Helping You Help Others

Otherwise known as: Emily is tired of everyone sharing inaccurate and inflammatory things on Facebook and seeing everyone take them seriously without doing a single practical thing to help, or even run the most basic fact checks.

armchair activism

So, in light of all the armchair activism flourishing in the land of social media memes, I decided to put together a non-comprehensive list of links from reputable websites and credible organizations with suggestions of ways to tangibly support some of my favorite causes and help those in need.

The most valuable tips I’ve ever come across are:

  • It’s remarkable cheap and easy to be an informed speaker and a compassionate listener – just always check your sources and consider your audience.
  • The closer you can get to the center of the problem, the greater your impact and the further it is felt, so start small and local.
  • Even if you think your vote doesn’t matter, consider voting in local elections, or at least contacting your elected officials when bills come up to let them know where you stand.

Don’t know where to vote?
Find Your Fucking Polling Place

Don’t know who your elected officials are?
Contacting the Congress – here’s an easy way to find out!

Animal Welfare
Adopt Don’t Shop – there’s about a million reasons to adopt, but here are the top 10
Reporting Animal Cruelty – speak up for those who can only bark or meow
Cruelty Free Drugstore Makeup – for those who want to look fabulous without paying two high prices

  • Also, find your local animal shelter’s website and buy them things from their Wish Lists

Racism
Talking with kids about racism – no one is born knowing who to hate
Combating racism as a white educator – use your privilege to ask the right questions and make positive changes

Sexism
Stop Sexist Remarks

Women’s Reproductive Rights and Health
How to Support Planned Parenthood

Be a Straight Ally
Top Ten Ways to Be an Ally
Guide to Being a Straight Ally

Homeless Veterans
National Coalition for Homeless Veterans
US Department of Veterans Affairs

Syrian Refugees (believe it or not, you can care about and support both homeless veterans and refugees simultaneously)
Refugee Council USA

Vaccines
Vaccine Safety – Top Questions and Answers

So there you have it, ladies and germs – my own, slightly more practical brand of armchair activism! The holidays are coming, which is the perfect time to explore charitable giving, and the new year is coming, which is the perfect excuse to resolve to be more socially aware and accountable.

Do with these links what you will – my hope is that you will pick at least one to focus on and expand upon, and maybe teach me the ways in which you’re learning to help!

 

 

My Big Fat Gay Agenda

Since I started working at my library about a year and a half ago, I haven’t heard of any overt hate crimes against homosexuals in or around the neighborhood, and for that I am grateful. What I have heard, however, is about a hundred little passive aggressive comments muttered quietly or vile words uttered out loud in supposed jest, by kids and adults alike.

Subtle expressions of hatred are particularly troubling to me because they’re so stealthy and viral. They’re difficult to prove and discipline, often confused with wit or disguised as humor, and infects children in many cases worse than overt acts of crime because everyone’s taught that violence is unacceptable, but their dad says [insert ignorant slur du jour here] in casual conversation, so they learn that it must be okay for them to repeat when they grow up, too.

I guess what I hear the most from parents is some perhaps benign sounding version of “I know some people are gay/lesbian/transgender/whatever, but I don’t want to see it, and I don’t want my kids to think that it’s okay.” Well, that’s too bad, because while I don’t think that any of my homosexual friends and acquaintances are going door to door and spreading the good news of Sir Elton John, I can tell you that this straight woman does have a gay agenda, and my covert crusade is executed by sabotaging story times.

For every subtle homophobic comment that’s dropped in my presence, A Tale of Two Daddies is read during one of my school visits. For every time I hear that you don’t want your kids to “have to hear about Caitlyn Jenner,” I will sneak Red: A Crayon’s Story into the list of books I suggest you take home to read with your child. You know what else? Every time you leave your child or preteen alone at the library for hours of free daycare, it might interest you to know that I regularly educate them on tolerance of others, self-acceptance, the complexities of identification, and the significance of power and consent.

To combat homophobia at your library and in your home, please communicate openly and clearly with your children and others, and stock your shelves with the following books:

Red: A Crayon’s Story, by Michael Hall
A Tale of Two Mommies, by Vanita Oelschlager
A Tale of Two Daddies, by Vanita Oelschlager
Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress, by Christine Baldacchino
I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel
And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson
10,000 Dresses, by Marcus Ewert
The Family Book, by Todd Parr
The Sissy Duckling, by Harvey Fierstein
Heather Has Two Mommies (the updated version by Lesléa Newman)
Mommy, Mama, and Me, by Lesléa Newman
Daddy, Papa, and Me, by Lesléa Newman
King and King, by Linda de Haan
This Day in June, by Gayle E. Pitman
Jacob’s New Dress, by Sarah Hoffman
The Different Dragon, by Jennifer Bryan

tl;dr

I’ve known that I wanted to be a librarian since I was a teenager and I got high marks and honors all throughout high school, college, and graduate school, so it may come as a surprise to some of y’all that I was a late bloomer in terms of learning to read (also in terms of a LOT of other things) and (brace yourselves) I am now an extraordinarily bad reader and rarely get through more than maybe one or two traditional, paper books a year.

I know! I know. Take a minute to process that and let me know when you’re ready.

Just kidding, I don’t care. And neither should you! Well. You sort of should. You should care because although this posts starts out sounding like it’s about me, it’s actually “for the children.”

Okay so if you actually want to know, my personal history with literacy is that I adamantly refused to learn how to read until I was about 7 years old. I was home schooled most of my life, and of course my mom would encourage me to learn but thankfully she also let me dictate my own pace for things as long as I had a good argument for why. She explained that reading would let me learn about the thoughts in other peoples’ heads, and I told her that I already had enough thoughts in my own head and I would learn to read when I started running out and needed new ones. Then one day I picked up Green Eggs and Ham, and then really quickly moved into juvenile chapter books about horses and babysitters, and then catapulted into Sherlock Holmes and the Secret Garden, and then regressed slightly back into Cut and The Perks of Being a Wallflower in early high school, and I was voracious at every step of the way. I remember reading almost every book on the Summer Reading list before I began my sophomore year of high school, which coincidentally was my first year in public school, and being really surprised that my classmates had reluctantly dragged themselves through the requisite two or three.

But that’s also when everything came to a pretty screeching halt. Let’s be honest – reading for a purpose, for a deadline, for a grade, is awful. A steady diet of increasingly dense texts (or light texts made dense by endless discussion questions) is what I consumed for the next decade, with few exceptions, and my ability to read for pleasure more or less atrophied in that time. Obviously Harry Potter books were always a thrill, I savored every moment of the Poisonwood Bible one summer during college, and I really liked Commencement by J. Courtney Sullivan when I picked it up on a whim right after graduation, but those are some of the last times I can remember genuinely attaching to a paper book.

(Amusing anecdote: I didn’t purchase any books during library school. I also can’t recall really reading anything new at all during that time. Sorry I’m not sorry, professors, but I faked most of those book reviews. Whoops…!)

But wait, does this mean that Miss Emily the Children’s Librarian is a big fat phony and doesn’t care about literacy’s history, present, and future? How can she make sound book recommendations if she hasn’t read everything on the New York Times Best Seller list?? All she “read” last year was Elizabeth Smart’s memoir and the Tales of Beedle the Bard!? ARE THERE NO PRISONS? ARE THERE NO WORKHOUSES!?

scrooge

Don’t be such a Scrooge, man.

No, it doesn’t mean that, at all. What it actually means is that the act of reading words on pages bound together in a novel generally makes me fall asleep within about 5 minutes – not sure why, but it is what it is. However, I absolutely love audiobooks, I devour brief articles online and in print, and I frequently dig works of non-fiction. I also happen to genuinely enjoy children’s books as a medium because I’m really visual and I continue to be astounded by the beautifully rich illustrations and deep, duplicitous storylines that go into so many of them, especially now-a-days. Seriously, have you seen some of the picture books that came out this year? Outstanding.

What it actually means is that I tend to be hyper-judgey and think that most book summaries and first sentences or paragraphs sound incredibly lame so I dismiss them quickly, and this puts me at least a small step closer to the majority of the kids and teens that I interact with on the regular and I think this makes me easier to relate to. What it actually means is that I don’t mind if your kid hates reading cause I totally get that, but there are still a lot of ways to get around that and be successful and have fun and I can help them discover some of them. What it actually means is that I have no real stake in whether you prefer e-readers or if you have many leather-bound books and your apartment smells of rich mahogany, because I’m just glad you’ve found something that works for you and helps you learn and/or relax.

leather-bound books

Literally, this is what everyone who gets all blustery about the whole e-readers vs. paper books debate sounds like to me. Please stop.

What it means is that I actually finished about a dozen books last year, not including all the children’s books I read for library programs, and then also probably a couple of hundred professional articles about librarianship and even more about, for lack of a better word, adulting. I could recommend many of them because I thought they were awesome but guess what – what I like to read is basically irrelevant because what resonates with me may not with you at all. For the same reason it’s usually stupid to ask the bartender what drink they like best, it’s also kind of stupid to think that what I’ve read recently will affect you in the same way. Some texts are universal, but most are not, and we are incredibly lucky to live in a time and (not to go all ‘Murica on you) in a country where we have easy access to virtually everything we could ever want or need to read, so just communicate those desires and necessities to me and let me work my magic! #librariesforlife

malala

Malala ❤

And no, I don’t find it ironic that someone who has difficulty reading in the traditional sense became a librarian because if you had any idea how little of my day at the library involves reading and how much of it is devoted to programming and restarting computers and wiping up boogers and being an unofficial guidance counselor, you wouldn’t find it ironic either.

You might think that being a librarian but not loving books is like owning a record store and hating music, but that’s just not the case. If we’re gonna go with this analogy, then the library is a music store that distributes records, CDs, mp3s, and even cassettes (for better or worse) and my preferred method is mp3s – but we also serve coffee, host local bands, teach kids to play music, and a plethora of other things. I LOVE music, and LOVE literacy – I just don’t have a compatible listening device for 78s or a brain for reading physical books most of the time.

libraries are more than just books

Holy libraries, Batman!

So here’s where it becomes a piece that’s for the children, and it’s the real reason why I bothered even writing a post about this topic because as annoying as it can be to have people endlessly give me grief if/when they find out that I rarely read, it’s more unsettling to me when I see people give kids grief about the same thing.

One of my main take-aways from my Literacy Methods course in college, and one of the main take-aways that I hope you get from this post, is that it really doesn’t matter what or how a kid is reading, so long as they’re reading something, somehow. The brain stimulation alone is essential, and the content and lessons will always find a way to be relevant to their lives. Yeah, stepping outside of your comfort zone is cool, but so is becoming really well-versed in a particular topic and medium.

tl;dr – I’m a highly educated and pretty successful children’s librarian, and in my opinion, if your child is struggling to learn how to read or is just not into it right now, it’s probably no big deal. I was and am a reluctant reader in the traditional sense to this day, but I turned out fine. Be patient, read to them and with them at every opportunity, give them real reasons why reading is important, give them a variety of texts, topics, and mediums to choose from, and then back the fuck off them. Your judgement and insistence probably isn’t going to help – it’s actually more likely to do damage to their understanding of what reading can and should be all about. Like children, literacy comes in all forms and you can’t totally predict when it’ll start to bloom, so let your kid embrace what works best for them.

GSLIS WTF GTFO: Courses They Should Actually Offer in Library School

Unbelievably, I’m fast approaching my one-year anniversary of working at Mt. Pleasant Library and I love it here, but every single day I am reminded multiple times a day of just how little graduate school prepared me for literally anything I do as a librarian. And considering the fact that pursuing my MLS (is it even an MLS? Is it an MLIS? I don’t even know) took two years and a boatload of money, that’s a damn shame.

Fortunately, there are a bunch of amazing blogs and boards out there to help supplement and subdue the shock of entering a profession very in debt and very unprepared (like Achieve Every Goal Always Forever in Three Easy Steps and Letters to a Young Librarian).

However, I am not yet at the point where I can provide such wisdom. Someday, maybe! But for now, I can mostly just provide sarcasm. So if I were to become the new head of URI’s GSLIS program, these are the courses I would want to be offered.

Actual Reading Interests of Children I: Legos, Princesses, Spongebob, and Pokemon

Actual Reading Interests of Children II: Just Buy Every Single Diary of a Wimpy Kid Read-Alike You Can Find

Actual Reading Interests of Young Adults I: Angst, Angst, Distopian Angst.

Actual Reading Interests of Young Adults II: No, the Fault In Our Stars is Checked Out and There Is a 2 Month Waiting List for It and Everything Else Written By John Green, But Here Are Some Similar Titles You Might Enjoy Instead.

Reader’s Advisory Skills 101:

Excerpts from course *
Scenario 1
Librarian: “Do you like to read?”
Kid: “Yes.”
Librarian: “Great! What’s something you’ve read recently that you enjoyed, and what did you like about it?”

Scenario 2
Librarian: “Do you like to read?”
Kid: “No.”
Librarian: “No worries! What’s something you like to do for fun?”

*
This is actually the whole course.

Reader’s Advisory Skills 102, Following Up: “Did you like it? Oh, it sucked? That’s okay, I didn’t write it so I’m not offended, just tell me what you didn’t like about it and we’ll find you something less lame.”

Reader’s Advisory Skills 103, Online Resources: Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon are a Gift from The Universe And You Should Praise Them As Such Every Damn Day

Youth Culture 101, Linguistics: How to Tell if a Teen is Secretly Cursing You Out

Youth Culture 102, Relevant References: Know Your Viral Vines and Popular Youtube Channels

Youth Culture 103, Computer Games: How To Help Your Computer Recover if Roblox, Halo, or Minecraft Cause It to Crash

Sweatin’ to the Oldies: Making the Most out of the Stupid Summer Reading Theme a Bunch of Old People Picked Out for You and Your Kids

That’s Very Pinteresting: Inspiration and DIY Ideas for Programming, Decor, Displays, and Collection Development Because Why Reinvent the Wheel?

Budgeting 101: Swallowing Your Pride and Crushing Your Dreams In One Fell Swoop

Pushing the Envelope: When That Envelope Is Full of Pennies and That’s Your Programming Budget for the Year

Getting Blood from a Stone: Once You’ve Recovered and Are Done Bawling About Your Budget, Learn How to Ball on a Budget and Become Really Well Known at your Local Dollar Tree

Guilting People Into Generosity 101: “It’s For the Children.”

Supplies and Demanding Children: You Will Literally Always Need More Gluesticks and Construction Paper

3D Printing A Seed Library, and Other Ridiculous Concepts and Contraptions That You Will Read About In Professional Publications But Will Never Be Attainable or Applicable @ Your Library Given Your Budget and Patrons’ Needs

Professional Attire: The Best Cardigans for You and Where To Buy Them Cheaply, En Masse

Dealing with Pubescent Patrons: How to Gently But Firmly Stave Off the Advances of a Twelve Year Old Boy Trying to Convince You To Leave Your Husband Because You Know He Is Probably Just Practicing to Ask Out A Girl His Own Age And You Don’t Want to Crush His Confidence But Also Ew.

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers: Being an Asshole Isn’t In Your Job Description Either Yet You Still Do That Every Day

Dealing with Difficult Coworkers II: You Are Clearly Miserable Because You Picked The Wrong Profession and I Feel Sorry For You

Dealing with Difficult Union Representatives: Don’t.

Stacks Survivalism: How to Breathe Through Your Mouth when Dealing with Mouth Breathers Who Have No Sense of Personal Hygiene or Personal Space

Dealing With Parents Who Care Too Much: Gifted Children Are Actually a Curse

Spanish for Librarians: There Is No Subtitle for This. You Really Just Ought to Learn Spanish. Why Are They Not Teaching Spanish. I Will Never Need To Learn How To Code a MARC Record But I Need to Speak Spanish Every Day But Can’t. Just Kidding, This Turned Into a Subtitle.

In closing, you can expect me to be running the GSLIS program at URI real soon.

Increasing Literacy to Increase Diversity in Literature

Note from the future because Wordpress backdates entries to their original draft date: Sometimes I go through my saved drafts and cringe because I can’t believe I wrote such garbage, but today I discovered this post and cringed because I can’t believe I never actually published it. What the hell, me? So, I’m publishing it now, because better late than never I guess.

“Increasing Literacy to Increase Literary Diversity, by Emily Grace Le May

Last summer, I was fortunate enough to attend the sixth annual KidLib Camp at Darien Library in Connecticut; as part of this “unconference,” we engaged in several informal break out sessions, and one of my favorites focused on Diversity in Juvenile Literature. The discussion flowed from children’s picture books and presenting folktale-friendly story times to trends in juvenile and young adult fiction and what resources we relied upon to select the best culturally diverse materials for our young patrons.
At some point during the session, a question was thrown out to the group, which was “How can libraries play a part in increasing cultural diversity in literature?” Of course, there are lots of opportunities every day to increase cultural awareness at your library, starting with purposeful collection development strategies and then moving into stellar readers advisory sessions and programming.
However, my biggest take away was how vital it is to make sure that your library is a literacy hub for your community, particularly for those individuals who may be struggling with language barriers and subsequent or stand-alone illiteracy.
ESL Programs
At my library, where we serve a strongly Hispanic community, we offer a toddler-to-preschool story time and craft program all year, and we just completed our first “Ready for K!” kindergarten preparation program this summer. Both programs offer bilingual components (mostly songs and stories) and encourage parents to participate along with their children, which targets two age groups at once and provides almost seamless language learning opportunities for both English and Spanish speakers.ESL Courses
Hosting in-person ESL classes regularly is definitely something to strive for, of course. Maybe this is an obvious point, but you never know. You can and should reach out to local teachers or try to find bilingual individuals willing to volunteer their time.

Beyond that, I’m always working on my Spanish speaking skills (most recently through Mango’s Spanish for Librarians mini-course) to improve my customer service since most of my patrons speak Spanish, but for that patron who comes in and speaks primarily Armenian, don’t forget about Mango Languages’ ESL courses! There’s about a million of them to choose from – well, there’s actually 17 but growing every day. Make sure your patrons know about these (free!) courses as a singular or supplemental way to learn English, and encourage your fellow employees to learn a language that will help them better serve your patrons.

Adult Literacy
The bad news is that illiteracy is a reality for thirty-million adults in the United States, and almost half of those who have the lowest reading levels live in poverty. The good news is that you can make an amazingly positive impact in this area! If you don’t think you have the right training or resources to become a literacy instructor, I strongly encourage you to check out this amazing program put together by librarian Kristy Cooper and the free eBook that teaches you the ins and outs of how to do it yourself.

If after that you still don’t feel you can move forward with an adult literacy program at your library, at least take a few moments to research literacy centers nearby, reach out to them and direct your patrons to them as often as possible. As librarians, some of us may take our literacy for granted, but for our patrons, this simple referral could make all the difference in the world.

The Bigger Picture and Bottom Line
Ultimately, the publishing world is a profit-driven one – if a demand and a subsequent market can be proven to exist for culturally enriched literature, more books will be published for that market. Between language learning software subscriptions and an abundance of ESL and Adult Literacy programs, the library has a unique opportunity to provide amazing resources to anyone who wants to read, speak, and be heard.

Make your library the first stop on the pathway to literary enlightenment for everyone in your community, and these new readers will in turn demand adequate representation in the literary world. This is not a change that will happen overnight, but there are so many things you can start doing today to improve tomorrow.

For further reading about Adult Literacy and how libraries can help in this regard, check out Kristy Cooper’s article “Supporting Adult Literacy” in the May/June 2014 issue of Public Libraries.”

Facebook Feminism (F)rant

So in response to this Huffington Post piece about how Kaley Cuoco Doesn’t Consider Herself A Feminist, I would just like to say the following:

So many mixed feelings about this. In the first place, it makes me so mad when prominent/famous people don’t use their role in the world as effectively as they could and make uninformed statements instead. But, then I’m also kind of glad that she feels that she hasn’t faced much inequality, because that’s a good life to have led, and I personally feel similarly as well. But I’ve been lucky, and I know that, and you should be a feminist not just for your sake but for the sake of all of the other women out there who are not so lucky. And men, too. Also, like her, I genuinely enjoy cooking for my husband and doing all sorts of “housewifey” things as well; they give me a great sense of personal satisfaction and pleasure. HOWEVER, enjoying being a housewife and being a feminist are not mutually exclusive – ACTUALLY, they are intricately linked, as the reason why you’re even being allowed to speak about whether or not you “enjoy” it is BECAUSE of feminism since otherwise it would be your default role and it wouldn’t matter whether you liked it or not. ALSO the whole point of feminism is being able to do whatever the fuck you want to do, whether that’s working outside the home, inside the home, or both. Or neither, I guess, for some lucky ladies. But on behalf of Britney Spears and myself, I think you should just work, bitch.

Oh, AND I really hate articles that lead with stupid statements like “Don’t call Kaley Cuoco a feminist.” Nowhere does she state that she doesn’t want to be called one, just that she doesn’t think of herself as one, so the author is already negatively leading the reader against the concept of feminism from the start. AWESOME.

No Babies, No Problems

I don’t want to have children. I’ve known since forever. You can ask anyone.

This is not because I had a horrible childhood, because I didn’t. This does not mean that I don’t love my husband, because I do. This doesn’t in any way undermine the respect I have for the many truly awesome people I’ve met all throughout my life who have a gift for being parents and have shared that gift by raising radical kids who become (or I’m sure will become) amazing people.

This also doesn’t mean that I hate children as a group, and I hope it goes without saying that I would never inflict harm upon any of them, and I would probably go out of my way to save them if the situation called for it. Actually, I do go out of my way on a pretty regular basis to do all kinds of stuff for them because I’m a children’s librarian now, and let’s be totally clear – I love my job, and I completely adore these kids. But enjoying the company of kids and the role that I can play in their lives and wanting to be a mother are two connected but not synonymous things.

For what it’s worth, I think it’s absurd that at 26, I could end up with an unplanned pregnancy and have almost universal support for it, or I can decide at this same age to not have a baby and the overwhelming response from practically everyone is that a) I’ll change my mind and b) it’s their business to tell me so, as if they’ve ever spent a second inside my head. It’s my most frequently experienced and most adamantly despised form of sexism because it assumes that as a woman, I am simply a ticking time-bomb, waiting to blow up into a baby-making factory, regardless of what sort of actual person I really am and what sort of goals I have. It states that at 26, I don’t know enough about myself to make an informed decision about my future but I do have enough viable eggs left to create a whole new person, so let’s just roll with that. Before I was married, it was because I hadn’t met the right guy yet. Now that I’m married, most people hinge their guesses about my childless status upon whether my husband wants them or not. Newsflash: it’s a joint decision, but ultimately more mine than his because my body would be the vessel for the kid.

Honestly, having spent my whole life inside my head, I can tell you that it is far, far more likely that if I did have a baby, I would probably change my mind about that decision about a hundred times a day at least but guess what – there’s no socially-acceptable way of getting off that train once it’s really started rolling. However, deciding not to have a baby allows me the luxury of changing my mind whenever I want, basically, because there’s this thing called Adoption, and considering how happy I am to have saved the little fluffy lives of my fur babies through the same process, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that I would be equally pleased with that scenario. That said, however, there are still plenty of reasons out there why children are not for me, whatever method of delivery they arrive by.

Pregnancy – Absolutely nothing about this process appeals to me at all whatsoever. Oh, there’s an semi-alien being floating around inside me and making me have to pee even more often than I already do and causing more frequent and more horrible mood swings than I already have and draining me of nutrients and sucking calcium out of my bones? And “eating for two” actually means only a couple of glasses of low-fat milk and a handful of sunflower seeds or a tuna sandwich? Shenanigans! And you can try to dress it up with pleasant sounding words, but that “glow” is mostly sweat because your body and your hormones are out of control. None for me, thanks.

Childbirth – As much as the thought of being pregnant does not appeal to me, childbirth scares the shit out of me. Literally, because why on earth would I want to splay my legs for hours and excrete all kinds of bodily fluids and solids in front of loved ones and strangers alike just so I can either a) be in incredibly intense pain while my vagina tears apart or b) be in a drug-induced daze while my vagina tears apart? And then I get rewarded with a screaming purple potato of my very own to take home and who will never sleep through the night again for several months or years. WHERE DO I SIGN UP.

Infancy – As alluded to above, I don’t find newborns cute. Sorry I’m not sorry. Until they’re about 6 months to a year old (oh, sorry, 12 months, because everything has to be measured in months, right?), I really don’t dig them. They’re sometimes a weird color, their hair patterns are unpredictable, they excrete gross things at awkward times, they have no knee caps, there’s a soft spot IN that head that they can’t hold up themselves, they are literally the most selfish beings that are pooping/peeing machines that eat, sleep, and cry and basically nothing else. Shrieks and cries go straight through me; it doesn’t stir any maternal instincts, it just makes my uterus shrivel and my head hurt. And then even after they get out of the initial alien potato looking stage and move into the realm of cute, they’re still not really good at most things besides being cute and being loud, and you know what’s really good at being really cute but not loud and also doesn’t cost thousands upon thousands of dollars? Cats. Dogs. Friends. The Internet.

Babyhood and Childhood – Okay so yes, there are cool things going on developmentally with kids during this time – they’re learning, they’re growing, they can wear adorable shoes, and they’re becoming tiny little people, but let’s not underestimate the extent to which I tend to dislike most people (regardless of their tininess). Also once they’re walking and talking, there’s so much more potential for chaos.

I am, both at my core and on the surface, a total control freak – and kids present way, way too many opportunities for things to go wicked wrong. Let’s say I get lucky and manage to produce a child with no health problems (and I would be very lucky indeed) – the world is a traumatic death trap and you can’t be there with your kid every second of every day (nor would I want to be). This, therefore, requires a certain amount (ie: a LOT) of trust in others and learning to trust in just letting things play out as they’re meant to, and I hate that. Statistically, really no one escapes unscathed, so basically it’s just a waiting game until something happens. There’s creeps waiting around every corner, there’s drunk drivers plowing onto sidewalks, there are bullies at school, there are miserable teachers and overenthusiastic coaches, there are diseases coming back from near eradication (thanks, Anti-Vacs!), and there’s nothing you can do to guarantee that it won’t get to your kid. Except not have one.

Also, I can witness and play a part in the development of so many awesome, awesome kids just fine as their librarian or as an auntie but then pass them right back over when they start to scream or need something gross taken care of and feel no guilt over shirking my parental responsibility because I have none. That sounds like a tremendously better deal to me.

Teenager Years – Let’s also pretend for a minute that I have a healthy kid and they get through their childhood with minimal emotional scarring – here come the teenage years, ready and raring to go and chock-full of shit! Except now the problems your kid is facing are your legal and ethical responsibility to fix but generally not going to be ones that you necessarily made them face because so much of their time is going to be spent away from you and trying to do their “own” thing. Oh, also, there’s a good chance that they’ll think you’re stupid and actively rebel against you and hate your guts but still need money and rides to go waste time on relationships that are awful and trends that are stupid. Hooray! That sounds so fun!

Freedom to invest your finances and time into other pursuits – This is probably the most broadly applicable and therefore often cited reason in other peoples’ arguments against procreation, but it bears repeating with specifics for my life, I think.

The time argument is this, for me: I already don’t feel that I have enough time to devote to the things I genuinely want to do (which, granted, is mostly do Pinterest-inspired crafts and pet the cats and binge on Netflix and pumpkin pie…when seasonally appropriate). I work full-time and live an hour away from my job, and there’s always something that has to be done before or after work (appointments, phone calls, meetings, grocery shopping, housework), so adding a kid into the mix of all this sounds like a disaster waiting to feel neglected. On Tuesdays, I get home at 10pm and then have to be back at work at 9:30 the next day – where is a kid going to factor into that turnaround time? They’re not. I also work weekends days and nights, for that matter. So the option is to quit my job(s) or scale back my hours considerably and in either case probably grow to resent the kid on some unhealthy and unwarranted level, or keep on going full-time and play only a tiny role in their lives, and then what’s the point in even having them if you can barely spend time with them and they end up being raised by a varied array of others (familial and/or paid)?

The money argument is also really straightforward for me. As of last year, the average cost per kid in the US is approximately $241,080. With that money, I could do any number of things for myself, loved ones, and strangers in need, and still have leftover for fun, frivolous stuff.

You can give birth to and mother other things besides children – this is a paraphrased quote from an interview with Jennifer Aniston (the mother of all non-mothers) and I love it because it’s so true. I am still just starting out in my career and frankly my life as well, and I feel I’ve already figuratively given birth to so many little miracles that I find incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. They are all big projects and little victories and I’m pleased and proud of all of them, just as I’m disappointed in other areas of my life as well, but none of them (good or bad) will leave a permanent mark upon the earth because that’s not my style. If motherhood is made up of caring about other people and other things more than yourself, then I’ve mothered more people and animals and things that I can count.

I guess I have some “selfish” reasons for not wanting to have children, but most of my actual reasons are overwhelmingly selfless. Ultimately, I care more about the future of this unborn, unwanted child and more for the future of the earth (which is full of people I probably wouldn’t like most of if I met) than I do about catering to my own animalistic, biological urges. Which, ironically, would probably make me a pretty decent mother.

It’s not selfish to not want to have children. It’s selfish to not want to be a parent and have them anyway. It’s selfish to create a life when you won’t even be around for most of it. It’s selfish (and stupid) to create a whole person just to keep up with what other people think you should be doing. It’s selfish to burden someone else with the pursuit of your own sense of fulfillment.

Unapologetically, I’m more than enough on my own. If I do ever “change my mind” somewhere down the line, it’s 3000% not your business and I have a variety of ways to act upon that change. Most likely, it would be by way of adopting a child who needs a home more than my unfertilized eggs do, especially since my uterus is already cozy enough for them and they move out every month anyway and that’s more than enough drama for me.