Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I'm Lame

I would've updated this site a lot sooner had I known someone actually reads it. So, both Tai and Amburglar, this one is for you, because I had no idea that anyone was out there, let alone followed. I took the summer off from writing to spruce up the new home that my husband and I bought a couple of months ago. It's slow going, but we have successfully taken it from the 1970s back to the 1960s. In most cases, this would not be an improvement. In this one, it is. Trust me.

I have a couple of posts that are "marinading" in my mind right now, so until I get those out, here is my thought for today. A couple of weeks ago, I read No Kids: 40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children by Corinne Maier. It was just released in the U.S. this month, but it was first published in France in 2007, where it sparked immediate controversy.

I've loved Corinne Maier since I first read her book Bonjour, Laziness! The Art and the Importance of Doing the Least Possible in the Workplace. How could I not admire someone telling me to work less and not feel guilty about buying cosmetics online during my planning period? Everyone's gotta have some downtime. So, when I heard she'd published a book about not having children, I was thrilled, until I found it was only available in Europe. Finally, the English translation is here, and the only thing I was disappointed with is that the subtitle has been slightly changed to "40 Good Reasons Not to Have Children" instead of the snarkier French subtitle: "40 Good Reasons Not to Spawn." It's still an engaging read, regardless, and for everyone considering having a child--especially those on the fence--this is required reading. What makes this book an especially courageous endeavor for Maier is that she is a mother of two children and has the guts to say she'd skip motherhood if she knew then what she knows now. She blatanly explains that "Becoming a parent means giving up everything else: your life as a couple, your leisure time, your sex life, your friends, and, if you're a woman, your career success. All that for kids? Honestly, it it really worth it?" According to Maier, no. Not by a long shot.

So, what are her 40 good reasons? Here they are:

1. The "desire for children": A silly idea
2. Labour (child birth) is torture
3. You avoid becoming a walking pacifier
4. You keep having fun
5. Rat race plus rugrats: No thanks!
6. You keep your friends
7. You won't have to use that idiot language when talking to kids
8. Open the nursery, close the bedroom
9. Kids are the death of desire
10. Kids are the death knell of the couple
11. To be or to do: Don't decide
12. "The child is a sort of vicious, innately cruel dwarf" (quote from Michel Houellebecq)
13. Kids are conformists
14. Kids are unbiased allies of capitalism
16. A brain teaser: How to keep kids busy
17. The parent's worst nightmares
18. Don't be fooled by the "ideal child" illusion
19. Your kid will always disappoint you
20. The horror of becoming a merdeuf (mere de famille) (sort of the French equivalent to an over-obsessive soccer mom)
21. Parent above all? No, thank you
22. Keep the experts at bay
23. The family: A horror
24. Don't revert to childhood
25. It takes real courage to keep saying, "Me first"
26. Kids signal the end of your youthful dreams
27. You can't stop yourself from wanting your kids to be happy
28. You can't get away from your kids
29. Get used to it: School is boot camp
30. "Raise" a child... but toward what?
31. Avoid benevolent neutrality like the plague
32. Parenthood is a sad, sweet song
33. Motherhood is a trap for women
34. Motherhood or success: Pick one
35. When the child appears, the father disappears
36. Today's child is the perfect child: Welcome to the best of all possible worlds
37. Danger, child ahead
38. Why wear yourself out for a future that doesn't include you?
39. There are too many children in the world
40. Reject the ten absurd commandments of the "good" parent, such as your children are more important than you, than your work, than you as a couple, than any other child, than all the adults living or dead in the world you live in.

Of course this book has not changed my mind about having kids--I'm already in agreement with Maier. What worries me, though, is how it has reinforced my mental ammunition against having children. Within the past month, several of my friends have announced their pregnancies, and I have to pretend that I'm happy for them. I'm still waiting for them to give me a good reason why they're having kids--something better than, "I just want one." I don't judge them. Well, okay, not that much, but I do feel somewhat sorry for them. If this is what they truly want, then I'm happy for them, but like I said, I haven't head one solid reason from most of them why they really want it. Some of them don't even seem to know if they do--it just happened--oh, well! I hope they don't have the same experiences as Corinne Maier, but I also hope they don't become part of the cult of mommyhood. I know for sure, I'm not drinking the Mombie Kool-Aid. People have to realize that it's okay NOT to have kids--that a woman who refrains from reproducing is not necessarily infertile, bitter, or a child-hater. I don't want people to feel sorry for me because I don't have kids. I wish everyone would put as much thought into having kids as I have into not having them. Personally, I think I'm privy to one of the best-kept secrets out there--the amazing freedom of a childless woman.


Tai said...

Sorry I'm so late getting back to your blog, I didnt realize that you had updated it so soon, after I told you that i was reading it.

See I told you! This magnificent woman sounds just like me. Remember me telling you that if I could do it again (have kids) I wouldn't? Gee, maybe I should buy that book too...

Tracy said...

Okay, I'm months late commenting on this post, but Mike and I are definitely on the fence about having kids. It's a lot to give up. I imagine I'll be miserable for at least the first 5 years. And maybe that's not true, but what if it is? I also would never want to be the kind of parent who isn't there for their kids or routinely puts them second, so I can't have any until I'm 100% positive I'll be able to give up my freedom without resenting my children for it. Also, as my wedding day gets closer, I'm deathly scared about the possibility of kids tearing Mike and I apart. I know it happens to the best of couples. I just don't want that to be me.

Junkgirl said...

I think you're really smart to be thinking about all those things, Tracy. I was on the fence for a long time, and then I read The Parenthood Decision and Paradise Piece by Piece and both helped me tremendously in making up my mind. Unfortunately, you're right about kids tearing many couples apart. Most couples I know have been through it, and the book Stumbling on Happiness actually details several studies that show marital satisfaction dips drastically when couples have kids. I love my life as an individual and as a couple, and I truly can't think of a reason why I'd want to change that dynamic.