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Old 08-30-2006, 08:16 AM   #16
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I don't know...while the perception may be that people have children for selfish reasons, from my experience, once you have a child, the last thing you can be is selfish. As a parent you have to put the child first (or certainly you should) and selfishness basically goes out the window. There's a lot of things that I'd have like to do and my wife would have liked to do over the past 2 years that we have skipped because of our son.

That's true if you are a good parent....
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:08 PM   #17
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A bit of selfishness is necessary though, to keep one's sanity and there are varying degrees of "good"...
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Old 08-30-2006, 04:32 PM   #18
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one of the reasons i started this thread was because i had brunch with one of my best friends and his wife on sunday. she got pregnant almost immediately after their wedding in december (she swears it was an accident, the women in our group of friends tend to be much more suspicious of her than the men are, but anyway ...) and she's having twins and has been on bed rest for the past 6 weeks. feeling badly for her, and her husband who just started at a top law firm and is working ungodly hours, Memphis and i showed up on sunday with french toast, fruit salad, bacon, juice, coffee, and freshly whipped cream (none of that Redi-Whip crap).

ALL they could talk about were the babies. what they were buying for the babies. what things cost. this car seat vs. that car seat. this car vs. that car. houses with yards. sonograms. etc.

and that was nice. we wanted to hear about the babies. it's obviously a seismic event in their lives, they're still in shock, and they probably are sick of just talking to each other about it. but after a while it was kind of like ... oh, come on. isn't there something else we can talk about, some subject in which we can participate? where did the two of you go?

and on one level, i surely understand. i do. and i wanted to give them whatever they needed, and what they needed to do (apparently) was to talk about what they were preparing themselves for. but i can see this all leading somewhere. my landlord talks about how his business partner just had children, and he talks in mystical terms about his kids, "oh man, you don't know until you have them," "your life totally changes, you have no idea," etc.

and, yes, i can understand that too, but the problems i start to is when birthing a child suddenly gives you access to some ancient wisdom, some kind of revelation, some aspect of personhood that seems to automatically accord a greater sense of worth to you than your childless peers.

and, while it hasn't happened yet and perhaps i'm yet to be pleasantly surprised, i can completely see my aforementioned friends heading down this path. "oh, we had no idea" "oh, you have no idea" "oh, what i now know," etc. there's a sense of personal aggrandizement that i see associated with some people when they become parents. it's less, "i have a daugher," and more "I AM A PARENT! I AM SOMEBODY!" i also see this reflected in some of the parents i've had to deal with as a teacher and as a coach, parents who think their job is the be all end of of their child's life and their willingness to intercede on behalf of a child to what i thought to be an unhealthy degree where their child wasn't being equipped to deal with problems and conflicts on their own because THE PARENT had to step in and right the various wrongs being done unto their child.

so, i do see a degree of ... not selishness, exactly, but the using of the status of parenthood to inflate one's self, and then to look down upon (while always giving the whole, "oh, it's so nice that you can go out for a glass of wine and dinner on a Thursday, oh how i envy you, but Polly has her Gymboree in the evenings") those that choose not to have children, the implication being, "how selfish of you to want to have a glass of wine more than you want a child."

or cannot have children. or are not even allowed to be married.

and not all parents do this. the ones that impress me are the ones who do not dote, who do not completely reconstitute their sense of self in relation to their children and who do not draw their self-esteem based upon their children. the are mothers. they are people with children. but this isn't the self-absorbed, Dr. Laura-ish, "I am my child's mother" which is really selfishness wrapped up in sanctimony.

so i don't know where this has taken me, if anywhere, but i thought i'd share.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:10 PM   #19
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My friends who have had children generally drifted away from me. Nearly all of our very close friends do not have children. In our close group, which has almost all coupled off, only one couple has children. They don't let their children interfere with their lives; they take them camping, to openings, (some) parties, and nearly every other place. When they can't take the kids, only one of them will attend, usually the dad. The mom is ok with staying home. If she weren't, she'd let the dad know and he'd stay home.

So yeah, babies can completely change the lives of the friends of the parents, and not always for the best.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:43 PM   #20
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I chose not to have kids because I've seen too many situations where so-called, unplanned, pregnancies or babies were used as weapons to control others, get attention or money.
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Old 08-30-2006, 05:52 PM   #21
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i also work in a profession that has many, many women in positions of power, and many, many of them do not have children. or have one child, usually in their late 30s.
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Old 08-30-2006, 06:14 PM   #22
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I was one who observed everyone around me having kids rather young (i was 25) and felt "left out" and just let it happen; I've since realized (hindsight and all that, blah, blah) it's not all it's cracked out to be and find myself frequently thinking, "now if I were childless..." I do envy my friends' freedom but do NOT act as if they're missing out on something--HA! they're lucky if they choose to remain childless.
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Old 08-30-2006, 08:50 PM   #23
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irvine, the arrogance you described is definitely on both sides here. Not sure if you agree that it is arrogance, but I think it is. I know people, we all do, who are as you described, who believe that they have reached some higher level of consciousness, who've finally found a reason for living. They are the people who piss everyone off. They're as annoying as people who talk about their incomes or the value of their possessions. No one really cares about the cost of someone else's house (unless it is to smile outwardly while inwardly thinking 'you are an idiot' because it was grossly inflated) and no one gives much of a shit about what having children does to someone. We will think 'good for you' and then put it right out of our minds if the person allows you.

Alternatively, those who whine that having children is not the ultimate path to personal enlightenment are also bloody annoying. It reminds me of what it must be like for Christians who hear people like me say "pfft, I dont need religion to find true happiness and fulfillment". I truly believe that I dont. But I am only, and can only ever, talk about me and my happiness. If someone needs God or children or no children or an alter of satan to find true happiness, what interest and business is it of mine? I frankly dont care. I personally think children are the best thing to ever happen to me. I hope I dont ever come across as one of the aforementioned we both described. I also dont want to listen to my latter mentioned. They can take their hoity contempt of people with children and shove it. I'm no more interested in their lack of interest in having children than they are in my fullfilment in having them. For either 'side' to continue talking about it only irritates and gets up the nose of the other. This is why I say keep it personal.

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Old 08-30-2006, 09:15 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally posted by Angela Harlem



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Old 08-30-2006, 09:16 PM   #25
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Old 08-30-2006, 09:27 PM   #26
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Quote:
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i fully agree that having children is revelatory for some people. that it is the key to their happiness.

i just don't think they know that it would be the key to my happiness.



(though it might be, i'm fully open to the possibility)



and, as relates to the original article, i think it's attitudes like the ones we've highlighted that often pressure the wrong people into becoming parents, and then what happens when the clouds never do part and the seal never is broken and you never do come out of Plato's cave?

and you're stuck with a crying, shitting disappointment.

but no anti-depressants for you! vitamins for all that, sez Tom Cruise.
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Old 08-30-2006, 11:36 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511
and then what happens when the clouds never do part and the seal never is broken and you never do come out of Plato's cave?

and you're stuck with a crying, shitting disappointment.

When they grow up, you blame the teacher.
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Old 08-30-2006, 11:39 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally posted by Irvine511


and you're stuck with a crying, shitting disappointment.





Sometimes, I ask myself if I really want to bring a kid into this world. I always tend to lean towards "yes", because a big part of me believes this is our purpose--the creation of something amazing that can ultimately enrich one's life, and shed light on what's truly important beyond the muck of modern living.

While it wouldn't be the key to my happiness, I can envision a child adding to it. It could, of course, turn out to be a "shitting disappointment", but disappointment is relative; there can be a lot of beauty in not measuring up to a perceived standard.

All kids have the potential to change the world as we know it, and that's a very good thing on a planet where so many are jaded by their fears.
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Old 08-31-2006, 07:54 AM   #29
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Quote:
Originally posted by 4EVRU2
A bit of selfishness is necessary though, to keep one's sanity and there are varying degrees of "good"...
Quote:
Originally posted by martha
In our close group, which has almost all coupled off, only one couple has children. They don't let their children interfere with their lives; they take them camping, to openings, (some) parties, and nearly every other place. When they can't take the kids, only one of them will attend, usually the dad. The mom is ok with staying home. If she weren't, she'd let the dad know and he'd stay home.
Yes you must continue to live your own lives as much as possible, but the child, especially at a very young age, needs to be priority. We take my son (age 2) with us to restaurants and numerous other places, but obviously some places are not appropriate. So we have significantly cut back on trips to the movie theater as compared with our pre-child days. And as Martha states, sometimes one parent must sacrifice so the other can enjoy themselves (I saw 6 U2 shows last year, the wife attended only 2 of them with me when it was convenient to get a baby sitter).
When my son is old enough, I plan to take him to concerts if he is interested.
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Old 08-31-2006, 12:18 PM   #30
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Irvine, I could have written the same post. I can understand that having children is a huge undertaking and takes up a huge amount of time and energy. And I give a great deal of credit to parents who are raising good, decent kids. However, I have found far too many parents, especially moms, have their whole lives revolve around their kids and very little else matters. Women have so many options these days, yet these moms can’t talk about anything that doesn’t relate to their own children-their children’s soccer games, their children’s school teachers, their children’s awards and blue ribbons. It’s like they allow themselves to be sucked into the realm of “mommy.” These are the types of women whose discussion forum names go along the lines of “Kaylee’s Mommy” or “Mom of 5.” These are the type of women who will interrupt an important conversation to tell you something inane about their children. Several years ago, a co-worker was asking me how things were going with the school newspaper, and before I could give her the scoop, another co-worker butted in to tell us that she started shopping for kids’ Christmas gifts. Excuse me? And the funny thing is, I don’t recall my mom and her friends going on and on about their children. They discussed books, movies, current events, happenings in the neighborhood, etc. I can remember a local newspaper article where the reporter asked several people what they thought of an upcoming mayoral election. One mom answered, “I’m so busy being a mom; I don’t even know who is running?” WTF? I bet Susan B. Anthony is rolling her grave. And I know from the sharp, smart, caring folks at this board, you can be a parent and still know what’s going on and even more importantly, care about what’s going on. This woman was just a placenta-brained twit whose status as a mommy gave her carte blanché to opt out of her duty as a citizen. I wanted to barf.

And, like you, Irvine, I’ve noticed a lot of people using their status of parenthood to elevate themselves as all knowing and powerful. They are simply on a higher plane of spiritual development than us lowly and selfish childless folks. A few years ago I read a book called, “Mother Leads Best.” I thought the author would simply discuss how childrearing helped her in the corporate realm. However, she just couldn’t refrain in getting her digs in women who do not have children (men without children remained unscathed). She advised young women to have children or they’d be perceived as uncaring and irresponsible. I’ve chosen not to have children and I am hardly uncaring and irresponsible. She also called women without children “dragon ladies.” And the signs of being a dragon lady? Dressing stylishly and keeping up with one’s industry.

I hope I haven’t pissed anyone off with my post. But I really needed to get this off my chest.

And when Dr. Laura says, “I’m my kids’ mom” all she’s doing is referring to herself three times in one sentence.
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