Having kids is not for everyone. After reading my blog, some people might even say it’s not for me. (Some people even have, god bless ’em!)
There are moments when I wonder if it’s right for me, usually when my son is screaming about something and we’re out of beer. But those moments are fleeting.
I’ve always known I wanted to have kids, though I suppose it can be tough to know whether that was a true desire or the kind of checkpoint-based “maturity” and conformity Tyler Durden was so angry about (i.e., it’s just what you do). Fortunately, I knew I’d made the right choice when my son was born and I didn’t have even the slightest urge to split, and that choice is validated every day.
But it is a choice. And there’s nothing wrong with making a different one.
I’ll be honest: I’ve had a kid for two and a half years, and a lot of my time is spent finding ways to simulate being childless again, for a weekend, or an afternoon, or just long enough to get through one goddamn movie. Because being childless is fun.
I’d love to have more money and more free time and be able to sleep in and go on vacation and leave poison around and watch violent TV shows whenever I want and go out drinking in the middle of the day or the middle of the night or the middle of the month and not have to worry about being hungover or finding a babysitter or whether or not the bar has highchairs. But I decided to have a kid, and while I can still do many of those things, I can’t do any of them spontaneously or without managing a bunch of logistics first.
The word “carefree” is no longer in my vocabulary.
But that doesn’t mean having kids isn’t fun; sometimes raising my son is the most fun I’ve ever had (and I’ve been to Action Park!). And it definitely doesn’t mean that someone who chooses not to have children is living a carefree, careless existence where nothing matters but their own pleasure.
You don’t need to have children to have responsibilities, nor does being a parent rob your life of all fun and enjoyment. Being a parent doesn’t suddenly make you a good person or automatically make you a better person than someone without kids. Like everything else in life, it’s a trade-off. There are positives and negatives to both choices.
When I see a happy childless couple, I don’t assume my life is better than theirs because I have a child. And I don’t assume theirs is better or more fulfilled than mine just because they don’t. I might occasionally envy them (and they me), but I don’t consider them selfish, like this dad apparently does (he later clarified that he’s mostly just bitching about childless couples living near schools, and complaining about the boring suburbs; as if we need to create “childless-only” zones), any more than I think having kids makes me selfless. Because it most certainly does not. I mean, I’m getting a nice tax break thanks to my kid, so who’s selfish now?
I also don’t believe in any religious imperative to procreate, and while there’s obviously a biological drive towards having children, I think we’ll be okay if some of you decide to shirk your duties. (I’m looking at you, cast of Jersey Shore.) So if you don’t want to have kids, don’t have kids. And don’t be shamed or “tsk-tsked” into having them either. Because if you don’t want kids, the last thing you should do is have them.
After reading some of the searches that have led readers to my blog (“I hate my kids and I want to die,” “I hate my son,” “having kids ruins your life,” “diapers not daddy please not enema daddy and sorry”), I wish some people didn’t have kids, for their and their kids’ sake. (I also wish that Google could identify sarcasm). I’m not in the habit of judging other parents; it’s not for me to gauge whether someone is doing a good job or not, especially since I have no idea if I even am.
That said, you can usually spot an unhappy parent. Especially when they’re Googling some of the aforementioned phrases. Those are the people I wish didn’t have kids, because unhappy parents make for unhappy children and so on and so forth, and that’s no good for anyone.
Some of my best friends are child-free (I’m not a racist either, I swear!), and I love having access to their lives and their perspectives and their clean homes. Just as they enjoy playing with my kid and then leaving without him. Fulfillment means different things to different people. Not everyone wants to have kids and not everyone needs to have kids in order to complete their lives or be happy. Choosing to remain childless doesn’t make you a bad person.
Judging people for making different choices than you does.