Friday, December 28, 2012

Childfreedom, Emotion, & Immaturity

I'm sick today, so if this doesn't make as much sense as it could, I apologize. I woke up feeling gross with an ear ache, sore throat, and stuffed up nose. So, I've spent the day playing Skylanders and Super Mario Galaxy 2 on Wii, and settling in on the sofa to watch Netflix on Wii. I've been watching Prison Wives, an Investigation Discovery show. It's interesting, but also sad. I really feel for these women, their lives are really hard. But it was during one episode that I heard something that got me thinking. An inmate's sister, when talking about her brother's relationship, said that his fiancé was overly emotional because she had never had children and, therefore, never had the opportunity to emotionally mature.

Okay, so you might see where I'm going with this. As a person who is both fairly emotional and without children, I find it insulting that this woman was judging her soon-to-be sister-in-law for being childless, immature, and emotional, as if those things should be mutually inclusive. As if being emotional is a sign of immaturity. It's ridiculous. But I looked around, at the things around me, and realized that maybe I wasn't as grown up as other women my age. Maybe I wasn't  as involved with being a grown up as I could be. But, you know, so what? I don't think there's anything wrong with being connected to your inner child, with children or without them.

I mean, I play video games (both online and console), some that are geared for kids, like Skylanders. I like Barbie and Monster High dolls, WoW plushies, and other "toys." I read YA novels and watch cartoons/anime. I collect dice and play role playing games. I'm also 34 and a half years old, and I don't have kids that inspire these interests. Taken together, does all of that make me immature? Does being childfree make me emotionally underdeveloped? Of course not. Things being what they are, because I don't have children, I don't know how I would be different as a person if I did. But, I like to think that I am who I am, that I would still be an individual, that children wouldn't have taken over my identity. I like to think that I'd still enjoy the things I enjoy, that I'd still be me. Children change people, of course, I'm not naive to that point, but think women can remain individuals apart from their children, too.

And you know what, I'm college educated. I have a master's degree and am seeking another. I pay my bills, spend time with my husband, and engage in the real world in the way adults do. I don't fly off the handle at strangers, I don't (usually) break down crying in public, I don't act like a petulant child when I don't get my way. I worry about very adult issues. I clean my house, wash clothes, take care of my husband so he gets to work with clean clothes, food to eat, and coffee to drink. I live a grown-up life, just happen to be quite emotional, and enjoy many things geared for younger people. That's not immaturity.

Frankly, that people without children are judged as immature and emotionally unstable is troubling to me. It seems like a very simple scapegoat answer when people are looking for something, anything, to blame when they think people are acting outside the societal norm. Being childfree doesn't make a person unstable, immature, emotionally damaged, or any of the other stereotypes that people like to apply to those of us who have made the conscious choice to be childfree. What's more, I think the opposite is often true. It takes a special kind of maturity not only to know one doesn't want kids, but to be able to knowingly prevent children from coming into the world. A heck of a lot of children are born to people who might otherwise have not had them, had they thought about it or been mature enough--and brave enough--to stand up and say no to a society where children are an expectation.

Just saying.