Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The occasional smug childless person

I get being smug about parenthood.  I spent almost my entire twenties thinking people who decided to have children were complete dumb asses.  Smugness in the under thirty set is understandable.

Smug childless persons over age those folks start to get on my nerves.  By the time you are 40, you should have a couple things in your backpack.  A little wisdom.  A little more compassion.  A stop sign to be used at the end of your tongue so that not everything you think gets mentioned to people whom you don't know well.

By the time you are 40, even if you don't have children, you probably have nieces or nephews or friends with children.  You've probably had the experience of seeing firsthand just how exhausting and annoying parenthood can be.  You've also probably lived long enough to know that most big experiences in life, like marriage and homeownership and major chronic illness, are things you can't fully understand until you live through them.

Someone I don't know very well but with whom I have occasional interactions (usually at a time when my kids are doing zumba on my very last nerve) has a tendency to mention that he doesn't have children.  As in, "See, I'm so smart I didn't have kids because I knew that they are a pain in the ass."  As in, "See, you're so dumb you went and procreated 3 times.  Did I mention I'm childless and so much smarter than you?"

At its worst, parenthood makes me feel like I have 3 large leeches sucking the very marrow of my core.  At its best, I feel like I know the meaning of life and true joyful love.

Being a parent has been the absolute biggest stretch of hardcore personal development I've ever experienced.  I think a parent of any merit spends quite a bit of time rehashing his/her life, personality, behavior, beliefs and attitudes in the hopes this reflection will make him/her a better parent and, therefore, a better guide for his/her child.

So, yes, maybe I'm sleep-deprived, a little ragged, frayed, suffering the effects of an almost decade long bad hair day.
But you, my smug childless 40-something acquaintance, are an ass.  

1 comment:

Swistle said...

I like this. YES, there can be an age at which we forgive a little smugness in just about any direction, and then after that they need to have realized how annoying/wrong that is. I expect people after a certain age to think, "If the species is going to continue, then SOMEONE has to have children." Then they may, if they like, privately feel relieved that not EVERYONE has to---but it must be tinged with gratitude that someone else is willing to take on the burden.