Apparently, according to a stranger on the interwebz, the reason people choose not to have children is because they’re too concerned with “their own selfish ambitions.”
I get it. You’re pissed that breast-feeding in public is awkward when it’s really just a natural thing. Don’t blame the child-free, though. Think about everything we’ve been taught since we were kids about breasts (or boobies. Whatever.).
See, as a child-free and as-of-yet-undecided young woman (because I’m sooooo selfish–more on that later), here’s what I know. My chest stays clothed, and even in “normal” situations–like say, showering–being exposed is still kind of weird. I’ve been socialized to think that covering up my “no-no” areas is normal, and not doing so, IS WEIRD. Yell at me all you want, but it’s going to take a lot more conditioning to shift that way of thinking.
Now, multiply that seemingly odd and petty weird feeling by, like, several million people. And throw in some variables for life experience. Were any of us taught that breast-feeding in public is normal and should be acknowledged as such in sex ed classes? (If your teacher did, props to him or her!) There’s a social factor involved here, and unless we change the baseline dialogue, we’re going to be having this dumb fight for a long time. I’m on the side of breast-feeding whenever and wherever, and I’m also on the side of boosting maternity leave benefits.
I’m also on the side of choosing to not have children of your own if that’s not what you want to do.
It doesn’t mean I’m heartless or selfish; what it means is I understand where my priorities are right now. Right now, those priorities are to learn, to travel, to help others, and to explore friendships and community. It doesn’t mean I absolutely loathe children nor that I cast aside the idea of ever fitting “being a mother” into my life. It’s just that right now, I don’t see how it fits into the picture. Am I really that awful of a human being for choosing to go overseas without having to figure out how to carry a baby on one arm and fight jet lag at the infant-level? What if what I learn and write about and share directly influences what your child decides to do with his or her life? And can you really be that angry at someone who chooses to delay having children in order to pursue advanced degrees in social sciences and humanities with the intention to give back and enrich communities? We all have different purposes and roles, and maybe being a parent isn’t for everyone. (Granted, I’m really, really glad my mom and dad saw parenting as one of their roles, and maybe I’m kind of afraid I won’t be as good as them.)
I know it’s absurd to those of you who have kids. I know it’s even strange to those whowant kids. And I know my momma thinks it’s a little bit odd that a 26-year-old woman isn’t entertaining the idea of a family as a priority.
However, if my “selfish ambitions” mean that I understand myself as an individual and my role in the global community, that I understand who I want to partner with in order to even consider beginning a family, and that I understand the implications of bringing yet another human being (albeit probably a really cute and talented human being) into the world… then I don’t want to live on this planet anymore.
I’ll support you in your cause and the effort to shift our cultural perspective if you’ll promise to give a little bit and shift on another cultural perspective, okay?