I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids by Jen Kirkman gets all the stars from me. I first heard about this book last year in an article about being Child-free by Choice. I decided that I absolutely MUST have this book in my collection. I had a couple credits left on Audible, so I decided to just go for it and get the audiobook version, since Jen narrates it herself. I was having second thoughts for a short while, because one sample I listened to was about moving home with her parents while focusing on her career. That’s not why I’m not having kids, and I’m certainly not any closer to a career now than I was ten years ago. I had already committed to reading/listening though, so when I finished my last whispersync, I downloaded it and took advantage a weekend when my boyfriend had to cover his coworker’s shift to plow through the short 6 hour and 20 minute book.
It’s everything I originally hoped it would be, and I genuinely feel like blasting it on loudspeaker as I drive through residential areas. The world needs to hear this. Jen’s not alone. I’m not alone. I know so many women who feel this way and get pressured all the time to have kids. Maybe not right this second, but to accept that in the future it’s just something that will happen to them. I swear, every time someone tells me I’ll change my mind, I want to scream “Get out of my vagina!” It’s violating.
I have friends who physically can’t have children and want to, and I have friends who know for a fact they don’t ever want kids. I’m sure at some point, we’ve all been asked why we don’t have kids, or told that we won’t know real love until we have a child of our own. First, let me just say that whether or not someone is capable of having children is none of your business, and maybe they’re not saying that because they don’t want to bring it up, so telling them they won’t know real love is about the most cruel thing you can do.
Jen covers a different argument in each chapter of the book. From “You’ll change your mind” to “Aren’t you being selfish?” I can’t stress enough how I wish every woman living without children, every parent who will never be a grandparent, every stranger who thinks it’s their business, and every man who doesn’t get asked these questions as an icebreaker would listen to this. I feel like high school Home Ec classes should devote a week to listening to this book and following along with xeroxed handouts. Jen makes a really good point, that even if you’re 100% sure that you don’t want kids, sometimes the temptation is there to have one just so people would treat you like a normal human being. No one should be made to feel like that’s the only path.
I could sit here and argue all day about how I’m certain I want to remain child-free, but Jen has already said everything I need to say as clear and organized as possible. Buy the book, check it out from the library if they have it, borrow it from a friend, do whatever it takes to get your hands on it. If you can’t identify with her from the beginning, you’ll at least understand her by the end. 5 out of 5…no, 6 out of 5.