“The Oatmeal” on Having Kids

Why haven't you had kids yet?

“The Oatmeal” on having kids

I love  The Oatmeal comics, I think he’s really funny and insightful. But this one pissed me off, enough to write a post when I really should be doing work and have adequately pre-caffeinated for it.

Kidless people, it’s cool, really. No judgement regarding the kidlessness, I promise. Don’t want kids, don’t have kids, end of story.

But I actually hate you a little bit, in a very transient way, when you utter (or put up a web comic with) bullshit like “Forget about traveling the world, or pursuing your dreams,” as we all know that one cannot procreate and chew gum at the same time, let alone procreate and either travel or have dreams. (Also, I think travel as a means of self-actualization is…. curious. )

And the thing with pooping and vomiting. I see these “Eww, diapers!” brought up all the time as the worst part of parenting.

I can tell you, changing diapers, cleaning vomit or poop — they do not phase faze me at all. Maybe I am just not easily disgusted (my husband is much more squeamish).
When I think about what is hard about parenting, poop and vomit do not come to mind, ever; they do not register as difficult or in any way remarkable parts of parenting. I am considerably more pissed when the kids spill a glass of juice so I have to clean it up; I am exponentially more pissed when a grownup spills a glass of juice and I have to clean it up.

Poop and vomit are, to me, completely unimportant. While nothing grosses me out regarding my own kids, I don’t care for the bodily excretions of other people’s kids, so I think all daycare and preschool teachers are saints and should be constantly showered with money and gifts and all forms of gratitude one can think of.

The hardest parts of parenting, for me, are the constraints on my time (because occasionally I want or need to work non-stop) and, when the kids were very little, recurrent ear infections. These days, I don’t care for playing with plastic toys or watching certain cartoons, because many things that were magical with kid No 1 are not so much any more by kid No 3.

Hugs and kisses, however, never get old. And neither does the general awesomeness of watching someone grow up.

6 comments

  1. But I actually hate you a little bit, in a very transient way, when you utter (or put up a web comic with) bullshit like “Forget about traveling the world, or pursuing your dreams,” as we all know that one cannot procreate and chew gum at the same time, let alone procreate and either travel or have dreams.

    Agreed. The reverse argument that annoys me is the “you aren’t having kids because you want to be rich and footloose.” No, really, we thought long and hard about whether or not to have kids and our bank account did not come into it. Once we didn’t have them, though, we had two professional incomes, no daycare expenses or college funds, so yes, we are well off. This was an effect, not the cause.

    When I think about what is hard about parenting, poop and vomit do not come to mind, ever; they do not register as difficult or in any way remarkable parts of parenting.

    I have a friend who said that you are either the go-to poop/vomit or blood parent. I would have no problem dealing with kid who was bleeding, but poop and vomit do gross me out.

  2. I have a friend who said that you are either the go-to poop/vomit or blood parent.

    LOL! My husband is very easily disgusted, so I am pretty much the poop/vomit/blood/anything gross parent if I am within reach. But yes, if he had to pick, he’d pick blood over poop/vomit. I think I would, too.
    But it’s funny, nothing grosses me out when it’s my kids. The same stuff from other people’s kids or any adult, even my DH, is a different story. I think even my own stuff grosses me out more than my kids’.

  3. I am not the least bit fazed about changing diapers, but vomit is always disgusting. I always suspect parents are exaggerating on this one though. In all the hours over the years that I have cared for small children, during which I have probably changed tens of 1000s of diapers, I have very very rarely have had to deal with vomit. I’ve worked many overnight nanny jobs as well, yet could probably count on one hand the amount of times it has ‘come up’, thank god!!!

    babies spit up a lot of course but that is a brief phase, plus they are relatively immobile during that time so it’s not to hard to prepare;)

    Probably a combination of kids being sick more at night and parents (maybe even unconscious) exaggeration of how common it is. Still, I seem to have been suspiciously “lucky” lol.

  4. “Kidless people, it’s cool, really. No judgement regarding the kidlessness, I promise. Don’t want kids, don’t have kids, end of story.”

    All due respect from a kidless person, but for many of us that’s NOT the end of the story. You might be cool with the kidless, but lots of people are not. I have been called any number of insulting things by parents because of my kidlessness (selfish, not a real woman, immature, a danger to children, probably a pedophile, disrespectful of God’s plan for me, a sociopath, ungrateful, missing out on the most fulfilling part of life, incomplete, etc), and it’s hurtful and rude and uncalled for. Sure, I also have a lot of great parent friends (and I pride myself on being the go-to auntie/babysitter for my friend group) who are respectful and chill with my decision to remain kidless. But for every one of them there’s also a family member who makes my kidlessness about THEM, or an acquaintance or friend who is utterly cruel.

    So just some context. I identify with this comic because it’s a humorous way of venting about the disparities between the kidless and the kidfull. I get why a parent might find it disrespectful, and I’ll definitely take the message of your post to heart and try to avoid perpetuating displays of disrespect like this in the future. But it’s also disrespectful to dismiss the real frustrations of the kidless, which inspire comics like this.

  5. I clicked on this and didn’t realize how old it was. Have to post to second jessdarbonne’s response. That is a lot politer than I would have written. I have a child, by the way, now 13, and though I definitely love him and do my best by him, I’m counting down the days to when I do not have to co-parent, do not have to think about him front-and-center all the time, and I get the hell out of dodge … don’t have to be on-tap. I really regret so much about the last 20 years.

    I personally can think of lots of things more awesome than “watching someone grow up”.

    I also think that there are way more than enough children in this world, we have overpopulated…and it is worse among the rich because in a richer environment, each additional child has a far, far larger impact on use of resources. Each one of those children has a far larger carbon footprint.

    Now *that* is selfish.

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