For some reason, late in the evening, I have started reading a Guardian website article entitled How do we improve childcare? Even more inexplicably, I’ve scrolled down and started reading the comments. If you have children and – gasp!- work, reading some of it’s a bit like being punched in the stomach.
Here are some choice views on why your children should have never been born or, at best, need to be excused away as “accidents”:
I’m a firm believer that you should not even contemplate children unless you’re in a position to look after, and raise them [...] But let’s be realistic and accept the fact that circumstances change, and “accidents” do happen, and one then has to then deal with it.
What “in a position to look after, and raise them” means, precisely, is not clear. But I suspect I’m not in said “position” and never have been. And my children weren’t accidents.
I think for under 5′s it’s tough. It’s a childminder, nursery or au pair. Or even, shock horror, stay at home, look after your kids and tough it out on bugger-all money.
Hmm. The trouble is, for some of us having “bugger-all” money would actually mean enduring the levels of poverty that make families unhappy. Is that so hard to understand? It’s not “hey, let’s play at being thrifty and raiding charity shops and getting rid of the car and having oodles of smug vintage fun”. Most of us have to dabble in that kind of “thrift” while we’re still working.
I have some sympathy for people who say don’t have kids if you can’t afford them or are not prepared to take responsibility and make the huge sacrifices necessary, yet misfortune and unforseen calmities happen, and our childcare is horrendously expensive and very variable in quality.
Well, to be honest, any “misfortune” I’m experiencing now could have been predicted before I had children. Should I have ruled myself out of the game? Left the breeding to the rich? But then who would do the shitty jobs in years to come? (Obviously I’m still hoping that won’t be my kids. But hey, just for argument’s sake).
This is however my favourite:
Cutting back on obsessional consumerism, and providing a full time parent ?
Just a thought.
Style of thing
It’s not a very good thought, though, is it? Style of thing. I mean, yeah, my son’s in nursery so I can save for an iPad. And I’d have done it, too, if it wasn’t for those pesky kids (and the nursery fees).
To summarise, here is the limited range of options that should have been open to me:
- be rich and have kids
- be old-style poor (i.e. have same job but have bought house earlier) and have kids
- not have kids as noble sacrifice because actually, I can’t afford it
But I had kids! Without meeting the “having kids” criteria as set by the wise people of Comment is Free! Bugger! What have I done?
Well, the thing is, I had some bloody brilliant kids. They are way better than any of those people who are waiting for the “perfect moment” to “responsibly” have kids can possibly imagine. They are way better than the “I’m far too noble to have kids” people could ever dream. My kids are magic and I wouldn’t regret having them ever, despite my misgivings about nursery and despite all the things I would do differently if time and money were no object (hint: they’re always a fucking object). They are fantastic kids and they have not been ruined by not emerging into a perfect financial set-up. In fact, while I’d like things to be better, that’s only because I’d sometimes like the freedom that more money brings; I’d hate to turn into the kind of person who thinks having more money makes you a better, more responsible parent.
The main thing I wanted to say, though, is HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Hey there, Guardian commenters! You can say what you like about “responsibility” but the fact is, I HAVE ACE KIDS AND YOU DON’T!!!