Why not?

An English major by trade, I have been trained to read the good stuff. Like a wine connoisseur, I can sniff out the books that will pack a punch for me and the books that will leave me wanting more and hating the fact that I've wasted my time.

There are, however, times where I will delight in reading something that's not completely heady, but sincerely well-written. In my humble opinion, and this is only my opinion, I love the Emily Giffin books Something Borrowed, Something Blue, and now, which I have just started reading, Baby Proof.

The premise of Baby Proof is this: Claudia, a 30-something woman, doesn`t want children. She knows she will not be the mother that she should be and she makes the decision to not have the bouncing babies society tells her she should. This, of course, puts her in a tight spot to find a mate. Eventually, though, she finds her soul mate, Ben. He is perfect and, to top it all off, he also doesn`t want children! A match made in publishing heaven.

They get married and are enjoying the single life when all of a sudden Ben wants babies. This of course throws their whole marriage off-course.

Now, I am a firm believer of making babies. I want them. Ask my husband - I ask for them ALL THE TIME. And although I know that waiting until we move out of our apartment and we have bought our own house with our own space is the best plan for baby-making, (which I heartedly agree with), I still WANT them. NOW. My poor husband. Anyway, I digress.

In the book, Claudia postulates the following question as she is getting bombarded with Ben's protests and arguments, and her best friend's concern: Why, when a woman says 'I don't want children,' immediately everyone asks, "Why not?" but when a woman says "I want children," everyone just understands?

That, I think, is a fantastic question. Why do we do that? I think there are a couple of really good spin-offs to this question.

Of course, the feminist rant comes first.

We harp and harp about women having choice - you can pick a) babies! or b) career! or c) BOTH, but in essence, we are only really offered option c.

If you only choose to have babies and no career, watch as the noses of people who are more professionally-minded start to stick up. Their mantra of career, career, career suddenly gets so resounding you can't hear anything else. Why would you choose raising your children over a fulfilling, rewarding, independent, freedom- and power-filled career? Why???

I remember getting a lot of these looks in just choosing marriage over grad school when I finished my degree. Why wasn't I heading up the mountain of success, and why on earth was a strapping myself to a man??

Well, have you seen my husband?

In all seriousness, I chose what would make me happy long-term, what I wanted, and what I have loved every second of since. Obviously, snooty career-snobs, I made the right choice FOR ME.

If you choose only career, though, like Claudia, you become the anti-mother, shunning all things maternal and gooey. How could you be so cold? So selfish? How could you give up your crowning achievement - your offspring?

Women fought for choice, but it certainly is portrayed that if you don't choose career-woman with 4 kids, you're picking stay-at-home drudgery or workaholic egocentric land. There is no choice. Let's be honest - we fought hard to "have it all" as defined by others, not to be realistic or aware of our very basic wants and needs.

Whoo. Feminist rant gone. Next order of business - BAD mothers.

We all know people who shouldn't have children. We watch them use, abuse, ignore, and forget their children. We watch them mistreat them or not treat them at all. We watch them as their children grow up to be the worst versions of themselves because their parents couldn't get it together long enough to teach them to be and express the best versions of themselves. And we cringe when we hear that they are pregnant. AGAIN.

And we all know people who would make fantastic parents. Give them a baby and it just starts purring. We all know them. And sadly, these star parents-in-training can't have children, for whatever reason. Can't procreate because reality is a big meanie.

And we wonder why?

What if each person who wanted children asked themselves, why? Why do I want kids? Why do I want to bring children into this world? And if they were honest about it, I think that people wouldn't have babies so quickly.

I know of a couple who are having huge marital trouble. They need to fix a lot of holes before they can call their relationship healthy. And yet, she wants children so badly. And she doesn't want to wait. And she has actually said that it's not fair that she's ready but he's not - why should she wait for him when she can have what she wants NOW. Because she wants it NOW.

But, as the age old war cry states, what about the children? How many kids are born into this kind of environment? And they're not just "kids," but human beings with rights and freedoms and purpose. Don't they deserve their best shot?

Which is why my husband and I aren't having babies now (even though I ask relentlessly, and I'm so sorry to make you be the stronger guy). We are waiting to give our children the best shot, not just any shot.

And the next time someone says, "I want children," I think I'll ask them, why? Why kids? Why you? And maybe a child won't be born without some thought behind it.

Because children are more than worth a second, third, fourth thought. And then they are worth your best. Always.


Erin said...

I absolutely love this post. I stumbled across it from The Center for Improved Living, and I think that is what I got out of it. I personally have yet to decided if I want children (I'm 22, single, doing the career thing). I get the why question quite a bit and don't feel I should. On the other hand I have a co-worker that wants a baby SO badly but she can't get pregnant. It's an interesting world we live in. Thank you for sharing this post, and I will from now on ask people that want children, why?

Julia said...

It is an interesting question. After I wrote this I talked to my husband about it and he asked me why. It was hard to put into words! I just hope our 'whys' will be a more than good enough reason. :) Thanks for commenting! :)