Sometimes I actually get asked advice, and sometimes I get yelled at; sometimes I get praise, and sometimes an old teacher from high school reaches out to say hi. (Most of the time I get yelled at.)
Yesterday, I got an email that I initially thought was spam. I’m still not positive it’s not. Just in case, I’m responding to a reader who wants to know if she can be happy without kids.
I hope you don’t mind me messaging you, but there is something I would like to ask someone who is married with a kid.
I made a decision at 20: I AM NOT GOING TO BE A MOTHER.
I want to be responsibility-free and have myself and my significant other to take care of.
But how can I do this? How can a marriage without kids survive? What is the glue that’s keeping them together? Won’t we be bored if we aren’t changing diapers or wiping vomit from the bathtub?
That’s the email, almost verbatim. What you don’t see above are the personal details that convinced me the email was a sincere message from a real person. I’ve excised those details, because once I decided to write about it, I didn’t want to violate the woman’s privacy by revealing private information about her life, location and upbringing. Those details, while largely superfluous (she had a crappy childhood and as a result she doesn’t want kids), made the email far too personal to be spam. Not that I don’t have a real, meaningful connection with some of Nigeria’s wealthiest deposed generals.
So it’s not spam, but it is a joke, right? It has to be a joke. How could it NOT be a joke, with questions like this:
How can a marriage without kids survive? What is the glue that’s keeping them together? Won’t we be bored if we aren’t changing diapers or wiping vomit from the bathtub?
What a couple of stumpers!
On the off-chance that’s it’s not a joke, I’m going to respond to this obviously insane woman – so insane she is scared to be kidless! – here and now. Rest assured that while what you’re about to read may sound harsh, I say it with love. But this woman asked the advice of a man who once compared having kids to being in prison, so hopefully she knows what she’s in for.
Are you out of your mind?!
How can a marriage without kids survive?
I’m reminded of The Simpsons episode wherein someone asked Ranier “McBain” Wolfcastle how he sleeps at night after starring in such cinematic dreck. His reply: “On top of a large pile of money with many beautiful ladies.” Obviously, it’s the spirit of the response I’m referencing and not the words, but I think you can survive a marriage without kids just fine. I wouldn’t even use the word “survive” if there aren’t kids involved. You “survive” wars. You enjoy life-long vacations.
Won’t we be bored [without children]?
Hmmm, I dunno. Do you get bored during NONSTOP SEX? Do you get bored ROLLING AROUND IN PILES OF MONEY? Do you get bored SLEEPING UNTIL NOON ON THE WEEKENDS? Do you get bored when you’re NOT COVERED IN URINE AND FECES? Do you get bored when someone ISN’T SCREAMING IN YOUR FACE ALL DAY LONG?
I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone who doesn’t even WANT kids worry about how boring their life might be without them. Your childfree life is one long bucket list, and those buckets are filled with all the money you’re not spending on diapers and education and healthcare and smoothie packets and a bunch of food he can actually eat in the morning that isn’t eggs because he’s allergic to eggs and toys you step on 800 times a day no matter how often you pick them up.
How can you be bored when you can do anything you want and go anywhere you want at all times? This is like whining about winning the lottery.
I don’t like to use the phrase “first world problems” because it’s stupid and condescending and even though I’m totally broke I’m scared to complain about it because I’m not “flies buzzing around my face” broke but still, let’s not diminish people’s real problems. Except this lady’s because holy moly is she inventing some issues right now!
Obviously I have a kid, and I love my kid, and I love having a kid. But take my kid… please! Just for an afternoon! I just want to go see Gravity before Clooney’s next breakup. I want to try to be happy without kids, just for a little while!
One last question to wrap things up:
What is the glue that’s keeping [childless couples] together?
Semen, probably. It’ll be everywhere.