Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Better Selfish Than Sorry

When I went to Boston and DC a couple weeks ago, all I took was my purse and a backpack. For an entire week. My sister packed a rolling suitcase, carry-on and a large purse, scoffing at my über compact packing. But, as I explained to her, I love the freedom that comes with less baggage. I love being able to weave in and out of crowds without a giant trailer in tow. I love that I don't have to deal with more than what's attached to my own body.

On the trip, we met a lovely man who was one of my brother-in-law's coworkers. He wore an Indiana Jones-style hat. He was in his late 50s or early 60s and was one of the friendliest people we encountered.

But as we sat chatting with him one night in the hotel bar, the topic of children came up. Specifically, whether Mr. Wonderful and I were going to procreate. I told him I thought we would probably skip that step.

"You know what you are," said the man who'd known me a mere 4 hours. "You're selfish."

Now, I could have gasped and fled the bar or retorted with some sort of scolding remark. But I'm used to people reacting this way when I say I don't think I want kids.

Even I am guilty of asking people after they get married, "do you guys want children?" I think to some degree, we're all conditioned to expect each other to do it. And I think our parents' generation is particularly so. Which is likely one of the reasons Indiana Jones responded the way he did.

But as I explained to him, I think the flipside of child-bearing is often far more selfish.

There are women out there who get pregnant simply because they "want someone to love." There are couples who dive into parenthood despite the fact that they do not have the means to properly support a child. There are moms who devote more time to pedicures and pilates than they do helping their children with their homework. And don't even get me started on the stupid 19 Kids and Counting people. There is NO way that mother and father can give each individual child the attention it deserves.

People like me and Mr. W who may spend our lives spoiling our nieces and friends' children: we are not selfish. We're realists. We realize that we prefer things the way they are now and that kids just may not be in the cards. And by the way, we may be doing a favor for the entire world, as overpopulation continues to be a problem.

It would be nice if others could understand this perspective better.

Just as I am genuinely happy any time I find out someone is having a baby (except for maybe the Duggar family), I would love it if other people were happy when they found out I may never have kids.

I wish that people could see that we all have to choose how heavy a load we want to carry. And for me, at least right now, a single backpack is all I want.


  1. That guy is a jackass. Ha, or maybe a freakini (the word verification for this comment).

  2. You know, when we were thinking about skipping the whole kids step, I got similar reactions from older folks. But, I honestly think that our generation thinks the same way, we're just too chicken to speak out about it.

    Seriously, our parents' generation can scold anyone their child's age - it's a right of passage. But, our peers certainly cannot, y'know!?

    That said, I react to your pronouncement two ways. I think you and Mr. W would be fabulous parents ... and it would probably come to you a lot more easily than you think it would. That said, I totally understand why people decide not to have children. And I give you a lot of credit for making such a tough decision.

  3. WHAT...You're NOT having kids? What is WRONG with you? Did you decide that? or did he? What do your parents think? Did you decide this BEFORE you got married? Yep...I can relate. Send 'em a postcard while you are out traveling the world instead of staying home with your kids.

    Oh...and for the first time ever...I am flying with ONLY a carryon for my Thanksgiving getaway this weekend. So see...I can still learn a thing or two from you.

  4. I have forever been a carry-on only traveler and I think that is such a good metaphor for having kids. When you see people traveling with kids, it is a damn PRODUCTION and you know, I forgive them, because there is no way around it and I would look the same way. But, I think mindfully deciding you do or do not want a part of that production is rare and should be totally respected.

  5. Wow TWA - He was a nice guy, and I think his perspective was in line with most people of his generation. But I like your new word from the verification window...

    Nilsa - Times have changed for sure. And I definitely considered that after he made his remark. Thank you for your compliment! We may take our fabulous parenting skills and parlay them into spoiling and caring for friends' kids! Just because one doesn't want her own, doesn't mean she can't love others'!

    Laura - I have to thank you and D for paving the way for us in this family! I think you two have made it a whole lot easier for me and Mr. W. And YOU flying with a carryon only?! I'm SO proud!!

    LesleyG - I can't tell you how many times I watched or listened to parents in airports and thought EEK! I never want to do that! Thank you for your kind response. :)

  6. In the past week I've been unable to talk to my mom because Panda is screaming into the phone every two seconds. Unable to talk to the sister because Munchie and her eagle ears are nearby listening to every word of the conversation on that side. Have heard that one friend is giving up TG dinner to wait in line at WallyWorld to buy a new Xbox because they can't possibly disappoint their little one on Xmas morning, but can't afford it at full price.

    Yeah...sounds like a real treat. Sign me up.
    (BTW my verification is natninny)

  7. i'm thinking that indy's wife did most of the actual child rearing. anyone who has been through it understands the enormity of the commitment, the daily burden (yes!) that kids create, and respect someone opting out.

  8. I feel the need to stick up for Indiana Jones here, for just a moment. He is a very committed father, and grandfather, so much so that he shaved his head in support of his little grandaughter undergoing chemo right now. He's a good man with a strong love for his family, and I think he just doesn't want anyone to miss out on that special bond between parents, children and grandchildren.

    That being said, he doesn't know you well enough to know that you are definitely making the right decision for you. I have no doubt that your children would move in with me as soon as they were able to talk. And rememeber to spoil your neices generously - they will be choosing your nursing home one day.

  9. Wow... Just my two cents from a mother of 3.

  10. Why, oh WHY would anyone want you to have children if you don't want them? You are a wonderful person and you don't need kids to keep being wonderful!

  11. I often think I'd be ok if I never had a kid. I mean, I'm already 38! Time is a-wastin'. But if the opportunity presents itself, I would be okay with it. Every person I know that has kids has said enjoy your freedom because it is never ever the same. I get a little scared at that prospect.

    All those nieces and nephews are super lucky to have an aunt & uncle like you guys!

  12. Word, sister. Single back pack all the way. My biological clock must be broken because that feeling that other girls have? Meh, nope.


Well, whatdya think?