need to call all kids weird, alien parasites.
Just as I don’t need to remain childless to fully appreciate the freedom – the beautiful, wonderful freedom – afforded to those who remain child-free, you don’t have to become a parent to appreciate the cool experience that is creating and caring for another life and you don’t have to condemn children and parenthood in expressing your childless choice.
Read more from Monica on Strollerderby:
You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.