Those who know me, know that I never wanted to have children. I’m not terribly good at relating to kids. I am absolutely terrified of any physical pain. I do not like disorder and uncleanliness. I am not patient and I do not easily compromise. Every trait a mother must have in abundance, I lack.
However, time has a way of making one optimistic. When I was 28, I suddenly thought it might be ok, and maybe even nice, to reproduce. My husband agreed, and when I was 30, our daughter was born. I hated being pregnant, the ultimate loss of control. The labor was extremely unpleasent and followed by an emergency c-section which tops my list of things I will never do again. Even so, she is completely worth it.
My daughter has ADHD so often I am exhausted, overwhelmed with guilt, and overburdened with feelings of inadequacy because I have to holler like a harpy every two minutes. Despite this, she is completely worth it.
I am very grateful that it has worked out that the Pumpkin (a.k.a. “mini-me”) is a very good match for me and therefore I feel like motherhood is working. But I always tell people that I don’t think motherhood should be something entered into lightly. To this effect, Corinne Maier’s “NO KID: 40 Reasons for Not Having Children,” which was reviewed by Doug Saunders of the Globe and Mail, caught my eye.
I’m not going to read this book. It’s obviously too late for me but Mr. Saunders listed the reasons in his review and I had some thoughts about some of them. If you do read the book and find I am off target, please comment. Many of the reasons are valid. Many reasons demonstrate Ms. Maier’s lack of creativity. Many sound like whining. Many indicate that Ms. Maier hasn’t found a balance in her life and perhaps really should have thought a little harder about being a mom before she decided to be one. Because these days no one has to be a mom. You should really want to be a mom if you’re going to be one.
Ms. Maier wrote the book because she felt that women in France are being bamboozled into motherhood. Below are a few of her 40 reasons.
Childbirth is torture. | Don’t become a travelling feeding bottle.
It’s true. Childbirth was torture and for the first year I felt like a cow. But surely this is a very brief time and when they get older, they do cute things like make you breakfast in bed.
The child is a kind of vicious dwarf, of an innate cruelty.
I think we forget that we are animals. Without training, such as with young children, this is very obvious. Still, most kids outgrow these wild tendencies. No one would ever have children if they never progressed past the age of two.
Hold onto your friends.
Friends will come and go. Either you have kids, or they have kids, or things just change. Having kids isn’t likely to make you a recluse and often you meet new people because of your kids. Maybe Ms. Maier is so unhappy as a mom that she drove people away with her crankiness.
Do not adopt the idiot language we use to address children.
I don’t know anyone who speaks to their child like the child’s an idiot. Perhaps you don’t whip out those SAT words but I’ve found that having to communicate with the Pumpkin has actually made me a better communicator because I am more aware of my audience. Before I would just assume they were all following. Now, I look for feedback and adapt.
To open the nursery is to close the bedroom. | They are the death knell of the couple. | When the child appears, the father disappears.
Really? You need to be creative. You need to ask for privacy. You need to be opportunistic. You need to continue to care about your appearance. You need to continue to care about your spouse and yourself. The kids aren’t killing your relationship, you are. They’re just the scapegoat.
It is conformist. | Motherhood is a trap for women.
Yup. It’s traditional and conformist. But reproducing is also needed for the survival of the species and you don’t have to be a mom if you don’t want to. No trap about it. It is a choice.
They will destroy your time and your freedom.
Ok, I’ll give you that one. To be a mother does require constant consideration of someone else’s feelings but if you have a good network and support, you can get a little time and freedom every now and then.
To become a merdeuf (soccer mom) – what horror!
I agree. Yuck. Of course, I have managed to dodge that bullet as have several other moms in the world so if you become a soccer mom, it’s your own fault. I feel the need to add that soccer is a great sport. I have no idea why it’s gotten such a bad rap.
Children are too expensive.
Yes, they are, which is exactly why you really need to reflect before having them. The good news is that they might take care of you when you get older so it’s more like an investment.
Why contribute to a future of unemployment and social exclusion? | You will inevitably be disappointed by your child.
To assume your child will be a drag on society and a dissappointment really doesn’t say much for your parenting skills.
A child will kill the fond memories of your childhood.
I think there is something funny about someone being so opposed to having children having fond memories of childhood. Seems ironic no?
Child care is a set of impossible dilemmas.
Yes. This is something we’ve faced. No one thinks of pre-school and afterschool when they think about babies but it’s a major ordeal just to make sure your child is safe and sound.
There are quite a few more. I think it’s valid to want women to really think about having kids before they do. And since she is so mad at having succumbed to motherhood, Ms. Maier feels the need to make a mission of it. But there is something sad here as well. Although I can identify with many of her opinions, it really seems that she is so cranky that she is missing out on the rewards of being a mom.