The Cost of Caring, a long, illuminating piece that ran in The New Yorker, introduces us to Emma, a poor Filipina from Bukidnon who moved overseas to become a nanny. This is, of course, a familiar, heart-rending story. Emma is an illegal immigrant who lives on a pittance, and remits a major chunk of the money she makes to her family. To put all six of her children through school, she cares for other people’s children instead, and subsists on $2 noodle soup.
What really bothers me is that this woman wasn’t in a very good economic position to start with, and she still made the highly- irresponsible decision to have six children anyway. Six is an insane number of mouths to feed, and it’s even more of a strain if you’re poor.
Beyond moving abroad and living on a shoestring budget, there will be other, more widespread repercussions to her decision. When they grow up, each of her six children is likely to have children of their own, whose children will also have children and on and on, world without end.
There are already over seven billion people on the planet, over a hundred million of them in the Philippines. We are all procreating ourselves to kingdom come, and the Earth is screaming for mercy. Is this sustainable?
The impact of this many humans on the planet is unmistakable. What’s the point of having children if you’re sentencing them to a future where everyone will be connected to an IV bag because it’s literally the final solution? Short of incentivizing people to get spayed, maybe we need to start thinking about adopting a two-child policy.
So here comes poor Emma, and her tale of woe. Her situation may be heart-rending but she is also the author of her own misfortune.
Unfortunately, she is not alone. It took us years to even sign a Reproductive Health Bill into existence and the Philippines, bound by too much dogma, has never been on the forefront of contraception.
This has resulted in a population boom because either people are unaware of contraception, do not want to use contraception, or feel they will burn in the flames of hell for all eternity for using contraception, and this has to stop.
We should take more responsibility for ourselves. There is nothing wrong with having children, everything wrong with having them if one is not prepared for it.
Saving the planet aside, here is why I struggle with the idea of having children. Parenting is for life. Sure, it’s roses and daisies and posies and sunshine. It’s also buying milk and nappies, and paying for tuition, and buying Elsa and Anna dolls, educational flash cards, Thomas the Train movies, crayons, lunch money, spring break money, money for the prom dress, money for college, money for the first car, money for the wedding, money for bail, money, money, money. Kids may be a big ball of love, but they’re bloody expensive little buggers.
Where others see an uplifting, life-affirming experience filled with love and laughter, the first thing I think of is how much commitment it’s going to require. It scares me to death. (Admittedly not a reaction most people have when it comes to the idea of having children.)
Being a parent is for life. Imagine forever accountable for who and what your child turns into, held responsible for the human being you created until your last dying breath.
At the end of the day, if things go wrong, everyone will always question your parenting skills, and it will always be your fault. I’m not sure I’ll ever be ready to handle that, let alone take on that much responsibility.