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You Need Kids Like A Hole In The Head

I don’t mean to make anyone here feel real stupid or anything but I’m a certified college graduate. That’s right, I have a bachelor’s degree in psychology so I know a hella lot about human development. I’m more than a little proud to say that I took no less than FOUR courses on Human Development and I don’t know what the cutoff is until you become an expert in developing humans, but I’m pretty sure that I’m close.

One of my more memorable classes was a child development course I took at Columbus State Community College. It was exciting all right, being the lone 30 year old student surrounded by the least interesting group of late teenage kids ever assembled. Whatever, I had a Pell Grant and could buy my own beer! The first day of class, our instructor had all of the students go around the room and tell the class why they believe that their parents had them. Our answers were adorable:

“my mom always wanted kids”
“my parents didn’t want to raise my older brother without a sibling”
“They were lonely…” (Seriously, someone said that. Out loud even.)

“Did you ever think,” my savvy instructor said “that your parents had no plan in the first place?”

Turns out that most of my classmates had not, in fact, considered that they were never planned. As if people all over the world are doing the nasty tonight and screaming “put a baby in me!!” Who knows, some of you hipsters like banjo music so anything is possible, I suppose. Back in my day we had sex because we liked it.

Now, I know that there are lots of people out there who are spending a lot of time and money into trying to have kids and my heart goes out to them but I never tried to have kids. That’s why I’m so damn confused by the latest New York Magazine article that implies baby making is like deciding which jaunty font to use for your work e-mail signature.

Have kids, don’t have kids. You won’t get a medal either way. How much control do you think we have of this stuff anyway? I ask you, Ann Freidman of New York Magazine, don’t you remember Jeff Goldblum’s cool speech in Jurassic Park?

All children should be unwanted in the same way mine were. I was pregnant while still young enough to never have had a real dream of motherhood so I didn’t have unrealistic expectations and old enough to know that I had better not fuck this up so I read a shitload about babies. I was still a pretty half assed young mother but at least I had a well used library card and I wasn’t afraid to ask questions.

I am forever grateful that I downed a bottle of vodka and wasn’t on the pill one particular September evening in 1993 because I love my kids. Their start in life was a little bohemian and probably a little distasteful to some sensabilities. Some of you fine people have your life together and have all of the cash, appropriate digs and a supportive partner necessary for well-bred humans and good for you! I hope that your underwater birth provides you with the vegan sprog of your dreams. The rest of us on this planet marvel at your ability to control everything.

Your or my decision to breed is probably not going to change the course of history. But, if you want to have a baby because you think it might be cool or if you’re suddenly pregnant and not completely convinced that you will either end up becoming or raising a serial killer, ok then. So continue with your pregnancy or don’t but the idea that you can have a blissful life because of one or another variable needs to be aborted, like now.


Katie Anderson is a freelance writer and improv theater instructor. Her work has appeared in Alt Daily , HuffPost Parents and Anderson has written comedy for Panties in a Twist: All Female Comedy and a weekly live stage show, Second City This Week in Los Angeles. She is currently working on a practical guide for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals to be published sometime in the next few years (get off her back, it's hard to write a book). Katie holds a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She lives with her academic rock star husband, one of her three kids and two very spoiled cats in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @ improvperson.

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  1. I don’t mean to be harsh, but your article is a bit self-serving. Yes, you figured things out, but why insult people who either 1. plan pregnancies when they have their act together or 2. continue their pregnancies when they find themselves with an unplanned pregnancy for whatever reason.

    I personally believe that babies deserve to be born to families that love, want and are able to care for them. I believe in family planning. I think it should be a part of everyone’s life to decide when and whether to have children and then make choices to pursue that end. But, the world is not perfect. 50% of pregnancies are unplanned…and when that happens, I don’t care why someone decides to carry to term, it’s 100% their choice whether to carry those pregnancies and have those babies.

    Whether someone takes the decision lightly or not. Whether they are ambivalent or not about a pregnancy, it’s still their choice and it doesn’t make them better or worse than you.

  2. Yeah, I’m with Steph. Jeez. People who do what they can not to have kids until they have their lives together aren’t eeeevil. My mother had four (yes, that would be four) unplanned pregnancies. I planned my pregnancies zealously, as I sort of had to, since I was working on a Ph.D and then an academic career. Both of us seem happy with the outcome.

    I don’t see any point to pissing on other people’s choices. That’s not really pro-choice, is it?

    1. I wasn’t pissing on anyone in this post. I will however piss on your reply. I didn’t call anyone eeeeevil or even mean. I have a very measured, if not bitchy, opinion of people who think that they can plan everything,. It worked for you, nice! It doesn’t work that way for everyone and I know lots of people (and no big surprise that they are in academia) who waited, and regret it mostly because it’s harder for them to conceive OR they ended up splitting with their partner. There is nothing anti-choice in my blog post.

      1. I’m sorry! I think you took my comment more seriously than I meant it — I was joking with the eeevil bit. (Channeling the character in the Austin Powers movie.)

        OTOH, how else are we to read this, in your post — “All children should be unwanted in the same way mine were.”

        I mean, I have nothing against people who have unplanned pregnancies and keep the kid. If I’d had an unplanned pregnancy, I would have kept it. I have no doubt about that. But I can’t see anything wrong with people planning pregnancies, either, as I said above.

        As for your claim that you know “lots” of academics who planned their families and regretted it, well, cool story. I know lots who planned their families and have the lives they wanted.

        And I know plenty of people (mostly among my working class students) who had unplanned children (who they love, mind you) and have ended up divorced, broke, and desperate. They’re pulling their lives together now, as students — maybe — but possibly they would have had better lives if they had waited to have children until they were done with their education, or at least on their feet financially.

        Or maybe not. Who knows? The kids they have now are the kids they love. The kid I have now is the perfect kid for me.

        My point, and I do have one, is wtf. Why are you making judgments about other people’s choices?

        1. Planning a pregnancy because it fits in with your life plan just sits with me the wrong way. I’m certainly not saying that it is the worst idea in the world. Buying a car, getting a mortgage, choosing schools…these are all things worthwhile to plan if you have the luxury to do so. People are not so easy. They have issues that you can’t line item.

          I have tons of cool stories about academics. I worked for a lovely feminist chair (and childless as ALL of the tenured women studies professors were in this particular department were) who taught a class in Motherhood who called me to the carpet because my two kids with Autism Spectrum Disorder got sick “without warning”. It was really cool when the HR department decided this was a “personality issue” and terminated me when I complained. That was cool. Also cool to see women in academia not have kids when they wanted them and their pretty crappy pay and egos prevented them from doing what they claimed would make them happy. I realize that women in lots of careers have this issue but you would think, HOPE even that women with terminal degrees would have some sort of voice in issues of life and work. Now, I was just a staff person and married to the real academic but I have buds in the academy and for the most part, they are childless. I have a particular bug up my ass with academia and “life planning”. As if anyone outside of a very few have the type of money to travel or uproot our lives as much as we have to for the all important Career. It’s a total bullshit way to live. At least in the military you get some sort of continuity of services and a housing stipend.

          Speaking of judgement:

          And I know plenty of people (mostly among my working class students) who had unplanned children (who they love, mind you) and have ended up divorced, broke, and desperate. They’re pulling their lives together now, as students — maybe — but possibly they would have had better lives if they had waited to have children until they were done with their education, or at least on their feet financially.

          I’m judgey toward those whom I deem worthy of judgement. If I’m wrong about my opinion, I’ll reconsider. In this case, I stand by what I wrote.

          1. Is it possible that your issue with the word “planned” is that it implies we have control over our lives? Or over our fertility, health and the health of our children? Personally, I laughed at your piece so much because I was a total planner who, of course, didn’t plan for a divorce and subsequent remarriage and blended family. Or pregnancy loss. You could make a plan and it works out perfectly or it mostly works out, but that’s not always the case. Control is an illusion.

          2. And I followed that paragraph with this paragraph:
            “Or maybe not. Who knows? The kids they have now are the kids they love. The kid I have now is the perfect kid for me.”

            I’m sorry you had bad experiences with your employers. I mean that sincerely. I think you are over-applying your personal experience, however.

    1. I’m a planner and I laughed 🙂 I wish I would’ve had a more fun attitude about conception but I treated my body like it was a controlled science experiment. And it worked, but it would’ve been better with more vodka and less planning, haha.

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