My Life in the No-Shame Zone

Note: This article is also available in Spanish.

One of the recurrent themes in MGTOW videos and essays is the continuous shaming that thirty-something adult men receive from their mothers (and often fathers) when it comes to getting married. The old folks pretend to be concerned about their sons’ welfare, but what they really want is a continuation of the bloodline, as well as an opportunity to dandle grandkids on their knees.

Well, I never got that sales pitch. My father died in 1963 when I was 13 so any request on his part for grandchildren would have been premature. My mother, however, had ample opportunities to nag me, as she did not die till 1995. I was 45 years old when she clocked out, yet I can honestly say she never said a word to me about marriage or grandchildren.

So was my mother a saint? Did she have a serene que será será attitude? Was she a radical environmental activist who thought the planet already had too many people? No, no, and no. So why did she leave me alone? She was never shy about offering unsolicited advice on other topics – such as education.

Like so many adults who have never been to college, my mother thought prosperity and happiness were impossible without a college education. My father was a shining example. He had degrees from elite colleges and parlayed his education into a high-status job. He was professionally ambitious and my mother was something of a social climber, so they had a symbiotic relationship.

I don’t know that it ever occurred to my mother that my father’s drive (in subsequent years, he would have been characterized as a Type A personality) probably had more to do with his rapid rise than his diplomas. As I said, he died (of a heart attack) when I was 13, leaving my mother a widow at 43. I’m guessing she had some second thoughts about the pitfalls of high-pressure careerism.

But she still believed in education as the key to upward mobility. She had grown up (born in 1920) in an era when relatively few people, men or women, went to college. In those days, a sheepskin could elevate someone above the herd. Though my mother had never gone beyond secretarial school, over the years, she learned so much about the “right” schools she probably could have moonlighted as a college admissions counselor.

At any rate, she never inquired about my social life while I was in a pressure cooker prep school, academically-demanding college, and a fast-track program at grad school. After all, time spent socializing is time that could be spent studying. And education is why you’re there, right?

I was finishing grad school in June 1972 when my maternal grandmother died. I’m sure she would have been after me to give her some great-grandchildren had she lasted longer, but she never got the chance. That left only my mother to shame me into marriage and reproduction.

In 1973, at age 23, I got my first “real” job in a small city about 125 miles from home. I talked to my mom occasionally on the phone and usually went home one weekend a month. A few years before, she had characterized me as a “good catch,” and given my age and job status, she should have started asked me the fabled question: “Have you met anyone?”

But she never said a word. Never. Not a peep. Not when I was 23, not when I was 33, not when I was 43. Why? I think she knew the message would ring hollow. Here’s why.

In 1973 my younger brother, age 15, went off the deep end. To this day, I don’t know what the diagnosis was.emotional, mental, bipolar, borderline, whatever. Various therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists offered hope. After all, he was young, and there was plenty of time for him to get his life in order. Unfortunately, he never did.

As the years went by, hope gave way to resignation. My brother lived with my mother till the day she died, never held a job, and abused her physically and emotionally. As insufferable as he was, my mother could never bring herself to give him the heave-ho. From age 43 to 53, she had successfully met all the challenges of single motherhood. After my brother went wacko, her life was hell on a daily basis.

A lack of grandchildren was the least of my mother’s problems. How could she ever encourage me to reproduce after that bouncing baby boy she gave birth to at age 38 had morphed into an albatross? He was only five years old when my father died, so perhaps something had been festering in the ten years since that happened. My mother sometimes suspected that bad genes (from my father’s side of the family, natch) were responsible for my brother’s problems.

Now I have no doubt that had I presented my mother with grandchildren, she would have lavished them with affection and attention. But as my younger brother had demonstrated, having children is risky business. Sure, one expects them to be a burden to some degree for a couple of decades or so.but for the rest of your life? To be sure, my mother continued to offer advice.on retirement planning, mutual funds, the advantages of owning a home, and all the usual topics. But not a word about marriage and kids.

My mother was quite capable and financially savvy. She should have enjoyed a pleasant, prosperous retirement, but taking care of my younger brother depleted her financial resources as well as her energy. Depression was her constant companion. I remember one day when my mother was really down in the dumps, she admitted “If I knew then what I know now, you would never have had a little brother.”

So the lesson for MGTOWs is simple: There are illusions and there is reality. You might have an image of marriage in your head involving a mate, children, a family dog, and a little cottage with roses around the door. But if you are considering getting married and/or having children, you must expunge all such imagery from your head.

Instead, look at reality, that is, all the married couples you know. More importantly, look at the married-with-children crowd. Do an informal survey and ask yourself if you would want to trade places with any of the husbands/fathers you know. If you do go the family-man route, your reality won’t be exactly the same as theirs, but it sure as hell won’t be like the image you’ve been carrying around in your head. The worst mistake anyone can make is seeing one’s peers entrapped in snares and crowing, “Oh, that won’t happen to me. I’m smarter than they are.”

Well, I don’t claim to be smarter than my peers, but the snares were obvious to me. Every time I visited my mother, the pitfalls of procreation were on display. When you have a front-row seat for a circus of horrors, you aren’t quite so eager to run away and join the circus. After what I witnessed during my visits, no amount of shaming would have had an effect on me. So my mother saved her breath.

Now I would never advise anyone flat-out not to get married or not to have children. Family life could be the key to a rich, fulfilling life.but what are the odds of that happening? There is a strong possibility you are making a mistake. It’s not like driving a lemon off a used car lot, or buying a house with a leaky roof, or getting a bad haircut. Those mistakes are relatively easy to correct. But if something goes south with your marriage or your family, the consequences may reverberate throughout the rest of your life.

You can’t say that about remaining single and childless. Even if you have second thoughts about that status as the years pass, you can remain secure in the knowledge that whatever the pros and cons of flying solo, you have not made a mistake. The worst-case scenario for bachelorhood is no match for its wedlock counterpart.

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