My natural inclination has been to oppose the promotion and spread of abortion and birth control for reasons familiar to other traditionalists: they undermined the growth of the traditional family structure and, in the case of abortion, constitute an immoral early end to human life. For most of my youth, I stood staunchly in this pro-life corner.
As I grew older, however, the subtle nuances surrounding this debate began to dawn on me, and I started to soften my position. I came to realize that, while I still saw some value in the traditionalist views I’d held, many humans were not willing or able to live in accordance with that model. It became clear, in fact, that many humans were actually quite inept at any kind of family formation, and perhaps shouldn’t bother with it at all.
A recent article reminded me of why I had decided to soften my views in this way.
Isabella Dutton, 57, says she wishes she had remained childless
My son Stuart was five days old when the realisation hit me like a physical blow: having a child had been the biggest mistake of my life. Even now, 33 years on, I can still picture the scene: Stuart was asleep in his crib. He was due to be fed but hadn’t yet woken. I heard him stir but as I looked at his round face on the brink of wakefulness, I felt no bond. No warm rush of maternal affection. I felt completely detached from this alien being who had encroached upon my settled married life and changed it, irrevocably, for the worse.
What kind of mindset does it take to view your own offspring as “alien”? I don’t know, but I will argue that anyone with such a view ought to avoid reproducing.
I was 22 when I had Stuart, who was a placid and biddable baby. So, no, my feelings were not sparked by tiredness, nor by post-natal depression or even a passing spell of baby blues. I remember asking myself, ‘Is he really mine?’ He could, quite literally, have been anyone’s baby. Had a kind stranger offered to adopt him at that moment, I would not have objected.
Two years and four months after Stuart was born, I had my daughter Jo. It may seem perverse that I had a second child in view of my aversion to them, but I believe it is utterly selfish to have an only one.
This woman views her own children as aliens and cares little enough for them to support the idea of giving them away…
…yet she feels the need to have more than one, because having an only child is selfish (though despising that child for hampering your ability to dilly-dally around for a while longer is apparently not).
Sheer stupidity, insanity, or both? You be the judge.
I felt precisely the same indifference towards her as I had to Stuart, but I knew I would care for Jo to the best of my ability, and love her as I’d grown to love him. Yet I dreaded her dependence; resented the time she would consume, and that like parasites, both my children would continue to take from me and give nothing meaningful back in return.
To some, my life before I had the children may have seemed humdrum and my job as a typist was, it’s true, not much of a career. So what was the great sacrifice, you might think? What I valued most in my life was time on my own; to reflect, read and enjoy my own company and peace of mind. And suddenly that peace and solitude wasn’t there any more. There were two small interlopers intruding on it. And I’ve never got that peace back.
Selfishness is not having an only child. Selfishness is finding so much comfort in time spent with yourself that you begin to view your own flesh and blood a hindrance for being unable to contribute to that. Selfishness is valuing time spent sitting on your own doing absolutely nothing of import over the joys of guiding your own flesh and blood into adulthood. Selfishness is knowing that you are this way and still choosing to bring those children into the world because you’re afraid of how others would perceive you.
I have never hidden the truth from my husband Tony, now 62. After a couple of years of marriage, Tony began to ask whether I was still adamant that I didn’t want children. In the end I relented because I loved him and felt it would be unfair of me to deny him the chance to be a dad.
Of course there is a beta involved in this sad tale. Had he avoided entering union with a woman whose goals were so diametrically opposite to his own, he could perhaps have saved two young souls from living with the knowledge that they are hated by the person who brought them into this world. That kind of knowledge has to do a number on your psyche.
But there were provisos: if I was going to have children I knew absolutely – illogical as it may seem in view of my feelings – that I intended to raise them myself without any help from nannies or childminders. This wasn’t a way of assuaging my guilt, because I felt none. It was simply that, having brought them into the world, I would do my best for them.
And here, perhaps, is the nub of it: I would not take on the job of motherhood and do it half-heartedly. Unlike so many would-be mums I thought hard about the responsibilities of my role, and, I believe, if more women did before rushing heedlessly into it, they might share my reservations.
Ok, sounds fine…
I was acutely aware that a child would usurp my independence and drain my finances. I felt no excitement as my due date approached. I had no compulsion to fill the nursery with toys, nor did I read parenting manuals or swap tips with friends. I focused on enjoying the last months of my freedom.
Wait a second. We’ve just finished reading this woman’s discussion of the necessity of commitment to children and raising them as well as one is able. She has essentially spent half of the article patting herself on the back for doing this. And now, suddenly, we learn that she didn’t show that commitment herself. She made little effort to prepare herself for the rigors of parenting beforehand and didn’t even bother creating an ideal environment for the kids. Is it me, or do I sense some ongoing mental gymnastics at play here?
I never wanted to hurt Stuart – I only wanted him to prosper and thrive. There is no doubt I grew to love him very much, and indeed still do. But I always wished I had never had him.
And we wonder why so many kids are growing up and turning into fuck-ups. Hard to keep sense when you know that your own parents could care less if you existed, and might in fact prefer that you didn’t.
There’s no surer way to mess up a kid than to let it know openly how much you despise its existence. I can’t even imagine dealing with that. My parents, aunts and grandparents all cared for me unconditionally, and me them. They made tremendous sacrifices for me, and continue to do so now. There’s no question that they wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t know what I’d do if it came to pass that these people not only didn’t exist, but were instead replaced by relatives who actually regretted my coming into this world. I realize now how lucky I am. Knowing that women like this exist and are selfish enough to value “spontaneity” over the existence of their own flesh and blood, I really appreciate the women in my family, along with other good, family-oriented women out there who love their children. It also softens my attitude towards birth control/abortion.
I’m generally quite conservative on that issue, but this is part of the reason why I’ve moved left on it. These people just shouldn’t have offspring, and anything that prevents them from doing so ought to be welcomed.
I suspect that those two poor souls this woman birthed have some serious issues. God help them. If greater access to abortion and birth control here in the west allows for fewer of them to be brought into this world, then I don’t think I can bring myself to stand in the way.
What was my point with all of this? The lessons here are clear to me…
1. If you find yourself not inclined to have children then, please, don’t have them. Get snipped or tie some tubes. As much as I hate abortion, even I’ll back it in support of the anti-child crowd remaining childless. Many of the dysfunctions we complain about in this society are caused by fucked-up sons and daughters who all too often are the product of just these kinds of relationships. We’re only doing ourselves a favor by reducing their number.
2. If you’re a young man inclined towards family formation, be very careful about the woman you choose. There are plenty of females like this one out there who will undoubtedly harm any offspring you are able to create.
As UGK said:
Dump-dump in the gut, raw from the giddy up
Better choose that right one or pick-pick the kiddies up
Watch where that seed goes—there’s a lot riding on it.
Read Next: 6 Reasons Why We Should Support Abortion