Like Daum and the writers in this essay collection, the interviewer, Karyn Polewaczyk, is childfree by choice (although many of the essayists admit to some ambivalence on the topic). Maybe that's why she asks some really excellent questions.
Here's a few excerpts from Daum's answers. Does any of this sound familiar??:
- "We live in a culture where busyness is revered and often equated with importance... And, for various reasons, parenting these days has become an exercise in time management and, in some cases, letting people know how incredibly busy and overwhelmed you are... I've noticed that, often, non-parents feel like they have no right to complain about being busy or tired or stressed because, after all, there's this huge thing we're not doing... I went through a phase where I felt like I had to be some kind of extra-achiever—on a professional level, a personal level, a moral level and even a housekeeping level (what a joke) because surely I had all this extra time that my friends with kids didn't have (i.e. I had no right to have a messy house because, hey, I didn't have kids!)"
- "Frankly, the "why" mandate kind of irks me. I'm not someone who gets off on being coy and confrontational in social settings, so I'm probably not the one who's going to answer the "Why don't you have kids?" question with "Why did you have kids?" But I think that's a fair answer if you're inclined to give it."
- "It was essential to me to make room in the book for ambiguity and ambivalence. Again, one of the problems with this discussion has been the either/or nature of it. If you've chosen not to have kids, you're supposed to champion and celebrate that choice every moment of every day. But life doesn't work that way. Do parents champion and celebrate the choice to have kids every moment of every day? Not any that I know—though, of course there, too, is a stigma about expressing moments of doubt or even regret."
- "We must get away from the idea that parents and non-parents are adversaries. I think this notion is in many ways a media creation—nothing generates clicks like incendiary articles along the lines of "I didn't know real love until I became a parent"—but unfortunately this kind of logic has seeped into the public consciousness and became part of the conventional wisdom... That message [that childless people are selfish] is so ingrained in the culture that even people who question lots of other things often never think to question it."
And whether childless/free living was your first choice or not, I think there's a lot we can learn from each other. We may come to this life from very different places, but I think we face a lot of the same issues, questions and pressures. I think the structure of our lives are probably a lot more similar than different; the differences may be more psychological -- how we view our situation and how we feel about our lives.
As Karen Malone Wright of The Not Mom (a blog for people women without children, by chance or by choice) recently said, "...if we are just one-fifth of American women, surely there is more that unites us than divides us. Personally, it means that although I dreamed of spawning a houseful of little me’s and didn’t, I stick up for the women who never wanted children, too. I never pretend to know exactly how they made the decision to live childfree, but I do know they have the right to make it. I don’t have to be Russian to support Pussy Riot."
What do you think? What did you think of this interview & the premise of the book?