Saturday, March 08, 2014

Book seventeen: I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales from a happy life without kids by Jen Kirkman

Jen Kirkman is a writer on Chelsea Lately and a stand-up comedian. She does not want to have kids. She's so troubled by the flak she gets from every procreating female out there that she wrote a book about it. She's funny, but between the laughs I'm sad for her. Not because she's made the decision to not have kids - after having had my own, I wouldn't wish parenthood on anyone who wasn't sure they wanted it - but because her decision to not have them appears to be constantly challenged by nearly every friend and stranger with kids on the planet that she meets. (Unless she's exaggerating for the sake of comedy. I hope she is.)

It's fine if Ms. Kirkman doesn't want kids. The world is exploding with seven billion people already. But she either doesn't recognize what having children brings to the table or she purposely focuses on the bad things about having a child. I can't decide which. The effect is that her reasons to stay child free sound hollow. Sure, babies do spit up but that stage does end. They crap their pants and it's your job to clean them but that stage ends. They will most likely be - if my anecdotal evidence holds true - bad sleepers and you won't get a full eight hours of sleep until they become moody teenagers but that stage ends.

I'm mostly reminded of the book Wonder Women by Debora Spar, because for one section of one chapter, Kirkman addresses the idea of women's choice. How we were led to believe as young girls that we could have it all. But the all isn't attainable without sacrifice and once you start making those sacrifices, well, you don't really have it all anymore. You have a lesser version called the next best thing.

17 down plus 35 to go.

No comments: