A(nother) friend of mine just had a baby. My partner and I have been talking a lot lately about children. Throughout the course of our relationship there have been times when one of us has wanted them and the other hasn't, or we both have or we both haven't. Right now we both don't want them, and it's a phase that has been going on for a while. I think it will probably stick.
Oh what a surprise, right, the abortion lady doesn't want kids? Surprisingly my involvement in the reproductive rights movement hasn't had much of a conscious effect on my desire to be childfree. For one thing, I have always known I didn't want to have my OWN kids, ie I don't want to push them out of my body. I know myself well enough to know that my pain threshold is far, far too low for that. So we would have adopted or fostered. But the more I think about having children, the less appealing it seems. I want to travel. I want to have disposable income. I already feel kind of tied down by our cats. When I do the cost/benefit analysis in my mind, I can't see it working out.
Both of us love kids, and he is especially good with them. We will be awesome as an aunt and uncle or whatever. I certainly get the appeal of them. I just don't want any of my own. I totally respect and admire people who are parents, and I think they have a valuable place in the movement that we are just not giving them (especially mamas) - but I don't see it as my role. And I'm ok with that.
What I'm beginning to get less and less ok with is the arrogance and antagonism of some of these "childfree" crusaders. I am 100% behind the idea of being proud of being childfree, and of changing society to accommodate people (especially women) who do not want to reproduce. But I don't feel the way to change the dominant mindset is by aggressively complaining about spaces that welcome children, or about other people's children specifically. The childfree movement is beginning to parallel, in my mind, the atheist movement - it is becoming distant, arrogant, overly intellectual and worst of all, elitist. The attitudes of some of the childfree people I have encountered are the reason I am hesitant to identify as such (and I feel the same way about atheism).
If you are childfree by choice, that's awesome. You are making a brave choice and in some ways being a trailblazer. I support questioning our culture's obsession with the "mommy cult", the bizarre hyper-consumerism expected of parents, the deification of married mothers and the demonization of single ones, and in fact the whole horrific kyriarchal lens through which we look as a society to decide which mothers are worthy of our love and attention. I support standing up against the assumption that all women are breeders, that all women want to and should have children. I support asserting your right to decide what does and doesn't happen in your uterus. I totally support the choice to be childfree (and to be vocal about it) as much as I support any reproductive decision a person makes. Because it's your body, not mine.
What I don't support is acting like your choice to be childfree makes you better than others. Or your decision to complain about spaces that welcome children. And what I especially don't support is when people start to talk about children as if they are not also people - "I hate kids" "Kids are so annoying" etc. Some kids are annoying, as are some adults. Children on average are more likely to be loud, impulsive, and easily upset. But THEY ARE PEOPLE. They are in our lives. They are always around. So just suck it up. And don't assume the choice you made is somehow better or more valid or more altruistic or whatever than the choice to parent. And if I know you, and you ever say something about someone needing to "control their kids in public", so help me it will take a lot for me not to slap you. Verbally. Of course.
Let's all just try to respect each other's choices and get along, is what I'm saying. There's a lot of people out there trying to take those choices away from us, so being an asshole to someone who has kids isn't going to protect your right to choose not to have them.
Edited to add: Go read this. Do it.