Ask Sarah Silverman Why I’m Never Having Children

“I’m really gonna do it you guys.”

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I will watch any standup comedy effort Netflix cares to release. Hilarity for Charity seemed particularly worth my time, and while I’ll never get the appeal of Seth Rogen’s sense of humor, I will absolutely get his ability to gather his pals together for a worthwhile laugh.

Sarah Silverman was one such pal, and her opening joke was maybe my favorite joke of all time.

“God, I’m really gonna do it you guys. I’m really gonna have no kids.”

Speak on, you glorious angel.

“I’m baby crazy! That’s what’s insane about it. I love kids. I love kids. The only thing I love more than kids, is doing anything I want at all times.”

It’s the tits isn’t it, autonomy? I didn’t fully grasp the appeal of whateverthefuckyouwant-ism until I watched so many people give theirs up. Sure, they got kids in return, but what’s the blue book on that? I have my doubts about depreciation and trade-in.

It’s always been a little bonkers, me having to defend my desire to retain total control over my own life. This seems, apart from being flamingly sexist, illogical.Why do people wonder why I want to permanently make my own decisions, spend my own money, and live a life that isn’t decided for me by someone with the inability to hold up her own head?

I’ve become more vocal and open about my desire to not have children. I’ve been spending the last year trying to prepare my friends and family, but also to prime them to leave me alone about it. I’d like to enjoy my Thanksgiving, if you please.

But there’s one question everyone still asks, and I wouldn’t mind it so much if it was asked equally of both parties on either side of this issue. People feel very comfortable asking me why I don’t want children, but they never point at a pregnant woman or a mother and say, “why did you do that?”

General sentiment is, somehow still in 2018, that women who want children are right, and women who don’t want children are wrong. Women like me have to suffer through pompous lectures over mediocre happy hour wine trying to convince us to change our minds (can you imagine if pregnant women got that speech?), and those doing the lecturing think they’re saving us. They think we’re somehow misinformed, confused, or stupid.

OMG thank you! I was about to enjoy the rest of my life on my own terms, thank you for saving me from my own independent decisions. Fetch the sperm, I’m ready.

Women who don’t want children and dare to tell the truth about that are beaten on both sides. If they keep quiet, there’s sad undertone that maybe she can’t have kids, and isn’t that awful for her? If she’s honest, she doesn’t really understand how wonderful having children is, and isn’t that awful for her?

Also everyone thinks we’re lying. They think we’re lying to ourselves too, so that we’ll feel better about being single or being old. People think women are born wanting to have children, that life and the world and rent prices couldn’t possibly chip away at that “natural” instinct, leaving us to decide that, you know what, I’m just gonna not.

I don’t think I was born wanting children. I think I was raised in a society that made me think it was my job. And the first time I really thought independently about it, that job–to me at least, seemed a bit shit.

They’ll tell me it’s balance. It’s giving up some things for gaining immeasurable wonderful things that come along with being a parent. But it all comes down to how you do the math, what you value as an individual, and how you interpret “wonderful.”

I think it’s wonderful when my friends and family have kids. I love baby wrist rolls and books with huge pictures and making an utter mess with craft glitter. I love the pride on my friends faces (Instagrams) when their children make fantastic accomplishments that truly seem like miracles. I mean seriously, that thing couldn’t walk yesterday and today she’s putting one foot in front of the other–desire for motherhood or not, that’s magic.

But I crave magic of another kind. I crave seeing the world, I crave work, and I crave a happy, quiet home of my own making. These are what matter most to me, and with a child, I’d only have a some of them, or some of my child, and I don’t feel it’s right to compromise on either front.

I can’t wait until I tell the truth about this and have someone respond with “cool–should we get fries for the table?” instead of the judgmental head shaking and pity that I don’t know any better. I look forward to me being happy bringing people as much comfort as me being happy with a baby. And until then, sing it Sarah, I hear you.

Written by

NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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