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My Daughter: No Accident

February 21st, 2011  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  6 Comments

I’m hardly being original in saying that the comments made to most items posted on the Internet represent something independent of what was originally posted. What I mean is, you shouldn’t take comments personally as a writer, as the substance of the comments often have nothing to do with what you’ve written.

I’m generally pretty successful in this regard, one of the ways in which being a self-involved egotist tends to work in my favor. I don’t get upset about negative comments, by and large. I love myself already–what do I need with anyone else’s love (in those few nice comments I get)?  And since I’m perfect, well, then the negative comments must be absurdly wrong, and why get agitated about that?

Healthy, right?

But I did find one theme of the comments regarding my latest post in the New York Times Opinionator blog rather difficult to ignore. The subject of the post was how Tomoko and I were going to be married soon, largely because I had lost my job and needed to get health insurance for me and the children.

A fair number of comments to the piece reacted to the fact that Tomoko and I had had Ellie while unmarried–“ever heard of contraception?” wrote one wit. Granted, the Times is a national publication, which means its commenters will reflect the opinions of a wider cross-section of American opinion than might be found among the brilliant, good-looking, and progressive readers of DadWagon. But that still didn’t really prepare me for reading people’s disapproval of the existence of my child.

I was writing about health insurance and marriage and joblessness. Nowhere, I think, did I indicate that my daughter was to be included among the roster of my problems. It’s an ugly thought, and an ugly sentiment, and one that was too easily and regularly included among the comments.

So, to be clear: Ellie was a planned child, one that both parents wanted greatly, and who came as no surprise. For those who find that unpalatable because we aren’t yet married, well, I suppose that’s what the Internet is for: intolerance, bad jokes, and naked pictures. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.


  1. Lucy Kemnitzer says:

    February 21st, 2011at 1:15 pm(#)

    I know lots of people who get married after they have children, and it’s not just a modern thing: there have been times and places where having a child was a prerequisite to getting married (I’ll go look it up if you want me to, but otherwise I’m too lazy today).

    Anyway, if you’re getting married to enhance the general welfare of your family, you’re getting married for the right reason. People who get married because it’s the gateway to having sex . . . well, I guess that’s an okay reason for them, but it’s not as much of a guarantee of a happy marriage as it is when people who are already partners get married.

  2. William S. says:

    February 21st, 2011at 1:16 pm(#)


    Amaing how people are so quick to attack when they know little about someone’s personal life. I know those folks would say that they are just responding to you opening up but it seems that America is losing it ability to be polite when disagreeing.

    I can share with you that my wife and I conceived our first child before we were “married”. It was not an accident but a decision we both 100% supported. We had wanted a medium size wedding so we had pushed back the “married date” for the big event. But that all changed after our first pre-natal visit and I was quickly informed by the “nice nurse” that I had no rights to be there. Right after we left the doctor’s office we planned a small ceremony for two weeks later. In fact we now appreciate that we did a small ceremony with close friends and family. We didn’t go into huge debet and believe our marriage (almost 10 years now) is stronger for it.

  3. karen says:

    February 21st, 2011at 7:27 pm(#)

    As my beloved Aunt Becky at MommyLovesVodka is wont to say, Fuck the haters and the Internet troll people. Seriously. Ugh.

    Congratulations on finding love, having a baby and living out loud.

  4. Robert says:

    March 3rd, 2011at 1:19 pm(#)

    Blow off those disapproving idiots. I didn’t like your piece because it showed me too much of your personality, or at least one aspect of your personality which I don’t like. Your ideological opposition to what your partner wanted in your wedding, her wedding, and your subsequent fuming when she expressed herself, really shows that you’re a lot like the disapproving idiots you so self-righteously single out in the above post. Hold onto ideals, sure. But don’t be an ideologue. Be flexible, man. And your first order of business should always be the happiness and well-being of your spousal figure, yourself and your kids. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, think really hard.

    A lot of us are journalists. A lot of us are writers. Many of us have been laid off. I’m sure a lot of DadWagon visitors are like me. We share a lot in common with you, but we wish you’d get your head out of your ass and keep it out.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate you putting yourself out there. I like the blog. Good luck.

    I may be blunt, but I wish you the best,

  5. Rick says:

    March 3rd, 2011at 4:45 pm(#)

    I don’t understand how two people can make a human being together, which is at least a two-decade mutual responsibility, and yet not make a formal commitment to each other (ie, marriage).

    After my divorce, I was a full-time single dad for 7 years, so I get the personal experience aspect: Divorce sucks, and scars you. No doubt. And, I haven’t lived your life, so I’m not scolding.

    I just don’t get it. Theology/culture aside, making a kid is a *much* bigger deal than getting married. It’s not so much a cart-before-horse thing; it’s a why-are-you-hesitating-on-that-relatively-minor-issue thing?

    Tomoko must be a saint. :)

  6. John says:

    March 3rd, 2011at 6:55 pm(#)

    You, sir, are a gentleman to think clarity is needed. I have had two daughters – out of wedlock (insert gasp here). Because I don’t suffer fools easily I don’t take time comforting people who don’t have the brain power or experience to wrap their minds around the idea that their are other ways to live then the path they have chosen. Unless you plan a life in politics, just move on. That is, of course, unless your fishing for material to write about :)

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