Can I Be My Best Self Without Having Kids?

Recently, Katie Couric had a segment on her talk show about choosing to remain childfree. The discussion, which included the clip above, covered several topics. Questions raised included:

  • How can friends stay close when one chooses parenthood and the other doesn’t?
  • Are childfree employees discriminated against in the workplace?
  • Why do people decide to have kids or not have kids?
  • Where did Katie get that top?

The childfree guests acknowledged that having kids is a tremendous responsibility. In fact, one of them made the point that when you have kids, “you have to be your best self all the time.”

All the time. As in 24/7.

I don’t think I could be my best self 24/7. I probably average about 12/7 on a good week. And most of that time is logged when I’m sleeping, showering, reading, running, or otherwise not in contact with other human beings.

This past weekend I decided to test myself, to see if I had it in me to be my best self all the time. It seemed like a worthy goal, whatever the motivation.

So, instead of reaming out my husband for using an important legal document as a coaster, I simply picked up the glass moved it.

Instead of spending two hours sitting in front of the TV and making fun of Honey Boo Boo, I vacuumed the stairs, cleaned the shower, and raked leaves.

Instead of dropping several f-bombs when our cable bill was $80 more than it should have been, I said, “I think something is wrong with this bill.”

Instead of having beer and leftover pizza for dinner, I made a low-fat vegetable and tofu stir-fry.

What did I learn from my little test? If I really put forth the effort, even if it wasn’t for the purpose of raising kids, I could probably be my best self a little more often than I am now. (I still don’t think I’d be close to 24/7, but perhaps I could jump into the 16-18/7 range.)

But I learned something else too: My best self is about as interesting as a sedated tax accountant and, quite frankly, not someone I would want to hang with on a Saturday afternoon.