Back in the day, you were expected by society to reproduce — and if you didn’t, you were pitied for being “barren.” I personally get down on my knees every night to thank modern science, Margaret Sanger, and Planned Parenthood for giving me a choice about whether or not I welcome a small parasite into my home. Yet even today, more than 50 years after the Supreme Court upheld women’s legal right to chemically prevent pregnancy, the second question folks seem to want to ask upon meeting me (right after “What do you do for a living?”) is “Do you have kids?” I love it when complete strangers probe into my uterine history! Funny, I never think to quiz a newly-introduced individual on his/her reproductive status — it’s just not relevant to my personal system of assessment and classification. I’m weird like that.
In case you missed it, I’ve already shared my extraordinarily witty response to such queries in the story of my journey toward a simpler life. Some no-kidders turn pissy when interrogated — but rather than get angry, I see these as “teachable moments.” I’m being handed (over and over again, apparently) a series of golden opportunities for a little education about how inappropriate that particular query is. I cherish a chance to say, “If I’d responded that I did have a baby, would you still have asked me WHY? Would you go up to a pregnant woman or a mom dragging a toddler behind her and inquire about the reason she chose to bear that child?” I’m not trying to be confrontational (for once), just enlightening. Well-meaning individuals don’t recognize the implication behind their curiosity — the suggestion that giving birth is the “normal” decision (not to be disputed), while my choice is somehow aberrant and must be justified.
Once my inquisitor is done stammering and spluttering and apologizing for such a gross display of insensitivity, I’m happy to address some of the more common misconceptions about non-parenting. I explain that I myself had a very happy childhood — and as far as I can tell, I’m no more maladjusted than the many procreators I know. I don’t see the world as a particularly dangerous or scary place — and I wouldn’t hesitate to share it with a precious little snowflake if I really wanted one. Nor am I afraid of the pain and blood associated with labor/delivery. I find pregnancy sort of fascinating (in the same way that serial killers and holocaust atrocities intrigue me), so I’m always pumping my natalist friends for the gory details — it takes more than stretchmarks, a squashed bladder, and a few hemorrhoids to scare me away! I do believe that we’ve reached (and exceeded) that critical mass where the planet can healthily support our species’ consumption-and-pollution activities — so I’m doing my part to combat global overpopulation. But my larger reasons for turning off ye olde biological clock are much more personal:
kids become the central focus of your life (done correctly, sprog-rearing is a 24/7/365 job — I don’t like planning my schedule around anyone else’s demands, and I’ve intentionally structured my life to avoid being at other folks’ beck-and-call — that’s why I’m a nomad, that’s why I’m an entrepreneur, and I’m certain this aspect of being diaper-whipped would NOT agree with me)
kids are expensive (I come from frugal Scottish stock, genetically predisposed to an unreasonable level of cheapskatery — I can’t imagine committing to the kind of financial investment that accompanies getting knocked up — I ditched a house that cost too much, but the neighbors tend to frown on putting a rugrat up for sale if the whole mommy thing isn’t working out for you)
kids are messy (I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve turned being anal-retentive into a successful career — but it’s more than a professional skill, it’s who I am at the core of my being — for my own sanity, I need my house to be neat and tidy — I’m generally pretty intolerant of piles that I didn’t create myself, so it’s best that I try and avoid the whole “kindercrap” issue altogether)
kids are exhausting (any parent who isn’t lying will tell you that caring for wee folk, even the good ones, will wear you right the freak out — I’ve got a lot of vim and vigor, but those little boogers suck it out of me like a Dementor draining all the hope from a prisoner of Azkaban — I prefer to spend my precious energy on activities other than chasing a free–range toddler around)
parenthood is a huge responsibility (if would-be-moms-and-dads truly comprehended the liability and obligation that go with baby rabies, there’d be more sterilizations and fewer maternity stays — I mean, you’re charged with molding and shaping an entire LIFE — I’ve got one huge responsibility in running my business — I couldn’t manage an ankle-biter at the same time)
kids limit your choices and your freedom (you can’t spontaneously move or take a trip or change careers with a house ape in tow — most times, you can’t even go out to dinner or see a movie or run errands on the spur of the moment — freedom of choice is a huge requirement for my pursuit of happiness — this is America, dammit, and I should be be able to do what I want!)
kids require constant attention (I like creatures that can take care of themselves, which sort of limits me to cats and adults — certainly, when a friend’s little angel OCCASIONALLY needs taken to the bathroom or helped with a math problem or handed something from a high shelf, it’s Crazy Aunt Ramona to the rescue — I just don’t want to have to don my cape all the time)
Every once in a while someone will counter my explanations by saying, “But you’d be such a great mother.” My response is, “So what?” I have the capacity to be an exceptional parental unit — but it’s a moot point if I have no interest in raising a child. That’s like telling someone with a talent for math but a passion for music to be a calculus professor — a guaranteed recipe for unhappiness and frustration.
I’ve never bought into the idea of springing forth offspring “just ‘cuz that’s what you’re supposed to do” — but then again, I’ve never been especially good at following middle America’s suggestions, and I seem to be turning out all right. Frankly, I’m way too practical a consumer (overly caveat for your average emptor) to spawn — I approach the acquisition of kids in the same way that I would any purchase. If I’m unable to convince myself that I can’t live without it and it’s 100% worth the expense and maintenance, then I don’t get it — that’s why I don’t own a big-screen TV, a motor boat, a jacuzzi — or children!Click here for reuse options!
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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.
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