Monday, January 4, 2016

An Open Letter To My Friends Who Have Kids

Guess what?

I don't care that you had kids.

 I know you think the world has stopped so it can start revolving around you and your child, however, not much has changed since you added another member to the human race.

Nobody cares that you don't sleep anymore, except perhaps the spouse you yelled at or the person you cut off in traffic. Nobody cares about your breast milk decisions. Nobody cares that your life got a lot harder when you decided to procreate.

In fact, I don't even care that you no longer have time to hang out with me like we once used to because your priorities are so radically changed. I don't judge you -- the reason I did not have children is because I, just like you, realize it is a full time job.

You wanted that job. I did not.

What's going on here is pretty simple. People change. Friends grow apart. It's a sad reality of life, but it's not abnormal. You have embraced a lifestyle I do not understand. It's as if you decided to take up an odd, all-consuming hobby, and if you are honest with yourself, you don't have time for me either.

Imagine I become an avid collector of nineteenth century watercolors. Where you see a lovely picture, I foment an obsession. Suddenly, I eat, breathe, and poop nineteenth century paintings. They're all I can talk about and I spend inordinate amounts of money on them. Often, it is money I don't have because I love them so much. My habits change. I hang out mostly with friends who are passionate about Romantic-era portraiture and landscapes like me. I go to chatrooms and attend conventions.

I love nineteenth century art but I do not expect anyone else to embrace my crazy passion for it. Why would I? You get the idea.

This is what you have become, except of course the art in question is small human beings. There's nothing wrong with your hobby, but don't expect me to understand when you complain about spending your last dollar on a lifestyle you chose. If you have half a brain, you knew what you were getting into and you readied yourself as much as possible.

However, to me, childrearing is a weird, expensive hobby of yours that frankly I don't want much to do with. Please don't presume I hate children because I chose deliberately not to have them. Nothing could be further from the truth. Would I assume you hate all nineteenth century art if you did not devote your life to collecting it like me?

You are not a hero, either, unless you purposefully chose to adopt or foster instead of having babies. Why? The writing is on the wall. Humans are overpopulated. For every human baby added, there are measurable costs in resource depletion and ecological devastation. You've done something that is ultimately self-indulgent and driven by biological urge and the fear that you will die.

I don't admire you for kowtowing to societal pressures. I know what the pressures are because the same ones were on me. If I had a dollar for everyone who asked me when I was having children or if I did already, I would be quite wealthy.

You are aware of the pitfalls of your decision to bring children into an already-overcrowded world. If I ignite your cognitive dissonance by reminding you that there are other choices you might have made, that's on you.

The reason I did not become a parent is because it isn't for me. If it isn't for you either, and that's exactly what it seems like when you spend all of your time telling me how hard parenting is, then you've got yourself a real problem I cannot help you with. There is no miracle in what you've done. You are going to have to face that.

The decision you have made is a common one, smiled upon by an insane society that fails to recognize ecosystems we all depend on are falling apart at the seams because there are too many of us. We cannot have infinite growth on a finite planet. Your progeny, not mine, is going to have to deal with the consequences of your cornucopian attitude and from the way things are going, it's not looking like it will end well for them.

If I have value to you, then you will have to make a little time for me every once in a while between vomit-cleanup and Mommy & Me yoga class.

Please try to talk about what we still have in common -- don't be one of those frightening dead-inside slaves to your child. Please ask yourself if you absolutely must become a zombie? I could be wrong, but I don't think the kid is going to perish if his wails go unanswered for a half-hour. You're not a monster for telling little Madison or Tyler an outright NO, sans explanation. Maybe, just maybe, she'll learn that crying for no good reason doesn't get her anywhere.

There have been plenty of eras of history that weren't completely handed over to kids and their needs, i.e. the eighteenth century, which just happened to produce the Enlightenment thinkers and J.S. Bach. In fact, many societies still exist today where kids aren't coddled for every bruise or scrape and chaffeured to half a dozen after-school activities every week. Those kids don't seem unhappy about it. Maybe you can start a trend.

Or maybe not.

At any rate, I'll see you when I see you.

Good luck.

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