I spent about an hour on Sunday watching the below video and then reading the comments. If you get a chance, click over and read the discussion, there are some pretty well-articulated thoughts.
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As usual, I’m a few months behind with my own response, but I sort of prefer standing on the sidelines and reading what other people have to say first because it gives me a chance to formulate my own opinion and to curb any judgments that I (naturally) make.
(I say naturally, because we all judge on some level. You’re lying if you say otherwise).
I have no idea what Heather is talking about when she cites “childfree by choice” blogs and forums. I’ve never encountered any of them so I can’t agree, or disagree with her statement about them being angry/resentful, etc. And I think, that to truly represent an opinion on a topic, Momversations should ask an opposing viewpoint to be on the panel and to give his/her opinion about the topic being discussed. As it stands now, it sounds one sided and just a bit condescending, but again, I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you really have to take these video conversations with a grain of salt. A lot of material is edited out and I think the panelists sometimes concentrate more on trying to be funny, or cool, as opposed to concentrating on clarifying their point.
As Heather says in the comment section, Momversations is designed to be a jumping off point for further discussion – I think it would behoove viewers to keep that in mind when watching and when commenting because concentrating on assumptions sort of takes away from the point of the video.
Once again, look past the theatrics and concentrate on the topic at hand.
The topic at hand: not judging, or presuming to understand, the reasons behind someone’s choice to be child free.
Personally? I don’t care either way. Everyone has reasons for everything they do, or don’t do, in life and who am I to say one way is better? My opinion is, if you truly know, deep in your heart, that children are not for you, then for everyone’s sake (and yes, even for the sake of that unborn child), don’t have them. Children should be wanted – one should be prepared to make the sacrifices required with raising children. If someone is not ready, or unwilling, to make those sacrifices, then don’t take the parenthood plunge.
But accidents happen. If a woman gets pregnant and is not emotionally ready, or unwilling, to take care of the child, give it up for adoption – there are plenty of people out there who are desperate to care for a child. Ultimately, we need to be thinking about that child’s welfare and what sort of upbringing he/she would have if forced to grow up in a home where he/she wasn’t wanted.
Though I have a cut and dried opinion on whether someone chooses to be child free or not, this topic actually taught me a lot about myself. It also opened my eyes to my own behavior about this issue.
When I was a young woman, I never thought much about having children of my own. In fact, I never thought much about getting married either – if it happened, great. If it didn’t, great.
But whenever I thought about having my own children, I found myself leaning toward … not having them. Children got on my nerves. The screams. The shrieks. The temper tantrums. The demands.
They annoyed me. I was perfectly happy to be around children, as long as I could give them back when they got fussy. I had no patience for children.
I got married when I was 24. And it was great. We were (are) great pals and we had so much fun together. We never discussed children, but I think we both sort of silently agreed that it would most likely happen one day.
Again, I had the attitude of meh, if it happens, great. If it doesn’t, great.
Family started asking us, “when are you going to have children?” and we’d sort of laugh it off, never giving a definitive answer. Their questions never really annoyed me, but it did get me to start thinking about it. What sort of mother would I be? I’ve always been honest with myself and being young was no exception – I knew I probably wouldn’t be that great of a mother, I simply didn’t HAVE the patience required to take care of children.
But still … I thought about it. I tried to picture myself with a baby, me, who never held a baby up to this point, was seriously contemplating being responsible for another human being. It was both terrifying and fascinating at the same time.
So, I brought it up. And we started trying. My first pregnancy ended in a miscarriage. I had just turned six weeks and told everyone at work that I was pregnant and promptly lost it the very next day.
I was devastated. And suddenly, I wanted something that I couldn’t have. So, my quest to have a baby really started in earnest from that point on. To this day, I’m not quite sure if my desire to have a baby was because my first one was taken away from me, or if I really wanted to have a child.
Perhaps it was a combination of both.
Fortunately, I got pregnant shortly after my doctor gave me the go-ahead to start trying again. We were cautiously happy. And we didn’t tell anyone I was pregnant until I was a good, solid 16 weeks along.
So, my first son was born and 28 months later, my second son was born. I’m a bit embarrassed to admit this, but I can honestly say, I didn’t really enjoy being a mother during those early months. I discovered I wasn’t really a baby person, they just sucked the life right out of me. I was so used to being in control, my whole life and suddenly, I had these two little munchkins and I had no idea why they cried or what they wanted and I could NOT control them.
It was incredibly frustrating to me.
It wasn’t until they reached their toddler years and could TELL me what was wrong that I began feeling more comfortable with being their mother.
Of course, I loved them, I was crazy about them, I just didn’t understand them and I certainly didn’t have the patience I should have had with them. I made mistakes, but I learned and I trudged forward because that’s what you do when you’re a mother – you just adapt and cope the best way you know how.
So people who choose not to have children? I can understand where they’re coming from. It honestly isn’t for everyone and whenever I overhear people who say, “Oh, but it’s the most rewarding experience in the world! And you don’t know what you’re missing! And I’m a better person now that I’m a parent” get on MY nerves, and I’m a parent! You can’t assume your experiences will bless someone else – everyone is different. And if someone doesn’t want children, we shouldn’t criticize that person, or think less of them, or assume he/she is a bad person because he/she thinks that way: I admire their honesty!
Being hypersensitive to what people say to others who are child free, I’m very conscious about not making the same mistake with the people in my life.
Take my niece, for instance. She recently got married, in fact, they will have been married two years this coming August. And it just annoys the ever-loving crap out of me whenever we have a family get-together and EVERYONE bombards her with the “when are you going to have a baby” question. I know she likes children in general, but I have no idea how she feels about having her own.
Poor girl. I can see that it makes her uncomfortable. And honestly, I know the family is just anxious and excited for her to become a mother and have good intentions, I wish they would leave her alone about it. She and her husband are the only people who can really answer that question. It’ll happen if/when it happens. I’ve pulled her aside and told her, “Take your time. You’re so young. Don’t feel pressured to have a baby before you’re ready.”
She seemed to appreciate my advice.
And yet, I now find myself doing the exact same thing with my boys. And it wasn’t until I watched this video and read the comments that I realized it.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve said something about my grandchildren. Or given them advice about kids in general. I’m constantly picturing myself holding my grandbabies, spoiling them, caring for them when it starts to get too rough for my son and daughter-in-law.
I’m assuming they will want kids when they reach that stage in their lives.
What if they don’t?
I’d be crushed. Completely and totally crushed. I would be forced to accept their decision, however painful that decision might be. But would I really want them to have children if they really didn’t want to? Just because I want to be a grandma?
Wouldn’t I be putting those same expectations on my boys that my family is now putting on my niece?
Making the decision to have children is ultimately a private decision. No one can make it for anyone else. And no amount of wishful thinking on someone else’s part will make it happen. Personal feelings aside, one must respect that decision.
Having children is an absolutely rewarding, and special experience. But I suppose it really depends on what one’s definition of what rewarding and special is, doesn’t it.