I really hate this type of statement, which is ubiquitous in the blogosphere:
“…I made a decision that is right for me…”
“You made a choice that is right for you and your family…”
“Make an informed choice to do what’s best for you.”
Of course people do stuff that is best for them. Who else are they best for? My aunt Muriel? I can assure you she doesn’t give a $hit, mostly because I don’t have an aunt Muriel.
Which brings me to the meaning of “judgmental.”
There are plenty of blog posts and articles about how people are judged for this, that, or the other. Sure, the usual suspects are there — judged for being fat, having/not having kids. But I have to say that I am puzzled as to what judged actually means. It seems to be overused to mean every type of disagreement. Many people state something that is right for them (*eyeroll*), only to quickly follow up how that doesn’t mean that the other choice is not valid or whatever.
I really don’t understand why everyone has to validate every opinion. There are plenty of choices that other people make that I think are wrong in the sense that I would never make them; I simply think my choice is better (for me, of course *eyeroll*). People make choices that I find boring, stupid, silly, ignorant, foolish, tasteless, and generally all sorts of idiotic. That doesn’t mean that those choices are necessarily (although they sometimes are) objectively wrong, or illegal, or that I think the people who make them are bad people (actually, there are some choices where I do really think those making them are bad people). But, for the most part, just because I think your choice is stupid doesn’t mean that you should care; I am sure many of my choices seem stupid or otherwise unfathomable to others, but so be it.
So what makes disagreeing with someone’s choice (as in, I like my choice better than your choice) judging them? I thought it’s reserved for “moral judgement” (you think that someone making a different choice is a bad person because of their choice), but it seems to spill over into the most banal of choices.
A few months ago, a reader asked me to comment on the pros and cons for having kids spaced more than the seemingly requisite 2 years.
Apparently I am all sorts of weird for where we live. I did several things “not by the book,” not because I had a grand master plan, but because some things unraveled how they did. For instance, even though I am a career woman, I had my first kid at 26 (almost 27) and not in mid-30s; female colleagues my age have kids the age of my youngest, women who have kids the age of my Eldest are considerably older than me.
Then I had large gaps between kids (7 and 4 years between successive kids). That seems to baffle pretty much everyone. Unlike “Where are you from?” which always pisses me off, I actually like the question about my kids’ ages; I am amused and not in the least bit irritated by people saying “Oh, that’s quite an age span!” or something else to the effect. I respond cheerfully “That’s academic spacing!” and say something about us both working and me traveling a lot, and my DH wanting to be able to stay with all of them without the stress being unbearable, which is true enough. In reality, after Eldest we were first too broke, we could barely cover daycare for 1 (both DH and I in grad school), then I graduated and DH and I lived in different states for 2 years, until we were finally in the same place again and having real salaries, at which point we had No 2, Middle Boy, right away. However, what I tell people is that I had No 2 after the first big grant (mid-tenure track), which is technically true, but doesn’t convey the intent and how things really went about, with being broke and all (and it probably shouldn’t anyway). Kid No 3 we had right after I got tenure; I tell people he was a present to myself for tenure, still technically true, but it only worked out that way because it took a while to get my husband on board, in part because he feared the stress of staying alone with two very little and one grade-school kid when I travel.
I think the greater age span helped financially: we only had 1 year with 2 kids in daycare. There are couples with 3 kids in daycare and I have no idea how they afford it; they all must make much more money than me. From the career standpoint, in my view it helps to not have two (or more) kids who are too young at the same time. (My female colleagues with multiple kids often hire nannies. I don’t trust myself not to hire an axe murdered and am much more comfortable with a daycare center (which also takes care of backup when the teachers are sick, etc.) We have been going to this daycare center for a long time.) Considering all my kids had recurrent ear infections, it would have really been hard to have several small kids at the same time. I think having kids spaced far apart helped me balance child responsibilities with my career; we are a dual career couple with no support network on this continent, so with multiple small kids at the same time, especially during the tenure track, I think things would have been much, much harder. (The thing is, when having a new baby, the older kids don’t actually go away — while caring for a newborn is hardest the first time around and gets better with experience, every subsequent time you have the newborn plus all the big kid(s) around to care for… And being older doesn’t help.)
Con for spacing the kids: they don’t play together as much as they might if they were closer in age. Eldest doesn’t care about Middle Boy at all, which saddens both MB and me. But MB and Smurf adore each other, and MB is a great older brother (although there is plenty of wrestling, smacking and kicking each other, and other rough play which is the boy version of cuddling). Eldest likes Smurf because Smurf is the most adorable creature to ever roam the earth, but treats him more as a pet than a brother. So I joke that we had a single child, and then we had two kids. Pro: Eldest can and does occasionally babysit.
In the mornings, I drop off Eldest before coming back to finish getting the Littles ready. Eldest’s former middle school and current high school are very close to one another, so I have already been driving there for 4 years ( 3 in middle school and 1 in high school). By the time he’s done and gone to college, I will have done it for 7 years. But then MB starts middle school, and then moves onto high school, and then Smurf. By the time they are all done, I will have driven that route for 18 years. *chills*
People think this one is a con, but I think it’s a pro: we have been having little kids in the home for 15 years. Little kids are awesome and I swear they get cuter and cuter as I get older.
What say you, blogosphere? If you have multiple kids, what are the pros/cons of the age difference?