I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman

i can barely take care of myself

“The way most people feel about loving being a parent is exactly how I feel about not being a parent. I love it.” (page 2)

Well said, Jen.

Jen Kirkman is a funny lady. She’s kind of a basket-case, but I like that about her. This book isn’t some weird manifesto for childfree-by-choice ladies – it’s Jen’s exploration of her own life and why she’s so unsuited and has no desire to be a mom. And while she’s trying to figure out her own life – her dream to be a comedian, trying to get her anxiety under control, sorting out her marriage, etcetera – she recounts how she was constantly barraged by people who wanted to know when she was having kids, and when she said she wasn’t, then why not.

I don’t have a ton to say about this book other than it was funny and I completely sympathized with her the whole way. She articulated my own feelings about being annoyed by the constant pressure to procreate way better than I could. For instance:

“For some reason, this prompted him to say, “Aw, come on, Jen Kirkman. You’d be such a good mom!” This statement is at best condescending and at worst patently false and potentially dangerous. It’s like telling a friend who you know has a paralyzing fear of wild animals that she would make a great game warden.” (page 137)

That is so true. I am a responsible, intelligent person and theoretically, I would be a competent parent. But the very fact of me NOT WANTING A KID is enough that I would not, in fact, make a great mom. I would be the mom constantly sending her kid away to the baby-sitters or hiding in the closet just to get 5 minutes of peace away from it.

There were a lot of funny moments in this book, and one section in particular had me laughing hysterically at work, which prompted a weird look from the person I was training (AKA letting him do all the work and then if he had any questions, asking me). It was about Jen’s less-than-ideal experiences as a teenage baby-sitter, in which she mistakenly led one little boy to believe that you could stab people and they wouldn’t die. I read that section aloud to the honeyman later that day and we both cracked up.

If you have EVER had any doubt about whether or not you wanted kids and experienced people rudely making it their business to tell you how much you should have a baby, you’ll probably find something in this book that you like – whether it’s the knowledge that someone else has gone through the same thing, or just a really good laugh. I enjoyed both.


Sarah Says: 3.5 stars








  1. So much of our lives revolves around children. When are you having them? How many will you have? What will you do with them when you have them? I can’t imagine the nosy-parker questions people must have to put up with when they remain childless by choice. It must be infuriating! I know I’ve mentioned Why Have Kids by Jessica Valenti to you before but I’m doing so again, lol. After reading that I wondered why in the hell I did have kids! HA!


    1. I REALLY do need to read that Jessica Valenti book! Adding it to my list to look for at the library next time I go. I did start following her on Twitter a while ago though, and I enjoy her tweets 🙂


  2. This book sounds great! As you know, I’m currently kidless, but think I probably want them someday. It’s incredibly unpopular to be a 30 year old married homeowner and NOT have kids yet… On purpose. If or when I do have kids, I promise promise promise not to be the “soooo when you having BAAAAAAAAAAAAABIES?!” lady.


    1. I have complete faith that you won’t be that crazy lady when you have kiddos. It bums me out that the “when you gonna have some kids?” thing doesn’t die down with age – I’ve heard of 40+ ladies STILL being asked that! It’s just so strange that people care so much.


  3. Great review, I need to find this book! That title is what I tell everyone, including my long-term boyfriend. On Sunday I walked into a glass door. Twice! With that in mind, how on earth would I keep a little creature alive for more than an hour?
    P.S I like your way of training up newbies, if only I could have done that at my previous job!


  4. As I’ve mentioned before, its up to you whether you have kids or not, so whatever and screw people who feel differently. Personally, I can’t wait to have a baby but that’s me! I think if you’re not into it, then especially don’t do it. It’s probably good though to hear that from lots of perspectives, like from this comedian.


  5. I need this book in my life. I’m still not sure if I want kids. There’s a part of me who thinks it’d be quite nice to raise a mini-me, and another part who is entirely not interested. People tell me about their kids, neices/nephews, whatever.. I just switch off. “Oh Hannah, look at my sister’s baby! Isn’t she cute?!” No, not really. It’s a tiny, bald, red, scrunched up person. I don’t see the appeal. *shrug* I might one day change my mind.. as they all bloody say… *growl* but I also might not. And that’s okay too!!


    1. LOL your comment actually reminds me of a part of the book when she compares people trying to talk her into having a baby to people who really want her to start watching The Wire.

      “You gotta watch it!” No, not really. “But it’s on Netflix!” Yes, I understand that it’s easy to get. “You’ll love it!” I won’t. I might. I don’t care.

      Read it if you get a chance, it was really amusing 🙂


  6. This sounds very interesting. I do want children BUT I am sick of the way people / society seem to think it’s acceptable to constantly ask you when you are going to have them. I’ve been married for almost two years now and am sick of the ‘when are you going to have children’ questions already. We will have them when we are ready and it’s no one’s business!


    1. It is really strange how comfortable people feel prying into such a private issue. It reminds me of back in the day when the success of a marriage was based on how many kids the woman could pop out. People need to learn to be a bit more tactful.


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