Archive for January 13th, 2008

January 13, 2008

On being childless and abnormal

In a couple of recent posts, Aadisht has been mocking mommybloggers, which has (understandably) led to some rather angry comments (and posts) from the mommybloggers in question.

One of the responses to the posts has been a sort of knowing “you’ll know when you have kids of your own” thing.:

IBH Says:
January 11th, 2008 at 11:47 am
Aadisht, dont know what actually made you write this post..but heres what it is…wait till you have your first one (if you do not have one already) and let us see how the tables turn

Similar feelings were expressed some months ago when Jai’s post about the new Vodafone ad turned into a debate on childrearing, childlessness, and the like. Examples:

At 11:28 AM IST, Anonymous said…
lets wait and see J.Wock when u have a kid .. i have a kid baby boy Dhruv and he is my life and more

At 12:12 PM IST, Anonymous said…
hey DD parenthood is not abt. propagating genes .. its a wonderful feeling to feel a life develop inside you nad see that life grow into a human being .. it makes you realize whats imp. in life . hope one day u r also blessed to become a parent

At 7:03 AM IST, Anonymous said…
hi j.wock, DD, the other anon and all other people who dont like kids , i feel sorry for u , thankfully u r a minority and most people love kids .. obviously u have too much time on your hands to write such long posts , maybe u need to be gainfully employed having kids …if u’r parents thought the same way u wouldnt be here to blog

Aditya then wrote a post on his blog, suggesting that maybe it was okay for some of us not to want children. One of the anonymice on Jai’s blog then replied with:

At 3:41 AM IST, Anonymous said…
…but aditya B. i did read u’r blog and can only that obviously u r confused and not ready to be responsible for a child..
bv

and

At 3:45 AM IST, Anonymous said…
and AB i am assuming u r unmarried , once u get married u will have kids coz all women naturally wanna become mothers ..thats why god made them a certain way..thats why J.wock and dd and other naysayers all will also have kids
bv

This is all probably very boring, especially for those who have already read the post and the vastly entertaining comments thread that followed it. And obviously these comments are more funny than anything else, and the people who posted them most mockworthy. But there’s an obvious pattern here. Everyone must have children. Normal people have children. Aadisht may make tasteless jokes about children now, or say he doesn’t want any, but just you wait, he will change his mind. As will Aditya, who, in saying he doesn’t want children, has only proved that he is too young for them, not that he is an adult who is capable of making his own choices. As will I, of course. In fact, if one of Jai’s commentors is to be believed, the Force of my Womanhood will create an almost fanatical need in me to reproduce. DD states repeatedly that he doesn’t want children, yet commentors continue to hope that he will be blessed by them. (I am reminded of christian friends who offer benevolently to pray for my atheist self)
I faced this in another context at a family wedding a few months ago. I was a little tired of all the “you’re next” type comments and suggested that I might actually choose not to get married. A cousin (who is my age!) actually tittered,and
told me that everyone goes through this “phase” but changes their mind when they grow up. Obviously, no one is capable of choosing to do anything that doesn’t fit perfectly into a cookie cutter pattern of adulthood, because the fact that they would choose anything else only proves that they’re unfit/too immature to make that choice. There is only one valid choice.In the comments to Adi’s post, Jai complains that he is still being told he’s too immature to choose right, even now he’s over 30.

And I realise that there are a lot of people on the internet talking about their dislike of children (often giving unwanted childrearing advice to the people who actually have kids and presumably know a lot more about what bringing up a child entails), and a number of bloggers have written intelligent and thoughtful posts about whether or not disliking children is just a preference or if right up there with racism and sexism and so on. But as Ritwik points out here, people with children, people who plan to have children; in the real world, they’re in the majority. And (at least here in India) they’re the ones that get to be normal. Those of us who choose not to have children are still going to have our life choices invalidated regularly by a large number of the people we meet.

Also, I don’t know if I’ve ever talked about this on the blog, but I have PCOS, a condition that impacts fertility, among other things. This aspect of it has never really affected me since I don’t plan to have children, but I have met women with PCOS who do want children and have worried that it will be difficult to conceive, and I know it’s been really hard for them. And I can’t imagine that being constantly told that not having children is abnormal makes it any easier for them.