About this Blog

After banging my head in frustration over the obsession everyone around me had with procreation, I went online to find a community of people who were more like me. I have met some fascinating people along the way, but I have also found that many in the childfree community are quite hostile toward Christianity and a Christian world view. I understand that, unfortunately, many of my Christian sisters and brothers have given them a lot of ammunition (undoubtedly, I have been guilty of this at times too). Not wanting to be perceived as "trolling" for expressing my Christian perspective on other people's forums and blogs, I use my own blog to share my musings on childfree life while at the same time expressing my faith.

My intention is to show support to childfree people, both Christian and non-Christian, but from my own Christian perspective. Questions and constructive comments are welcome; negativity and intolerance are not.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

If Something Really Is Worth It, It Goes Without Saying

Of course, that is just my personal opinion. I’m sure there are others who would disagree. I mean, this cliché is used not only in reference to parenthood, but even the most mundane of activities…
“The concert tickets cost $150 per person, but it was so worth it!”
“It takes forever to mow my 2-acre front lawn, but it’s so worth it!”

(And I’m really referring to the “bitch and backpedal” use of that phrase. What seems to be different about the parenthood references is that they occur over and over and over. No one feels the need to tell you ad nauseam how worth it the concert or the big yard is.)

Personally, I try to avoid the cliché altogether, partly because I don’t feel the need to justify my choices to the world and partly because I believe that it should be self-evident when something is worth it. When I think about the things in my life that have meaning, or the things that have been my greatest challenges, or obstacles I have overcome, I cannot recall ever feeling the need to say that it was all worth it -- nor has anyone asked me if it was all worth it.

I think of graduate school. College had always been “easy” for me, so the challenge of graduate school was unexpected. I had to learn how to study and how to expend mental energy in ways I had never done before. I tell people about how difficult it was, how much stress and anxiety I was constantly under. I tell them how I awoke every morning feeling as if I were going to throw up. No one asks if it was worth it. The way in which my life has been positively impacted is abundantly clear.

I think about my animals and how they can be messy or annoying at times. It can be stressful to find someone to watch them when I travel. Veterinary care isn’t cheap, and most animal health insurance does not provide enough benefit for me to justify the cost. But I never feel the need to complain about any of that, so people never have to ask if it is worth it.

I think of home ownership… new roof, new furnace, backed-up pipes flooding the basement, painting, maintaining, repairing. Even when homeowners sit around comparing horror stories about collapsed ceilings or carpenter ant infestations, no one ever justifies home ownership to me with “but it’s all worth it.” It goes without saying that owning a house is what some people want, and it has its opportunity costs. You accept it for what it is, or you choose not to buy a house.

The list could go on about jobs/careers, marriages or other close relationships, charity work, feats of physical endurance, living a Christian life, etc.

On the other hand, I will be the first to say that something is not worth it if I believe that information will save someone time, money, energy, or grief. At the very least, I am willing to question whether something is worth the costs and to share my knowledge with others, not to coerce them into joining me but to educate them so that they can make an informed choice.

I love my job, but it definitely has its stresses and frustrations. I am willing to share those with others, and I am willing to admit that a teaching career is not for everyone. During the times that the rewards outweigh the difficulties, I find the desire to continue. But when times are bad, I make it no secret that I am considering my other career options.

For many years I have fostered animals for the humane society. There are times of fun and joy, and times of sadness, suffering, and death. Having to break the attachment when the foster service is over is always extremely difficult. I frequently ask myself why I do this over and over, and without hesitation I will share that sentiment with other people. I do feel as if I am making a difference, and I do know that I have saved lives… or at least soothed suffering. Is it “worth it”? I cannot say. I always leave it to the listener to decide.

Obviously, the major difference between these two examples and parenthood is that I can always change careers and I can always stop fostering animals. But what I think they should have in common is the absence of the cliché “but it’s all worth it.” Just tell the truth, and let the evidence speak for itself. Then leave it for those around us to decide for themselves.


  1. Thank you for another great post. Certainly something to chew on. I am curious though, if you mean to convey that it's inappropriate to share your life's struggles with friends, or if you're referring more to casual complaining to whomever will listen about your life (and the choices made therein.)

    I never hesitate to share my struggles with friends--be those struggles a disagreement with my husband (rare but not impossible), issues of bonding or discipline in adopting older children, or emotional and financial costs involved with raising 5 dogs. That's what close friends are for; to share in joys and difficulties.

    During these moments with my friends I have often said the "it's worth it" phrase (unless they beat me to it), but I usually phrase it differently...I usually say "It's worth it to me."

    I do not regret my husband, children, or dogs. All relationships though, come with a little bit of mess attached. I say the "it's worth it" phrase usually as a reminder to myself of my calling that I would not feel complete without (truly I would not feel complete if I had not answered God's calling to marry my husband, adopt my children, or take in my dogs.) It's also a reminder to my friend, that though I am struggling, I am not unappreciative of the beautiful relationships God has placed in my life.

    I am though careful to say it's worth it to ME. I do not want anyone else to take on the enormous responsibility of marriage, multiple animals, or children, if that is not their calling in life.

    Once again, an enjoyable post --as usual!

  2. Thanks, Laura. :)
    No, I did not mean to imply that we should refrain from sharing our struggles with those close to us (or any willing ear, for that matter). I think that every one of us needs some sort of cathartic release to help us through the difficulty of living.

    I didn't realize it until I read your comment, but I think you really nailed something with your distinction of "it's worth it to ME." It occurred to me that part of my annoyance probably stems from the (not-always-so-subtle) nuances that usually comes with the discussion: "It's so worth it, and there is something terribly wrong with you for not seeing it / you simply MUST join me in this / your life is meaningless and empty if you don't feel the way I do about this."

    That, and people who complain all the time really irk me, haha.

    Laura, you make me think. And I like that.

  3. Thank you for the clarification. I absolutely understand where you're coming from. One time I was talking with a friend who had given birth after infertility treatments. She and her baby had both nearly died, and it was over a year before the baby was out of the woods:
    Friend: "There's nothing in the world like pregnancy. You HAVE to get pregnant! You'll never have another experience like it in life."
    Me: "You and Emily almost died. That's not an experience I really want to have."
    Friend: "But it was so worth it. I'm telling you, you won't regret it if you become pregnant!"

    I left that conversation knowing that it was worth it to her, and that if I were put in the same situation (she had multiple health problems before the pregnancy) it would not be worth it to me. Heck, normal healthy pregnancy doesn't feel "worth it" to me. I found it irksome and condescending the way she insisted that I would enjoy the experience she enjoyed. This same person went on in future conversations to go on and on about motherhood, how it's the world's greatest calling, no job is as difficult (she would also go on and on about how hers was the most difficult because her child was such a hellion), if you haven't experienced it you haven't lived, blah blah, blah, blah. At the time I was not yet a mother; I stayed at home caring for our rescued animals, helping young mothers when they needed a break, and becoming involved in youth ministry. I had a life, yet she made me feel as though I were a waste of oxygen because I had not birthed and parented a child.

    So I hear you on the "It's all worth it." For some people having a busy career and not seeing a lot of their kids is all worth it. To me, staying home with mine and homeschooling them is worth it. Trying to convince someone else that your experience will be worth it to them is tiresome and obnoxious.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. I have a friend who is constantly fishing for me to justify my actions to her and it drives me crazy. You mentioned home ownership - she thinks I'm nuts for buying a house because of the extra costs involved. I don't feel that it is necessary to explain to her all the benefits, because they seem so obvious to me. I don't want to justify the purchase to her, and I certainly don't ask her to justify her decision to rent an apartment to me. We're in different places in our lives, it makes sense for me to own and her to rent.

    I love that you foster animals. I would really like to do that but one of my cats can be a psycho vicious killer at times, and my husband doesn't think we'll be able to give them up when the time comes. He's probably right, but I still think about it every time we drive by the shelter and there's a sign begging for foster "parents."

    I just found this blog and I find it fascinating that you are both childfree and Christian. I was raised in a Mormon community (I've never been a member myself), which I know some other Christian religions wouldn't consider them Christian, but I do. I can't imagine any of my old friends choosing not to have kids. Their families and fellow church-goers would be horrified - some of my classmates got married while they were still in high school and started having babies right away and everyone thought it was just wonderful that they were getting started so young.

  5. I think the "it's worth it to me" is a good clarification. Not everything is going to be worth it for everyone. We are all different and have different abilities and things we like. I love animals but would have a really hard time fostering them and having to give them up. I think it's outstanding that others are able to do it. My freedom to do things that I couldn't do if I had kids is worth the things I give up by not having them. It wouldn't be worth it for someone else, but for me the sacrifice is worth the benefits. But I could not impose my choices on someone else and their life. We each have to live our own life and live with our own choices. Imposing our choices on others is wrong.

  6. I had someone at work tell me that I was part of the "me generation" so it's all about what "I" want and that's why I don't want kids. Some days, I feel like crying.

    I love this site, keep writing. Because it's worth it! hehehe

  7. :D Thanks, Melly. Next time, ask the person why s/he WANTS kids, and you will probably hear the same kind of "me generation" answers: because it's what I want to do, because it will make me happy/fulfilled, because I love children, because I want ____. Childfree or not, ultimately we all do what we want to do. (I realize that this is a sweeping generalization and that there are people who prayerfully make real sacrifices out of love for others, but I think that is the exception to our selfish human nature.)