Thoughts on Action
"Contemplation often makes life miserable. We should act more, think less, and stop watching ourselves live." ~ Nicolas de Chamfort

Making the Right Decision vs. Making the Decision Right

Please don’t ask me why, but I decided to give one of the characters in the book I’m working on a Dr. Phil obsession. In my extensive research on the man (which has consisted mainly of laughing at his mustache from different photographic angles), I came across what I have to admit is a real gem of a quote:

“Sometimes you make the right decision, and sometimes you have to make the decision right.” ~ Dr. Phil McGraw

Wow. I kind of liked that. A lot. Because the implication there is that sometimes you can’t always make the “right” decision, or that there is no right decision. The more time I spend on this issue and the more Fence-Sitters I talk to, the more I’m convinced that there are a category of people who aren’t destined to be parents, and they aren’t passionately Childfree either. But unfortunately, each of us must make a decision, because at a certain point, even inaction is a decision thanks to ‘ole Ma Nature.

The idea that you don’t have to make the right one is somewhat comforting. But then the onus is on you to make it the right one. At first blush, it almost seems like that’s an easier task for those who choose parenthood. Because quite frankly, they don’t have much of a choice. They now have a tiny someone to mold into a productive adult, and doing it while moaning and moping around just isn’t going to work, and isn’t fair to the kid. Even those who didn’t enter parenthood willingly or enthusiastically usually find a way to find joy in the little things. If they didn’t, there’d be a lot more suicide attempts from top row of the bleachers after being subjected to watching a pack of seven year olds take turns scoring points for their opponents or dribbling the ball off their shoe. And to be perfectly honest, parents just don’t have a whole lot of time on their hands to whip themselves into a What-If tizzy.

So what about making the decision right for the Childfree? Suddenly seems a little harder. Maybe it’s because the Childfree are always being asked to defend their choice. To explain why they needed to keep all their time and money and sanity to themselves. And we feel like we have to have some pretty damn good answers. Needing the freedom to do things like spend more time with the extended family you already have, devoting yourself to a meaningful career, volunteering in the community are all good checklist items…but those To-Do’s seem awfully far off when one finds themselves wasting another Friday night on a cheap sauv blanc and a Netflix Cheers marathon. We should be out doing the more noble, interesting things we said we would. But without anyone hanging over our heads to demand it, who’s gonna be around to make sure we make the decision right?

No one, I guess. But much like those who choose parenthood owe to their kids to make it right, the Childfree owe it to their spouses, their pets, their careers, the world (which does, in fact, need Childfree people), but most importantly themselves, to make it right. They may just have to work a little harder at it.

Dr. Phil, thank you for the stimulating quote. I take back every bad thing I said about you when you’re ridiculous hillbilly accent.

And now, just because I love it, a Dr. Phil’s Take on Men Meme:

Dr. Phil Meme

14 Responses to Making the Right Decision vs. Making the Decision Right

  • Girl Named Jack says:

    This is a great point. Some people have a “calling” that is as strong as the urge to have a child, I think. You know, that person who was born to be an artist or writer or, I dunno, zookeeper. But for the rest of us, without having an external or internal force shaping our life, it is not always easy to have the discipline to not spend all weekend playing video games. Er, not that I would know anything about that. I’ve been struggling with this very issue for the past few months, now that I’ve made the decision to be childfree. I’ve got the freedom to do anything I want! I better not waste it.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Yup, it’s sort of like being an entrepreneur instead of someone else’s employee – pretty cool if you’ve got a vision and the discipline, but could lead to disaster if you don’t!

  • loribeth says:

    This is really interesting & food for thought… thanks! I may have to blog about it myself!

  • Jenn says:

    This is a great way to interpret this quote! Excellent job! As someone who’s Childfree I think about this a lot. My husband and I would love to travel the world and spend opulent amounts of money on pursuing our dreams, but the reality is we simply don’t have opulent amounts of money! (We live in L.A. too so you know how expensive it is to live here!) But we do have our theatre company that we run outside of our day jobs and spend most of our free time working on it. It’s something that we are very proud of and happy to do. My husband always jokes that we don’t need kids – we already have a 5-year-old (theatre company) since it takes up nearly all of our time. So those nights we do have to veg out on the couch and watch some Netflix are few and far between, and when we do have them we appreciate them. But I would still really like to do “more”. Whatever “more” is.

    This week a friend of mine found out she’s pregnant. She found out she’s SIX MONTHS pregnant! I have no idea how she didn’t notice it for that long, but what really terrifies me about her situation is that she now has only 3 months to prepare for her life to completely change! Luckily she and her husband seem happy about it, but wow – that’s the stuff of my nightmares! I have made the choice not to give up my crazy-busy theatre-filled life, and I can’t imagine what I would feel if I suddenly had to give all that up. Luckily for me, I would at least know if that were to happen because I use extremely strict fertility awareness methods to avoid pregnancy and I would know within 18 days of conception due to my temperatures. I think for me, one of the terrors of pregnancy and parenthood are the so many things that are simply out of your control. And being a bit of a control-freak myself, the idea that the decision was out of my friend’s hands really upsets me. Parenthood is so important, and such a huge commitment that you really need to WANT to be a parent. Luckily, she does and she’s happy! So I’m happy that she’s happy, but YIKES!

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Good grief, I can’t even imagine! But something like might almost be better – you don’t have time to freak out too much! It’s the same reason I encourage people not to plan super-long engagements – you just wind up wasting time changing your mind a thousand times on dumb things like flower arrangements (or in this case, mobiles for above the crib). So perhaps she lucked out! :)

  • Scott says:

    I noticed that you talked about “the Childfree” and said “we.” Did you realize you were lumping yourself in with the Childfree crowd, or was it a slip? Have you unconsciously decided?

    One of us. One of us. One of us…..

    Dr. Phil does have some words of wisdom sometimes, even if he’s a total hack in front of the camera. When he has to choose between being a good therapist and getting high ratings, he chooses ratings every time. I like some of his “aw shucks” good ol’ boy pretenses:

    “You couldn’t be any dumber if we cut off your head.”

    “He’s been saying he’s going to leave his wife for you for the past ten years. Where do you stand on the Easter Bunny?”

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      I think I do that “us” grouping thing because I don’t currently have children and therefore experience most of the woes of the Childfree. It’s a subconscious thing I think…

  • Scott says:

    Dr. Phil is himself an example of changing his mind. As he tells it, after he had a couple kids he got a vasectomy, and then his wife talked him into getting it reversed to have another kid.

    So which is it, Dr. Phil, was the snip the good decision or did you make it good and then make it bad?

    Even when you decide, it may not be the end of it.

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      Wow, I had no idea he’d done that! That’s bizarre.

      • Scott says:

        I haven’t read it, so I could just be totally shallow, but I think it’s really ironic that Dr. Phil has a weight loss book. Maybe a little do as I say not as I do kinda thing?

        • Maybe Lady
          Maybe Lady says:

          Of course – I’m sure you could say the same for most people who have ever written a book or provided a piece of advice on anything, really.

  • Jessica Holt says:

    I noticed the same thing as Scott that you had grouped yourself with “we” when mentioning the child free. Not to put words in your mouth by any means, but after reading back through a number of your posts I get the distinct impression you are leaning in that direction *childfree*. Maybe I’m totally misinterpreting, just 2 cents from a random third party :)

    • Maybe Lady
      Maybe Lady says:

      It’s so funny – I get comments about this both ways, and I think it probably has a lot to do with the lens from which we all read someone else’s words. Funny how that happens. :)

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