I Can Barely Take Care of Myself by Jen Kirkman

31st Jul 2013

In I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From A Happy Life Without Kids, American comedienne Jen Kirkman recounts her seemingly endless battle to remain child-free in a United States where, it seems, everyone apart from her mother is determined that she should put her personal feelings to one side and have a baby.

Mama Kirkman, you see, respected her daughter’s decision to pursue a show business career instead.

The book is an interesting read, if slightly less amusing than fans might expect, based on Jen Kirkman’s appearances on Chelsea Handler’s (another funny child-free American) cult television show Chelsea Lately.

For one thing, Kirkman’s legitimate complaint that complete strangers think it’s OK to question her motives for not having a child (Is she selfish, stupid or infertile? Doesn’t she worry her husband will leave her unless she carries his seed to fruition? What will she do when faced with the reality of dying alone?) read as so galling to a European mindset that one might have expected an angrier, ranting response, rather than one grounded in lightheartedness.

Lest you’re worried, this is not on any level a misery memoir, or a book about a woman forced to come to terms with her childless status.But, despite being largely set in a Los Angeles seemingly swarming with yummy mummies whose sense of what is an appropriate subject for small talk has gone the way of their bladder control, it’s also not as funny as it tries to be.

The constant reiteration of Kirkman’s negative experiences and focus on the always pertinent question, “Why do women raised in the post-feminist USA, think it’s OK to judge another woman for not wanting to have a child?” means that rather than being the sort of comedienne-penned memoir a reader can’t put down, it occasionally veers into boring.

Published by Simons and Schuster, I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From A Happy Life Without Kids is available now in hardback or for Kindle.


  • Ayana says:

    I’m interested, and a bit disappointed, that this got such a low rating. I guess it reflects my feelings on Jen Kirkman’s comedy though, sometimes I think she’s hilarious, other times a bit… boring. I do think the central thesis is great though and I hope it’s helpful for women in similar positions.

    Regardless of the book, everyone should check out the awesome blog she runs for men against misogyny!