Wednesday, May 9, 2007

You Gotta Fight For Your Right To Party

It can be weird, being a woman without children. Most people can't grok the fact that this was and is and always will be a conscious choice for me, something I knew about myself way back as a little girl. I think in child free parlance it's called being an early articulator.

Although, I can't give you any particular reason why I never wanted children. It's not because I'm deficient or otherwise handicapped in my ability to love, nurture, and guide. Rather, I've always regarded my decision as more of a career choice. Much like I never felt the urge to become a quantum physicist, I never felt the urge to parent. I didn't grow up to be a doctor, plumber, or tap dancer either.

But, keeping with the career analogy, I do recognize and respect parenting as an important job. I have a few friends and acquaintances who are parents, who have raised lovely and interesting children and who, by and large, seem happy with their decision to become parents. Again, it's a job like any other, with its own set of highs and lows.

So, could y'all weigh in on this for me?

I mean, it doesn't look like what we're talking about here are moms who style themselves like porn stars or dads who don backwards baseball caps and wife beaters to lunch with their sons at Hooters. It sounds like these people – horrors! – want to have lives while they have kids.

When my parents used to go out on Saturday nights, they left us at home. With babysitters. Remember those? As I watched them going out the door, glowing with the anticipation of a good time separate from their children, I didn't think, "Boo hoo! Mommy and daddy are abandoning us!"

I thought, "Wow, look how fabulous mommy and daddy look. Being an adult must be fun!"

And you know what? It is.

Granted, I don't know much about parenting, but I was once parented. By people who had hobbies, jobs, passions, secrets. I think this is one of the most valuable things children can learn - that adulthood is a good thing – and to learn it, they need selfish parents. In the best sense of the word.


Doris Rose said...

Very well said, my dear-spot on. Be a kid, be and adult and be an adult having fun!
At 4yo I told my mom I was not going to have kids because they "were too much trouble" and I stuck to it.Adore my niece and nephew-as babies, youngun's and young adults.

Meghan said...

I totally agree with you.

I mean, I am a mom... but I don't consider myself a "Mommy". I'm working hard to raise my son and continue pursuing all the passions I had before he was born.

Also, I've continued to own and run my own business for the past four years. I plan to start another business in the new area we're living in in the coming year. I'm not knocking moms who are solely working, and are happy, as moms... I just know that's not for me.

I don't think of it as selfish, I think of it as setting an example. It's showing him, as you said, how great it is to be an adult who is motivated, active and loves life. Besides... both my husband and I slather him with love in addition to pursing our own passions.

Wicked Thistle said...

There's a whole subtext here about being a woman who doesn't have children. Whether by choice or fate, and no matter how far we've come, baby, there's always that pregnant (ha!) pause in the conversation when a childless woman is asked whether she has kids. Why does it still feel so awkward to say no? The other day I had the oddest conversation along these lines. It went a little something like this:

Him: "How many children do you have?"
Me: "I don't have any kids."
Him: "Oh, none yet."
Me: "Right. (pregnant pause) So, anyway..."

Granted, he was in his 70s so there might have been just the slightest generational gap. He went on to ask me how long I'd been married (oh, about 4 years, divorced around 12) and to assure me that a family was in my future. Okay.

I'm thrilled that parents are role modeling LIFE for their kids, not just life as a parent. Case in point: our dear COWWgirl, Lisa. Her stories about the boys are inspiring because she manages to parent selflessly, yet without losing herself. I think she has special powers.

Thanks, Rena, for opening the door to such an interesting and controversial topic!