The World We Live In

I started school today. The day itself was fine. However, one thing our teachers are required to do is go over “school shooting” safety. That is, what we’d do in the event of a school shooting. Part of this meant the class had to watch two videos about just that. I understand why this is deemed necessary and I do agreed we should be prepared. At the same time, it’s tragic that we have to.

I’ve said before I don’t want kids. The top reason I’m just not interested in parenting. I have no real desire for it. However, if I did want kids, I’d be lying if I said I’d be hesitant to bring those children into existence.

Yes, yes, the world has always been cruel. School shootings aren’t new. Not for the US anyway. But that’s all the more reason I wouldn’t want my hypothetical kids on this planet. To know all it would take is for me being unfortunate enough to be the closest target when a shooter opens fire and my life can be ended in a split second is already too much for me. I can’t even sleep in the dark because of such fears. Many people would call that paranoid… until it actually happened. In fact, although I was very young at the time, I can remember my home being burglarized. No gun was involved, but seeing your mother attacked while being powerless to do anything more than fearfully hold tight your some-months-old sister (who you barely can hold because she’s heavy) isn’t exactly something that gives me the idea the world is a great place to add children to. My mother has told me I called 911 and saved her life. I don’t remember that, but if it is true, I’m glad I could do such a thing at such a small age. But I’m just as depressed I had to, whether I remember it or not.

I don’t want my toddler-aged child to save my life. I completely admit one of the reasons I would homeschool my child(ren) is the thought I could send them off to school one day, unknowingly giving them the last hug and kiss I ever would, is too much for me to stomach. I can’t do it. Obviously, homeschooling wouldn’t protect my child from a burglar, but at least only I’d be guilt-ridden for failing to protect them (and probably commit suicide to join them unless I had other children or my boyfriend/spouse).

I can’t. I’m genuinely happy I lack interest in parenthood because I just can’t have children while knowing that, though it’s unlikely to happen, it could. All the sweet moments of parenthood wouldn’t make up for the loss of my child any more than having another child would replace the lost one. I worry for my own well-being, and that of my loved ones, as it is. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a passing thought every now and then that any day could, unknown to me, be my last day of life. I’ve thought about my boyfriend not hearing from me, assuming I’m ignoring him, and believing for the rest of his life I “ghosted” him with no warning, never finding out I died. I’ve thought about the same happening with my job and my friends. On one occasion, a manager mentioned to me the reason we limit the amount of money in the register throughout the day in case our store gets robbed. Yes, that’s a lovely image to have while working behind the counter and certainly didn’t fuel my already passionate desire to stay as far away from cashiering as possible.

Maybe it is paranoia, but with every new safety precaution that is becoming necessary, it is much easier said than done not to be paranoid. And while it’s no reason we shouldn’t take them, all the safety measures there could ever be could still turn out to be nothing. The high school in Santa Fe, Texas that recently had a school shooting had a safety plan in case it ever happened. It happened, and many people were still wounded or killed.

I can’t do it. I just can’t.

Classism?

I had a very interesting “discussion” earlier today… if you can call someone throwing around insults like an elementary schooler because you don’t agree with them a discussion.

It seems it’s considered “classist” by some people to suggest it’s best to wait until one can afford to have a child before actually having a child.

Now, I do understand how that statement can be taken wrongly, but most people who say this are referring to being capable of, at the very least, providing for a child’s basic needs – food, clothing, and shelter – before having them.

Apparently, however, even that suggests a prejudice against poor people. Never mind I’ve most often heard that statement from people who know the hell growing up without enough food to eat really is.

Before I continue, let me say this: I am well aware situations can change over time. This statement refers to those who do not have any children, not someone who already is a parent, or whose financial circumstances crumbled after their children were born. No, this refers to someone who is currently struggling and, for whatever reason, chooses to bring a child into their struggle and, as a result, struggles to provide for that child, or ultimately cannot provide for that child, because of what their situation already was.

With that clarity out of the way, I truly fail to see how suggesting it’s best to be certain you can fulfill a child’s basic necessities before you actually have a child is “classist”. Even if you can provide nothing more than basic necessities, you are still able to provide for that child. It’s the bare minimum, but it’s still enough to keep the child alive. Somehow, no matter how many times I explained this, it was read as me saying “if you’re poor, don’t have children”. Interestingly, I never mentioned a particular social or economic class. That assumption came out of the mouth of the people arguing against it.

Let me use myself as an example. I don’t have any children and I don’t plan to. If, however, I somehow changed my mind on that and decided to have a child… that child would die. That sounds morbid, but the job I have cannot even provide me with shelter for myself. So, where would I attain shelter for my child from? Now, I could provide food and I could provide clothes… but where would I put them? I could keep the child in one outfit, so that takes care of the clothing necessity, but that child will become hungry over and over. Without shelter, where will I store the food? Or do I buy food every time the child’s hungry since I can’t store it? And where does the baby sleep? Where do I bathe this baby? Uh-oh. This is a problem. My child has no shelter!

Now, knowing full well I have no capability of providing that child with something so fundamental, why would I go on to have a child? Answer: I wouldn’t. Because I know I can’t!

Yet, that’s “classist”. Now, here’s the trick question: Did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I was poor or did I say I wouldn’t have a child because I could provide food and clothes, but not shelter?

Time’s up. The answer is: Because I couldn’t provide shelter. Everything in that paragraph refers to the child’s needs and my incapability of meeting those needs, or at least one of them.

And that is the gist of it. If anything would prevent someone from providing the basic needs that keep their child alive, no matter what that reason is, to willingly bring in a child into the world while fully aware of that knowledge is irresponsible. My belief isn’t that poor people shouldn’t have children. My belief is anyone who knows ahead of time they cannot fulfill the most basic needs of a child shouldn’t go on to have a child until that changes. Economic class be damned.

However, let’s say for a moment this is “classist”. What difference does it make? At the end of the day, there is a child whose needs cannot be met by their parent(s). Somebody must feed, clothe, and give shelter to that child. If the parent(s) cannot do it, the child will either die of neglect or be relinquished from the parent(s) for that neglect.

There is a somewhat popular meme that says when people talk about getting a pet, they are constantly reminded of the responsibilities of owning said pet, but when people talk about not having a child due not being able to provide for said child, they are told they’ll “figure things out” or “God will provide”. I have heard more times than I care to count there is no “perfect time” to have child, but the idea of hoping things will just fall into place seems like a dangerous gamble to take with a responsibility that’s obviously much larger than a pet. If that gamble falls favorably, that’s wonderful. If it doesn’t, there will be consequences and the child will undoubtedly suffer the brunt of them.

Of course, in the end, it’s not my business and the responsibility of providing for that child is not mine. However, I think about this because, despite my lack of desire for parenthood, I don’t like the idea of any child being neglected. It is in no way fair to force a child into a situation where their needs cannot be met, and “life isn’t fair” should only refer to unavoidable events. Children should and deserve to be born into homes where their needs being met isn’t a worry.

To speak specifically about poverty, if someone is poor, but can still provide their child’s basic needs, there is not a problem. That child is fed, clothed, and has shelter. There is no issue here. If they are, unfortunately, too poor to provide those needs, there is a big problem. The message is not “Poor people shouldn’t have children because they’re poor.” The message is “People who know they cannot provide for a child’s basic needs shouldn’t have children because they can’t provide for the children’s needs.”

And if that is indeed classist, so be it. I care much more that a child’s needs are met than someone pointing a finger at me and screaming I’m classist. Of course, I would not tell any person they can’t have a child in the first place, no matter what their situation currently was. As I already said, it’s not my business and it’s not as if anything would stop them anyway. I only hope, for the sake of their child, they are certain.

Sibling Irony

Something I’ve often heard is that having siblings teaching children how to share.

As an (older) sibling, I can honestly say whoever started that belief deserves to be punched.

Having a sibling did not teach me how to share. It taught me how to hoard and hide my stuff because I didn’t want to share. I hated sharing anything with my sister. I didn’t become better with sharing until I was in my late teens and, ironically, didn’t have to share anymore because someone told me to.

But the effects of having a sibling had already been done and I genuinely feel like having a sibling, and specifically being the older of the two, is what contributed most to my lack of any desire to be a parent.

Like most older siblings, I was often responsible for my sister. I don’t solely mean babysitting. If she did anything wrong, somehow, it was my fault. I was expected to know better because I was the older sibling, but somehow, she never was, no matter how old she got. I was actually aware enough as a kid to point this out, but it’s not like I was ever listened to. The bottom line is I very much resented being given the responsibility of a child I had zero part in bringing into the world, and I’m positive merely being a babysitter a few times would not cause that feeling.

Of course, this varies. Some oldest siblings willingly go on to become parents, and my boyfriend is the youngest of his parents’ three children and doesn’t want kids, despite being the typical “spoiled baby of the family” (until a certain age). This came to my mind because I found it ironic and somewhat hilarious. What was supposed to teach me about sharing and being responsible became the biggest factor in why I want nothing to do with parenthood.

More so, my sister has a rather idealized idea of caring for children. She wants kids of her own someday, and I do not knock her for that, but she knows next to nothing about taking care of someone smaller than her. She once asked me how I couldn’t want kids and while I know this is a question sometimes shared by parents, in this case, it came out of the mouth of a 16-year-old whose closest experience with caring for a child had been looking after a baby doll. That question is annoying, no matter who it comes from, but it makes more sense out of the mouth of someone who is a parent and knows they like the experience than someone who’s never done it. Granted, one could argue I’m not very different in that I’ve never been a parent and am saying it’d be terrible for me.

However, there are two differences here. I’m talking only about myself. I’ve never said no one else shouldn’t want to be a parent. I’m saying nothing more than I don’t. The other is, as I said, my sister has never been responsible for any children, whereas I have, and not just her. I can remember being left to after a small group of daycare children when I was about 8 or under (yes, my mother was present). Her idea of parenthood comes from what she thinks it is. Mine comes from what I’ve done, and with no say in the matter at that.

Today, as an adult, I don’t hate children and, to an extent, I do enjoy looking after them. There are times when I’d genuinely prefer a child’s company to an adult’s. Occasionally, children who come to my register with their parents will talk about something, and one child surprised me when she was so quiet while waiting in line, but started chatting with me the second her parents came to my counter. It’s rather cute, even if I have no idea what they’re going on about, and heaven knows I’d rather hear that than be yelled at by a customer for the fifth time because I can’t do their return.

But all of those are temporary. At the end of the day, the children are gone and I go home. I can have patience with children precisely because I’m not around them 24/7. It’s easier to remember they’re children and they’re acting like children than it would be if I were over-exhausted and hadn’t slept in three days. I’ve heard parenthood can teach you patience – likely because you have no choice except to learn – but it could also very well double my temper, which happens naturally anyway. “Doing your best” isn’t an excuse when what you do causes you to scar your child. I didn’t realize until I was an adult my own mother was practically winging parenthood the whole time. She tried, but her “best” was only good when everything else was good. If not, hell reigned upon us.

In the end, along with lack of interest in parenthood, I’m not interested in playing Russian Roulette with someone’s life. At least, I can argue I wasn’t willingly given the responsibility of my sister. That was my mom’s doing. But my child? 100% my fault. No room to complain about having to share then! I’d brought that kid into the world. I’d better share!

90s Baby With No Baby

A popular meme I occasionally see on Facebook is “Like if you’re a 90s baby with no baby!”

However, it seems that meme’s funniness was short-lived because some 90s babies with babies started taking offense. Some believe the meme was specifically meant to insult parents who had their children at young ages (teen to early twenties). Some also took offense at being called a 90s “baby” and assumed whoever made the meme was saying they’re not real adults. The backlash has caused memes like this to spring up.

That brings me to this question: Why is it okay to be proud you have children, but offensive to be proud you don’t?

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard and seen the following:

  • “You have no idea what it’s like to be tired until you have kids.
  • “You will never know true love.”
  • “You have no idea what you’re missing out on.”

How are these not insulting? These are actually directed at somebody, either an individual or a group of people. If someone said they’re proud to be a parent, I wouldn’t assume they were, for whatever reason, taking unnecessary pity on me that I don’t have children and don’t want to be a parent. If they said any of the above, however, I would.

Likewise, that I’m proud I don’t have kids does not mean I feel pity for parents or believe they are pathetic. It means I’m happy with and proud of a choice I’ve made for my life instead of doing something I don’t want out of pressure (and yes, that would be the only reason I ever had a child; bad!). I believe that’s the case for most, if not all, of the people who find the “90s baby with no baby” meme amusing. It’s not a jab at parents. It’s asking “Who’s like me?” It’s no different than “That feeling when…” memes. It’s meant to be relatable.

Perhaps the person who first created it was being bugged by their family or friends about when they’d have children and they got fed up. Maybe they heard of the phrases I listed one too many times. Maybe becoming a parent at a young age is common where they live and they felt like the odd one out for not having a child at a young age (this is the case in my family). Since memes practically spring out of nowhere, no one will ever know except perhaps that person’s friends.

In short, I believe the offense taken to the “90s baby with no baby” meme is yet another example of people getting worked up over something trivial. I understand some people do take joy in purposefully trying offend others since the anonymity of the internet grants a certain kind of protection, and I believe that’s very immature. However, I cannot believe this meme is an example of that. At most, it really seems like nothing more than something innocent that was put into a bad context by someone who was upset by it and didn’t care what the actual intent was.

At That Age

In 27 days, counting this one since it’s only barely after midnight, I will be 22 years old. For me, that realization is rather surreal.

My birthday is before my mother’s, but had it not been, she would’ve been 22 when she had me. I was not a planned child either and, like me, she had no intentions of becoming a parent. She only did it because she believed abortion was wrong and adoption wasn’t something she could handle (although neither was parenting; go figure).

This is something I continuously think about as my twenty-second birthday draws near, but I’m really not sure why. I knew I wasn’t going to have children at this age. Really, even if I wanted to be a parent, I wouldn’t have tried to become one by 22 because I’m in no position for it. It’s not something that’s bothering me. Just something continuously on my mind for one reason or another.

The best guess I have as to why I’ve been thinking about this so much is knowing this is the age where my mother’s life changed irreversibly. Becoming a parent doesn’t change everybody – heck, it makes them worse in some cases – but I’m certain no one can argue becoming a parent isn’t something you can take back. You can’t put them back up there. Okay, you probably could, but it’d be extremely painful and you certainly can’t reverse the nine months of pregnancy back into non-existence.

Occasionally, I do try to imagine myself in my mom’s shoes when she was 21 or 22, and it’s not an easy visual. I like children in general, so I can imagine the cute stuff like watching a baby sleep, but trying to picture the hard stuff tends to only make my head hurt. I can never picture myself waking up three times or more a night to a piercing wail, going days without sleep, or not having enough time to do so much as take a 5-minute shower. One of the most common things I hear about parenting is “your life is over” and that is more often than not from people who are parents instead of people who aren’t. My life over at 22? I’d have only been an adult for four years!

Yes, I’m aware babyhood is temporary. Eventually, they sleep through the night, gain a little more independence, and stop crying so much. Well, maybe not that last one since the temper tantrums start, but they hopefully won’t be waking you up five times a night until they’re in kindergarten. However, on its own, a year is still a lot of time and frankly, I’ve no desire to spend a year getting sleep three days at a time. I nearly collapsed after one day (a full 24 hours) without sleep, not to mention that can’t in any way be good for your body.

Sure, my mother did it, but she didn’t have a choice. She decided to keep me and have another child, so she had to endure the sleeplessness and all the stress that caring for a tiny, helpless person brings. Failure to do that would’ve resulted in either our deaths or her loss of custody before we became old enough to know she’s our mother.

Speaking of another child, I imagine this feeling will come back twice as strong when I turn 25. At 25, my mother had a three-year-old and a 1-week-old. Admittedly, I can’t see myself at 25 right now. It’s difficult to see myself any more than a year older than my age. I want this blog to be around for a few more years, so if it lasts until 2019, I feel like a certain shock will hit me if I go into my archives that year and find this post.