In the book I just finished, a 569-page epic by Wallace Stegner titled Angle of Repose, the 1880s heroine, Susan, is an accomplished artist and writer. She is blessed with influential friends who publish everything she sends them. She also lives in a series of mining camps with a husband whose business schemes keep failing, but he refuses to live off his wife’s earnings. It’s quite a story and a delicious read for someone like me who loves to delve into American history.
What does that have to do with being childless by marriage? Susan is not childless. She has three children, but she also has nannies and relatives who deal with the kids, cook the meals, wash the clothes, and clean the home while Susan works. Alas, the book is fiction. Most of us don’t have people like that in our lives. If we had children, we might find it difficult to focus on any creative endeavor or even to juggle a job with childcare and home duties. How can we become “Mom” and still be ourselves? That’s one of many things that might make us hesitate to have children. I know of many women in the arts who have decided they can’t do both.
It’s less of a dilemma for men in most cases because somehow, no matter how much things have changed—and they have changed a lot—women still do most of the childcare and homemaking. Men seem to worry more about the financial aspects and the perceived loss of freedom. How will they keep the kids fed and clothed, how will they get away to go fishing or whatever their hobby is, how will they have sex in the living room?
I know most readers here would gladly take on the challenges for a chance to have children. They’d give anything to hold a baby of their own in their arms. But it’s not hard to understand, in these days when we have a choice, why our partners might hesitate when it comes to having children.
It’s something to think about.
Something else to ponder: Why in the vagaries of the Internet do people keep offering me guest posts about parenting and childcare? Each time, I explain that this blog is for people who don’t have children. Apparently the blog triggers some kind of SEO tag that brings in the mommy bloggers.
For the record, I am interested in guest posts, 600 words max, that are relevant to our Childless by Marriage theme. Pitch me a topic or send me a potential post at email@example.com. I’m sorry, there’s no pay for this, but you would be published and be able to speak directly to our wonderful readers.
3 thoughts on “Fiction vs. the Realities of Parenting”
Funny thing is even without kids, I have to enforce “me” time or it won’t happen. Between hubby, job, aging parents, various commitments, and attempting to manage a home, not much time left for endeavors such as writing or painting. You know though that all moms think I’m bored out of my wits and sit around doing nothing since I don’t have kids.
At age 32 I sat hunched over in pain in the ER after I hurt my back. “You won’t be able to take time off when you have children,” the doctor said.
Children? Did he see me or just a pair of ovaries?
I relate a lot to your 2nd paragraph. I’ve chosen not to have children for various reasons, yet people like that doctor just assume that a child can be had anytime, anywhere, easy peasy. So, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic!
Thanks, Yari. So many people are clueless.
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