It's only because breeding is the norm and default (and frequently a religious mandate) that is seems so strange to not do it. For those of us childfree who came to it later, we feel like we won the lottery. We're free, yippee!!!!! It's like being handed a million dollars. It's this huge burden lifted off our shoulders. We thought we knew two things: we had to have kids at some point, and we didn't want to, thus a major conflict that can take years to sort out. When we finally realize that breeding is completely optional we are happy and at peace. This mindset has been considered immoral, bizarre, selfish and unusual and it wasn't until the last few decades that this is beginning to change.
This is generally how we see ourselves, and how we see our childed friends and family. Many childed believe that the childfree are bored, selfish, unfulfilled and miserable; many childfree see the childed as frazzled, overworked, unpaid, unappreciated, stressed, boring, mentally stifled... I could go on.
I often wonder why there are such vast differences in mindset when it comes to having children. Are we just wired differently? Why do some women have baby rabies and some women are repulsed by children?
I have friends whose dream it is to become mothers. In one case, it's nearly an obsession. I just can't relate. I can't fathom throwing away my time, my body, my energy, my money, my happy relationship towards such a miserable endeavor. There's not even a guarantee that your children will be healthy, productive, or even good people! Those are HUGE factors. Every murderer, rapist, serial killer, oppressive dictator and thief is someone's child. Every clueless idiot who doesn't have two brain cells to rub together is someone's child. Every disabled, mentally ill, suicidal, paraplegic, cancerous person is someone's child.
Still this compulsion to breed is very strong. It's got to be biology. What person in their right mind would want to take such a risk? Who wants to fix breakfast, lunch and dinner for someone else 3x a day, 365x a year for at least 18 years? Who wants to sacrifice romance in their relationship? Who wants to deal in spit up, vomit, poop, drool, pee and frequent illness for each child? Who wants to worry about a child's education and entertainment, and all the time and expense that goes into those? Parents do, apparently. To the childfree, all that looks like hell.
And parents, you guys make it easy to see the misery to anyone who is paying attention. If you have baby obsession and your eyes glaze over at the sight of a child, you're hopeless. But to anyone who analyzes child rearing critically, it's pretty obvious that shit sucks. Parents, we see your tired eyes and saggy boobs. We know that you moms pee a little when you sneeze, and that your vaginas are now as spacious as a grand hallway, and your husbands' penises the proverbial hot dogs within them. We see your kids tugging on your shirt, whining for something, and throwing tantrums. We hear about your adventures in vomit, poop and mysterious illnesses on your Facebook statuses. We hear about your marriage problems because you have neither time nor energy to maintain your relationships, not to mention major disagreements about money and child rearing. We know that you miss the happy, energetic woman your wife used to be, and you resent having to work to support her SAHMness, even though the house is always gross and kids are brats.
Knowing that this is a choice, and as adults we are able to think about the decisions we make, I don't feel bad for parents and I truly hope they are happy with their choice. Many of them are, though I can't understand it personally. One man's trash is another man's treasure, I suppose.
But it's impossible for me to not feel really happy with my choice when I see all these things going on around me. There's nothing about children or the child-raising experience that could ever make all the bad things worth it for me. Every time I see my friends' Facebook posts about having to take their baby to the doctor 5 times in 1 week for his ear infection, or a rant about a teenager's rebellion, a big smile creeps up on my face. When I come home to my clean, quiet house, I rejoice. When I sleep through the night, every night, and sleep in every weekend, it feels great. When I drink wine in my bubble bath, I'm not missing anything. When I don't trip over toys, or don't have to ever cook for kids, when my furniture stays in good shape, my body intact, my relationship happy... I don't miss a damn thing.
I can take vacations and spend money without have to worry about babysitting, kid-friendly crap or budgeting for my kids' needs and wants. I have time. I have freedom. I have peace. I have financial security, and can plan for my later years. I have time to nurture friendships and experience life. I have more of myself to give to charity, being able to reach out of my daily bubble, because I'm not wrapped up in my own little world of daily child rearing. I am not adding any more to environmental devastation and overpopulation. I can zip through my errands and grocery shopping without hauling a kid around, dealing with temper tantrums or hassling with diaper bags and car seats. I am efficient. I don't miss work unless I want to. Sticky toddler kisses and occasional Kodak moments aren't worth it. I don't have to listen to kids' music or TV shows 500 times a week.
I think I'll go enjoy a bottle of fine wine and fancy cheese, and read in my quiet home.
It's hard not to be smug. /schadenfreude.