Rating: 3.5 out of 5
“The way most people feel about loving being a parent is exactly how I feel about not being a parent. I love it. And I can’t imagine my life any other way.”
Don’t pity Jen Kirkman for her childfree lifestyle. The author is also a stand-up comedian and writer/guest panelist for Chelsea Handler’s talk show. She’s traveling the world and living her dream of making people laugh.
And while she just so happens to not have kids, she finds that most people can’t accept that fact. In her memoir, I Can Barely Take of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids, Kirkman releases her frustration from having to constantly justify her life choices.
Covering all the popular responses, including, “You’ll change your mind,” “You’re selfish,” and “Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?” she refutes all the ignorance with humorous self-deprecation.
While I always enjoy hearing from fellow childfree folk, especially when mainstream media incites so-called ‘mommy wars’ and obsesses over celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Kate Middleton simply for their reproductive abilities, I felt that this memoir could have had more fun.
I bought Kirkman’s book because I liked Chelsea Handler’s Are You There, Vodka? and I was expecting similarly crazy, crass stories. Unfortunately, after noticing that I’ve rated both memoirs the same, perhaps Handler deserved an extra half-point. Even if Handler’s tales seemed more tall than true, at least they were entertaining.
It’s not to say that Kirkman isn’t entertaining (Handler herself played a prank by emailing Kirkman’s sister that her writer was pregnant. Awkward conversations ensued!). It’s just that oftentimes the author sneaked a bit of sadness in her stories.
It’s clear that Kirkman is successful, but I’m not too sure about well-adjusted. The title, “I Can Barely Take Care of Myself,” implies being overwhelmed, but she wasn’t kidding. For much of her life, she was medicated for depression, anxiety, and childhood paranoia. She also recently suffered a divorce after only two years of marriage, something which she never fully explained in the book.
And I’m not saying that childfree people don’t have mental health issues or relationship trouble, but the uber-judgmental parents of the world don’t need any more ammunition when it comes to throwing the side eye at those without kids.
Put another way, Chelsea Handler is also childfree but her books are so full of fun that her status doesn’t even matter. No one has time to give her grief because she’s too busy downing cocktails and making smart-ass jokes.
If Kirkman wanted to prove that she has ‘a Happy Life Without Kids,’ maybe she should have included more life and less kids.