sisters of resistance

anti-imperialist pro-vegan radical queer feminist hip-hop & grime revolutionaries.

The case against having children — November 9, 2017

The case against having children

I am a thirty three year old woman with a secure job in a long term relationship with a man seven years my junior. We are both at the start of promising careers, me in education and he in catering and music. We have been together for five solid years, are deeply in love, and live together part of the time with the intention of soon making it full time. Nearly all of the couples we know have children. He is godfather to a bright and beautiful six year old girl, who we see often; we have close friends with one and two year olds, and at family parties there are usually five or six little ones running round and playing in the back garden. We are active in their care, babysitting on request and voluntarily; there is no shortage of interaction with children in our lives. We smile at their sweetness, sigh over their cuteness and giggle along with them at their silliness. We head them off if they are about to hurt themselves, cuddle them when they cry, play with them, speak to them gently, and truly love them. 

And yet. The likelihood that he and I are going to have children of our own is a possibility growing further and further away with each passing year. My rejection of the social script to progress from the stage we are now at, to marriage, and then children, at the expectation of others is a commitment that in my mind is nearly as strong as our commitment to each other. When people ask me, “Do you want kids?” my standard answer is, “It varies…between ‘maybe’ and ‘hell no!’” The older I get the more it has become clear that the conscious choice I have always made to prevent pregnancy has been the right one for me.  

That I have come to this conclusion surprises me as much as it confuses others. Most of my life I have wanted to be someone’s mother. I have daydreamed about what I would name my children, how I would teach them to be good people, what languages they would speak and what family heirlooms I would pass on to them. But as I have come to the realisation that having children is not something that makes sense for me in the immediate or short term future, the rationale has taken shape in my mind. So, I present below the reasons that make up my current case against having children, for reasons other than not liking them, loosely organised into THINGS I WANT and THINGS I DON’T WANT.  

I want to remain the protagonist of my life. I don’t want to have to constantly be thinking about someone who for at least 20 or so years (until I am in my 50s) cannot care for themselves. I do not want to spend my 30s changing diapers and bedsheets for a being that wees and shits all over itself and me. I do not want to have year after year of very little sleep and sore nipples from breastfeeding. I do not want to research the best things to feed toddlers or then latest parenting method; instead I would rather work on my research papers. I do not want to have to go to bed early so I can wake up to wash them, feed them breakfast, and take them to school at 8am. I do not want to move houses so we can be in a better school catchment area. I do not want to clean crayon off the walls or have small items around the house suddenly go missing. I do not want to take a tiny being to expensive places like Disneyland and put all my effort into making them happy when they are young if it will be just a blip in their memory when they grow up.  

I want to spend my money on myself, on gifts for loved ones already living, on traveling and have something saved for retirement. I don’t want to feel obligated to buy the latest toy to make them smile only to have them forget about it a few weeks later. I don’t want to be hassled at the grocery store where the aisle of sweets is strategically placed at a child’s eye level. I don’t want the negative vibes that come from continuously denying the requests of someone I love, minor and ridiculous though they may be.  

I don’t want to raise a child in late capitalism who will be socialised into a generation so far removed from my childhood that I don’t understand their culture, logic and way of thinking. I don’t want to to be disturbed by the music they listen to, the technology they are obsessed with. I don’t want to have to speak in child-friendly language and terminology for days or months or years at a time. I don’t want to have to explain everything, because I would feel that responsibility. I don’t want to have to deal with teen sexting and adolescent porn use and the impact these will undoubtedly have on their self-esteem and sexual development. I want to have adult conversations and I also want to be able to avoid the lies that parents sometimes have to tell. Like that the world will be ok when they grow up, or that I am sure they will find a job and pay off that student loan. I don’t want to raise a child with Western expectations of material pleasure and success without the means to help them actually achieve those objectives. I don’t want to watch my child’s generation be less successful than me, as this is the trend we are currently in and which doesn’t look like it will end anytime soon.  

I want to drastically reduce my carbon footprint in a way that I could never do simply by keeping the heat down and the lights off. I want to be able to distribute my love widely and not have it concentrated on one or two precious beings who will then keep my hands full and unable to serve others. I want to follow in the traditions of religious who devoted themselves to their work and to their spiritual practice by not marrying and having a family. I have always been inspired by women of the cloth, as in generations past that would have been the only way for someone like me to have a life of the mind. I understand how much effort it takes to live a life that intentional and for this reason I love that their clothing was referred to as ‘habit.’ If we make our clothing a habit the energy we expend on selecting items of dress and beautifying ourselves is much reduced and there is effort left over for other, more important things. Once children arrive, they become the subjects of ultimate importance, and as such, assume their rightful place in the priority list. If all is as it should be, everything else comes after. Babies are helpless beings who depend on us to satisfy their every need. I associate this relationship of dependency, at least the way we have arranged it in contemporary Western nuclear-family capitalism, with a requirement for selfless, unconditional giving on one hand, and a learned behaviour of demanding and taking on the other. If it was a relationship between adults I would call it abuse, but it is not in a child’s nature to do anything different. This imbalance is enough to drive one to mental illness, as the many mothers with post-natal depression will tell you. Thus, much like nuns once opted for uniform clothing, I choose to be child free in order to preserve energy and sanity for my work in the world.  

Advertisements
Sunflowers (a poem for Black Lives) — August 5, 2016

Sunflowers (a poem for Black Lives)

They are even afraid of our songs of love’
Carlos Bulosan

sunflowersVanGogh.jpg

Van Gogh wrote that the sunflowers in his paintings communicated ‘gratitude’.

 for the son of Korryn Gaines and the Movement for Black Lives

Van Gogh painted sunflowers
close, in a vase
his yellow a hue
fresh to the cadre

a vision sliced through reality
with a brush and pallet knife

For artists, activists,
seekers of truth
in this generation
the narrative is broken
each vision is different
each invented colour is new
but we paint with it anyway

the ability
to remain willfully
ignorant
is privilege

today we choose to believe
the child eyewitnesses

Like sunflowers
with our heads bowed
we form secret circles
take to the streets
because
they still killing us

A shut down is sensation
But what options are left
When they refuse to hear
our songs of love?

The Long Journey: Sending Love to Grace Lee Boggs — September 30, 2014

The Long Journey: Sending Love to Grace Lee Boggs

99 year-old legendary American activist Grace Lee Boggs has been in hospice care in her Detroit home for the past two weeks. Recent posts on her social media outlets have intimated that Boggs may be “coming to the end of a long journey,” as she has put it. She is not conducting interviews, taking phone calls or receiving visitors. After a lifetime of inspirational and powerful community activism, having been at the forefront every major social justice movement in recent American history, including civil rights, feminism and environmental justice, she has earned a well-deserved rest.

However, her work does not stop – the posts also note that her contributions will be celebrated and advanced at an October conference called, “Reimagining Work and Culture” to be held Oct 18-20 in Detroit.

We at Sisters of Resistance would like and express our deep love and gratitude to Grace for her incredible life work, and send love to her and to her family, with our wishes for peace and strength at this time.

Read the whole article at Detroit Free Press.

UPDATE, 28 Nov 2014: Grace’s trustees have made an urgent request for donations to help support Grace during her time in hospice care. If you can, please make a donation here.

Body Love – Mary Lambert — January 31, 2014
Self-Care Guide for Survivors — May 16, 2013

Self-Care Guide for Survivors

We wrote this brief self-care guide for people who have experienced trauma, especially rape and sexual assault. It suggests a number of practical ways to cope with the day-to-day stresses of being a survivor. Please take it, share it, and tailor it to your own needs. We hope it is helpful to you on your journey towards healing. 

Reminder: Take Care of Myself

1.    Clear your space of the things that will trigger you. Toss their stuff out, Febreze rooms of their smell, delete pictures and emails and messages in your phone. Your trauma is real, and you don’t need external reminders of it.

2.    Exercise. Walk, run, stretch, swim, move. Do whatever you need to get your body to breathe. Massage tight places to release tension. Energy can get stuck there and you may not notice it for years. Moving your body allows it to talk to you, tell you what it needs. Be sure to listen.

Eat right. Raw fruits and vegetables are your friends. Even if you don’t feel like eating, stay hydrated. Keeping physically healthy helps you hold on. You are precious, like water; the world cannot afford to lose even a single drop.

3.    Get familiar with your coping mechanisms. Make connections between your experiences of stress and drinking, or stress and drugs, or smoking, shopping, eating or not eating. Rate your coping mechanisms from good-for-you! to “bad” and “worst”. Aim to do more of the good, less of the bad, and eliminate those in the “worst” by substituting in better things. Don’t beat yourself up when you fall off, but have a plan in place for how to get back on.

4.    Stop blaming yourself. The story of your transition from victim to survivor is your vehicle to this. It will take some work but remember you are the protagonist, whoever hurt you is a bad person, and now you are writing how the story will end. If this method seems to wear thin, watch Staceyann Chin videos as often as you like to remind yourself that what happened to you was not your fault.

5.    You have already been through the war, but as in battle, it is good to know the difference between a strategy and a tactic. Strategies are long-range plans to reach an intended goal. First comes the goal. Make it a positive one in the present tense, for example, I love myself, so I take care of my body. The strategy might then be to practice loving yourself from one moment to the next.

Tactics are the baby steps you take to make your strategy happen. A variety is needed for the many roads you’ll encounter. For example: when I feel like throwing up, I will leave the bathroom, take 5 deep breaths, sip peppermint tea. Or: when I want to self-harm, I will put on my jacket and go for a walk. Or: when I can’t stop crying, I will write in my journal. I will do yoga. I will call a friend. Use your tactics to support the hard work of day-to-day survival.

6.    Listen to yourself. You know more than you give yourself credit for: when to stop, when to seek help, when to steel yourself and push through the pain. Turn off the TV when the show starts to trigger you; leave the theatre when the film twists your insides into a knot. Speak your truth when a. you feel safe enough to do so, or b. when silence poses the greater danger. Force yourself to unplug from all digital devices when it is 3AM and you need to be up in the morning. Quiet the mind and open yourself to the sound of your inner voice. It is there to protect you, to keep you free, safe and out of harm’s way.

7.    When you meet anyone who doesn’t believe you, won’t listen to you, or reminds you of what happened, walk away. Don’t look back. Boundaries exist for a reason – use them. Don’t feel guilty for deleting their texts, not answering their calls, or responding to their mail. You owe them nothing. The future is a gift you should give to yourself. The occasion is imminent, and the best time is now.

What are some of your top self-care tips, strategies and tactics?

Put them in the comments below.

%d bloggers like this: