The recent cover on TIME magazine portrays a childless couple lying leisurely on the beach. The title THE CHILDLESS COUPLE: When Having It All Means Not Having Children proposes that “having it all” is attainable only by those who choose to forgo parenthood.
I found the cover—both the photo and words—disturbing on a few levels:
Is this the way “childless by choice” couples spend their time? I have many childless friends who do not pass their time lounging on beaches. Like most responsible adults, they have jobs, care for their elderly parents, are hands-on aunts and uncles, take care of pets, do volunteer work, maintain their homes, etc. The cover presents childless couples as self-indulgent and self-centered, which is an offensive and unfair stereotype that we need to move past.
How does this make couples with fertility issues feel? My friends, who have had to deal with infertility, aren’t lounging on beaches either. And they certainly don’t feel like they “have it all.” Their time is spent at clinics having invasive procedures done. Those who have gone down the adoption road have had to jump through hoops and travel long and difficult roads to bring their children home. Hardly a day at the beach, if you ask me.
And what about parents? How did that cover make me feel? It tells me I cannot have a full life because I chose to bring other people into it. Most parents, myself included, can’t imagine life without their children. So the cover really gets nothing more than an exasperated eye roll.
What does “having to all” mean anyway? I’ve heard it said that you can have it all, but never all at once. I disagree. Even with the mayhem and chaos of raising six kids and running a business, I’ve long felt like I have it all. I’ve often wondered if “having it all” is just simpler for me than it is for others. It must mean different things for different people.
What does “having it all” mean to you? Is there really such a thing?