- Context: Josh got a new work laptop.
- Josh: This is so much faster than my old computer. It's pretty cool.
- Sabine: Yeah? Well I'm growing a human.
In fact, people are still expected to provide reasons not to have children, but no reasons are required to have them. It’s assumed that if individuals do not have children it is because they are infertile, too selfish or have just not yet gotten around to it. In any case, they owe their interlocutor an explanation. On the other hand, no one says to the proud parents of a newborn, Why did you choose to have that child? What are your reasons? The choice to procreate is not regarded as needing any thought or justification.
If we fail to acknowledge that the decision of whether to parent or not is a real choice that has ethical import, then we are treating childbearing as a mere expression of biological destiny. Instead of seeing having children as something that women do, we will continue to see it as something that simply happens to women, or as something that is merely “natural” and animal-like.
The decision to have children surely deserves at least as much thought as people devote to leasing a car or buying a house. Procreation decisions are about whether or not to assume complete responsibility, over a period of at least 18 years, for a new life or new lives. Because deciding whether to procreate has ethical dimensions, the reasons people give for their procreative choices deserve examination. Some reasons may be better — or worse — than others."
Think Before You Breed | New York Times
Great article. Thanks for sending, Mere!
Since becoming a parent, I know now more than ever that this isn’t for everyone. I understand better than ever why people would choose to not have children. That isn’t to say that I have regrets. I love being a mama. Love love love it. And there is nothing wrong with you if you love love love being a non-mama.
But what I take issue with here is the assumption that people who have children, just because they are not grilled about why they have children, don’t devote “at least as much” thought to having children as they do to buying a house or leasing a car. The decision is monumental. One that I still haven’t stopped making. It is ongoing as having a child is never the single decision simply to bring that new life or lives into the world. It is a lifetime process of decision-making and hoping that you’ve made the right ones because it is no longer just you dealing with those results.
So, yes, Josh and I have our reasons for having children and just because we aren’t asked about them, doesn’t mean we aren’t questioned on a daily basis about every other decision we make involving those children who constantly delight and surprise us in ways we never could have imagined when we made that “one” decision to have them.
Luisa and I had a little dance party. Dancing, to Luisa, means spinning in circles until she falls down with the occasional arm flailing. Today was no different. She spun and spun and spun until she fell down. And then she tried to get up, which resulted in her falling down again and this time on her face, biting her lip.
After a brief cry in my lap, she stood up and kept dancing. And then realised her face still hurt, so she’d cry again and run over to me for comfort. And then she’d dance again. And then cry. Then dance. And then cry. Then dance.
But then the song ended and it was all tears for the next two minutes. And then she moved on.