I do know what it is to be a parent, ‘cos I am one. But I’m not just a parent, I’m a mother. & I’m not just a Mom, I was fortunate enough to become one the most “natural” or “easy” way (i.e., I became pregnant fairly readily, pretty much when I wanted to). Very fortunate indeed. Gave birth to two beautiful, healthy children.
Was married to a very nice man, & the two of us were a pretty good team as parents, I think it is quite truthful/accurate to say, for our children’s first 10 or 12 years (shit happens, eh?? :( ).
So whatever I say about motherhood has to be qualified, I guess, by all these variables & circumstances. & by my own childhood, genes & life experiences.
I am rassling with this topic right now because of NTE – the near-term extinction that I firmly believe is looming in our (i.e., humanity’s) not-too-distant future – & the fact that the other day in the posting ‘What do we do now?’ I made a comment to the effect that having children now seems to me a little … ill-advised.
How can I say this, you may ask. How dare I say this??
I, who have been a mother for almost 34 years now. Who wanted parenthood, chose parenthood, stayed home with my children when they were young (unpopular decision in those years, but never once regretted on my part), & still, to this day, enjoy motherhood to the max. I’ve been known to say “motherhood trumps everything,” because for me it does, & always has (well, not always, but ever since that day in 1981 when I gave birth to my first child).
But … now??
Now, the world is not as it was.
It is not the same world it was – used to be – when we all still believed (foolishly, perhaps, misguidedly perhaps, but never mind) that problems were solve-able, solutions possible.
Does anyone now really believe it is possible that we will “solve” the deadly threats posed by climate change & the awful confluence of climate & nuclear nightmare impacts likely to occur when the lights go out? (Not to mention all the other dreadful sticky messes we have made, here, on Planet Earth?)
Come on, people. Our air is now literally carcinogenic. Actually, this is so astonishing I am going to repeat it. Our air is now carcinogenic. All of our water bodies toxic, poisoned. Oceans full of plastic, radioactivity, nuclear waste, oil spills – aquatic life polluted, industries vacuuming up whatever life remains, for profit (what else?). Coral reefs damaged beyond repair & plankton decimated by acidic deposits of carbon, thanks to over-the-top greenhouse gas emissions. You may not have heard about this, but our oceans have become “acidified.” (Fascinating book called Sea Sick, by Alanna Mitchell. 19-minute TED talk here. Full disclosure: I’ve read the book, twice in fact, but have not seen the TED talk.)
There is not only lead in your lipstick (& very likely in my drinking water) but our babies are now born pre-polluted. There is lead in your body (many toxins in your body) that you will unwittingly, & not by choice, you understand (for you have no choice in this matter) pass along to your unborn child in the womb. (Lead is very very nasty indeed; feel free to read lots about it here.)
Our babies are now born into a world in which, due to hormonal disruption – caused by chemical/pharmaceutical toxins released into bodies of water; a huge horrible topic; ugh, to say the very, very least :( , male frogs morph into females … or is it vice versa? Surely it is so horrible & beyond the pale that it hardly matters which way the genders are being bent???
& children born into the parts of the world most severely affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster – 28 years ago now, April 26, 1986 – are being born with serious heart defects… Still. Today.
& now Fukushima has been belching radiation into sky & ocean 24/7 24/7 24/7/365 every day every day every day since March 11, 2011; almost 4 years now! (Understand, people, Fukushima & Chernobyl are both forever.)
& so on & so on & so on. And of course we ought not to forget all the wars & conflicts
& the increasingly right-wing political leanings, actions, politics of the so-called “leaders” of our so-called “democracies,” & the militarization of our police forces
& so on, & so on, & so on.
We human beings are (or can be) wonderful & loving, creative, clever & fun!
But those of us who are not very thoughtful or far-thinking (we have been rather thoughtless & the opposite of far-thinking as a species, after all, have we not??)
Have made such a mess of this beautiful, abundant, incomparably generous, life-giving planet
Have trashed our surroundings with such reckless abandon & relentless rapacious destructive energy & greed
That we have come nearly to the end of our tenancy here, now.
I look out the streetcar window (I’m scribbling this on the streetcar) – on a dreary day, & reflect that I am still grateful – every single day – for life – for my life, & those of my children & the people I love, & the incredible beauty of this Earth – grateful for Life, period!
& I know that young people continue to experience that amazingly powerful urge to reproduce; remember, I too had that incredibly overwhelming impulse; I too, from instinct, ached to reproduce, to have babies
& now I ache for young people, on very many counts indeed.
& parenthood is awesome – awesome, awesome, awesome – & I would never have missed it for the world!
& although I am in principle utterly disinclined to advise people on deeply personal matters
I believe now that having children (bringing forth new children, that is, as distinct from those who are already here, among us, already born) does not strike me as a wise course of action, at this time in human history.
I know we are not really “allowed” to discuss near-term extinction in most circles, or situations (it remains surely the biggest “elephant in the room” there ever was?), & we are not really “allowed” to advise others not to have children.
It is a very very very personal decision, clearly; that much is certain, & highly influenced, as I say, by simple basic instinct.
But I just don’t think that this is really a very excellent time to be giving birth to brand-new babies on our planet.
p.s. you see, I am thinking things might be going to get just a little ugly...
p.p.s. just read an item about NTE in which NTE man himself, Guy McPherson, takes a very different point of view on new parenthood from that I've just expressed. Read it here. (I had kind of meant to say this, so here it is belatedly: people will do what people will do. Heck, I've been dishing out advice (about how we could "save" the Earth, & ourselves) for 25 years now. I've seen very little evidence that any of it has made a durn bit of difference to the outcome! So........ I'm just saying my piece here. I personally would not want to be embarking on motherhood right now, at this juncture in human history, & not just for "environmental" or NTE reasons. Just take a good look around! Is this a world into which you care to bring, & then raise, innocent children??
‘Quote of the day’ with this post: “The shit is no longer hitting the fan. The fan is covered in shit. The shit is hitting the shit.” – Guy McPherson