Jen Kirkman is a stand-up comedian who decided early in life that she was not meant to be a mother. In I Can Barely Take Care of Myself, she explores the events in her life that led to and confirmed her beliefs in being childfree. With a witty, at times almost cringeworthy, voice Kirkman details her experiences choosing to forego motherhood in a very child-centric world.
When, in the the first handful of pages, Kirkman compared people badgering her over the need to have kids to them telling her why she needs to watch The Wire, I knew I was going to enjoy this book. Don't get me wrong; I love The Wire, but I didn't watch it until several years after it first aired. I totally know where she's coming from...
In more ways than one. Though I do want kids eventually, I've been married for almost five years and my husband and I are still enjoying our time without children. I've been in many of the situations Kirkman describes in the book, despite my insistence that I do want to have a child, and her ability to make them humorous had me reading aloud to my husband more than once in gigglefits.
While it's definitely funny, writing I Can Barely Take Care of Myself off as the work of a snarky comedian lacking substance would be a mistake. Kirkman makes some really interesting social observations. What stood out strongest to me were her comments regarding the fact that women often feel forced to use their career as an excuse for not being mothers. I realized that I often mention work as a reason why my husband and I have decided to wait, when in reality it has very little to do with my career. So, why do I feel like I have to make excuses? As Kirkman mentions further, few people will let any other reason slide by. "As long as a woman has something she feels maternal toward, then she passes as a regular human being. She wants to swaddle her career, so we'll make an exception and give her a pass!"
Clearly, I am part of a target audience for this book that is rather limited. There are many that will be easily offended by Kirkman's honesty, just as they may be offended by her choice not to have children and this book will not be for them. However, for those who are considering not having children, waiting to have kids or just open to different viewpoints, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself is one you'll want to grab.