Relating To “The Ugly Duckling,” Especially Today!

Living your truth does not make you popular sometimes. My parents raised me to be true to myself, be kind and considerate and own my mistakes. Now, when I was a kid, we didn’t have the Internet and while I know it’s still difficult to “be different,” or be seen as different by peers, it would have been a whole lot easier for me had I known there were so many like-minded people on this Earth when I was in school. Quite early on, I believed a lot of things and behaved in a lot of ways that were criticized and judged because they went against the grain or weren’t the norm. I wasn’t trying to be contrary. Believe me, I wanted to fit in as much or more than most. I must have just questioned more or asked more “what ifs.” Much of the credit goes to my parents who never – and I mean never – pressured me in my choices. Thankfully for all of us I didn’t choose a life of shooting heroin or some illegal business, so I give them credit for my lack of addictions, good genes and a whole lot of common sense, too!

I got called all kinds of names for those choices, too. I have been called selfish for not having babies. Now, I knew early I would not have children because I learned about the impact of the human population on our land, forests, natural resources, the air and water conditions. I could never have a child. It would go against my deepest, moral beliefs. I never dated a man who didn’t want babies so I never got married. I got called a lesbian – a lot! Now, I can also do my own home repairs and construction (frankly when you don’t have a husband, it’s all on you!) so I can see why some small-minded people might think that. I don’t care. Being gay isn’t a choice or a hurtful term, Except these remarks were intended to insult. And I became the outsider to my married with children friends. Their choice, again. That’s OK. If they didn’t think they had enough in common with me. they were probably right. But I was like the ugly duckling in the fairy tale. I often felt like I hatched in the wrong egg batch, especially growing up in the Midwest, where that northern European, keep your nose down and blend in culture commonly frowns upon the different. And I know my gay friends had it worse, except before it was legal for same-sex couples to marry, people didn’t call them out for denying why “God put them on Earth.”

In Mad Men days, I’d be a barren, old maid spinster. Can you imagine that? HappyMaybe I still get called that behind my back. Maybe some think I am lonely. Um, not a chance. I happen to absolutely adore myself. I am hilarious, hard-working and wake up happy to have feet to dance through the day.

Today people are freer to live their truths, make personal choices that are right for them so terms like spinster have virtually vanished. But call me prophetic, I believe a whole lot of misogynistic terms will soon flourish with our first viable, female presidential candidate. Need I remind you how the racism oozed forth when Barack Obama first ran? Heck, I wore his button and got vile stares and slurs. i can hardly wait to see what they say to my Clinton button!

Many, perhaps most, follow their parents’ footsteps, either because it is just “what you do,” without giving it much thought or it’s what they believe is right for thoughtful reasons. Some choose different paths that align with their faith and become rabbis, ministers or nuns. (I did not become a nun!) And now that we have a worldwide web of human connections, we are less alone with our choices. I still relate to being the ugly duckling and, like the swan, I’ve led myself on the truest path I currently know to work to become my true self. I found other ugly ducklings all around the world who live and think like I do. I am glad today’s children are accepted when they make the same moral choices I made. I will be your support.

But this is really all about morality. We all need to put our heads on that pillow each night feeling we’ve done our best as we see it. So I’m single, child-free, debt-free, degreed – oh and vegan! But trust, no one leaves my dinner table without good conversation, laughter and a satisfied belly. And I sleep well.


Children: Being Child-Free Is the Best Decision of My Life #atozchallenge

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 reSamanthaally 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: 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.