thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: parenting

perpetuation

http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/03/24/is-the-meaning-of-your-life-to-make-babies/

Yet something seems fundamentally very wrong, or incomplete, with this idea that making babies is the meaning of life. I wouldn’t be jumping with jubilation if my teenage son announced today that he was going to be a father. Do we laud the parents of extremely large Mormon, Hasid, Catholic, and Muslim families as public exemplars of a meaningful life? Do we honor the most popular sperm donor as humankind’s greatest philanthropist?

Even if our genes get perpetuated, our genes are not us. After a few generations of genetic mixing and shuffling, there’s unlikely to be anything unique or identifying about us in our offspring. If your great-great-grandchild has your brown eyes and your blood type, but no other personality or physical traits uniquely identifiable to you, how much of “you” has really lived on? Further, if the idea is to perpetuate our genetic lineage, what if we have children, but no grandchildren?

Fundamentally, as humans, the problem with identifying the meaning of life with having children is this — to link meaningfulness only with child production seems an affront to human dignity, individual differences, and personal choice. Millions of homosexuals throughout the world do not have children biologically. Millions of heterosexual adults are unable to have children biologically. For many adults, not having children is the right choice, for themselves, the world, the economy, or for their would-be children. Socrates, Julius Caesar, Leonardo da Vinci, George Washington, Jane Austen, Florence Nightingale, John Keats, Vincent van Gogh, Vladimir Lenin, and Steven Pinker as far as we know did not have biological children. Would we deny the meaningfulness of their impact or existence? The meaning of life for childless adults — roughly 20% of the population in the U.S. and U.K. – has nothing to do with fame, but everything to do with what makes life meaningful for everyone: experiencing pleasure, personal relationships, and engagement in positive activities and accomplishments.

frank discussions

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2013/12/30/the-choice-to-be-childfree

strip mall reduction

the whisperings

http://www.alternet.org/sex-amp-relationships/kids-and-happiness-0

Fact: I once met a beautiful, vibrant 80-year-old innkeeper, who pulled me aside when she heard that I was getting quizzed about my status as child-free. She whispered in my ear, “I would have been just fine without children. It’s not as big a deal as they tell you.” And as for marriage? (She had been married twice). “The sex is good for three years and then all we wanted to do together in bed was the New York Times crossword puzzle.”

the drone

http://www.fem2pt0.com/2013/08/02/having-it-all-without-having-children/

Even if you are in the minority of women who don’t grow up internalizing the idea that you are predestined for parenthood, the mommy drone doesn’t quiet. “I resent that the entire culture of this country is obsessed with kids,” Rachel Agee told me the day after her 40th birthday. “And social media is only an outlet to post pictures of your children. I’ve got nothing to put on Facebook. At 40, that’s hard.” (She has not yet bought the buzzed-about Facebook baby-blocker app to censor progeny pics, but she says she’s tempted.) Agee graduated from a Southern Bible college where she was taught that to be a godly woman, one must procreate for the kingdom. “I just knew I couldn’t trade my freedom for it,” she says. She moved to Nashville as a hopeful performer and stopped going to church because it was so “oppressively family-centric.” Nearly 30% of married households in the Nashville metropolitan area are childless, but even in the secular, artier corners of Music City, Agee wasn’t greeted by a culture that supported a life without dependents. It used to be that one’s urban starter kit would include a leather jacket, a guitar and a pack of cigarettes. Today that’s been traded out for Lululemon maternity pants, a stroller and a pack of diapers.

“I’ve always felt there was a cultural ­imperative—now there’s a subcultural imperative,” says Kate O’Neill. She and her partner moved from ­California to Nashville; she went there to write songs—though she’s now one of the city’s top entrepreneurs—and he went there to paint. Despite the high rate of childlessness, O’Neill says, it was hard to find her way into a social world where “lately, motherhood has been so absorbed into every possible aesthetic.” I heard similar observations from women I interviewed in Boston, Austin and San Francisco.

[…]

“It’s toughest in your late 30s and early 40s,” Going Solo author Eric Klinenberg says. That’s when social isolation tends to peak among people without kids. “What people report everywhere is this experience of watching friends just peel off into their small domestic worlds. That’s the real stress point,” he says, not aging and dying alone, as people fear—and ­strangers and ­family members alike tend to ­admonish—but the loneliness between when friends have babies and when they become empty nesters. It has hit the Clouses earlier than Klinenberg suggests, since their Southern Christian circle seems to have already disappeared into parenthood. They say their lives have become lonelier and narrower over the past few years. “You build strong relationships, and then they change. It’s great for them, but it sucks for you,” Clouse says. But they recently had their first “date”—roller derby—with a childless couple at their church. They say it felt like a massive relief.

taking stock

http://www.wtfpod.com/dispatches/entries/i_am_50_years_old

On some days life is full of meaning and purpose and I am thrilled to be part of the living. On some level, I am 50, twice divorced, childless and living alone. It is amazing. I may have won. I just have to accept that certain things may not happen for me and which of those things are actually things that I want or things that I have been lead to believe I should want.

Family propaganda is very powerful and is supported by the biological fact that we are here to make more people. It is also disseminated by people who are in the thick of it and, in a lot of cases, trying to make themselves believe that they have done the right thing. We are animals able to ask questions and make choices. Maybe there are plenty of people already here and it’s okay to sit this one out and think about why some days my life lacks meaning and purpose. It’s because some days, it does.

More here at the five-minute mark:
http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_438_-_sally_kellerman

the cost of caring

The increase certainly isn’t going to the workers, as I was offered a job in a childcare/Head Start center paying $10 an hour.

http://www.salon.com/2013/11/04/child_care_is_more_expensive_than_college_in_a_majority_of_states/

The cost of childcare went up again last year, making it the single largest expense for families in 22 states and the District of Columbia. Add another child into the mix and the costs are even more striking: Enrolling two children in center-based care exceeded what an average household spent on rent in 2012 in all 50 states.

The report from Childcare Aware of America also revealed that in 35 states, enrolling an infant in center-based care is more expensive than a year of in-state tuition at a four-year public college.

role playing

http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinionla/la-oe-daum-childlessness-time-magazine-20130806,0,3225982.column#axzz2jh3nWQyl

But just as my childhood was made better by teachers and other mentors whose unique perspectives were, in some cases, a direct result of not having their own kids, a lot of folks who work with young people recognize that the best thing they can do for future generations is to play a role other than parent — at least when they’re not driving their Porsches and hitting the snooze button.

And that’s why this whole childlessness discussion needs to be reframed. It’s great that Time is moving in the direction of validating those who, by choice or circumstance, will never be parents. But the point is not simply that society should stop judging those of us who don’t have children. It’s that society actually needs us. Children need us.

It may take a village to raise a child, but not every villager needs to be a mom or dad. Some of us just need to be who we are. The children we never had would thank us. And so should you.

thinking twice

http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-living/ci_23715421/should-you-have-kids-authors-say-think-twice

“Then the women’s movement happened, but we didn’t really come to terms with what women’s freedom looked like, and how much society had changed,” Sandler says. “So we kept telling this story that humans needed to have kids and that adult women could only have value if they were mothers.

“And today there’s more and more obsession with babies and motherhood than ever, with blogs and stores and books,” she says. “We’re in a very pro-baby generation.”

accessorizing

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052748704462704575590603553674296

In truth, nothing is more malleable than motherhood. We like to imagine that mothering is immutable and decreed by natural law, but in fact it has encompassed such disparate practices as baby farming, wet-nursing and infanticide. The possessive, almost proprietary motherhood that we consider natural today would have been anathema to early kibbutzniks in Israel. In our day motherhood has been glamorized, and in certain circles, children have become the ultimate accessories. But we should not fool ourselves: Treating children like expensive accessories may be the ultimate bondage for women.

Is it even possible to satisfy the needs of both parents and children? In agrarian societies, perhaps wearing your baby was the norm, but today’s corporate culture scarcely makes room for breast-feeding on the job, let alone baby-wearing. So it seems we have devised a new torture for mothers—a set of expectations that makes them feel inadequate no matter how passionately they attend to their children.

[…]

We are in a period of retrenchment against progressive social policies, and the women pursuing political life today owe more to Evita Peron than to Eleanor Roosevelt. “Mama grizzlies” like Sarah Palin never acknowledge that there are any difficulties in bearing and raising children. Nor do they acknowledge any helpers as they thrust their babies into the arms of siblings or daddies. The baby has become the ultimate political tool.

Indeed, although attachment parenting comes with an exquisite progressive pedigree, it is a perfect tool for the political right. It certainly serves to keep mothers and fathers out of the political process. If you are busy raising children without societal help and trying to earn a living during a recession, you don’t have much time to question and change the world that you and your children inhabit. What exhausted, overworked parent has time to protest under such conditions?

[…]

Our obsession with parenting is an avoidance strategy. It allows us to substitute our own small world for the world as a whole. But the entire planet is a child’s home, and other adults are also mothers and fathers. We cannot separate our children from the ills that affect everyone, however hard we try. Aspiring to be perfect parents seems like a pathetic attempt to control what we can while ignoring problems that seem beyond our reach.