Is It Sad That Finding The Right Pants Feels So Awesome?

Finding well-fitting jeans has always been something of a struggle for me. It’s no secret that I’ve, to use the clichéd but apt phrase, struggled with my weight. A lot. And for several years. I’ve pretty well got it under control now, but there’s no changing my body type, even now. I am, to put it delicately, thick-waisted. It’s pretty much a straight shot from under my arms down to mid-thigh on both sides of my body. On my skinnier days, maybe I’m a bit more concave, but not notably. As such, I have to buy low-rise pants, because, being that my waist does not nip inward nicely, or even much at all, they sit comfortably on my hips without the hems dragging on the floor and tripping me up, and/or without being incredibly baggy because I had to buy a size or two up to ensure that they’d fit in the first place.

Now, our story begins…

It’s the post-Christmas sales. I notice JCPenney has jeans on clearance. I’ve had good luck there before, I’m in desperate need of new jeans, and strapped for cash, so the deal is too much to resist.

About a half-hour’s work and about 6 pairs of jeans tried on later, I’m content to purchase a new pair of junior’s super-low-rise jeans. They’re a little long and a little loose being the size up from mine, which had already been cleared out, but I figure they’ll shrink up in the wash. I’m actually most annoyed about the pockets—their lack of depth leaves me wondering if I can even squeeze my lip balm in one, much less my half-brick of a phone.

A couple days and a wash later, I’m walking around in these jeans. I’m sitting down in them. And I feel… kinda bad about them. The hems drag, the waistband is still loose on me—I feel like I’m swimming in them, practically, and this is something I have almost never felt before. I scrounge for the tags and leave to return the jeans, hoping against hope that my size will have magically appeared, and I can just go home.

No such luck. Clearance means clearance in this case, and the only merchandise they’re clearing out, they already have on the floor. I try on about 10 other pairs of different brands, avoiding like the plague those that are supposed to sit at the waist. None of them work—about half of them, I can’t even pull over my hips for fear that I’ll tear the comparatively gauzy fabric. (Because clearly, just denim would never do—we must weaken it with cotton and embellishments and rayon! Okay, rayon’s fine—makes ‘em stretchy.) The ones closest to fitting have “artful” rips and runs, and some include some embroidery on the back pockets I just cannot put up with. Defeated, I return the pair I’d originally bought and leave.

On my way back, I head to a local department store on a whim. They tend to have good clothing—maybe I’ll find something there! Their major brand-name jeans (Lees and Levis) are the same sort as the ones I encountered in the mall. I don’t even bother until I find some marked mid-rise, which is better than everything else I’ve encountered so far. I grab a pair of those in a couple sizes likely to fit, and head to juniors’ jeans, which produces a few distinct possibilities.

Or so I think. I get to the dressing room, and one pair turns out to be skinny jeans. They look fine on some people, but not on me, and I pretty much refuse to buy any pants that are not bootcut. Another four either are too baggy around the legs or can’t even get past my hips (the one drawback to wearing juniors’ jeans—they rarely take large hips that taper to normal-sized legs into account), and the last—the Lees—fit well enough, but do pinch a little at the waistband. Figuring they’re better than nothing, I gather those and head back to juniors’ to sort through a little more of the jumble. Another couple pairs later, I realize I’m exhausted and it’s been an hour and a half and I cannot for the life of me find a more suitable pair of jeans than the Lees.

I give up. I shuffle dejectedly towards the front of the store, Lees in hand. They may have been the best pick, but the skin above my hips chafes a little at the mere thought of pinching as I break them in. And then, a rack of pants I’ve neglected to look at catches my eye with a sign proclaiming its wares (I will point out that “wares” was edited from “wears”, which I find hilarious) fifty percent off. I know that in the world of pants, this could mean I’ll still pay $150 for them, but, unable to resist the bargain, I take a closer look. The rack holds Dickies work jeans for women. “Work” probably means “sturdy”, I figure, so I run my hand over a pair. They’re rough, but gentle at the same time. In other words, sturdy, as I’d thought. I skim over the sizes available, noting that most are likely too big for me unless Dickies runs a size or two smaller than most brands. And then, the holy grail—three pairs in the three sizes most likely to fit me! I grab them, hold them in front of me experimentally, and muster up the energy for one last trip to the dressing room.

Inside, I cautiously pull on the middle-sized pair of jeans, nearly crowing with delight as they slide on easily over the leggings I often wear under jeans when it’s cold outside. They’re exceedingly easy to button, and so I tug at the waistband where it sits just above my hips, pulling it out experimentally to see if these jeans might just fall right off of me, warranting a smaller size. The legs are a little long, and so I am relieved when it seems I can attempt the smallest size I’ve acquired. I quickly change pairs, and nearly text everyone in my contacts out of sheer happiness when they fit perfectly, flattering my figure over my leggings. I crouch and jump and stretch to make sure they fit, nearly squealing in pure joy each time these jeans do my bidding without sliding to show my underwear, or pinching my belly, or causing me any sort of grief in general.

Now, for the final test. I stick my hand in its pocket. It keeps going. And going. And going for miles, it seems. (Really, it’s only about six inches deep, but I dare you to find any other women’s pants that are not cargoes with pockets that deep. There’s a reason women’s pants pockets are considered a joke in and of themselves!) By now, I am nearly bawling in ecstasy. Okay, not really, but I am on cloud nine. These perfectly-fitting pants are a privilege to wear, one I’ve long felt unworthy of thanks to body image issues even after making it to a healthy size. These pockets will fit the phone I will purchase when my contract expires next, one in the category of “phablet”—half phone, half tablet—and it is a honker, let me tell ya!

I nearly skip to the cashier. I can hardly pay for my jeans and race home fast enough. And now, here I sit, comfy in my jeans with my phone and lip balm in my pocket and gleefully pondering just how many more things I might be able to cram in before it bursts. The perfect pair of jeans is so hard to come by, but, by some miracle, Christmas or otherwise, I’ve found mine.

Why I Donate Blood

For about twenty four to forty eight hours after I donate a pint of blood. I’m a zombie, almost literally. I crave flesh (not human, though, and preferably not raw). I will go to great lengths to obtain fluids if need be. I’m not the most coordinated person in the world, often trying two or three times to get up from a couch or bed successfully, if not without a gray-out. I laze about and growl at people who ask more of me than I feel like doing at the time, reasonable or not, and I’m more often than not in a bit of a foul mood.

So, why do I do it? A lot of people have asked me this question.

Some of it lies in a sense of obligation. I’m the universal donor type, O-. We’re rare enough, and while blood typing is often attempted, if it cannot be done quickly enough, O- will do. However, for those not up on how blood types work, O- patients can receive safely only from O- donors. I don’t have the statistics on the proportions of donors versus recipients of each blood type, but the thought that I might need it and not have it is a scary enough prospect that I want to make sure nobody’s in that situation.

I’m no hero. I’m not particularly strong or fast or witty. I have my good days and my bad days. I’m not the first person most people would turn to in an emergency, partially because it’s a crapshoot whether or not I’d be level-headed enough to handle it. It’s because of this that I do what I do. Perhaps it’s a little egotistical to sit back and think “Yeah, I did my part” after giving blood, but it’s what I can do. (Confession: I wanted to be a veterinarian once upon a time, but blood makes me queasy. Don’t ask me why donating works for me in that case; I really don’t know.) I could probably just as easily volunteer at a soup kitchen, or work with kids in a hospital, but neither of those is a good fit for me.

Also, it’s a pretty good way to make sure I stay healthy. Colds and such aside, giving blood reminds me to drink lots of water, eat healthy (except for the cookies they give out at the blood center, naturally), and watch my weight in general. I probably could be getting more exercise, but that’s for another post.

Giving blood makes me feel like I’m helping out. It keeps me honest, and it keeps me healthy. In a funny sort of way, it makes me feel whole. That’s why I do it. If you want to volunteer, just consider it.

On Self-Control and Personal Responsibility

So, apparently, if you’re a female, you can be fired if your male boss is sexually harassing you. (At least, I’ve heard of no cases where the genders have been switched. However, I will have you note that I did not tag this post with “Women” or any variant because this is issue is so much bigger than gender.)

The recent case in Iowa has my gut in knots. According to one article, “Knight feared he would attempt an affair if Nelson stayed around.”

That is complete and utter freakin’ bull. I don’t care what the genders are of the people involved; it is everyone’s own responsibility to keep it in their pants. I don’t care what your excuse is—to say that someone is just too irresistible is absolutely despicable, and is a complete and utter cop-out. If this woman was so attractive, how could other men keep calm around her? If she was dressing so provocatively, why didn’t the dentist just tell her to cover up because it was inappropriate instead of (and by the dentist’s own admission!) saying that “if she saw his pants bulging, she would know her clothing was too revealing”? Oh, and by the way, that last bit is sexual harassment, and don’t you dare tell me otherwise.

So far, no hard evidence has surfaced that the woman who was fired was making inappropriate advances towards the dentist. There are allegations, and certainly, we might not be hearing the whole story just yet, but even so, if someone makes unwanted emotional advances, it’s in the other person’s court whether or not they reciprocate. (Now, if the person makes unwanted physical advances, that is a completely different matter and something that the person being advanced on is in no way responsible for.) In other words, it takes two to tango, and this man definitely would have been guilty of having made a choice in pursuing an affair, no matter the woman’s feelings. Again, I’d be saying the same exact thing if a woman had fired a man for this reason.

Growing up, I was told that we are responsible for our own emotions, and, by extension, our own actions. Sure, there can be dire consequences if we don’t follow orders from those in supervising positions, but nobody can crawl inside your mind and say, “Well, actually, you’re going to do this even though you REALLY don’t want to.”

The truth of the matter is, humans have sexual desires, and, a lot of the time, we’re made to feel like we’re no better than dirt for it. But, when you think about it, that’s how the human race survives. It’s something that we’re programmed to do. That does NOT make dishonoring a commitment you have made at all an okay thing to do. We have the drive to reproduce (and to experience pleasure in general), but if we truly are capable of “higher thought”, we are definitely capable of holding ourselves back. Again, we cannot blame other people for our desire for them, especially when they do not reciprocate.

Now, if it turns out that the woman was pursuing the dentist, that makes her firing a little easier to bear. She, too, has had the choice of whether or not to engage in inappropriate conduct, but even so, that still by no means excuses the dentist’s behavior. Personal responsibility is not encouraged enough, and while there are obvious reasons why this is the case, it’s sad that the integrity of many is so often eroded by the mistakes (or even the deliberately wrong actions) of a few, especially as it pertains to sexuality. Having the capability to do something does not mean you have the responsibility to do it, especially when it interferes with another’s livelihood.

I’m not perfect. I will openly admit I’m pretty good at making mistakes. But I do take responsibility for them, and I try to do better. And when I do better, I feel better. Maybe I don’t feel great until then, but I’d say that learning and growing leads to far better experiences than shirking and blaming.

The Information Age Held Hostage

It seems like any information you could possibly want to find out is available somewhere these days. We are so connected by beams and wires and electronics and technology that nothing seems impossible. However, this does have a downside. Information is dangerous. I’d argue that misinformation, which seems even more widely available than correct information sometimes, is even more dangerous. Power corrupts, as they say, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. And those who have power over what information is and is not disseminated often do so with their own personal interests in mind, presenting opinion as fact, or worse, deliberately leaving fact out of it altogether.

Witness, for instance, immediate news reports. Often, when something big happens, especially a crime, the information first dispersed is more often than not incorrect in some way, shape, or form, including simply being incomplete. (In my opinion, incompleteness in this case is incorrect.) While this is not an anomaly in and of itself, it is confusing to those trying to understand how to respond to the incident, and tying the area up with reporters helps nothing and, I’d argue, hinders a lot. What is this even for? Emergency responders know well enough how to caution people to stay out of the area, so why should reporters get a pass? Ratings? Money? Those seem like pretty poor reasons to me, especially when a person has perpetrated a crime. The criminal usually gets their 15 minutes of fame and more, which helps nothing and serves only to glamorize crime. Meanwhile, any victims are either ignored or have questions shoved at them that most can’t handle at the moment. Do we need to know the important points? Yes. But one important point in any sort of emergency is (without fail, as far as I know) STAY OUT OF THE AREA. Let the responders do their work, and you can report in more depth afterward.

Politics is an offshoot of this topic. People are so quick to pounce on one word or phrase that they miss the whole point of a speech. They also fail to take into account that politicians are human, and so they will slip up on a word sometimes. While these people are used to being in the spotlight and should have their topics well-researched beforehand if they can, this isn’t always something that can/does happen, but the world is apparently an unforgiving place. Special interest groups are all too happy to shout down anyone who doesn’t agree with them, and then complain when there are consequences for what they say, as though they don’t understand that the right to free speech does not mean that there are no consequences. I’m one of those people who will defend your right to free speech, even if I disagree with you, but only if you realize that there are consequences to being allowed to say what you want, and that not everyone will be swayed at all by what you say. (And, in a rather more cynical moment, I like to let people stick their feet in their mouths all by themselves.)

Even in the general case, misinformation does tend to lead to attacks (verbal and otherwise) on others, which accomplish nothing in the long run but making people angry with each other. It’s not productive because the point isn’t that there is a correct answer; it’s that someone was wrong and how could they be so stupid and… you get the point. It’s distasteful and sad. We’re more concerned over the fact that someone is misinformed than we are over what the correct information is that we lose sight of that information until someone brings it up, if they ever do.

Sexual biology is another common arena for this phenomenon. I understand the argument that a parent should reserve the right to teach their children about sex in a way that fits with their beliefs, but when middle- and high-schoolers are getting STDs/STIs and getting pregnant and dropping out at some very discouraging rates simply because of what they did not know, something’s gotta give! At least when kids this age were getting pregnant a couple centuries ago, they knew what they were doing was starting a family, and it was done simply because people did not live as long back then. Now that we are living longer, getting childbearing done before we run out of time is not necessary. And there is a wealth of misinformation out there, from what creates a pregnancy to how not to create one in the first place. While a lot of this is probably trolling (I’d hope nobody over the age of about 9 believes holding hands with someone of the opposite biological gender can make you pregnant), it can be hard to distinguish that from those who really believe that their misinformation is true.

I’d like to also take a minute to talk about the scare tactics that are used in a misguided attempt to delay sexual activity. Telling young adults that birth control doesn’t work does not disincline them towards having sex; it just makes them much less likely to use it if/when they do. And telling a rebellious teen that pregnancy will ruin their lives just makes them want to prove you wrong even more. While I never got into that sort of trouble as a teen, I get how wanting to prove the adults wrong and yourself right goes, and it can lead to some really stupid choices. (Also, going back to an earlier post of mine, the prefrontal cortex does not develop fully until the mid-twenties—there are scientific reasons kids are good at making bad choices, so I figure removing as much misinformation that leads them to it, even if only in part, is one of the better things we can do.)

As much as being a jack-of-all-trades is useful, having people who specialize in a certain area is useful, but sadly, in today’s society, being very good at only one or two things is interpreted as “I can’t do anything else”. Add in anonymity to being a jack-of-all-trades, master of none, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. Someone who thinks they know what they’re talking about simply because they say it in a loud voice without backing it up is not the best choice of person to put in charge. Those who can do their research while remaining at least mostly unbiased are the best picks, but, sadly, because they don’t necessarily align with one popular ideology, they seem wishy-washy, when most elected leaders are chosen based on their ability to please people at what might be the cost of their own comfort or morals. Is the truth uncomfortable? Sometimes, yes. But if you ask me, I’d rather take the truth any day and being able to grow intellectually over having all my opinions and possibly incorrect ideas about how things work reaffirmed.

It Is What It Is

I’m starting to think my dad’s family’s motto is “It is what it is”. To my mind, it’s the secular equivalent of “God has a plan for everything, and we don’t know what it is until it happens”. It’s a mantra that sees us through tough times. It makes us recognize that some realities cannot be changed, and that we must make the best of what we have and are in the moment, or at least move on or persevere through, if nothing else.

It’s hard enough moving past a personal upset or tragedy, but bad things don’t end there. I choose somewhat realistic optimism and say that the world is not cruel, but there are cruel people living there, and that is a problem when they act on that cruel nature towards others. (I know, I know, free will, people need to be able to do for themselves as best they can, but when that starts interfering with others’ rights to enjoy and live their lives to the fullest, that’s really not okay.) Bad things happen, and how we move through and past them shapes our character. Sometimes, it takes only a minute or two, but sometimes, we may never completely come to terms with a tragedy. Why, you ask? Exactly. Why?

I am one of those people who, when faced with a new fact, often start asking “Why?” Why did it happen? Why is it that way? Why can’t it be another way? If it could have been/be another way, why wasn’t/isn’t it? “It’s God’s plan” or “we may never know” simply doesn’t cut it for me a lot of the time, especially the former explanation, as an agnostic. Honestly, though, there are some tragedies I don’t want to know the why for. I don’t want to hear some crappy excuse for the taking of a person’s life or, ahem, chastity against their will, and, betimes, I don’t want to hear “Just because” or “I had nothing better to do” or “They wanted it”. I don’t want to hear that a person thinks they’re justified in committing an unjustifiable act.

I guess another part of this is the sensationalism of modern media. Have you ever noticed how we often hear about the bad things, but the good often goes unnoticed unless it’s on par with superhuman feats of generosity or defense? We don’t celebrate the little things enough. We aren’t reminded often that there are good things that happen in the world, too, and that’s kind of heartbreaking. I suppose that some might consider it insensitive to celebrate the good with so much bad going on in the world, but when has anger led to more good than bad? I do not advocate for not taking the time to grieve; just the opposite, in fact. But nobody can go it alone. We need others to be the wind beneath our wings sometimes, and, other times, to be the voice of reason that says “let it go and be at peace”.

Justice is important, and it’s a topic I don’t feel qualified to handle completely. I cannot pass judgment on everyone accurately. I cannot dictate to people I have never met before what kind of person they are after asking them only a little about themselves. I don’t think we can ever completely know someone’s life story, because there’s always some little detail, some small thought, that goes unmentioned.

Humans can do horrible things, it’s true. But they can also rise up and move past these things, even if it takes a while. And maybe, if everyone was a little more selfless; if everyone took the time to smile at a stranger or help out in a soup kitchen; if everyone just stopped and thought every once in a while, things wouldn’t be so bad. I don’t know; I can’t say. But what I do know is this: I can do those things, and I will, because I firmly believe that it helps. The future is what it is, but only if you let it be that way.

WHAT is required to fix a computer? Apparently, not women… (a rant)

Note: Due to the name of this article, it’s linked at the bottom, lest anyone be grossed out or otherwise offended by the naming of more select parts of the male anatomy. Also, there are a couple of swears (3 total, I think) in here–you have been forewarned.

“This is another “without fail” story. And if you’re a woman who speaks that binary computer mumbo dot jumbo, spare me. Go fix a good pot roast or something; then we’ll talk.”

Yup. Taken, verbatim, from the article.

Hi there. I’m a woman. I speak that binary computer mumbo dot jumbo. It’s what I want to learn. I can also cook/bake like nobody’s business, so, Kathe Skinner, there is no way in hell that I am going to spare you anything.

First off, I believe you’re not a stupid woman. (Well, generally not stupid–posting an article that demeans your own gender as not having that je ne sais quoi that it takes to fix computers, however, makes me question that juuuuust a little bit, though.) You don’t have to be stupid to not be of the mechanically-inclined persuasion. You wanna know who’s also living proof of that? My dad. Yup. My dad. One of the least tech-savvy people I know, and I love him for it. He admits he doesn’t have the know-how. So, guess who his go-to person is when he does need help with computers? My mom. She can trouble shoot just about anything that will commonly pop up, and when she can’t, she… Looks it up! Oh, wonder of wonders; this magical thing called the internet actually has helpful stuff on it?! Since when?

My mother never studied any computer-related field, either. All she knows, she’s bothered to learn over the years because it makes her life that much easier. And she’s far more patient and involved than most IT people I’ve had to deal with. Oh, and she also makes some of the best food I’ve ever tasted. This not only includes pot roast, but also a variety of other dishes, some far more complex than something anyone can chuck in a crock pot or oven for a few hours. Yeah. I just went there.

As for me? I chose to go into computer science. As a major, and, in just a few short months, a career. For real. I apparently impressed the company I interned with so much that my manager told me the day he made his hiring decision that I was in. Yeah, I worked on an all-male team of software development engineers, and I got in. And I have many female friends in the major in the same boat. (Many of them are excellent cooks, fashionistas, and masters of other more traditionally “womanly” arts, by the way. And yes, I will keep bringing this up because you seem to think the two completely incompatible.)

Another example from my soon-to-be-(re-)employer: the amazing IT lady who fixed my laptop on the first day of my internship. Really, I walked in, she had me barely describe the problem, and then, wonder of all wonders, without even looking up the problem, she fixed it in about 2 minutes. Like magic, I tell ya! And then, she did the unthinkable: she actually let me in on how to fix it so that, should this ever happen again, I could take care of it myself! I wonder if that’s ever even crossed your mind, to ask your husband, “Hey, can you walk me through that?” and then, as he does, write down the steps. Saves a lot of time, and a lot of hassle for him. Or, better yet, have him explain as he has you work through the problem, yourself. This is actually what my dad insists upon, and has, surprisingly, been proven to help learning. (I know–who’d’ve thought it?)

Suffice it to say, I come from a family of strong women in every sense. Some are engineers, some are not, but all of ’em make damn good food. They are also beautifully feminine women, which I add since I’m sure you’re imagining that the engineers all muck about in ripped jeans and holey sweatshirts all day. They have shown me that being a woman does not limit my capabilities or options in any way, saving those where being biologically male is an absolute requirement. In this case, one does not need a y-chromosome to fix computers. (Side note: if you’d do a little reading up, you’d know that both men AND women have testosterone. Guys just happen to have more of it.)

Shame on you for saying that having a penis does the trick. Were that true, I’d bring my computer over to my cousin’s 18-month-old son every time it broke, for surely, he has the anatomy that I, a woman, do not, so he must therefore know what I could not possibly fathom! Shame on you for implying that women just aren’t mechanically inclined, and that guys are. While I can see where you’d make this assumption, I have plenty of examples very much to the contrary. Shame on you for saying outright that women must be good at one or the other, but can’t possibly be good at both. Shame on you for basically telling women out there that their positions as engineers, techs, programmers and the like don’t matter because we aren’t male and therefore can’t know. Some of us (myself included) have had to overcome not only your attitude, but not having a natural inclination towards our fields, which, by the way, if I haven’t said it enough, has JACK SHIT to do with our biological gender. Though I hate myself for it, however, I will also thank you because it is people like you who make me even more determined every day to push past all this crap and make something of myself in the field I want to be in, rather than settling for something that I would not be nearly as content with.

(I am not saying, by the way, that all women should drop whatever they’re doing and go for computers, by the way. They–and everyone, for that matter–should study what moves them, no matter whose nasty attitudes and stupid misconceptions and prejudices get in the way.)

An after-school program director loves to quote me as saying that nerds retire better–something I said when I was, oh, 12 or 13. You want to know who I snapped that back at? Someone who told me girls just don’t do this sort of stuff. These times, they be a-changin’, and, for your sake, I hope that any female engineers you may encounter set you straight.

And for my sake, and the sake of all women in computing-related fields, I hope attitudes like this become far less prevalent, especially among women. After all, if we cannot get support from within, how can we hope to achieve support from without?

The link to this… thing.

This is what happens when you don’t use the scientific method properly

A study recently published by the University of Canterbury in New Zealand has some… unfortunately obvious results, some might say.

The tl;dr version of the study is as follows: sex and booze make humans happiest in terms of three axes: pleasure, meaning, and engagement. Seriously, sex ranks in as the number one activity that makes humans happy, and drinking alcohol comes in second. This does make pretty good sense on a basic level, though. You have only to look at popular culture and the media to corroborate this supposed “revelation”, and science lends its own credence. Humans, after all, are huge fans of instant gratification—the part of the brain that enables long-term planning and weighing risk versus reward doesn’t fully develop until most people are in their mid-twenties! (This, as many of my friends half-joke-half-assert, is why people should not be allowed to marry or make other such life-changing, long-term decisions until they’re older than about 25.)

Now, a couple things concern me about this study: first and foremost, what are the demographics, here? Were they even reported? Looking at the compiled lists of the top ten activities that (allegedly) make humans happiest and the bottom ten, it seems skewed toward the culturally mainstream interests of those between the ages of about 16 and 35. (To be fair, though, nobody likes being sick, and recovering is rarely a pleasant journey, so at least the least happy activity makes sense.) I looked around for a little bit, and I could find no information on the demographics, and that’s a little concerning. If you’re going to generalize on what makes humans happiest, I’d hope that you’d at least have age and gender proportional examples! Given the proportions of those who text and/or use Facebook—the main avenues of reporting in this study—I’d say that this could use a little work.

Next, I happened to see this article from the Stir that talks about how sad it is that more people don’t want to be parents. First, I think this is kind of a load of crock. In terms of people commenting and essentially saying “Parenthood sucks”—it seems like these are the same people who also don’t like going to lecture or cleaning or much of anything that involves actual work; they’re probably not representative of the majority of people, and they’re probably commenting mindlessly. And kids, God bless ‘em, are a ton of work. Now, from what I’ve seen in real life, they can also be incredibly rewarding, but they tend to come with the most extreme of ups and downs. Popular media does not help, and often paints child rearing as something that is all pain and very little to no reward whatsoever for just about every reason imaginable. Compounding that, people like to make themselves feel better by examining the misfortunes of others. A childless person will look at some inaccurate representation in media portraying the incredibly vast majority of families as dysfunctional beyond help and think, “Well, at least it’s not me. And why would I want that, anyway?”

The author of the Stir article thinks that this supposed distaste for parenting is unfortunate, and, on some levels, I agree with her. Why shouldn’t we want to share our lives with these little miracles? Actually, there are plenty of reasons, so, hey, if people don’t want and/or aren’t ready to be having kids, the absolute dead last thing they should be doing is, well, having them. Not good for the parent, not good for the kid, not good for anyone.

And really, when you look at it, considering that there are at least twenty items on this list, being ranked in the top twenty-five percent (raising children comes in fifth) really isn’t all that bad. I suppose the point of the Stir article could be more (and very implicitly) that you keep on “needing” more alcohol and sex to be happy, and that threshold for how many children it takes to be happy is, in a lot of cases, far and away lower. To be honest, I also don’t understand what the gripe is about volunteering coming before having children. To a lot of people, volunteering strikes the correct balance of caring for others and caring for one’s self. In addition, those who volunteer a lot of their time likely don’t have a whole lot of it left to be rearing kids, which does take away from the time one is able to spend simply caring for one’s self. I just fail to see how volunteering ranking higher means that we don’t respect our kids. (Saying this about the ranking of sex, though, and, far more obviously, the booze, I can understand, but even then, if you use both in moderation, that alone does not mean you disrespect children.) Side note: I also wonder which category (volunteering or raising children) fostering kids falls under, because that could totally skew these results, too.

The point here is that it’s all too easy to extrapolate something that probably isn’t there (or at least, isn’t entirely accurate) from the little data that there is while missing out on the portion of the data that would be really telling.

It’s kind of funny—it’s really hard to construct a well-done survey. It’s a lot of effort that a lot of people don’t want to put forth, and thus, it generally winds up with a gigantic confirmation bias. Funny how “paid work”—which I’m assuming is what this research was for those conducting the research—does manage to rank in the bottom ten. Take a minute to let that sink in. And for goodness’ sake, next time, please be a little more accurate, people!