Happiness is fluid, of course, but I've never been willing to bet two decades or more on the idea that maybe, eventually, an experience will be "good" for me. I'm not afraid of missing out on something by not having children. If anything, I'm afraid of the flip side, of having so many things to do in life that I'd never be able to balance it all. I feel lucky to live in a time and place, supported by a like-minded partner, when making that decision is possible. I wish that freedom for everyone, the freedom to make choices about not just what might be good for each of us, good for society, or good for the planet, but choices based on what we truly believe will bring us long-term happiness.
At some point in discussions about being childfree, the inevitable "I don't contribute to overpopulation" argument shows up. It's one of the most complicated for an environmentalist like me because taking that stance immediately implies others do not care for the world in the same way that the speaker does. That's a subjective assessment that is just not true.
Last week, a good (lesbian, childfree, professor) friend sent me an article from an issue of the Palgrave MacMillian journal Feminist Review from 2003. I've tended to stay away from these sorts of pieces in this series because I don't assume I'm writing for a specifically scholarly audience. That said, the article is a great overview of some dense, theoretical issues facing childfree feminist women, specifically in the scholarly research/analysis context, and I thought it was worth mentioning.
Last week, Time published "Kid Crazy: Why We Exaggerate the Joys of Parenthood." This piece focuses on studies from the journal Psychological Science about parenting, and the take-away is the same as the New York article (so much so that it's mentioned in Time): childfree couples are happier, parents have it rough, and those who think they don't are sort of delusional. ("Delusional" is not my word, by the way; that's from the meta title Time chose for the article on their website and one tossed around in the article, based on the study findings.)
Some women I've written about before, celebs like Jennifer Aniston, sidestep the issue all the time instead of owning their ambivalence (or however they feel! Just own it!). Barbara Walters and Oprah talked about how it is a difficult thing. So why don't we hear more women talking about the flip side of having kids—or rather, why don't we have more proud childfree role models out there?
This week, an unnamed woman gave birth to eight children after recieving fertility treatment. As details of her background surface, so does criticism and questions about her choice to raise a total of fourteen young children.