C: Today’s Deb-Blog Has Been Brought to You by the Letter D for Dependents and the Letter C for Children: Being Child-Free Is the Best Decision of My Life
Never had the biological urge to have a baby, a child. I distinctly remember hearing some sorority students talking about their biological clocks while I passed them in the hallway back in college. It was at that moment that I asked myself if my reason and intellect was able to rise above any biological urge I might feel in the future, if for no other reason than to distance myself as far as possible from the women having that conversation. I could. I never looked back.
I remember this as a moment of clarity, but it probably was more a culmination of thoughts that crystallized in that instant, because I never have been one to make impulsive decisions, certainly not about the most serious decision anyone can ever make. I mean, who would bring a child into the world to fill a void of external love, to not feel lonely, to keep a mate, secure a marriage, to give the child you already have a playmate or a “spare” should one die, so your ego can see how your DNA looks combined with another, to keep your “unique” DNA living after death, for the hope of having a caregiver when you are old, because your religion or other outside pressures tell you to do it or to ensure our species 7+ billion strong will survive? No one, right? Those are selfish and pathetic reasons rooted in nothing more than one’s ego. And any decision we make based in the ego or insecurity is a poor one and will certainly lead to difficulties. The only sound reason to have a baby is because you want your life’s primary focus to be the nurturing, cherishing, teaching and raising to independence someone from conception to adulthood, so that he or she will live happily and contribute positively. The ego is at the core of this reason, too, but at least puts the child ahead of you.
I won’t win fans from people with kids (adoptive parents excluded) by writing this. But if you are offended then your reason(s) for the birth was probably one of those I noted above. I stand by my claim. No single factor is the cause or the exacerbation for every social ill. Not all cultures have the awareness of the burden of our human population on the Earth but Americans do. And if these words make one person stop to consider this decision, it is worth it.
It is primarily a biological urge. And we override those all the time. We adapt our biological urges to live in a society by suppressing the urge to kill someone who is annoying or threatening, the urge to have sex with attractive strangers we encounter or the urge to grab food from a vendor without waiting to pay for it when we are hungry. You might laugh but learning to curb our biological urge to reproduce may end up being the only suppressed urge left to save our species. The exponential rate of the human population is the reason all our planetary ills are happening at an accelerated rate, from hunger to global warming to rising sea levels and deforestation. More people, more suffering. As my geology teacher said when I was undergrad, “There is no such thing as a natural disaster. What makes what happens naturally a disaster is how it affects humans.”
It’s a just figure of speech to call childbirth a “miracle,” but there are four human births every second of every day. A miracle is an event not explicable by natural or scientific laws. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t understand babies come via natural and scientific processes. If you still think babies are miracles, then society, science and your parents have failed you miserably! I know Merriam-Webster’s dictionary now has included the common misuse of the word “literally,” which is the literal opposite of what literally means, but the only reason someone would intentionally call childbirth a miracle is for religious reasons or to elevate this common occurrence in nature to give it a mystique. Calling childbirth a miracle makes it a whole lot easier for one of our two political parties to make abortion sound like an abhorrent crime, though, doesn’t it?
By now I have turned off or offended someone. But we do ourselves grave damage unless we stop acting like fetishists toward babies. I am glad the occasional comedian talks about this. Bill Maher, Sarah Silverman and a few others have commented on society’s baby obsessions. Personal ads often say they seek a person who “must love children.” I don’t know anyone who hates children but that question is more about finding someone to share in parenting than the degree someone actually loves all children. If our society really and truly loved children and the grown up ones, we wouldn’t let them starve, be sick or homeless. It reminds me of the question, “Do you believe in God?” which really means, “Do you believe in my god?” Let’s be honest, some kids are about as pleasant to be around as some adults! I like and love adults, children and infants to varying degrees of their appeal. Isn’t that more honest? And thank you, “Sex In the City’s” Samantha who, having heard about Miranda’s screaming, colicky child, said of her son, “[T]his one sounds like an asshole.” (13:04 to 13:10 has the line I mentioned: http://watchseries.cr/series/sex-and-the-city/season/5/episode/6) Hey, some infants, kids and adults are assholes!
Deciding to be child-free is far and above the best decisions I ever made. In retrospect, I should thank that flock of college women with their silly talk about their biological clocks. But no other decision better reflects my morality and politics. Nothing would demonstrate my hypocrisy about my concerns for the planet more than if I had a child. Selfish? I don’t think so. Not having a child has the greatest, positive impact on our planet – even more than not eating animal products. Now, I’m not a perfect reflection of my values but I can defend my stances with those two big contributors! I am extremely lucky my parents did not so much as mentioned whether they wanted their genetics to live on in perpetuity or plant that famous guilt line, “Some day when you have kids of your own…” They neither gave me their insistence or their opinion about this most personal choice. They raised me right!
And I won’t have to worry or witness a child whose existence I caused face the struggles for clean water, food, temperate weather, land and economic shortages to come in his or her lifetime. I don’t know what I’m missing? I submit the same to you.