Yeah, I said it.
I wasn’t a young parent. I’m pretty certain that I lived life to the fullest before going on marriage lock-down and having kids. As someone who was single at 30 I used to save up my cash and fly around the world, experiencing cultures that were completely different from mine while actually being no different at all. I was falling in love left and right but mostly loved my big yellow dog who lived to be 12. Everything in my apartment was always just as I left it each time I returned home because why? Because I didn’t have kids. I didn’t know what prowess I had in the organization department until it was gone.
I didn’t need to have kids. I was to the point of take-it-or-leave-it by the time I got married. When I hear of people my age who intentionally opted not to have kids a little jolt of envy runs through me as I think of the exotic places they must visit and the leisurely reading they do. I haven’t read a book that wasn’t related to some kind of chronic epidemic in I don’t know how long. I’d build a night stand out of unread books next to my bed but my kids would knock it down.
I think about my childless friends’ to-do lists with fat check marks of smug satisfaction next to every task, all of that discretionary income piling up in their bank accounts, and Instagrams of artistic morning coffee. Craft cocktails in your own home, seven days at Burning Man, spur-of-the-moment trips to Vegas. And my gay friends with dual incomes and no kids? Forget it. I can’t even compute that anymore.
All of this is to say: I get it. Having kids isn’t the end-all-be-all in life.
Do I wish I could go back and not have kids? No way. No parent thinks that. It would be nice to make them invisible for a few hours but not even the most crumb-free car interior would make me wish we hadn’t created these little heathens.
Beyond the obvious reasons of experiencing unconditional love and contributing well-raised humans to society, I wouldn’t turn back the clock because I didn’t know who I was until I had them. I didn’t know the depths of my patience and humility. I didn’t know that a preschooler could bring me to my knees. I didn’t know the awesome sense of responsibility of being trusted to take care of a little person’s health, emotions, decision-making processes, and shaping them into caring miniature people who didn’t act like jerks to others every waking moment.
And until I had kids, I was just a conventional asshole like most everyone else.
If I wasn’t a parent I’d be arguing that GMOs are no different than hybrid seeds and claiming that the garbage soy that no one else on the planet wants to eat is saving the world. I’d be heavily suggesting that people drug their kids with Benadryl red dye #5 to get them to sleep on airplanes and that they should have them evaluated for ADHD while stuffing them full of Pop Rocks and Fruit Loops. I’d probably say that spanking was great, that there’s a certain “healthy fear” that’s good to instill in one’s offspring, and that mothers should put their babies in daycare and go get a real job.
And I guarantee you that I’d say that vaccines should be mandated across the board, no exceptions. It would have been impossible for me to see why California’s SB277 is a horrendous idea.
But you know what? Being a conventional asshole is a luxury I can’t afford anymore. It got cut from the budget when we had to buy cloth diapers, organic fruit pouches and a Naturpedic mattress. There wasn’t any room to laze around and tell other people what they should be doing with their kids when I was suddenly overwhelmed with my own.
Before you tell me that bringing our own precious snowflakes into the world isn’t any kind of accomplishment and that no one asked us to do it, stop and think for a second about this country, its workforce, and sustaining social security. Stop and think about the human race and the reason we are programmed to reproduce. You can say all you want that the world is overpopulated and that no one “needs” to have children these days, but you’d be wrong. Someone has to create the next generation that is going to prop this one up when it hits 65. There isn’t a mayor in America who wants to see their city’s population decline. No one wants to govern a ghost town, for good reason.
Someone has to have the children and while it’s not a job for everyone, and arguably not the right job for many who choose it, there is a very real dichotomy between those of us in the trenches and those who can jet off to a luxury VRBO for a three-day weekend because they have no hungry little responsibilities to wait on hand and foot. Someone can argue till they’re blue in the face that they love their nieces, nephews, decades-younger siblings, or dogs or cats just as much as they would love a baby of their own, but all of us on the other side of the fence know that’s impossible. You can’t love anyone like a child unless you are raising them as your child in your home. Spoiler: dogs and cats don’t ever qualify for that.
If you want to raise kids so freaking bad but were never in a relationship that made you want to have kids, then take a training class and foster some. They need you.
While I would never judge someone’s decision to remain childless because obviously that life has its upsides, I can’t for the life of me figure out why we allow childless people to tell us how to raise our kids? Why do we vote them into positions where they have control over our children? I wouldn’t even hire a nanny who hasn’t raised her own children and yet most of us don’t think twice about putting a childless person on a school board? In the state house and senate? On city council? In Congress?
The sad fact is that the overwhelming support for laws that take away parental rights comes from elected and appointed childless officials. A friend of a friend of mine ran the numbers in the SB277 vote and if you really want to get pissed off maybe I’ll write a piece about that.
We’ve got people who have never once stayed up for three straight nights with a baby who was too stuffy to breathe telling us what to do with our kids. People who have no idea the terror that runs through your heart the first time your kid’s fever hits 102 are demanding that we vaccinate these tiny beings on-time, every time. People who haven’t rushed to the emergency room for 5 stitches in a toddler forehead are writing laws about how we raise our babies. People who do not, and never will, have a dog in this fight have been put in a position of power over us, and it’s our own damn fault.
Adding insult to injury are the officials who have grown “kids” now in their 20s and 30s who were vaccinated on an entirely different schedule and they haven’t taken the time to educate themselves about it. Four shots of DPT, three shots of polio and one shot of MMR aren’t at all what our kids have forced upon them these days in the “Every Child By Two” program.
If you’re childless and you want to teach a first grader to read, have at it. Childless and want to work as an occupational therapist? More power to you. Childless and want to be in a position of passing laws or regulations that force children to bend to your will? Absolutely not.
So let me make a suggestion to you for this upcoming election. Follow your local politics. Nothing matters more when it comes to immediate impact than who you vote for in your local elections. Who becomes president is felt a lot less by you than who your state senator is. Read up on these candidates and if you know that they are childless, and you want to retain your rights to make decisions for your own family, don’t vote for them. So simple. Politicians want to tell you how to raise your little kids and if they haven’t raised any little kids in the last 12 years then they should not get your vote. When in doubt, call them up and ask them in no uncertain terms where they stand when it comes to vaccine mandates and parental rights.
And when you encounter a childless vaccine pusher spewing hate, don’t be afraid to tell them, “Your opinion doesn’t matter.” Truly. It does not matter. You know that I think that everyone is entitled to their opinion but it doesn’t mean that we have to listen to it. Tell them to redirect their energy to whether or not Airbnb should be allowed in New York, or Uber drivers need background checks in Austin, or some other less meaningful, materialistic pursuits that are more their childless speed. They will never care for a vaccine injured child, so their opinion does not count. They will never know what you go through, and frankly, they do not care. Childless vaccine pushers are nothing in this fight so don’t hesitate to tell them to keep their hands off your little kids.