Rodney King’s recent death reminded me of that infamous question: “Can we all get along?"
Oddly enough, I just used that line to discuss the choice to have—or not have—kids.
A friend recently posted a column extolling the virtues of thinking things through when deciding to have children. I am in total agreement with that sentiment. Most people really do need to think it through—thoroughly.
Can you choose monthly preschool tuition over a lavish trip to Las Vegas? Would you skip seeing in 3D so you can watch for the eighth time the circus episode of Yo Gabba Gabba! starring Weird Al Yankovic? And do you want to wolf down someone’s sloppy seconds rather than waste an almost whole peanut butter sandwich that cost you more at a diner than buying a loaf of bread, peanut butter and jelly from Vons?
That’s not even the important stuff. Really important child-rearing issues involve health care and education—two very costly requirements when it comes to properly raising a child.
Clearly it’s admirable when people make that very mature decision to stay child free when they’re not ready for a life of sacrifice. That said, I’m kind of sick of hearing about how sick they are of people either asking them when they want to have kids or whether they ever want kids.
At this point, don’t we know enough not to ask people about their family choices? I place that one right up there with religion and politics. Nope, I actually don’t want to know who won your vote, where you worship, or why you don’t have a cute little baby of your own. (That's right US Weekly—I don't really care about why Jessica Simpson, Kourtney Kardashian or Teen Mom No. 5 has decided to multiply. I’d much rather you figure out what kind of power Justin Bieber has over toddlers so I can break the spell he’s cast on my kid.)
I respect people’s decision not to have kids. So why can’t they respect mine?
When my husband and I found out I was pregnant with our daughter, we were ecstatic. After eight years of marriage, we didn’t believe we could have kids so Quinn was a blessing.
And while I can’t remember anyone asking me why we didn’t have kids when we were childless, there have been a slew of people jumping on the “wow, your life sucks now” bandwagon now that we’re two-plus-one.
So yeah, I try to curb the proud mama speak around my friends without kids. I usually joke that it’s true that Quinn’s put the kibosh on much of our romantic life. When a pharmacist asked me if I was on birth control, I said, “Does my 3-year-old count? She’s pretty effective.”
I also find myself telling those without kids how lucky they are to be able to take off to San Francisco for a quick weekend getaway. Shucks, by the time we’d get to San Francisco with all of the packing and preparation, we’d be ready to return.
Don’t get me wrong—if my daughter accomplishes something huge, such as finally being potty trained, I tweet it, I post it on Facebook and I include at least one sentence in a column about how much cheaper it is to save on diapers. But for the most part, I try to hold back on Quinn being the subject of every conversation.
I know talking endlessly about a kid can be boring for anyone who doesn’t have one at home. The same goes for dogs, cats, birds and other creatures brought into our different families.
“Your cat learned to flush the toilet? How lovely.”
“Your dog is sick again? Poor little guy!”
“Your red-bearded dragon escaped? Yipes!”
And yet I still can’t get people without kids to stop freaking out in front of me about children. My favorite? “How could you stand pregnancy? It’s so gross.” I always wonder why they didn’t ask their mother that question.
It has to come down to one simple thing: Respect. I respect your choice, so please respect mine. Realizing I’m not the rude aunt who gave you a hard time at your cousin’s wedding may go a long way toward alleviating your desire to make me feel like I’m a throwback to the Stone Age for having—and being absolutely in love with—my daughter.
And then maybe—just maybe—we can really all just get along.