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Writer's Block: Kids or child-free?

Whether you've chosen to have children or live child-free, how and when did you (or will you) reach this decision? If you're in a relationship, did you (or will you) decide separately or together?

I'm going to post February's books later (!), but I spotted this chance to witter about childfreeness too.

I'm childfree. I can't remember ever wanting kids, and I do remember having an argument with my friend's mum when I was 14, because I said I didn't want children and she said I'd change my mind. (I still want to run into her again sometime, just so I can say "I HAVEN'T CHANGED MY MIND!!" and she can say "What on earth are you talking about, freak?")

So it's never really been a decision for me. It's not that I don't like kids; I like them OK, mostly, and I've been told I'm good with them. ("You should have some of your own! You'll make a brilliant mum!" *stabbykill*) It's just that the whole idea freaks me out more than almost anything in the world. I want to be in charge of my life, and as always, I need to have an escape route from things. My first panic attacks used to be triggered by being in lectures and feeling like I couldn't leave without drawing attention. Shop queues, too, and the theatre. I still tend not to go new places unless I know that I can leave at any time and get myself home relatively easily. If you have kids, there is no escape from them, at least not instant escape. Their needs have priority over yours. Everything you do, you have to at least consider them, if not include them. They limit your freedom in a hundred ways. And yeah, I know there are bonuses that make up for those things tenfold, for most people, but I'm pretty sure I'd just feel trapped.

If it HAD been a logical decision, rather than a gut feeling, then I might well have come to the same conclusion. Yeah, I'm quite good with kids on occasion, but there are lots of reasons I shouldn't have them. First off, there's the high chance they'd make my anxiety issues worse, and also given that they run in the family to a certain extent, they might inherit them and worse. Even if they don't, growing up with a parent with mental health issues is...not always fun, oddly. Secondly, there's me on a good day. I'm lazy, not outwardly affectionate, untidy, bad with money, unhygienic, wildly procrastinatory, irritable with interruptions and unwilling to compromise. These traits do not a good parent make.

I think my entire lack of biological clock is one reason I'm perpetually single - I don't have any need for a sperm donor ;) So I can afford to be ridiculously fussy and procrastinatory, and my pool is limited by not wanting children anyway. (Plus, of course, a partner often brings some of the same issues that children do.) I've been wondering if it's also related to my opinion of humanity. Because I've realised that I'm not that bothered if humanity dies out, actually. I don't think it's objectively anything special - although subjectively it's fascinating and awesome and terrifying - and the way a lot of people conflate "the end of the world" (or "the universe") with "the end of humanity" sort of baffles me. If nothing else, it means that my answer to "if everyone was childfree like you, the human race would die out" is *shrug*.

I identify as childfree because I think there's a useful distinction to be made between childfree and childless, and people can be horribly insensitive to the involuntarily childless. To me, "you'd make a great mum" is a mild irritation at worst. To someone who's infertile, trying to conceive or prone to miscarriages, it can be devastating. There are some batshit child-haters out there under the childfree banner, but mostly people are just venting their annoyance about things that you aren't supposed to get annoyed about in our society. If I wrote down what was actually going through my head as two small children chased each other round the cinema tonight, you'd probably call me a batshit child-hater, too. But don't worry - I like YOUR kids.

Comments

ciciaye
Mar. 12th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC)
The other thing is that having children is a decision you can't take back. If you're in a relationship that isn't working, you can split up. (In theory, of course. This isn't taking into account religious views on divorce). If you're in a job you hate, you can at least try to look for another one. But you can't say 'I'm not cut out for being a parent' when the kids are already a reality. (And of course, most people who have kids wouldn't want to do so, but this is just an illustration of the commitment having kids requires)

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