Can you afford offspring?

Not tickets to see the band.  I mean the small, loud, often times stinky creatures that make life so fulfilling.  Mine, at any rate.

As I wish desperately that I had some vocation I could dedicate my life to, a nagging but tiny voice says, “Um, pardon me but don’t you love being a Mama?  Don’t you find joy in every aspect of traditional homemaking, from cooking to gardening to organizing?  Isn’t is possible that this is your calling?”

Then of course the rational voice, the part that relies solely on reason, intelligence, logic, the one that has gotten me out of all manner of fixes in the past, the one that usually takes over projects, after my muse has flitted off to something new and exciting, and ensures that they turn out well, this thinking part of my persona retorts with something like, “Hello, you can’t afford to stay home.  Duh.”  (Although it certainly says it more intelligently, throwing out a couple numbers and inserting “thusly” at the correct moment.  I am currently using my feeling self to translate.)

I really and truly do understand the intellectual argument, but every once in a while I just gotta ask, WHAT THE HELL?

How did we get to this point?  Can you imagine a society evolving to the point where the basis of civilization, i.e. continuing the species and cultivating the space wherein it is nurtured, is a hobby or luxury that must be earned by abandoning said space and species and joining an assembly line or squatting in an office cubicle?  

I would never say that everyone should be a parent or that every household needs a full time homemaker.  Some people are obviously so evolved that they can ignore our fundamental animal purpose and have moved on to more lofty purposes.  Acquisition of wealth and power, I guess.  Maybe writing the great American novel.  I honestly have nothing but respect for these decisions.  

But when they turn to me and say, “And you shouldn’t have children either unless you are willing to leave them in daycare or unless you are independently wealthy or unless your partner can land an amazingly well paying job.  Otherwise, you are a lazy loser trying to mooch off of me.”

Why should a poor person not be allowed to choose parenting as a vocation?  Am I the only one who finds this absurd?  

I think the question “Can you afford offspring?” implies that a person’s financial situation is completely a choice.  You COULD have enough money if you weren’t so lazy.  You could earn the right to have kids be your hobby if you worked hard enough.  As though no one ever got stuck, against their will, unable to find work, or unable to find work that pays a living wage.  As though poverty were always simply a bad lifestyle choice (which it certainly is, in some circumstances.  Sniffing glue and ending up living in a dumpster comes to mind).

And if poverty isn’t purely a choice, if there is any element of luck or destiny to it, then the question “Do you have enough money to be a parent?” and our attitude of moral incorrectness that is directed towards poor parents are just cruel.  We are saying that, for reasons beyond your control, you are living in poverty, and therefore you are not allowed to have descendants.  That the continuation of someone’s genetic code, the enjoyment of having rugrats and the pursuit of the support of children in one’s old age are activities that only the financially lucky deserve to engage in.

Does any of this make sense, or have I gone off the deep end?  Is my rational self forgetting to remind me of some key logical step that makes our current view of parenting completely reasonable?  


Filed under society, work

4 responses to “Can you afford offspring?

  1. Great post! I feel as you do. I believe I will have to visit again.

  2. I hope you do visit again! Thanks for reading and commenting.

  3. Wonderful insights, Elena! Thanks for sharing. Thusly. 😉

  4. Thanks for reading, Carma! I’m glad you liked it.

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