I read a post recently on artshub.com.au entitled “Why artists don’t have kids”. Basically the author (a mother by age 25) had noticed that many of the creative twenty and thirty-somethings of her acquaintance had forgone having children and she was wondering why.
“Parenting takes time, money and energy” she writes, “all resources that are equally sucked by a creative career”. She concludes that it’s a shame if artists miss out on having babies just for these reasons, because:
While having children inevitably produces logistical hurdles and organisational requirements, it also becomes one more life challenge to grapple with, and a choice that ultimately enriches lives and careers, more than hindering them.
Some of the people commenting below had taken umbrage to her ideas. I myself objected to her suggestion that having children is “a choice that ultimately enriches lives and careers” – what, everyone’s, every time, or just hers? Speak for yourself, I said. It’s offensive and excluding to generalize like this – it points to a lack in those who choose not to have children, not to mention a lack in those who don’t feel enriched by parenting.
Also, with no experience of the alternative – by which I mean a life as a non-mother beyond the childbearing years – you aren’t qualified to judge whether it’s less “rich” or not.
I forgot all about this until I was alerted to a reply to my comment, which read:
I don’t understand… all women who have children have experience of the alternative… we have all been childless before having children. We understand what it means to not have them.
How to count the ways this annoys me. Can I be the only one who thinks that being a non-parent in your twenties and thirties, in a culture where it’s not remotely unusual and where many of your friends and peers are still childfree (the majority of mine had kids in their mid to late-thirties), is the same as being a permanent non-parent in your forties and beyond? Do I even have to point out the social, cultural and psychological differences between the two positions?
You hear this notion expressed frequently, if you’re looking in the places I’m looking, and it flabbergasts me that people think their experience as a young non-parent could be the same as a middle-aged or elderly one. Clearly in these cases having kids didn’t “enrich” the grey matter.