Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Actually, this is Sad


One of my facebook friends (who is a mom, of course) posted this on facebook. She got a lot of replies from other parents like "Amen!" "I so agree with you!"  It took all of the self-restraint I could muster not to post my reply:

"So sorry to hear it".

I know posters like this are supposed to be self-congratulatory statements about the blessings of parenthood -  and assurances to other parents about how all the drugery is SO WORTH IT (God knows they need the assurances), but the deeper message is actually quite sad - that the friend who resonated with this was an empty shell with no love in her life until she reproduced.   I wonder how her husband feels about this.  How about her parents?  Her friends?  Her brothers, sisters?  Her pets?

What do YOU think would be a good reply to this poster?

43 comments:

Duck McDuck said...

I agree. I wouldn't bother to respond to stuff like this but, if I did, it would be something like "No children, wallet still empty, house still messy, heart still full".

ladyliberty said...

Such a good point! I TRIED to express this idea to someone who told me a few weeks ago that I didnt have a "family" becuase I didnt have children. I asked them if they didn't have a family when it was just her and her husband or she said no - a husband alone is not a family. How sad for the husband... or even worse her OWN parents, siblings, etc.

Violet said...

LIES

Steve said...

This IS sad, and kind of ironic since most parents I know are empty shells of their previous selves. Previous interests, hobbies, passion, in some cases what seems like their very will to live, gone. Their heart is full. I'd venture to say they're full of something alright.

Kari M. said...

That's what bugs me: The fact some people need to HURT someone else's feelings (calling empty) to reassure their own fullfillment.

I don't look at mothers in general and compare my happiness with theirs since I am a big believer of different strokes for different folks.

But in the case of those women, it's absolutely necessary to feel sorry for and offend others...

Cameron Grey Rose said...

I look at this differently. So many people think having children will 'fix' them. Their relationships with their friends, siblings etc are unsatisfying and they think having a child will provide them with the companionship they desire but with the work of adapting to another human being. "YOU ARE GOING CAMPING! I don't care if you hate it!" as opposed to taking the time to find someone who shares their interests and adapt to them.

Childfreeeee said...

Although it's made to appear like an empowering pro-parenthood message, it's also an underhanded insult to people who don't have kids, whether by choice or circumstance. It says, "you don't know what love is until you have kids" and "those without kids have empty hearts." Neither of those statements are true.

Childfreeeee said...

By the way, I did post a reply on my friend's facebook page. I posted:

"How does John feel about this?"

(her husband)

shell said...

I agree with one of your posters who commented on another post that she always felt that parenthood was a cop-out. People don't know how to create their own lives, success and happiness....so they have a kid. My husband and I had too many dreams, ideas and plans for our own lives and, although we like most children, we never wanted any of our own. We have NO regrets!

Charlie Foote said...

As much as I don't have kids myself by choice and am satisfied with that decision, I think this person's statement about having an empty heart if she didn't have kids is probably completely true - for her. It comes down to whether you have the desire for kids in the first place. When I read articles about how sad people are when they are having trouble conceiving, it takes some effort on my part to understand why, because it's something I don't want for myself.

But I understand some irritation at the implication that one has to have kids to be happy.

Lisa S. said...

PLEASE PLEASE let us know what John writes about this!!

Dave said...

I am so glad I have no interest in Facebook so I get to miss out on all this kind of crappola LOL!

Erin said...

I love your blog more and more every day. I am in love with my life living with my FAMILY consisting of my husband, myself, and our two black kitties. I feel completely fulfilled and confident in my life, and I do not need children to bring me happiness.

This picture is exactly what Cameron mentioned. Some woman or man, or both, felt unfulfilled in whatever way in their lives and decided a child would fill that void. How that makes sense considering the emotional, physical, and financial toll children take, is beyond me. I've been in childcare for ten years, so I probably have the advantage of knowing how horribly lonely and mind-numbing being home with kids all day long can do to someone. (And I got to leave at 5!)

Unfortunately, people look at the cuteness of kids and they adorable crayon pictures brought home from school and think that will make everything in their grown up world better. Nope. Maybe for a brief amount of time, sure. Why can't adults work on THEMSELVES before bringing kids into the world and burdening their children to bring them happiness they should be finding themselves. I believe adults shouldn't be allowed to have children until they are confident, happy, and accomplished (subjective, I know) with no blaring voids to fill.

Children should be an ADDED happiness to your life, not your entire source.

Francois Tremblay said...

I think this is a fabricated narrative they tell themselves, not the truth. In the same way that Christians say that if they weren't believers they would become killers, rapists, etc. In both cases, they're just trying to rationalize their decision, but it's basically using stereotypes (against childfree people, against non-believers), not based on any truth about themselves.

I would just answer, "no it wouldn't." Her heart would not be empty. It just wouldn't be busy. Huge difference. Women who have children are always busy and don't have time to reflect on what they really love and care about beyond their children, so they have this belief that children are all there is. Understandable, but false.

RR said...

"So sorry to hear it".

This was pretty much my first thought, too.

CF-PC Me! said...

I would say, "I can love things without them having to come out of me"

Maraya said...

It IS sad. I hope they don't mean it literally. Empty? Do they have any idea how amazing life is? My heart is full, yes, with love for my family & friends, but also SO many things. Nature, animals, culture, all the beauty I can enjoy in this world. I'm often moved by wonder & gratitude at life itself.

I'm sure there are some people who know fulfillment before they have children. But if their reason for having kids is to find fulfillment, that would explain this quote.

& maybe that's why I don't want kids. I'm happy. Nothing's missing. I love my life.

Too bad this would be totally taboo to say on facebook.

Amanda said...

I think I loved the comments on this post as much as the post itself! Because I agree with all of it - the seeking fulfillment, being too busy to see the other love etc., wanting to unconsciously hurt others to feel better (being exclusionary).

Ahh thanks to everyone for their comments :) great way to start the day reading all this!

Diane said...

I would never have the courage/gall to say these things, but sometimes I'd love to:

"Do you think the mothers of rapists and murderers of other people's children have full hearts too?"

"If your children turn out to be failures or a$$holes who hate you, will your heart still be full?"

"Wow, maybe you should talk to some other mothers and spread your positive energy about motherhood. Most of the ones I see look fat, unhappy, and jealous of people who are fulfilled by other things and who enjoy the company of people they don't get to boss around."

Stephanie said...

I would say "Yes, look how miserable I am with my full wallet and clean house. I wonder why you are friends with me with my empty heart...." And leave it at that.

Unknown said...

I would probably defriend that person as they are not a friend I would have anything in common with anyway. That is the dumbest statement I have heard in a while except for the one 'your life doesn't begin nor are you mature until you have a child.' I hate that one too.

Erin said...

Since mothers seem to be of the opinion they can post all they want on the joys of motherhood, I was debating putting up the link to one of my favorite posts on this blog on my FB. Gee, I wonder what the results would be!? I guarantee at least twenty moms get up in arms over a woman choosing a different lifestyle since motherhood is, you know...a CHOICE. Rather than merely reading and in turn learning about child-free lives, most mothers automatically jump into defense mode. Hm. Wonder why?

JBradshaw said...

Even if we accept for the moment that people with kids are somehow happier or have their hearts "fuller" that doesn't diminish the happiness and fullness we currently have.

Supposing that every myth they tell us were true, that they are in fact so much happier that they were, by comparison, miserable before they had children and that we who do not want children would magically transform into blissful happy parents if we had children, does that mean that we should have children?

No. Even in that magical fiction we are happy and content where and how we are. When I see a friend who's about to start cranking out the diaper monkeys I don't automatically assume he's going to be more or less satisfied with his life as a result, and I certainly don't presume to tell him what he should or shouldn't do to maximize his personal sense of fulfillment or happiness.

Even if I'm 100% certain (which isn't even possible) that he's making a mistake it's his mistake to make. If he asks my opinion I'll give it. If he doesn't I mind my damn business because you can't simply volunteer advice on this kind of topic without being a raging a$$hole. Because if you're right, and he hates being a parent, you're the a$$hole who was right about him hating being a parent (something he can't exactly change). If you're wrong you're the a$$hole who was wrong about him hating being a parent.

Because even if I believe he will be happier being like me, it's not my responsibility to drag him kicking and screaming into greater happiness. If he's content with his choice, that's enough for me.

Temujin said...

The statement can't really be proven one way or the other. You can't set up a controlled experiment where in one life you have kids and in the other you don't.

My reply would be:
"Only one way to find out!"

Or

"Not true so far!"

Or

"Don't knock it till you try it."

Temujin said...

I must be doing something wrong. My wallet is empty and my house is messy and I'm childfree....

Temujin said...

Sorry for the multiple postings. I just keep thinking of more things to say about this image.

I wonder why parents would ever feel the need to tell each other these things. I mean, if it is obviously so worth it, why would you have to keep reminding each other that it's worth it? There muse be quite a few parents out there wondering if they really made the right decision.....

Temujin said...

P.S. This sentiment is probably most insulting to childless people who want children but are unable to have them. This says their hearts are empty. Harsh.

Lisa S. said...

I think I just read the saddest comment I've ever seen in print.

An article today in the Daily Mail (UK) is entitled "The broody men left bereft by wives with high-flying careers who refuse to have babies"

One of the men profiled in the story states, "I was desperate for the sense of purpose and achievement that fatherhood brings."

I think he should be dealing with his incredible lack of self-esteem before he breeds. I'd love to tell him it's not really an achievement; people have been reproducing for thousands of years.

And what if you do have a kid, and discover that the kid doesn't bring you all the recognition and "success" that you thought it would. Now what???

Sea_creature said...

*sigh* This is why I barely go to my fakebook page anymore. Especially THIS week. People have become SO thoughtless and immature thanks to phucking phacebook.

I'm another believer in 'to each his or her own'. Unfortunately, the majority always rules. I wouldn't even grace something as stupid as that post with any of my thoughts.

Irene U.L. said...

It is so sad they feel empty if they don't have a dependant to look after. What about their life before having children? Didn't it make any sense until they gave birth?
A friend of mine from university told me when she had her first child that she was much happier now than in the past. I couldn't help but feeling a bit sad. I had good memories from us together, sharing experiencies and having fun. She had a stable relationship with a man she loved (I suppose). She has parents and a sister. She had lots of friends. She was starting a career she liked, that got interrupted.Didn't these people and life matter to her enough to make her happy? Is it necessary to breed to be happy? I think these people will feel empty no matter what they do, they just have less time to think about it if they have to take care of another person all the time.

Spectra said...

That is insanely sad. I can't believe how many people (especially women) out there seem to totally ignore their spouses once they have kids. My response to that post would be something like:
"I'm sorry your husband doesn't fill your heart with love anymore".

Buckle Ve said...

I think that's only for people that stop their lives once they have kids. My parents raise us to be polite and clean after our mess, they work hard, have money and believe that part of being good parents was working to be better persons, with career, social life and hobbies. The mistake with parents in the US is that they believe been a good parent is been the child slave. Big mistake... now my brother and I both have great careers, and believe that family has to be part of your life project(in my case hub and I are childfree, my brother wants children), not THE PROJECT.

Temujin said...

Yes, indeed. Without kids, my heart is empty of:

regret, bitterness, sadness about my life, boredom, misery, the feeling of being trapped in my own home, envy of childfree people, jealousy of independent people, nostalgia for my life before kids, etc.

So, yes, your heart is full. In fact, I'd say in general you're full (of _____)

bonclyde149150 said...

"By the way, I did post a reply on my friend's facebook page. I posted:

"How does John feel about this?"

(her husband)"

That's a good reply!

Heather said...

That IS sad. I'd tell that person to reevaluate their life up to this point. If the only way you can find meaning and love is to reproduce, you're doing something wrong. I work, call my mom often, play with my cats, read, spend time with my friends, study Islam and the Qur'an, and run 5K charity races. My heart is full and I am very happy with my life, though my wallet is rather empty at the moment. (But I'm looking for a better job, so hopefully that problem can be remedied soon.)

Lovelife said...

This is a GREAT blog what a heated topic over a Facebook post. I will be honest when I read the post I thought it was cute. I never once took the word empty literally. I just thought this persons heart is full of love for their children. My husband and I are best friends and struggled with two failed pregnancies to achieve our goal of being parents. To say our hearts would be empty without them wouldn't be a true statement what so ever. But... now being a mommy of two little boys my personal opinion is my heart wouldn't be nearly as full (not empty) but I couldn't have come to this conclusion without having had them. Being a parent was something that I have always wanted whether I adopted or just lived out my life with my fur babies. Thank goodness there are people out there who know they don't want to be parents and don't try to have children to FILL their hearts. Being a parent is a commitment as is being a pet owner or being in a marriage you can't just bail when times are tough! I love my friends for their decision to have or not to have kids it is a personal choice but I do agree too many people have children just to "make a marriage last" (what a CROCK of.....) Once again great blog!

Artemis said...

Just post back the card you received from your mom on the newest post. Bingo!

Cameron Grey Rose said...

Wow Lovelife had a great point. You can't ask another person to responsible for your happiness. It seems like that is what this mom is asking her kids to do i.e. make her heart "full".

jenn said...

I know I'm coming in late, but THANK YOU for having a post like this on your blog that I can come back to to cool my jets.
 
A (now ex) Facebook friend posted this (I'm sure you've seen, it wasn't my first time):
http://bobhyatt.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341cd56753ef0134856e6482970c-800wi
 
This is a girl that I've known to be reasonable, intelligent, and in possession of a sense of humor. I replied, "All well and good, so long as you don't complain about not getting 'adult' time or your friends drifting away."
 
Point being: in the article, the person wrote in that, hey, why can I not get the time of day from my friend who has a kid now? The question was asked somewhat douchily, I'll concede, but you'll see the columnist went off the mother-loving deep end in defense! Basically saying, hey, being a mom is HAR-URD, and fuck you for wanting to interact with your friend who is now SOOOOOO much more important than you. I was merely pointing out: okay, subscribe to that, but recognize that if Person A is going to say "I have more important things in my life and don't have time for you," they can't turn around and get butthurt when Person B stops trying to interact with them (which I have encountered firsthand).
 
My comment PISSED OFF my Facebook friend, and it's too much insanity to regurgitate it all, but basically I'm evil and ooooh, don't I know everything... and of course, out came the wonderful, oh-so-oft-used "you don't have kids, so shut up" defense. She went so batshit that another friend of mine (completely removed, not on the thread, not acquainted with the first person whatsoever, nothing) independently texted me to say, "So, I saw that Facebook exchange of yours--WHAT THE HELL IS HER PROBLEM?"
 
It's sad that people who post things like this can be so unreasonable--any criticism is taken as an affront to their ENTIRE life, and everything they've ever done or thought. If you say anything other than "Amen, sister", you're an asshole.
 
And why in the world does the "you don't have/do/etc. X, so you can't say one word about it" defense hold up?! That drives me CRAZY! I've never been to space, but I know about planets and black holes... I've never been to the center of the Earth, but I had to give a report on it in grade school... why are concepts like reading, learning, listening to other people's experiences, so hard to wrap your head around? I understand that a deeper knowledge comes from firsthand experience, but to tell me I can't breathe a word about something because I don't have that is ridiculous! To me, it speaks to someone who's losing their footing in an argument and just wants to dismiss the other person without having to try too hard. But then again, I guess she has kids, so she doesn't have that kind of time, right? Funny that she found enough to rage at me on the internet...
 
Anyway, my point is, being able to find something like this post and read through the comments is like a cool, refreshing slather of aloe. It makes me feel like I'm not crazy. Thank you for your blog and all that you do for all us ill-represented, vilified childfree folk. :)

jenn said...

And Lovelife, thank you for being among the (seemingly) minority of reasonable parents!!! Beautiful input!

CLPhoto said...

I agree, and it's so sad that so many women have put their full identity into their children. They have no idea who they are, how to have a conversation that isn't 100% about their children, (or childbirth, love those conversations!) and many do become completely empty when their children leave the house because they don't know who they are. As a childfree, others calling my life empty has actually happened. It hurts, but it's also so funny because my life is so full of so many things, so many people, so many things I enjoy doing and taknig part in the last thing I would ever call my life is empty.

Leticia H said...

The childless people who think parents are former shells of themselves, or are sad and pathetic and have no lives are just as bad as the parents who push parenthood on childless people.
It reminds me of conversations I've had with many others about religion. I myself, am an atheist. Whenever I reveal this to someone religious, they quickly try to change my mind or tell me that I am sad because I don't have god in my life. I'm not sad by the way, I am a good person and I'm perfectly happy with myself, my life and the people in it. Then I proceed to tell them I fully respect their beliefs and opinions and I'm very happy for them that they have found comfort in god and I would never try to impose my own beliefs or lack of on them... So please don't impose on me.
That being said, perhaps for some of these parents, that statement about their hearts being empty is true. Their children is the most treasured presence in their life and there is NOTHING wrong with that. There is NOTHING sad about that.
Everyone has something in their life that makes them happy. For everyone in this blog, it is not children. Maybe it's travel, maybe blogging or other various hobbies or jobs. There's nothing wrong with that either. Wonderful for everyone who has found peace within their lives.!! But you have to consider for a minute, that just maybe, for the mother who posted that on Facebook, her kids really have filled her heart in a way that it couldn't be filled before.
At some point, this vicious cycle of judgement has got to stop.

SSue said...

Amen, sisters.