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Language Log

Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 - 7:01 a.m.

My friend, the one who brought my mom's car out here back in February, went to her 20th class reunion this past weekend. She posted a multi-paragraph summary of the events on FB. Mostly I thought it was fine, but she made the mistake of saying how wow, people sure age better when they don't smoke, go into sunlight often (or at least not without sunscreen) or have kids.

I was a little disappointed in her focus on appearances-- you wouldn't think it'd be so high on her list of Important Things, though it may be compensating for some insecurities. Though maybe if I went to my reunion, that's what I'd be looking at too, and she's just being honest about why anyone ever goes to a hs reunion anyway.

Finally after a bajillion comments, mostly of the "so nice to see you!" variety or praising the chocolate chip cookies available at the event, someone called her out on the kids comment. "That was not cool. Some of us worked really hard to make that happen."

I gotta agree (though I'm staying out of the melee for the time being). Mostly I'm tired of feeling judged for my life choices, and defending others for theirs, particularly on the kids-or-no-kids issue. People who choose not to have kids go around making cracks about how they look better (not necessarily true) and are not breeders contributing to the demise of the planet through overpopulation. People with kids go around acting like they know something the childless do not, anointed with a glow of societal and evolutionary privilege, and expressing pity for those confused, misguided souls who have chosen not to have children.

(Then there are the two groups I'm leaving out of the discussion: those who wish they had children but can't, and those who have children and wish they didn't. Sometimes members of both of those groups pretend they're in one of the groups above, which is even more annoying to me, but I'll not discuss it just now.)

Anyway, I want to call a truce. Both sides may have valid points. But let's all just make our own decisions, and then (crucial step -->)respect others' decisions, shall we? Is there such a gulf between us that the intentionally childless cannot take us on our word that there are indeed rewards to parenting that for many people, compensate for any pains that come with it? Or that those with children cannot remember what it was like to have a busy, meaningful, fulfilling life that was not saturated with children? (Actually, as a formerly childless person, I think the answer to that last one may actually be 'no'. Many people have children before they find that fulfillment for themselves, and if it comes only with the appearance of their children, it's natural that they may confuse things a bit.)

Anyway. Before I had Q, I felt judged for not having kids. Now I feel judged for having them. Who knew I would get to feel uncomfortable and marginalized either way? I even annoy myself, by talking about Q all the time. (Typical!) There's very little brain space for anything else, though. I can't be bothered to apologize to anyone for it. And it'll change, eventually. My identity is not gone, it's just had a couple extensions added on. Just like if Q did not exist, I'd be adding onto my identity in other ways. Work in progress.

Now I just need to figure out how to distill all that into two sentences to post in that FB thread.

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