Yes, I have a charmer of a son, he is also pretty attractive (I'm guessing the nursing-home switched babies on us) but so what? If he weren't handsome he ought not have a place in my blog?
I do not grudge young, single folks their 'freedom'. Many support parents/family, a lot of them stash away most of their earnings, far too many are desperately lonely. I think the pros and cons in their lives are about as evenly balanced as in mine. I sympathise with their frustration at being made to feel inadequate for not 'settling down' and producing children. But as all my friends -- in the real world -- know, I've never been an advocate of early marriages and parenthood. It works for me because I wanted it (ok, don't remind me of this when I whine) but I've never thought it's the ideal thing for society at large.
I'm pretty annoyed that some unmarried/non-parent bloggers think the correct way to deal with their frustration is to blame it on us, the ones who did what their parents want them to do. I've got news for you lot: our own parents crib about our choices too. We have frustrations of our own. And adding your utterly unrelated angst upon us is unkind, selfish and in the end, meaningless. It adds nothing to your lives, takes away very little from ours and achieves, well, nothing. Is that why you sat and wrote out your post? Isn't it more honest to type, "I hate people asking me when I'll get married. I'm happy the way I am, I wish they would just fuck off." Isn't that what you want to say? Then why say, "People with kids are such losers, I'm glad I don't have any."
[Note: If anybody responding to this post feels the need to swear please type out your swear words. I hate silly asterisk-ed wannabe words.]
I'll tell you why people with kids are given leeway now and then. Because we don't get time off. Because this lifestyle (it doesn't begin to compare with a mere job) is as physically demanding as anything anybody can come up with. Because the levels of stress are on par with the bitchiest of offices. Sure, it's fun, but it's also very demanding and a lot more work than anybody without kids can begin to imagine. I held down four part-time jobs while I finished my demanding MA course so I think I can say I know what I'm talking about here. I've worked full-time in an office, had good times and bad times there. I've been a corporate daughter all my life, so I know what that life is all about. And I still say parenting is harder. There's no boss to say, "You've done well, I think you deserve a raise" or "Your bonus this month is a junket." Our achievements are marked by gummy smiles and sticky hugs and wet patches on our clothes where sleeping little mouths have drooled onto us. So if we go on and on about it, have you ever considered we do it because we need to reassure ourselves that we are doing something right? Because there is nobody else above us, no boss to take the blame. Far from getting more money, stay-at-home parents are cut off from their independent sources of income and have their commitment questioned when they try to return to the work force.
Mothers who try to carry on working have it no easier. My father's PA recently had to quit her job because her parents fell ill and could no longer babysit her six month-old daughter. She didn't find reliable help in the time she took off. Some have worked too hard to give up on their careers and struggle on. Others have no choice. Whichever way it goes, parents have no easy choices.
So yeah, if somebody sees the baby in my arms and offers me a seat I'm grateful and I accept. If I'm invited to jump a queue I sometimes accept. If somebody wants to make a fuss over me, I allow it. And if ever anybody tries to say I don't deserve it all I get rather annoyed. Why don't you live my life and then tell me what I do and do not deserve?
Being intolerant of children is not using your freedom of expression. Children are not a separate race of people -- they are people. Some people are likable and some are not. Kids are like that too. I have a terrible reputation in my extended family for being too strict with my son. But I believe it's never too early to teach him right from wrong. I know he is capable of understanding it. Have known since I caught him sneaking looks at me before reaching out for my book, something he knew he was not allowed to touch. This at four months, when he could only roll over! I became such a strict disciplinarian only because I don't like parents bringing up their children to put their own kiddy needs before everybody else. So I do know what you're talking about when you write about annoying kids. But not all kids are annoying.
It's really not comparable to your attitude towards other communities or another species. Kids are how we continue the line of which you and I are but two links. A dislike of kids (as opposed to an irritability at being disturbed by them) is a scary sign of communal dysfunction. You may not be comfortable around children but being unable to stand them is not a good sign of mental balance.
The reason such a sentiment bothers me is this: kids are vital to continue the race. They will pass through all sorts of stages, need all kinds of help, teaching and training and they will carry on the work you are doing. In turn they will have children of their own. We were born to continue a long line. I'm not saying we should all have kids. But I am saying we all, yes, all, have something to pass on. Maybe a skill we acquired or developed. Maybe some insights into a field of knowledge. Perhaps just how to live harmoniously. Whether we have kids of our own or not, I think it's vital we pass on what we learnt in our lifetimes, because I think (like the Vikings) that it is eventual immortality that justifies our actions now. Why else are we writing down our thoughts, recording histories, opening centres of learning, conducting research? If we are doing something only for ourselves, our own generation, then why don't we destroy our learning when we die? Why leave it behind us if not for the next lot?
If something is not fit for posterity then it is a futile endeavour. Being intolerant of the next generation (and the generations after that) is a self-goal. You may do it spectacularly, but you end up looking an ass.
It's late, I've had a long day, tomorrow's going to be even longer. So here are links, instead of being properly placed within the post:
http://2x3x7.blogspot.com/2007/12/civil-parenthood-revisited.html (these last two are thought-provoking rather than mindless rants but I think the basic premise is a bit worrying.)
Oh, and the third link is about something a little different but since I'm ranting -- why the hell aren't there mothering rooms in every goddamn mall? A clean room, need not be large, where one can change and feed a kid. Does not need toys (who'll clean 'em) does not need a tv. Just a clean room with a basin and a couple of chairs. Maybe a high chair? Every hotel/restaurant/mall/public place should have one, even if it's just a curtained off alcove. Because no woman wants to feed in public. They do so because they are not given a private space to feed their child. And while I'm on the subject, shame on my generation for being so squeamish about the most natural act in the world. It's natural in a way that even masturbation isn't. One you do because your very body and mind come together to urge you to; the other you decide to do for your own pleasure. I've breastfed in public spaces and my parents' generation looked the other way and carried on with their lives. It was a common sight in their time. And I'll tell you this, even bottle-fed babies are more comfortable being fed in a quiet room. I spent so much money at Mothercare (Madras) purely because they have such a room there so I could take my infant son when I wanted to go out. Whether I browsed through the books at Crossword on the next floor or had a coffee at Brio (also upstairs) I knew my son would not be paying the price for my afternoon out. Why the hell is this concept taking so long to catch on?