I just finished reading an article titled, “Why Can’t I Get Sterilised In My 20s?” Wait. Shouldn’t it be “steriliZed”? Anyway. It reminded me of the frustration I faced when I tried to get a vasectomy. While most of this rant will be about my story, I did want to address a few things I found in Ms. Brockwell’s article.
First of all, I am absolutely convinced that people, even medical professionals, treat women differently on the topic of reproduction. I mean, clearly this is the case in abortion. Regardless of religions or political beliefs, we have a culture of “child worship”, as George Carlin put it. The idea that a woman does not want to have children is so foreign to them, that they become almost hostile about it. I’m not sure if it’s because our culture expects women to have “mother” as their goal in life, or if women who don’t want children are seen as rebellious to the established order of things, or if it’s something else. Luckily, I know quite a few women who do not want children. I am optimistic that this is the beginning of a trend, and more and more women will step back and consider if they are having children because they want to have them, or because they are expected to have them.
The next point I would like to address is this wonderfully spot on quote, from the article.
“I repeatedly explained, I’ve probably put more thought into my decision not to have children than many people put into their decision to have them.” – Holly Brockwell
This is such an accurate quote, that I want to really dig into it. Coming from a long line of uneducated white trash, having children was almost a magical occurrence. As if it were voodoo or something. All of the sudden, one day, you were pregnant. No idea how it happened. Just boom. No thought was put into it. No planning. Just fucking without protection, and then by some coincidence, pregnancy. Ironically, just as my study of religion makes me an atheist, thinking about children and the consequences of that, made me not want to be a parent. When you’re expected to have children, you don’t think about it. You just do it. You act on instinct. To fight instinct, requires careful thought and planning.
Ok. Now back to me. When my mom was 25 or so, she had three children. I was the oldest. Then, because my dad was always busy working, she had a nervous breakdown. Later, she decided (probably the smartest decision she ever made) to have her tubes tied. Roughly ten years later, my parent’s priest told them that they were going to hell for interrupting god’s plan. Thus, they adopted two children.
Here’s the thing. My mom should never have been a parent. She hated noise and messiness, both of which are kind of inherent in children. She saw everything as a crisis, and was way way way WAY too fucking young to be a parent. Maybe she could handle it now, but back then, she was not even in the same realm as ready. My dad still was busy working all the time, so she had no support… except for the three of us older children. I was about 15 at the time. So my siblings and I helped my mom raise these two little children. It was around this time that I realized I didn’t want to do this. I didn’t mind helping out, but it clearly wasn’t for me. Added to that, I have a family history of both addiction and mental illness, both of which are hereditary. I figured, if my child had to go through half of what I’ve gone through, it would be cruel of me to allow it. If a parent’s job is to protect your children, sometimes that means protecting them from yourself.
Now fast forward a few years. I’m in my early 20s. I have a job with healthcare. I ask to have a vasectomy. I got most of the same push back as Ms. Brockwell. I was too young, I hadn’t thought it through, what if I changed my mind, what if I fell in love with someone who did want children, etc. Meanwhile, if someone has a child at 15. And 17. And 19. No one steps in to say, “hey, maybe you should think about some birth control.” Having children is good. Not having them is bad. Let me be very clear on this point. That is PURE BULLSHIT.
I’m all for choice. If you chose to have children, and don’t damage them, have fun. On the opposite side, if someone chooses not to have children, why stand in their way? It was their decision either way. As long as no one is forcing it upon them, they have made their choice and will live with the consequences. Why do parents believe they know more than non parents? I have met far too many parents who have barely graduated high school, if they did at all. They want to give me advice on what to do with my life? Are you kidding me? (Yes. Pun intended.)
Finally, when I was 26, I found a doctor that would perform the surgery. Oddly enough, this doctor didn’t even care how old I was. Either because I had passed whatever age limit they had, or if it’s just about finding the right doctor. I signed my waiver. They said I had to take a week to “think about it” as if the previous decade wasn’t enough time. The whole procedure took 15 minutes plus, and I’m not making this up, 30+ minutes of prep.
Now I can’t have children. It’s been a few years since I had this surgery, and at NO POINT have I regretted it. Second only to moving away from my home town, this is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Every time I see some out of control monster terrorizing their parents at the grocery store, I get the biggest smile, and think to myself, “that will never be me.”
Let’s talk about the bigger picture here. I’m not sure if this is sexist or not. I don’t intend to be, and am only pointing out my observations. The only man I can think of who actively WANTED children, was my dad. He claims that in his year book, he said he wanted a large family. Every other guy I’ve talked to has the same basic idea on the topic. They want to get laid. They like a particular person. They only way they can continue to have sex with this person is to have children. They have children.
Conversely, most women do want children. I’m lucky to live in a well educated location, so most of these women want to wait, and have a career before settling (down). However, as I pointed out, there is a strongly growing group of women who have decided, for whatever reason, not to have children. The reasons could range from health issues, to financial reasons, to simply not wanting to bring another life into the world. I think this should be applauded, and more voice given to them. I knew this woman who wanted to have children at a young age. She couldn’t understand why I didn’t. A few years later, she told me that most of her friends agreed with me. Having children didn’t necessarily equate to happiness or fulfillment. I think “women should have children” is a stereotype, in a way. One that needs to be demolished. If you know someone who doesn’t want children, instead of vilifying them, why not ask them for their perspective.