Yes, I chose to have children. And?

When I had children, it was not an accident. I wanted them. I’ve always wanted them. Two people would not exist were it not for my selfish, hard-to-justify yearning for them. So, world, what are you going to do about this?

The fact that I made the decision to reproduce and did not merely have little people thrust upon me is something of which I’m often reminded, usually by people who don’t like any of the following things to be suggested:

  • mothers should not face discrimination in the workplace
  • public spaces ought to be more child-friendly
  • parenting is hard work

But you CHOSE to have children, they cry. Yes, I did. But is that a reason not to question our treatment of parents and their offspring? Does choosing a particular path in life mean one cannot question the conditions that pertain to it? Is discrimination against mothers justified on the basis that they could have rejected parenthood entirely? And is antipathy towards the young entirely reasonable since it’s down to those who brought them into existence to protect them from it?

Choosing to have children is not the same as choosing to be what others think a mummy should be. I didn’t choose to bend over backwards to perpetuate labour divisions still based on the idea that women remain in the home. I didn’t choose to feel guilty for earning money and/or for not earning enough. I didn’t choose to have rude, obnoxious people ruin my day by lecturing me on how my hypothetically rude, obnoxious children shouldn’t be allowed to ruin their hypothetical meal / cinema trip / train ride. I didn’t choose any of this nor should I have to. But given that this is the way things are, I choose to answer back.

So, “you chose it” people, you may have chosen not to have children yourself. Fine. In an over-populated, resource-starved world, this makes you morally superior to me, in the same way that I’m morally superior to anyone who has more than two children (and not just poorer / more tired / less fertile / simply in a position of not yet having got round to having any more). Hey, I’m sorry I’m not as good as you. But that’s as far as it goes.

And if my “obnoxious” children “ruin” your precious evening out? If I don’t pull my weight at work due to my other responsibilities? If I complain about motherhood itself and not the surrounding arbitrary, discriminatory conditions? Then I’ll apologise. But I’m sure as hell not apologising for the simple fact that I’m a mum. That’s my choice and I’m sticking to it.

3 thoughts on “Yes, I chose to have children. And?

  1. I’m pathologically sensitive about my children’s behaviour in public (but that says more about my own insecurities than anything else).

    I don’t know if it’s as a result of the economic woes, or just because people can express themselves more anonymously online now, but there seem to be more and more of the attitude you mention. Having children is selfish, the children themselves are little more than vermin, and the whole messy business should be kept far away from the attention of “normal” people.

    It’s sad, actually, and it says a hell of a lot about how our society thinks about other people in general

    *steps off soapbox*

  2. Didn’t choose to be a woman, and therefore the one who has to gestate, bear & nurse the children though did you. And if you chose not to have kids, and in fact all us selfish, entitled parents all chose not to, the world would be a little bit screwed wouldn’t it? In fact those that criticise you are selfish for not bearing the full cost of creating the next generation, people who will be looking after them in old age.

  3. The ‘you chose parenthood’ brigade are wearisome, I wonder if they have that conversation with their own parents and berate them for the choices they made!
    My aim is to raise well-rounded, considerate offspring, which means them spending time in the outside world, and yes, that includes interacting with adults. I’d also say that whilst I have no issue with other parents choice/personal situation regarding working or being a SAH parent, it is imperative to me that my children see me as having a career (I work p/t) and having their father be responsible for them whilst I’m working in the same way I fulfil the role whilst he works, it is 2012 after all!!

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