Thursday, March 17, 2005

the arguement for and against babies

Most of my friends are married, in long-term relationships with no desire for marriage, or engaged to be married. Most of my friends also don't want children. Susan, a few weeks ago, asked me if I wanted to have kids. Out of nowhere. I almost gagged on my beer. This past Friday, in my somewhat drunken haze, I vaguely recall asking Ben if he and Susan would still be friends with me if I had kids eventually.

Currently, I am undecided on the issue, but it's also a dialogue I've been having with myself a lot lately...

In the eyes of our society and culture: Isn't it the most natural thing in the world for women to have babies? Isn't that what is expected of them? Are women somehow less feminine if they elect not to give birth? Is there something wrong with a woman if she doesn't want to have children?

These are just a few of the questions volleying around in my brain.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the growing female antipathy toward babies is part of some evolutionary failsafe against overpopulation. Unfortunately, evolution doesn't work that way. More likely, were alll too self-involved to want to have to give up our moderately cozy lifestyles in favor of children. Even more likely, our jobs are shit and we haven't hit the point in life when we're bored with friends and material things, and need that something extra that a baby brings into life. Because, right now that something extra seems like a whole lot of no sleep and no money.

Ryan said...

But honey, babies are so cuuuuute!

Screw biological imperitives or societal expectations, what do you (and your other concerned party) want to do? Besides, there's no rush anyway... your clock hasn't run out or anything.

battlemaiden said...

Anonymous comments really bug me. But I get the point.

Julia said...

In the industrialized societies, there really isn't a need for the kind of reproduction you saw in the agrigarial ages. Guaranteed, some cultures, like the Japanese, strongly believe that you must have children so that there's someone to take care of you in your aging years as opposed to having lots of kids so that you can manage the farm.

Much like the on-going debate about abortion, it should be a woman's choice whether she has children and not what society deems is proper and expected. Not every woman would make a good mother and why should a woman who doesn't like children have one just because society expects this. You could be extreme and say it's almost a form of abuse to place pressure on a woman to have children. I pity the children whose moms didn't want them to begin with or who were dragged into motherhood by generations of mothers, fathers, siblings, relatives, friends, and various other people who said point blank, "This is what's expected."

end rant

Cassandra said...

There is so much I want to say about this topic that I can't say a damn thing. I've written a half a dozen responses and erased them all. It's such an amazingly sensitive subject.

A couple of months ago, I was surprised to realize that it wasn't my family pressuring me into having a baby. It was me. I felt obligated. Almost like I had to bring a baby into my family to show how valuable I am.

Once I realized how I felt I was sad. I felt deflated and disappointed. I wish my upbringing had taught me that I don't have to have children to be a woman...to be valuable.

I guess maybe it was my family pressuring me into having a child after all. Only it wasn't through words. It was through something much more powerful: culture. Subliminal messages that began long before I was ever even born. Messages that generations of women have perpetuated through their daughters.

Ultimately, I think it's more challenging NOT to have children. I know that sounds backwards with all of the money and sleep challenges that accompany cute, little babies. But, I totally respect someone for being able to not do what everyone expects.

Hmmmm....what is the meaning of life if it's not to have children?

I guess I have a lifetime to figure out the answer to that question.

Matt said...

I actually had one person tell me, "Why are you getting married if you're not going to have kids? Might as well not even get married because kids are really the point." It's statements like that make me better understand why our divorce rate in the country in more than 50%. (No offense to anyone, cuz I'm part of that statistic.)

How about I got married because I love and want to build a life with my wife and best friend? To me, getting married was a confirmation of the commitment I have to my wife, as well as to our family and friends, such as the author of this site and the others who read it. I don't think anyone takes such a commitment lightly.

Having a baby is another such commitment. It's a commitment I'm not sure my wife and I are ready to make any time soon. It may be a commitment we never make. But I don't think that makes us any less a man or woman or husband and wife.

We do things in life, generally, to become more of a person, not less of a person. I think when the right time comes, you'll make this decision ultimately for you and the the potential little one. It is a tough, yet necessary muse.

I like the fact that you are mulling it over and not going the "well, it's expected of me" route. Unfortunately, we've all witnessed children that were not given that fair consideration.

Susan said...

Ha! It does sound like something I would say. My exact words probably were, "You're not gonna have kids, are you?" But don't not have babies on my account! I don't want them myself, but I respect anyone who is willing to make an ultimate sacrific and bring a little person in the world. It's not my choice to do so, but bless those who have the patience for it, or else I wouldn't be here.

Don't let my throwaway comments cause you undue anxiety! I have known I did not want the responsibility of raising children ever since I was 19. It's a solid decision and I feel very good about it. Whatever children I don't have are better off for it, for I would be an unwilling and neglectful mother. You must do what you want to do, not what you think your friends want you to do. And you know that already, you silly goose!

Besides, I have lots of friends with children, and I think this is fantastic ... esp. when the children are handsome little boys that are growing up to be such adorable young men. :)

Fabulous seeing you the other night, hope to see you again soon!!

Susan (the anti-christ when it comes to feminine views on children)

battlemaiden said...

If I have kids, I know I won't be invited to anymore New Year's Eve soirees.

Susan said...

You got that right, sister! But that is out of concern for the little children. After so many elixirs, do you really want to worry about what your dear hostess may expose them to ... verbally and/or bodily? Darling, that is what babysitters are for ... you will always be invited to NYE soirees! Just do what my parents did, and let the little ones have their own little children parties by themselves at home. We never did anything too terrible, just pulled out all of Daddy's playboy magazines and found his stag films and learned about sex in general, so if you are similarly open-minded, none of this should cause undue horreur :).