I have a somewhat unhealthy obsession with Chelsea Lately and all the folks who are on the show, likely because that's my dream job and I want to take over their lives and act like a moron while being paid for it. And like the good fan that I am, I've read the vast majority of Chelsea's books and those by her writers/cohosts.
About a week ago I went to Barnes and Noble, my happy place, and after the requisite hour and a half of browsing, I left with Jen Kirkman's book "I Can Barely Take Care of Myself." Most of the books by the CL staff are just funny memoirs, but Jen's book had a little more substance to it - it addressed the highly controversial (WHY??) topic of voluntarily not having children when you are physically and financially able to care for them. I felt like I was reading something I wrote, because every situation she talks about has happened to me.
Here's the gist of it - if someone (normal) asks a man if he has a girlfriend and he replies "I'm gay," generally the response is "Oh, ok." The conversation stops - or at least the asker doesn't feel the need to ask why said person is gay, or tell them they'll "change their mind" about it in a few years. (I'm basing this on normal, open-minded, gay-friendly people in LA, I'm obviously aware this is not how it goes for many places). Same thing with a couple who doesn't want to get married - it may confuse the asker as to why someone would want to spend their life with someone and not marry them, but that also generally ends with the same "Oh, ok."
I could go on with examples but you get the idea. Now think about when a female (or a couple) is asked when she plans to have kids. The answer "I don't want kids" should garner the exact same "Oh, ok" response as above, but IT NEVER DOES. There's always a confused look and a litany of questions, generally ended with "you'll change your mind." So here, in easy-to-read numbered format, is exactly why I do not wish to have a child or a litter of them.
1) I don't like them. Really, none of them. Not infants, toddlers, whatever's next, preteens, teens, or "young adults." I don't actively wish them ill will, but I just sort of wish they'd go away - their presence irritates me. While I always make a mental note of a child that is very mature or polite and think "they have very good parents," I still don't care to be around them. There are kids that I tolerate or appreciate, such as friends' kids and relatives, but simply because they're smart and well-mannered doesn't mean I have any interest in interacting with them.
2) I don't enjoy kid things. Some people are very in tune with their inner child and having kids is their way to re-enjoy the things they did as a kid with their own children. I'm perhaps more in tune with my inner 13-year-old boy - I'm a smart ass and appreciate inappropriate humor. I don't want to play with your dolls or GI Joe or have a tea party with your imaginary friend. I think back on the things I enjoyed as a kid (minus sports, which I still enjoy) and they were all rather inane. I would actually make up storylines for my My Little Ponies and Barbies, pretend I was a Ninja Turtle while playing outside with friends and randomly make up songs about what I was doing. My dad is very in touch with his inner child - he loved to play with our Hot Wheels with us and put vinyl floor instead of carpet in our new house specifically for that reason. I get the same feeling thinking about participating in those activities now with a child as I do when you tell me I'm going to go be a cashier for 8 hours at a retail store.
3) Disposable income. Now, I've never actually SEEN this, but I hear it really exists later in life. Something about "extra money" that I can used to do whatever I want. It sounds grand, and I'm quite looking forward to it. I have a fuckton* of student loans (*actual unit of measurement). In the two and a half years I was actually employed full time, I paid on those student loans. Unpleasant, but not debilitating. Yes, I'm getting more right now, but the thought of the extra money I'll have to pay doesn't frighten me as it does others - since I have no intention of having any children, I'm pretty okay living on a budget for a while to pay those suckers off - which I will be able to do significantly faster than folks who have kids, or are planning a "good time" financially to have them.
4) Freedom. Basically, with the only burdens being my career and my husband's, I'm free to move about the country. I'm free to take jobs in other places (not that I really want to leave here, oh, ever) or follow my husband if he gets a new job with basically not a second thought. I'm free to live wherever the hell I want - I'm not cloistered by school districts or the necessity of having a yard. We can buy a home in an awesome location that's smaller than the others because we don't need extra room. I can have NICE FURNITURE, like the glorious Eames lounger I dream of daily, without worrying that it'll be destroyed. I can sleep in on weekends, take spur-of-the-moment trips, spend time simply relaxing with a book on the porch or taking a walk through the neighborhood. I can't even have a dog, and I LIKE dogs. The schedule that revolves around a dog is like that of a kid - take it out however many times a day, make sure you don't get there late or he'll shit on the floor and you'll have to clean it up (EWWWWWW), frequent vet appointments and generally being bothered to play all the rest of the time. Seriously, sometimes my CAT is too needy.
5) Pregnancy and childbirth. Don't even get me started. This one doesn't need a paragraph, it needs a LIST:
- Morning sickness - before I was on birth control, I would literally have morning sickness EVERY MONTH. If it happened for that much of a non-event as my monthly girly time, there's no way I'm going to be one of the lucky ones that doesn't vomit every twelve minutes.
- Medication - I'm on 4 different medications and have been for 13 years (two are newer). You're not supposed to be on any medication when you're pregnant, because any number of them will cause your fetus to grow 3 legs and a second head, so it's a non-question that I would have to get completely off my meds. About a year ago, I had the hilarious idea of seeing what my body would do if I got off birth control and I only lasted one week before I went completely batshit hormonal crazy. And that's the LEAST disruptive of my medications - getting off the others for 9 months (or longer) would produce withdrawal symptoms so bad I'd likely have to be hospitalized for a short time, and then the thought of me without them? Pregnancy hormones minus meds that keep me from being batshit crazy equals DISASTER, and likely a divorce but hopefully not a criminal record. You never know though.
- Weight gain - I've never gained a significant amount of weight. I've fluctuated at most 15lbs since I was in college at any given time. It's hard enough for me to lose ten pounds - losing 20 or 40? Nope. Especially with joys like stretch marks and saggy skin - and saggy BOOBS. That's all a disaster I cannot handle.
- Actual childbirth - When someone tells me they're going to do "natural" childbirth without pain meds, I feel like they just told me they were going to go throw themself in front of a moving car. First of all, nothing the size of a basketball is coming out of my vagina. Sorry, it's just not happening. And even the pain meds are terrifying - have you SEEN an epidural needle? I nearly vomit every time I see one on TV. I'd 100% schedule an elective c-section, because having them rip the kid out of my stomach after throwing my organs out of place is still more desirable than the alternative.
6) Seriously, nothing about having children is appealing. Nothing. I'm obviously in the minority on that fact, and I realize this, but those things that you think are fantastic and make all the late nights and early mornings and other irritating child disruptions worth it? I don't think they're fantastic. I've thought about this at length. All of the things people love about having children are really not things I either want or care about. When I picture my future, thinking about what I'll be doing at 45 or 50, I never picture kids. I'm generally not even actively thinking about kids and not having them when I daydream - they just organically do not show up in my future life.
In the book, people would tell Jen Kirman that she's "selfish" for not bringing a child into the world. I ask you this - is it more selfish to not do something you're not 100% committed to or to do what's "expected" and have a child whose mommy resents them, even just a little, for taking over their life? No one wants to have, or be, a guilt baby. Babies should be wanted and have warm, loving parents that want to put the kid first in their life over vacations, careers, money, etc. Would you want someone like me, who admitted to not liking children, to have one? I'm not like my friends who have kids who strongly wanted a family that included children. My friends with kids are fantastic parents - because they wanted to be PARENTS. Their families make me slightly less worried about humanity in 50 years, unlike what I see on reality TV.
So in conclusion, now you don't have to ask me why. It's all laid out up there. You secretly believe I'll change my mind. I not-so-secretly know you're wrong.
In the wise words of my all-knowing 93-year-old grandma, "If you don't want kids, don't have them! Not everyone needs to have kids, you know." Preach it, Grandma.
However, for those of you that do have kids - PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD MAKE THEM BE PRESIDENT SOMEDAY or I fear we might end up with President Honey Boo Boo.