Jana Says

Living life from cover to cover

Everything an experienced mom wants to say to the new mom pressuring people to have kids

I’m not ordinarily a fan of open letters but my panties were in such a huge bunch after reading this letter that I had to respond with one of my own. 

Dear Jessica,

I’m going to assume it’s okay to call you that even though we don’t know each other because you made so many assumptions about people you don’t know that we’ll start this by leveling the playing field. 

With that out of the way, I want to say, from one mom to another, congrats on your baby. Motherhood is a wild ride and I wish you only the best. 

Now let me say this–how fucking dare you pass judgement on anyone who doesn’t want to have kids. That is their business, not yours. How fucking dare you attempt, with your holier than thou attitude, invalidate all their reasons not to have kids. All of the reasons you sarcastically and condescendingly dismissed are legit, completely valid reasons to not have children. And you know what else is a completely valid reason? NOT FUCKING WANTING THEM. That’s it. That’s all that it is. If someone doesn’t want to have kids, that’s fine and it’s not for you to comment on. I’ve been a mom for 10 years now and if there’s one thing I learned it’s that someone else’s uterus is none of my fucking business. 

Also, I’m concerned why you care. Are you looking for mom friends? We can be friends. I’ll talk to you about all things motherhood. Are you looking for kudos that you’re a mom? Well, that you’re not going to get from me. Are you looking for content pieces that stir up controversy? To that I say, well done! Mission accomplished!

But seriously, it really shouldn’t matter to you if someone has a child or not. It is a huge responsibility and if someone doesn’t want to make that choice, it’s really not your place to push it on them. If anything, it’ll just make people hate you. I’m pretty sure that’s the last thing you want or need right now. Being a mom is hard enough without you isolating your friends or getting hate mail from strangers on the internet. And let me be clear–I do not hate you. I don’t hate someone I don’t know (usually. There are some exceptions). I do, however, take issue with most of what you wrote and I feel compelled to address it not only on my behalf but on behalf of my friends who are childfree by choice and those who are without children for other circumstances (and, if there’s any doubt I stand in solidarity with my childfree friends, you should check out these promises I made to them a few years back).

You mention that people with children are less selfish and more aware of other children and more concerned with the future. I don’t even know where to start with that. Do you know many parents? Because I do. And I can tell you that I know parents who are 100 times more selfish and less concerned for the future than a good number of my childfree (childless is a rude word, by the way) friends. I have friends who volunteer and raise money and advocate and participate in activities that work to secure a better country, world, and yes, future, for OUR kids. They don’t have to do that. But they do. And I know parents who do absolutely nothing except rely on the actions of people like my friends to protect their kids. 

Interesting, right? 

Also, not having a biological child doesn’t mean you have no kids in your life. Those same friends I mentioned above? Almost all of them are aunts and uncles, and some are stepparents, to kids related by blood and by choice. They show up to birthday parties and recitals and babysit and do all the things parents do. Sometimes they even do them when the parents can’t (or won’t. But we won’t discuss that). They are role models and positive influences and affect the daily lives of these kids. They appreciate baby giggles and toddler cuddles and getting school pictures and all that jazz. And, believe it or not, they are aware of the plight of all children  and want to see them live in a peaceful world as well.

Being a parent does not give you a monopoly or exclusive rights to awareness, empathy, and sympathy. 

You mention leaving a legacy as part of that sympathy so let’s address it next. I agree with you that having a kid gives you an irreplaceable legacy. But why do you assume that nonparents can’t leave one? Look at Dolly Parton. She didn’t have kids and I can assure you that what she’s done for her industry and for her hometown and yes, kids, will live on way after she’s gone. We are all connected to the future and we all want to leave behind something better than what we were given. Not just parents. 

Okay. Moving on to happiness. This topic is so broad that I could probably devote an entire website to it but rather than do that, I want to tell you this–being a parent doesn’t make you more or less happy than your friends who aren’t. It makes you differently happy. I don’t care what. “research” says. You cannot compare the two. There is a different joy that comes with seeing your kid walk for the first time than going to that amazing new restaurant. There is a different pleasure you derive from seeing your kid perform than seeing your favorite band. There is a different happiness you get from having your kid see Cinderella’s castle in person than hopping that last minute flight to London. I could go on but you seem smart so I won’t. But let me be clear–different does not mean less. It simply means different. And that is absolutely fine. 

One final thing. I agree with you that parenting changes your perspective on the world. Being a parent means that you have to think about and focus on events and situations and make choices not only based on how they affect you but how they affect that tiny person you’re responsible for. It’s a lot of fucking pressure. It certainly isn’t fun most days, particularly those grueling newborn days. But it’s rewarding and wonderful and challenging and crazy and interesting and a choice I’m so glad I made. I believe you feel the same way. HOWEVER. It’s not for you to peer pressure someone else into doing it because parenthood is the best choice you made. It’s wrong. And offensive.

Before I sign off, I want to give you this pro parenting tip: Just because you’re a parent doesn’t mean you lose yourself. Being “mom” doesn’t mean you cease being “Jessica”. It’s important now, more than ever, to make sure you stay connected to your friends, family, and hobbies. Especially since your husband is overseas and you live far away from family, it’s crucial to do what you can to stay active and engaged with others. Bring your daughter along! Trust when I say that most people don’t mind if your daughter comes to lunch or to a Netflix binge. Yes, you might have to pause for a diaper change or a feeding but if it’s a true friend, they won’t care. And those are the people you’re going to need the most. But if your attitude towards them is the same one you portray in that letter, they’ll leave you. I guarantee it.

So, that’s it. I hope, if anything, you’ve learned that passing judgement on someone else’s reproductive choices is bullshit. Doing so deepens the divide and really, it accomplishes nothing. You need to be happy with your choice and let others be happy with theirs. 

Love,

Jana

resized signature 2

18 Comments

  1. Marcie

    Not to mention the thousands of us that don’t feel that “all-encompassing love” right away… I love my son fiercely, but I can’t say that was true for the first few months of his life.

    Reply
    1. FF @ Femme Frugality

      Amen! The Elite Daily post is exactly the kind of judgemental drivel that intensifies post partum depression for many women. Just because you felt one way after childbirth does not mean that all women experienced the same thing. And promoting that feeling as a pro to parenthood intensifies guilt, which intensifies all the other symptoms. For many women, having a child is a mental health hell induced by the same hormone swings that made Jessica feel euphoric. And there’s nothing abnormal about that either way.
      FF @ Femme Frugality recently posted…Do #GivingTuesday in a Sustainable WayMy Profile

      Reply
  2. Stephanie

    I completely sign my name to everything you say (except the parts where you talk about actually being a mother.) I have nothing to add. Perfect.
    Oh wait I will say this – people who write articles like that, people who think like Jessica and feel the need to share that, those are people who are wholly unfulfilled in their lives, disappointed in the choices they made, and looking for outside validation to make themselves feel better. They will never find it.
    Stephanie recently posted…Ways to Stay Productive and Focused on Busy DaysMy Profile

    Reply
  3. Jenn @ Optimization, Actually

    I think the most interesting thing she said was about being less “happy” with kids, but that it didn’t matter because blah blah blah. That’s almost surprising for me to hear because so many people are on board with prioritizing happiness (and happiness projects and so on). But yeah, like you said, I don’t think research can really indicate how an experience will work out for each individual when it comes to something as personal as choosing whether or not to procreate. It’s so intangible and hard to measure for one, and everyone finds happiness in different things. I hope that having a kid will make me happy, albeit in different ways than I’ve found happiness up until that point, BUT I’m also a little scared that it won’t and that I’m about to embark on 18 years of misery. I totally understand why people would make the choice to not have kids and I absolutely agree with you that no one needs to justify that choice. It’s not like we’re running low on people and we definitely have an overabundance of crappy ones.

    “Having kids makes you less selfish”? Pah! Someone should have told that to my dad and his dad before him. Based on my personal observation, we just continue to pass down the same shitty traits we have, rather than becoming better people and raising decent children (fingers crossed I can break the chain for some of our inherited bullshit).

    Reply
  4. SMD @ Life According to Steph

    Yes yes yes and thank you.

    Sorry Jessica, I think something is missing in YOUR life for you to write something like this.

    Reply
  5. Allison

    :::slow clapping:::: (while also furious)

    Oh my god, that letter. Is she kidding? She’s kidding, right?

    For obvious reasons this makes my BLOOD BOIL but you hit the nail on the head on every single absurd and offensive word she wrote. What I appreciate even MORE is that you wrote this and you ARE a parent. Thank you for that.

    Reply
  6. Tanya @ A Mindful Migration

    I did not read her letter because it is Monday morning and I have not yet had coffee and I don’t want to inadvertently cause an earthquake in LA when my anger erupts. Your very eloquent response told me everything I needed to know. I don’t get it. Seriously. I don’t have kids and don’t plan to have them. But I understand why people want them. I just have never felt that urge myself and it would be ridiculously stupid to have a kid because – peer pressure. Kids are an absolute blessing and they deserve parents who want them, will treasure them and will care for them. And sadly, not all kids are born into those kinds of families. But to assume that everyone should want to be a parent and to not want to be one makes me bad somehow is stupid. I don’t assume people are stupid for wanting to be parents; I cheer them on! So don’t assume I’m stupid for not wanting to be one. I think it makes me smart and UNselfish to know myself that well.
    Tanya @ A Mindful Migration recently posted…Happy ThanksgivingMy Profile

    Reply
  7. Linda Sheridan

    Holier than thou attitudes are the worst. May who have
    Reproduced should have stayed childless!
    It’s overkill doing anything today, especially raising children.
    Lights and Angels and love to all, whatever you choose!

    Love, Steph’s Momma

    Reply
  8. Nadine

    Oh my, reading her letter I was like ummmm wtf??? I have to cosign everything you said here. Clearly she needs some validation in her life if this is how she feels. It is none of her business or concern if there are people out there that don’t want kids. There are many legit reasons and you know what…you don’t have to have any reason at all other than you don’t want to. Parenthood isn’t for everyone. Parenthood doesn’t qualify you as a caring, selfless or decent person either. There are plenty of parents out there that are super shitty.

    Reply
  9. Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders

    I love all of your points in this post so much! Just because somebody doesn’t want to have kids doesn’t make them any less than a person than those people that do. Why do we have to belittle people for their choices in life?

    Reply
  10. Lindsay

    At 31 I am “childless” and can also assure you that I care about the environment and Aleppo and peace and the world. I am also an aunt to a sweet niece who I love more than my life. What is wrong with this woman? Thank you for your kind words here. I feel there is a lot of pressure to have children and truthfully I’m just not ready. Perhaps that is selfish but that’s the way it is! .

    Reply
  11. Connie

    Thank you for posting this. I read Jessica’s letter, and a lot of the comments directly following it, and am comforted by how many folks out there – with children or not – who are supportive of people who are not parents. I’m going to be 34 next week, and would love to have kids. But given that I’m not in a relationship, and I most likely could not afford to have one right now biologically or not, I don’t think it’s fair to my future child(ren) that I could not provide for him/her. I have been asked endlessly for years from relatives, acquaintances, etc when I’m going to have kids, as if it’s as easy as picking up groceries from the store. I kick myself sometimes for wanting to be part of this exclusive club called Motherhood/Parenthood, because it’s true how some existing parents make childfree people feel. I’ve been told “ugh, you don’t know what it’s like to have someone depend on you” or “when you’re a mother you’ll understand.” As if I’m not capable of feeling what they feel. It hurts to hear someone else imply your life is of lesser value than theirs because they have a child and you don’t.

    I genuinely appreciate you speaking out. Hopefully children of parents like Jessica will learn true kindness, compassion, and respect.

    Reply
  12. Heather Lockhart

    I love your letter. I am childfree currently but that doesn’t mean that I don’t spend a significant chunk of my time mentoring, volunteering, and participating in activities of children that are and aren’t related to me. (Btw, Reading her letter made me think she was trying to convince herself…)

    Reply
  13. Kristin

    Brava.
    She totally sounded like she was trying to make herself feel better about her own choices. Very defensive.
    Also, I wonder if these websites/publications understand how much of their audience they absolutely alienate with this kind of “writing”? (it’s more like venting)
    I don’t take anything on the Huff Post seriously anymore for this reason.

    Reply
  14. Rebecca Jo

    PREAACHHHHH….
    My heart is beating so crazy … women like that is what makes it miserable for someone like me who doesn’t have children of my own. Why someone else even cares or passes judgement about it, BLOWS MYMIND!!!!!!!
    I need you in my corner every day to battle thoughtless people like that lady.

    Reply
  15. Jess

    She completely lost me at the point where she said the first eight weeks were utter bliss. Maybe it’s because my child just turned eight weeks, but what kind of crack is she smoking. I get it, I am still in utter amazement of my kid, but by no means are the first few months bliss. I would pay for sleep right now. Maybe she has a magic perfect baby. I agree with you on all points. That selfish thing really irks me. My MIL and FIL love to mention how their other son is too selfish to have kids. Having kids is unrelated to how selfish someone is. Even if he was a 100% selfish jerk, it’s not because he’s not having kids. There are so many people who don’t have kids and are selfless, it’s ridiculous.

    Reply
  16. texerinsydney

    Please tell me that you sent this letter to Jessica or elitedaily.
    Thank you for writing this on behalf of those of us who never experienced child birth. Every point that you make is sheer perfection.
    texerinsydney recently posted…Sunday’s Seven Snapshots vol.100My Profile

    Reply
  17. Audrey

    I’m sure she didn’t mean for it to be, but Jessica’s letter is so toxic. It passes ridiculous judgement over those who choose not to have children and it’s a punch to the gut for those who CAN’T have children. That said, I have friends with kids who have inadvertently made me feel the way Jessica’s letter makes me feel. I don’t understand that mentality. I so appreciate your letter. It takes all kinds of kinds- parents and nonparents and adopted parents and fill-in parents. We don’t have kids, but we’d like to someday, and not for ANY of the reasons Jessica mentioned. I feel like my compassion and happiness runs deep, even without kids. Thank you for penning this response.
    Audrey recently posted…Dear Santa‚ĶMy Profile

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge