Angry Letter no. 2682
I am a 36-year-old childfree woman. No, not "childless." ChildFREE. I do not have any interest in children. I do not enjoy being around them for more than a short while. I have no maternal instinct to speak of. That
, Howie, is why I do not have children.
A few years ago, I was dating a guy who really, really wants children someday. Because I liked him very much, I pretended I did, too. It cost me far too much energy psychologically in the long run; I actually cried a great deal over the thought that I'd have to raise kids in order to keep him. Fortunately for both of us, it turned out that the relationship was not a "good fit." (We remain friends, and he's found a very nice woman with whom he'll hopefully have kids someday.)
To be perfectly frank, it made me spitting mad to listen to all the broads who were calling you up and lamenting how "selfish" the 20- and 30-somethings of today are not to have kids.
Excuse me? As far as I'm concerned, "selfish" is:
- Popping out a rugrat because you're too damned ignorant or lazy to use birth control or get scraped out (yeah, I'm "pro-abortion," and in the case of some people, the retroactive kind). Then plopping the kid into a playpen (or, better yet, a "car seat") and ignoring it except to administer slaps or throw projectiles when s/he won't stop screaming for your attention during "Days of Our Lives" or your daily meth binge.
- Having five kids (or pressuring your wife into having five kids, for that matter) because De Lawd said to go forth and multiply.... then giving them all a Texas-style bath. Or driving your two young sons into a lake to drown, then blaming it on a black guy, because the kids were interfering with your love life.
- "Forgetting" the baby in the back seat of the SUV on a steamy August afternoon. Oops! Anyone for pot roast?
- Being a wealthy yuppie who could easily afford private schools for all of his or her chilluns, but who keeps insisting that his or her town raise taxes for the benefit of Da Skools every year, thereby forcing residents of more modest means to move elsewhere because they can't afford the property taxes. (Some twit who lives not only in a very nice part of Arlington Heights, but in a house with a historical plaque on it, actually had the gall to write to the local paper after the most recent Prop 2½ override failed, "The village has failed my children!" You could look it up.)
So 40% of women aren't having babies. That leaves the other 60% who are. According to my high-school math teachers, sixty percent is a majority. Then, of course, we have a plethora of immigrants who are taking up the slack. Unless, of course, some of your listeners are unsettled by the thought that more white
women aren't having babies...
More importantly to me, though, why should everybody, and especially every woman, have to follow "the script"? You know, get job at This Age, get married at This Age, have first kid at This Age... I never really fit into that whole mold, nor had all that much interest in doing so. I look at amazement at all the women who get so upset because they're not walking down the aisle or reproducing at whatever their magic age is. Hey, know what? Life doesn't always work out the way you want it to.
Or, perhaps more accurately, the way your parents
want your life to. Nothing more aggravating than an aging woman with "baby rabies" who's trying to bully her daughter — or, worse, her daughter-in-law — into having [more] kids because she wants to relive parenthood vicariously. Of course, Grandma
isn't the one who has to wipe the snotty noses, change the stinky diapers, or, most importantly, say "no."
And, let's face it, we no longer live in a culture that supports saying "no" to your kids. Try to administer a little discipline to them in the supermarket sometime. Some yupmommy whose two carpet apes (probably with "creative" names like Bratneigh and Tragedeigh) are knocking things off every shelf is going to dial 911 on her cell phone and report you for "child abuse."
Oh, and about that old and tired canard, "who will take care of you in your old age?" Been to a nursing home lately, Howie? I have...my grandmother died of cancer in '01. There were a fair number of residents at that home with kids who never visited them. Sad for the most part, although you wonder if maybe some of the kids had good reasons.
Then there's that other canard, "What are you going to do after 50?" Um...join a religious order, if that's what appeals to you? Get active in politics or charities? Volunteer in other ways? Start a new business venture? Take up a new hobby? Take classes? Make friends? Trust me, some people with grown kids are going to have to resort to these things, too, because the kids aren't going to visit them before
they go to the old-age home, either.
There are a lot of ways to live one's life. Having kids is one of them. If the women who called your show want to have more, and they feel they can take care of them physically, financially, and emotionally, I couldn't care less. But don't tell me I'm "selfish" because I'm not following "the script."