Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I was interviewed recently for an Observer piece on the current baby-crazed culture. The author wanted to include the childfree perspective, and contacted me via this blog. I will be very interested to see how the article turns out.
What amazes me about this is that being childfree is newsworthy. I'm kind of of two minds about that. I'm thrilled that the childfree perspective is getting more of a voice, and very grateful that I'm able to participate in that. But at the same time... isn't it sobering to realize that we're such a minority that our having made this decision is actually considered news? Not just to our families and friends, but the kind that's reported in a newspaper?
Hopefully, the more we spread the word about our lifestyle, the less unusual we'll seem to everyone.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Childfrees who have never had this happen to you, please feel free to skip this post. I'm on a bit of a roll at the moment.
"Are you pregnant?"
-No, I'm just fat.
-No, are you?
"You look like you've gained a little weight."
-I have. Thanks a lot for pointing that out.
-Thanks. On what?
"So, when's the blessed event?"
-Actually, our wedding was a year ago.
"So, when are you due?"
-Due for what?
-I have no idea. How about you?
"I see you're expecting!"
-I'm expecting a lot of things, but a baby isn't one of them.
"So, how far along are you?"
"I didn't know you were pregnant!"
-I didn't know either! How did you know?
"You're so pregnant!"
-You're so wrong!
-You're so rude!
Number of people who have asked whether I am before doing so: 0.
MEMO TO ALL MY ACQUAINTANCES: I'M NOT PREGNANT. AND ANYONE WHO ACTUALLY KNOWS ME KNOWS IT. PLEASE STOP EMBARRASSING ME AND YOURSELVES AND KEEP YOUR FUCKING MOUTHS SHUT.
Yes, I am trying to lose a bit of weight around the middle to stop this. But I refuse to blame it all on myself. I'm only 145 lbs. and 5'5"! My BMI is in the healthy range -- according to the medical profession, I'm not even overweight. Millions of men walk around every day with huge beer guts and don't have to endure this.
WHAT IS WRONG WITH EVERYONE?
The next person who comments on this is gonna get decked. I'm through being polite. I'm just going to punch them.
Friday, September 7, 2007
Into an ice-filled cocktail shaker, pour 1 oz each vodka, cream, and white creme de cacao. Shake well (this drink is best VERY cold) and strain into a chilled rocks glass over ice.
I've thought a lot about whether, if I ever got pregnant by accident, I would have an abortion. I've recently concluded that I would, although of course not without telling my husband and giving him a chance to weigh in on the subject. But ultimately, I believe I would terminate the pregnancy because I really don't want a child. And I believe all children should be wanted.
This isn't the place to debate whether we believe abortion is wrong or not, and I won't respond to comments that attempt to engage me in that debate. Please, let's just keep that out of this. I'm solid in my views on the subject and they aren't going to change, nor are anyone else's. This post is about whether I would exercise my legal rights in such a situation. And I would -- to the fullest extent of the law.
I understand that some don't believe in abortion, and that's another topic for another day. What I don't understand are those folks who do accept abortion, don't want children, and yet somehow believe that if they became pregnant, it would be some sort of blessing and they should simply go with the flow. An unwanted child would not be a blessing for me; it would be a nightmare. And while the decision to terminate would no doubt be difficult, I strongly believe it would be in the best interests of everyone involved.
I've heard people argue that in this situation, "married, stable" couples shouldn't be choosing to terminate -- that because we're married and have lots of money, basically we have no excuse not to raise the child. Well, here's my excuse: I don't want to. And that's the best reason of all not to do so.
Thursday, September 6, 2007
My fellow childfrees, we are BEING HEARD!
First of all, I am 27 years old, and married. My husband is 28. We are highly educated; I have a J.D., and my husband a B.A. Both of us hold down difficult professional jobs that require long hours and a high level of skill. We are very busy, but well paid. We live in an apartment in NYC's West Village, which we of course rent with our own hard-earned money. We feed ourselves and our cat well. We drive, we vote, and we drink. We travel frequently. We save for retirement. We have a large support system of family and friends with whom we keep in close touch. We take care of our health, appearance and grooming. We are polite, responsible and independent.
That sounds like a good description of two adults to me. As a matter of fact, it's far more than I could say for some people who have kids, like, say, Britney Spears.
More to the point, even if we didn't feel like adults (which we most certainly do), could there possibly be a worse reason to have a child? I'm imagining some unwed, jobless 19-year-old dying to break free from her parents once and for all: "Having this child will make me an adult!" Oh no it won't, honey. It will just make you miserable.
Wednesday, September 5, 2007
I am in total agreement that this is B.S. I resent the implication that as a childfree person, my family obligations and personal time are somehow considered less important than those of someone who has kids. While we all do need a little flexibility at times for personal reasons, we should all get the same amount, no matter what those reasons are. And no one without children should be expected to work late, or on holidays or weekends, any more often than those with kids.
Of course, this assumes we're all getting paid the same. There are attorneys at my firm who are on the so-called "mommy track," and have worked out arrangements where they get paid less money and only have to work, say, 9-5 three days a week. This is fine with me, as long as I'm not being asked to cover for them. Their time and money tradeoff is their own business. What I have an issue with is when parents technically have the same job and salary as I do, and yet get more leniency when it comes to arriving late, leaving early and taking off extra days.
Today I heard the most ridiculous argument ever in favor of this from someone on a forum I post on:
"Before I had kids, I used to complain about parents getting perks that I wasn't entitled to- more leniency coming in early, not staying late- etc. I never actually had to pick up their workload- but I still resented it. One day I was not exactly tactful when I voiced my displeasure- and I was put in my place by a co-worker that did have kids. She told me the truth, through tears of frustration. She wanted to know who I thought would be paying into all the systems that would allow me to live comfortably in our elder years- the children of today drive the economy of tomorrow. Who would make all the things we would need? Who would service all those same things? Someone's children. Who would care for us? Someone else's children. Who would carry on after I was gone? Someone else's children. She said- maybe hers. So would I back the hell off- because I certainly wasn't helping the parents who had to work and raise the people who would be taking care of me later on? Made me think- and have a lot more compassion for working parents- and that was before I had kids."
This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. I take care of my own future by saving and investing and paying my taxes. I don't expect care or handouts from anyone's kids later on. Yes, someone has to give birth to doctors, lawyers, grocers, etc., for our society to continue, but so what? I pay for those services -- and I don't see why I should pay again with my time by covering for the parents at work so they can supposedly go off to raise tomorrow's bright future. Not to mention that of course, today's parents are also raising tomorrow's serial murderers, rapists, thieves, terrorists and school shooters.
What a load of sanctimonious bull.
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
I'm now seriously considering going to bartending school. Just for fun, of course; I'm not going to be abandoning law in favor of the bottle (although I must admit that sounds like a good idea some days.) I can go three weekends, Saturday and Sunday from 9-5 and get a certificate for $400 or so.
Would this be an option if I were a mom? All together now: NO, it would not. First of all, the $400 would probably be going toward diapers or braces or piano lessons for the kid, not bartending school for me. Secondly, what mom on this planet has three consecutive weekends, from 9-5 solid, to give up to something she actually wants to do?
Even if I don't end up taking the class, I will definitely continue experimenting at home, and the likelihood that I would even be able to do that with a kid is pretty miniscule. It takes me some quiet time in the kitchen each night, some thoughtful sipping, and yes, the ability to sit around and actually drink my creations without having to worry about whether I'll still be able to look after my child's welfare after two or three Bay Breezes. I've also been doing a lot of research and reading up on the art of mixology, both online and in print, which there is no way I would have time to pursue to this extent if I had a baby.
I like being able to indulge in whims like this one, and come out the other side with a cool skill or lots of new knowledge. I just don't think I could ever give up my own interests to spend 24 hours a day shaping a new little life.
But then of course, she had to bust out the pictures. I realize this is standard, and she's probably going to be doing it all day long, but the truth is, I don't care what her kid looks like. Does that make me an ogre of a boss? I hope not. I just have very little interest in children to begin with, and hers is no exception. But of course I had to stand there and ooh and ahh out of politeness, because I really do like her and to decline seeing the photos would have been rude indeed.
Pictures of her baby, pictures of her three-year-old, pictures of them together... what am I supposed to say? "Oh, she's sooo cute!" got a little tired after about the seventh one. So I resorted to other polite platitudes while she beamed. "She looks just like you," I said. (This was actually true. The baby does look like her mom. But so what? Not exactly a miracle.)
As a childfree person, I have come to realize that I am going to be doing this for a long time: politely exclaiming over the new baby, remarking on how cute it is or how much it resembles its parents, et cetera.
But I really doubt I'm ever going to enjoy it any more than I do now, or feel any less awkward doing it.
Monday, September 3, 2007
I generally try not to use this space to rip on other people for having children and I won't do it now, especially because I think Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are probably better equipped in many ways to handle five children than most parents would be (and, for the most part, have not been contributing to the problem of overpopulation.) What did strike me in this article, though, was Brad Pitt's commentary on fatherhood:
"It's the most fun I've ever had and also the biggest pain ... I've ever experienced," he said when asked what it was like to become a family with four children in a short space of time. "I love it and can't recommend it any more highly -- although sleep is nonexistent."
Having four small children "makes me much more efficient because when I work, I really have to focus. I know I've less time to get things done. Actually, I'm quite pleased by it," said Pitt.
Hmm. While I hope for his sake that Brad is sincere, I have to say this sounds to me like a big fat case of rationalization. As in, "I can't change this lifestyle I've chosen, so it is now time for me to convince myself it's great by making arguments in its favor that make no sense."
He can't help admitting that he gets no sleep and has no free time, so he tries to find a way to turn these into pros when discussing fatherhood. But on the actual "pro" side, he can't really offer anything concrete except to swear up and down that he loves it, and everyone should do it.
Sounds a lot like most parents we all know, I'd wager. Now let's all say a little prayer of thanks that we'll never have to make up this kind of B.S. to defend our lifestyle choices.
Monday, August 27, 2007
Let me preface this by saying I have gained a little weight over the past year or two, but at 143 lbs. and 5'5", I'm not exactly a hulking giant, either. Unfortunately, though, I do tend to carry extra weight in my abdomen, and I also love fashion, which is tending toward a lot of flowing tunics and empire-waist tops and dresses these days.
So earlier this month, I was at a barbecue at the home of a partner in my firm. It was pouring rain, but my husband and I politely attended anyway since we had said that we would. We brought the partner and his wife a bottle of wine, and as we presented it to them upon our arrival, he reminded his wife that she'd met me at a similar function last year. We were just shaking hands when he added:
"Kristin's a little bigger than the last time you saw her."
I was still trying to process that comment when his wife said: "Congratulations! When's the blessed event?"
My husband replied with an absolutely straight face:
"What blessed event?"
Needless to say, all parties were mortified. But I chalked it up to their tactlessness and laughed it off.
That wasn't so easy this time, since it was the second time in three weeks.
On Saturday night, I was at a going-away party for two friends of ours (we'll call them Brian and Kelly) who are moving to North Carolina. I greeted their parents, who'd come out to see them off along with everyone else, and Brian's father said to me:
"You look like you've gained a little weight."
This time, I was wearing a black silk empire-waist top, so as I spluttered and stammered, my quick-thinking husband gave him an out: "It's just the shirt."
"Oh! So it's not..."
What bothers me most about both of these incidents is not the fact that I have gained a little weight and that it is clearly becoming visible to others (although I certainly will be working out a bit harder this week.) Rather, it's the audacity, the absolute boldness of the assumption that because I was married about a year ago, and because I am at around the age when I probably would be having children if I planned to, any extra weight gain around the middle, or a flowy top, or a drink that looks anything like water (I was actually drinking Grey Goose and tonic on Saturday, but switched to martinis for the rest of the evening after that incident) -- is automatically interpreted as a pregnancy. So definitely, so certainly, that both of these men felt justified not only in pointing it out, but in doing so in what would be the most offensive possible manner if they were wrong.
Which, of course, they were.
Moral of the story: For the love of God, childed or childfree though you may be, please do not ever, EVER ask a woman about her pregnancy unless you are absolutely sure that she is pregnant. And by "absolutely sure," I mean either she has told you herself that she is, or she is going into labor and is about to give birth right in front of you, and you are approaching her to see whether you might be of any assistance in getting her immediately to the nearest hospital.
Sunday, August 26, 2007
So here's how I make them:
First, skewer one or more green, pitted olives on a toothpick. I personally like three olives -- one to eat as soon as I mix the drink, one in the middle and one at the end. Put the skewer of olives into a martini glass and set aside.
Next, get a cocktail shaker. That's right -- I said shaker. Martinis are meant to be enjoyed ice-cold, a state they can arrive at most efficiently by being shaken. In addition, shaking is necessary to get a little bit of melted ice mixed into the drink, which will release the flavors of the booze.
Put 4-5 cracked ice cubes into the shaker. Over these, pour a splash of dry vermouth. Then pour it back out. Leave the vermouth-coated ice cubes in the shaker.
Pour in 1.5 ounces of top-shelf gin. I like Bombay Sapphire for something easy to procure, but my real favorite for a martini is Beefeater's Crown Jewel.
Shake the gin, but not too much. 6-7 shakes is plenty, just until the outside of the shaker is beginning to cloud up. Strain the drink into the martini glass, over the olives.
Enjoy. I like mine alongside a small bowl of roasted, salted almonds.
Saturday, August 25, 2007
Besides its obvious elitism, this argument has another fatal flaw. What no proponents of this theory seem to bother to do is to take it a step further. If the intelligent people are going to find a cure for cancer, that means that at some point, one generation is going to have to stop giving up our devotion to our careers in order to have children, and instead actually DO SOMETHING about cancer (or homelessness, or poverty or AIDS or whatever social problem you think smart people should solve.) If we just keep on procreating and counting on our children to solve these problems, ummm... when are we going to actually solve them?
If you are concerned about such issues, having children is not the answer. This argument doesn't make any sense to me at all! Why, if you're so worried about finding a cure for cancer, wouldn't you donate the money, time, energy and resources you would have spent on a child to helping to find one? The average child today is supposed to cost over $1 million to raise. I'll bet the American Cancer Society could make some serious use of that money... and it's a much surer bet on helping to find the cancer cure than just having some kid, who, after all, could just as easily grow up and decide he wants to be the starting quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons. Or something equally unhelpful.
So, no, this isn't a reason for you to feel guilty about not having children. It's just another block on the Breeder Bingo Card.
Friday, August 24, 2007
Pregnancy, to say the least, is not my idea of a joyful experience. Forget the morning sickness, nausea, sudden weird aversions to certain smells, sudden weird cravings for certain foods, greasy hair, exhaustion, stretch marks and looking like a cow. While all of those things certainly seem like major deterrents to me, the main thing I find really off-putting and almost creepy about pregnancy is the idea of another being living inside of me. Some women find that idea sort of beautiful; I find it downright disturbing. It's like a parasite would be inside me, feeding off of me, totally dependent on living off MY body for nine months. I'm hoping other childfree women will understand what I'm getting at here, because I have a feeling most folks don't feel this way. But I really find that idea quite spooky.
Following that, of course, we have the lovely experience of childbirth. Again, never mind the pain, pooping on the delivery table, screaming, crying and humiliating oneself (although all of that is very scary to me, since I'm a really private person.) What bugs me in a way I can't explain is the idea of a screaming little person oozing out of my vagina. Ew! Eww! The very idea gives me the shivers. That is so... wrong to me. And I don't think I'm alone on this one, even among the childed. This is why so many husbands, having witnessed their wives giving birth, have difficulty finding them sexually attractive afterwards (The New York Times did a very interesting article on this phenomenon a while back, which you can find here.) It's not that they saw them screaming in pain or pooping or any of that. It's that they witnessed parts of their wives that they think of as sexual doing things that are entirely reproductive, and were thereafter seriously weirded out by that. And I can't blame them.
My body is my own, and I don't ever want it to belong to anyone else. And it seems like when we have kids, that part of us, along with every other part, is given away. Not only do our bodies have to play host to another living being for nine months and then give birth to it, after that we have to nourish it (for who can forego breastfeeding in our modern society without being harshly criticized for neglecting her baby??) and then tolerate it jumping on us, tugging at us, etc., for the next 10 or 12 years until it grows up somewhat.
The idea leaves me totally cold, and really craving my body all to myself. And thankfully, that's what I have.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
If you ever need to be reminded of what could happen to your budget, home, dinner, or travels if you had kids, this is a good way to get that reminder and a laugh at the same time. I adore the cartoon drawings it includes of "Your Home" and "Your Home with Kids," "Your Dinner" and "Your Dinner with Kids," and so on. Since Ms. Shawne and her husband, like me and my husband, live in a large city and are fairly young, her life without kids is actually a lot like my life, and she does a great job of pointing out just how great that life can be and how deeply having kids could screw it up (my favorite part is her chronology of a typical Saturday in the life without kids, and then with them, which is funny yet has the chilling ring of truth.) The book also deals with such topics as "coming out" to friends and family, and has a humorous chapter on dealing with OPCs (Other People's Children).
In short, this is a great read for sometime when you want a childfree book that isn't too serious. The author, Jennifer L. Shawne, also has a blog by the same name as her book, which I really enjoy and which you can find under my links section.
Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Deforestation, food and water shortages, global warming, the generation of more and more trash, and the spread of disease are just a few of the social problems caused by our currently bloated world population of over 6.5 billion (and growing at a rate of approximately 80 million per year). Here are a few sobering statistics:
-According to the World Resources Institute, agriculture has displaced one-third of temperate and tropical forests and one-quarter of natural grasslands already.
-The United Nations indicates that about 850 million people worldwide are malnourished or starving, and 1.1 billion people do not have access to safe drinking water.
-As many as 400 million people are at risk of starvation because of drought and crop failure.
-3 million people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions.
-Global warming will force hundreds of millions of people out of coastal regions in the next century or so.
-The population of the U.S. tripled during the 20th century, but the U.S. consumption of raw materials increased 17-fold.
-Every 20 minutes, the human population grows by about 3,000. At the same time another plant or animal becomes extinct (27,000 each year).
-By 2050, world population is projected to reach nine billion, a 38% jump from today's 6.5 billion, and more than five times the 1.6 billion people believed to have existed in 1900. Most of this growth will be concentrated in developing nations.
Obviously, I could go on, but it's difficult to truly address the crisis in depth in a single blog post. I hope the above gives you some idea of what I'm getting at.
It's easy for my husband and me to contribute to solving this problem, since we don't want kids anyway. However, it's also my firm belief that, even among the childed, no socially responsible couple should be having more than two children (enough to replace the current population), and even that may be too much.
Drastic? Maybe. But massive problems sometimes call for drastic solutions.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
"But YOU were a kid once!"
True, true. But I'm not now, so why does that mean I have to like kids as an adult?
I must now share a fact I am not proud of, in order to illustrate this point. I used to be a smoker, a very heavy smoker in fact. I was one for 11 years, from age 14 to age 25. I finally quit in April 2006.
As an ex-smoker, I cannot stand smokers. I'm just as bothered by them as anyone who's never smoked, if not more so. I walk around them on the streets to avoid the cigarette smoke, holding my breath as I do. I don't blame them for their behavior, because I understand what their addiction feels like, and I know how hard it was to stop. But just because I was one once doesn't mean I enjoy being around them now.
Same thing with kids. I was one once; I can't help that -- none of us can. But I am an adult now, and not every adult enjoys being around children. Period.
Monday, August 20, 2007
Here is how my airplane trips go now: I pack my Vuitton Keepall 50, which I adore because it's so compact and fits under the seat in front of me in even the smallest planes. I sling it over my shoulder and for 90% of our trips, it's the only bag I have to carry. My husband has one bag as well. He and I move around the airport with ease, checking in and boarding the plane. I stow my bag, take out my wrap if it's chilly, and enjoy a stack of magazines or an episode or two of Lost on the flight (love my iPod video). Sometimes I have a drink, too.
Need I even mention the fact that this relatively pleasant experience would be shattered into a million pieces with a baby in tow? Goodbye Vuitton (there's no way I'd let little grabby hands near that vachetta!), and hello nylon diaper bags stuffed with snacks and ugly primary-colored toys. Goodbye ease of movement, hello dragging a kid around with us kicking and screaming. Goodbye peace and quiet on the plane, hello shrieking baby, hello dirty looks from other passengers, hello spending the entire flight worrying about her comfort and not mine.
This is from a mom on a forum I post on:
"I had to fly 8 hours with my son when he was around 1.5 years old and it was HELL.
"We gave him Benadryl, and it didn't do anything. We planned a nighttime flight hoping he would sleep- wrong idea. He couldn't sleep on the plane, the air pressure hurt his ears and he didn't like being in his carseat, and everything was new and strange. Babies are VERY consistent, they don't like change.
"We had packed snacks, toys, etc, but since it was night, he was just tired and wanted to sleep. Nothing could entertain him, nothing could soothe him. And the worst part was when there was turbulence, so we couldn't even hold him, he HAD to stay in his carseat, flight attendants' orders.
"After that, I never have anything but pure sympathy for parents who have to fly with babies, young kids. If you think it sucks for YOU, try doing it yourself sometime. Trust me, being on both ends before, it is MUCH MUCH MUCH worse for the parents b/c they know everyone is hating them/giving them mean glares, judging them, and they are STRESSED OUT trying to get the kid to stop crying, and sometimes there is just nothing to do about it. I wanted to fling myself out the door."
And if that isn't enough for you, try this: Today, a coworker of mine came back from vacation and stopped by my office to chat. Her little kids are 2 and 4. I was asking about her trip and she was asking me if I had any vacation planned. I told her that my husband and I are going to Ireland in October. Her response was: "Ahh, traveling without little kids. I'm so jealous." She went on to describe the experience of traveling with children as "pure hell."
Hmm... a pleasant trip, or pure hell? Which should I choose? Doesn't seem too difficult to me!
Wednesday, August 15, 2007
These backpacks were created by a concerned father in Boston in the wake of Columbine and other school shooting disasters. I can't say it's not a good idea. You put your arms through the straps and the bag acts like a shield. Why not have one, just to be safe? But the fact that my hypothetical child could ever even possibly need this item is enough to make me not want to have a child at all.
As the article points out, most schools today are considered safe, but that doesn't mean anything. I'm sure Columbine was considered safe until the shooting there, and I don't think Virginia Tech was a particularly dangerous college campus.
The bottom line is that the fact that these bags even exist is a sad social commentary, and in a time when we also have to worry about AIDS, drugs, poverty, bird flu, hurricanes, Iraq, and God knows what else, I find it a relief to be able to cross at least one item off the list of social ills that could personally affect my family and me.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
The Mask of Motherhood, by Susan Maushart, is a book about the reality of being a mother. This is a reality that Maushart insists is often swept under the rug by mothers who feel too guilty to talk about what they are really facing and how they feel about it. Although it may be a little exaggerated, and can be scary at times, I would definitely recommend this book to the childfree community. It's very validating, and I think there's a lot of truth to it.
This book touches on a lot of aspects of motherhood that I personally find to be major deterrents, from the physical experiences of pregnancy, labor, and breastfeeding to what happens to a new mother's career, marriage, and state of mind. Maushart is not childfree -- she has three children and is extremely forthcoming about her own experiences. Since I don't have many mothers in my life who are willing to be this honest, I very much appreciated the firsthand point of view.
One warning: this book can be difficult to read. The chapters on labor and breastfeeding are especially disturbing, particularly for those of us childfree women who are absolutely HORRIFIED at these prospects.
All told, though, this is one of my favorite books on the subject and I'd highly recommend you pick it up, whether you're trying to make a decision about becoming a parent, or have already decided it's not for you and are just looking for a good read.
Wednesday, August 8, 2007
Kathy and Bill used to be really good friends of ours, but I can't say I didn't see this coming. My husband (let's call him Mike) has called Bill several times to try to get him out for a beer or a baseball game and keeps seeming surprised when he says no. We've even tried inviting ourselves over to see the baby, but no.
But I must admit that given that Bill was a groomsman in our wedding, and we've always been pretty close to them (as well as the rest of our friends), I was pretty surprised when Bill called me today about something business-related and left a message saying, "Hi, this is Bill, Mike's friend."
Mike's friend?! Jeez. Apparently I can't even be trusted to know who Bill is anymore. And since when is he not my friend as well?
Sigh. The great divide begins. Another set of friends we hardly ever see as it is are now having a baby as well, and they're due in December. I doubt that friendship will fare much better.
Tuesday, August 7, 2007
We could live right on the beach in a small apartment that's not a far commute from our jobs in the city at all. The places we're thinking of buying look something like this: (the first picture is the building and the second is what the apartment looks like inside...)
Later on, probably by the time I'm 35 or so, we'll be able to move to a crazy condo like this one...
The amazing thing about being childfree is that we can just pick up and do this. We have the money to actually buy an apartment, and later a house, that is basically in the dunes. And we have the freedom to make this decision without worrying about schools or daycare or how good the neighborhood is for kids or any of that. If we had kids, there is no way we'd be buying a place on the beach. We'd be moving to Main Street, Suburbia, USA, and I'd have to become a soccer mom and shoot myself.
I'll be doing a full review of this book at some point after I'm done, but last night I read a passage that was so great I picked up a pen and underlined it, which I do very rarely. The section was on the myth of the "biological clock," and why women seem to suddenly get motivated to have kids when they never were before, simply because "time is running out!" A contributor to the book put it this way:
"I figured, if I didn't want a baby badly enough to make it a priority before...why should I want one now simply because time is running out? It kind of reminded me of a going-out-of-business sale at a pink suede belt factory. So what? If I never wanted a pink suede belt before, why should I buy it because it won't be available tomorrow? What would I wear with a pink suede belt, anyway?"
Amen. I have never understood this reasoning myself. I don't want kids any more than I want a pink suede belt. And I don't ever plan on changing my mind just because time starts to run out.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
36% eating out
25% clothes, shoes, and beauty products
10% entertainment: concerts, ballgames, books, magazine subscriptions, songs and videos I buy on iTunes, etc.
8% pro manicures and pedicures
7% wine (meaning wine we buy for our home cellar, not wine I buy and drink while out; this is why "wine" is different from "cocktails.")
If I had children, almost all of the above budget categories would take severe hits, if not be wiped out entirely. And that just isn't something I want to contemplate. I had trouble recently when I was tweaking my personal budget, and wondering if I could really cut the cocktails back to $150 a month instead of $200 or so. (This is not as much as it sounds like; I live in a city where cocktails are often $15 a pop.) What if that cocktails budget suddenly went to zero, along with the time and opportunity to enjoy them?
Why would I do that to myself? I could see doing it if, say, I took a big pay cut to work in a job I'd enjoy more (like possibly teaching, as I discussed in my post of yesterday), but that's a personal tradeoff. Giving up all these things I enjoy solely for the benefit of a child is totally different, and it just isn't in me.
At the end of the day, the one BIG reason I don't want children is because I can't fathom handing my whole life over to someone else, and money is only one aspect of that.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
I've been thinking about whether I would ever consider the option of going into teaching. That would be a giant lifestyle change. An entry-level position as a law professor would probably be making me about a third of the money I make now, maybe less. And I'd definitely be devoting a lot of time to scholarship, as well as teaching -- the hours would be just as long as my hours are now, really, if not longer.
One attractive option I have before me is to apply for a fellowship that would get me two years of experience as basically a teaching apprentice, as well as an advanced law degree called a J.S.D. (basically the law equivalent of a Ph.D.) Tuition would be waived if I made it in, but the stipend I'd be getting is literally equal to about 25% of my salary now. And of course, it would be a lot of work.
I don't know yet whether I'm going to apply, but I do know that if I were planning on children, I wouldn't even see it as an option. I'd probably ignore the feelings I have about my current career, either figuring I'd quit once I became a mommy, or simply figuring I'd go to a reduced level of practicing law -- who has the energy for a huge career change with little ones running around? Or the financial stability to risk such a huge salary cut? My husband and I could survive fine (very nicely, really) on his salary plus the stipend I'd be getting. But with three or more of us -- no way.
No matter which direction I end up taking, I'll be grateful for the fact that I have the freedom to choose.
Monday, July 16, 2007
I literally have passages underlined in my copy of this book. The author is someone whose reasons for not having children I can really relate to. She's married and she and her husband, like me and my husband, love to travel and don't want to be saddled with a child while they're doing it. Of course, that's not her only reason, but it's definitely one of the main ones, and it's one of our main ones too.
In the book, DeFago discusses many topics of interest to the childfree, including the childfree stigma, the environment and population concerns, work and childcare, and the experiences of honest parents. The testimonials of parents were one of the parts of the book that stuck with me most -- they usually are. Whenever I need to be reminded of the reasons for our choice, a few seconds of imagining the alternative usually clears it right up. The chapter on "honest parents" in this book is great for that.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who's childfree, or even sitting on the fence. It's a great basic explanation of some common reasons for living the childfree lifestyle.
I'm unsuspectingly flipping through the herbal teas and all of a sudden she goes -- WITHOUT saying hi, how are you or how's your day going?, mind you:
"So, when are YOU going to have a baby?"
I'm totally shocked at the sudden personal question and stammer for a few seconds while making my tea, then finally manage to say, "Not any time soon."
She just laughed.
WTF? Why would anyone ask such a rude question? That was the first time since I've been married that I've actually been asked that, I believe, although the fact that many of our friends and family members are already well aware of my (at best) lack of enthusiasm about kids may have something to do with that.
I really hope this isn't about to become a pattern. I don't mind discussing the subject on my own terms with people close to me, but random inquiries from virtual strangers about our procreation plans -- or lack thereof -- are more than I can handle right now. I don't want to get into a long discussion with this woman or people like her about why I don't want kids. And I feel annoyed because I know perfectly well that with people like that, I can't simply answer truthfully ("Never") and have that be the end of the conversation. Why does she have to be so nosy? It has nothing to do with her, after all.
Which is why she should have just kept her mouth shut.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I was just turning my steps onto the block where my apartment is when all of a sudden a man with a stroller turned the corner, and I got stuck behind him. The stroller was huge and he was basically walking next to it while pushing it instead of directly behind it, and moving VERY slowly. The sidewalk isn't very wide just there, so there was no way I could go around him.
The kicker: there wasn't even a baby in the stroller. Oh no. There was a girl, who looked about three years old, standing on the back of it as he pushed her along. You know, the way kids sometimes do with grocery shopping carts. That was why he was moving so slowly.
I was ready to kill. Besides the fact that the girl was clearly capable of walking under her own power, and there was absolutely no need to push her along to begin with, the father (I assume) was completely oblivious to the fact that a line of people was building up behind them on the sidewalk, walking at a snail's pace and looking annoyed. Luckily, I only had to endure this for about three-quarters of a block before I reached my building and went inside.
Parents: we understand that strollers are sometimes a necessary evil, but this kind of stroller behavior is what drives childfree people insane.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
This is how my priorities tend to go: Half my life is devoted to work, the other half is personal. In the personal area, my husband is obviously the most important thing, but he's around all the time so we get plenty of time with each other. The rest of my time I have to figure out, prioritizing when I'm going to do the laundry, get a manicure, indulge in my hobbies, etc., and basically how I am going to allocate enough -- but not too much -- time to all the things I want to do and accomplish.
So does everyone, right? But I get a little obsessive about it. I really NEED to feel that I am living a balanced life. And I just cannot for the life of me imagine how I would do that with a child.
Let's take what I consider to be my top three priorities at the moment, for instance (again, aside from my husband, who kind of overrides all:)
-Home (meaning keeping ours looking nice, and generally just taking care of domestic business, including cooking and all that).
-Taking care of myself (including eating right, working out, and looking good.)
What would happen to those three things if I had a child? I shudder to think. Not to mention all the other stuff I try to fit in when I can get a break from the above, like watching baseball, writing this blog, journaling, reading, etc.
I have enough trouble trying to balance my life as it is. I will never understand how anyone feels balanced, centered, and like they have enough time to do the things that THEY really want to do, with a child. Never.
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
(1) a field for or pursuit of consecutive progressive achievement especially in public, professional, or business life.
(2) a profession for which one trains and which is undertaken as a permanent calling.
Job: (n.) a post of employment.
(definitions courtesy of m-w.com and dictionary.com)
While it's certainly not out of the question for mothers to work these days, most of the working mothers I know have jobs, not careers. What is the difference?
A career is a priority in life, something that gives you personal satisfaction, something you can direct your ambition towards and strive to achieve higher goals.
A job is a position for which you show up every day and collect money in exchange for your efforts, then go home to your family.
There is nothing wrong with either choice. I, however, went to school for the first quarter-century of my life in preparation for a career, which I am now enjoying immensely. I have no desire to turn it into a job, and make some kid the focus of my life instead.
As an attorney at a fairly large firm in New York, I work about 55 hours a week. I consider that a good work-life balance. It means that about half of my waking hours are spent at work, and the other half are spent in personal time.
I care a lot about my career and about my firm. I've been working there for seven years (I started out as a paralegal in the summer of 2000), and right now, I have every intention of staying long enough to become a partner someday.
That doesn't happen to women with kids. Let me stress that my firm, as law firms go, is extremely accommodating to mothers who want to continue to work. But those mothers, due to the demands of their families, have a very different life at the firm than I do. Most don't want to do litigation, which I love, because of the long hours required. Most work 9-5, only billing maybe seven or eight hours a day, if that. Many work at home one or more days a week. And all put their children ahead of their careers, which usually means that they ultimately forego making partner. Of course, as moms, that's what they should do. I just don't want to have to do that.
My career is very important to me, as much so as my personal life. Of course a personal emergency, like injury or illness in my family, would always take priority over my job, but work emergencies also take priority over my personal life at times. My life is balanced, and it allows for the demands of a stressful, high-profile career. That would not be the case if I had children.
I don't show up at work every day just to collect a paycheck. I come to serve clients and to achieve the satisfaction of continually advancing along a career path. I have a profession -- a career -- not a job. And that is something that is incredibly difficult to sustain with a child.
Every Wednesday. Ever since the second week we were dating, two and a half years ago now. Our first "Wednesday" was our sixth date.
Let me stress that this is not "date night." Although it may serve a similar function, we don't think of it that way. We don't call it "date night." We call it "Wednesday." And it happens on Wednesday, period. We would never try to reschedule it for another night.
The historical reason why our special dinner is on Wednesday is that when we started dating, we didn't live in the same city, so we could only really see each other one night during the week, plus on the weekends. I was still in law school at the time, and Wednesday just happened to be the one night when I didn't have class. But since then, it's just become tradition. Whatever one may choose to call it, this is one time in the week when we know we can connect with one another. It's usually not the only time, but sometimes it's sorely needed during a particularly busy week. It's also a nice thing to look forward to in the middle of the week, when both last weekend and this weekend seem so far away.
We alternate who chooses the place, and whoever chooses pays. Since we live in New York City, there are a plethora of options. Although of course we've got our favorite dinner places, on Wednesdays we usually try something new. We rarely go back to the same place on a Wednesday.
Usually, midday, the person whose turn it is to choose will send the other person an email at work with an address (or sometimes a link to the restaurant's web site) and a time. The email rarely says anything more than that. It's fun for the other party to write the address down after work and go find the restaurant, which is almost always somewhere neither of us has been before.
We have a quiet dinner together, usually with a fair amount of wine and cocktails, and usually at a pretty nice place. After dinner, sometimes we go out for drinks and sometimes we come home and just open a bottle of wine, but part of the unwritten agreement is generally that we do spend the entire evening together.
We actually have a list of every restaurant we've been to on a Wednesday in the two and a half years since we started this tradition, and the dates. It has a few holes, since we just pieced it together a few months ago, but 95% of them are there. Some of them have little notes, like "K was sick -- we ate local," or "Lemon Bar after dinner."
I never want this tradition to end, and neither does my husband. It's a big reason why I don't want kids. Oh sure, we could move out to suburbia and have Saturday "date night" at the movies (if we could find a sitter) like all the other married couples with children. But it wouldn't be the same. Wednesday is different. Wednesday is special. Wednesday is us. And Wednesday is never going to change.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
My uncle and aunt employ a full-time tutor for their autistic children, who also acts as sort of a nanny, so effectively there were 3 parents to 3 children. Even then, though, my uncle and aunt definitely did not have the same kind of vacation that my husband and I did. Every minute was taken up with family/kid activities. My husband and I read by the water, went running and waterskiing and tubing, went out for lunches together, played mini-golf, swam in the lake, and built fires outside every night which we sat around drinking beer.
I asked my uncle (a hard partier pre-kids) if he wanted to come sit outside by the fire and drink with us after the kids were in bed one night. He was flopped in a chair with the paper, and told me (politely, but point-blank) that there was no way he was giving up that tiny bit of personal time. I understood, of course, but it made me sad.
Let me say for the record that my uncle's children are adorable, especially his daughter. At 3, she is incredibly precocious, bright, friendly and cute. I think spending time with her might have tempted my husband a little bit toward thinking that he might want kids one day; he's always been more toward the "ambivalent" part of the spectrum. But I've spent too much time thinking about what it would really be like to have a kid to want that. I know that as adorable as my little cousin is to play with, I do not want to have full responsibility for her 24/7.
Kids are fun in small doses. But I have no desire for them to be the main theme of my life.
Friday, June 29, 2007
The basic theory of the book is that some people are highly sensitive people (HSPs), and as such, are more easily overstimulated than others. I am one of them. For example, I'm likely to crave a return to a quiet home after a stressful day at work, rather than continuing on to drinks with my coworkers. I'm likely to close the door of my office while working, because the noise from the hallway bothers me. I keep my windows shut at home to keep out the street noise. I'd usually rather have silence than listen to music when I get home. I hate being interrupted by chatter when I'm trying to do something, even if it's just writing a blog post. It becomes very hard for me to concentrate.
You get the picture. According to the book, 15-20% of the population are highly sensitive people. These people tend to be introverted, and although we like stimulation, we like it in small, managed doses.
Does that sound like a person who would deal well with a screaming baby to you? I know I wouldn't, and that's part of my reason for remaining childfree.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
I actually found True Dad Confessions the more disturbing of the two. While of course, as I was reading True Mom Confessions, I thought many times, "Thank God that's not me," I found myself thinking with even more vehemence as I read True Dad Confessions: "Thank GOD that is not, and will never be, my husband."
Most of the dads' confessions were complaints about their wives, not their children -- everything from "I just don't feel the spark anymore" to "My wife has turned into a nagging bitch ever since we had our kids." Why don't these men just leave their wives if they resent them so much? Three guesses.
I don't ever envision things going sour between my husband and me. But at least I have the consolation of knowing that if -- God forbid -- they ever did, he would be able to leave me. He will never have to silently resent me, or post anonymous confessions on some sad web site. And as long as he's still with me, I know that it's because he wants to be. I will never have to wonder if he's staying with me "for the kids."
Thank God for that.
I am very happy for my friends. I haven't met their new baby yet, since she was born quite prematurely (at 34 weeks), but by all accounts she's healthy now and doing great, and all of us were of course very glad to hear that.
But, I have to admit, I know I couldn't do it. Like me, both members of this couple are lawyers. Mom works for one of the best-known, most demanding firms in my city, and Dad reverse-commutes every day to a firm in the suburbs. I'm told Mom plans to take a few months off, and then return to her job. The two of them are renting a one-bedroom apartment here, just like us. In other words, their life after baby will be basically the same as ours is now... except for the baby.
I can't even imagine having a baby: (1) at this age, (2) after being married such a short time, (3) while trying to work the very demanding jobs that I know theirs both are, and (4) while renting (5) a one-bedroom apartment (6) in New York. I absolutely don't mean to suggest that it's the wrong choice for them -- after all, as a childfree woman I'm all about having my choices respected, so it would be completely hypocritical of me not to do the same. And I know how thrilled they are about their new daughter. I hope she brings them much happiness.
I'm just so glad we're not them.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
Pregnancy. Aside from morning sickness, bloating, constant peeing, fatigue, being kicked, and everything else that comes with the pregnancy experience, pregnancy can leave some pretty nasty scars behind. Severe stretch marks, loose skin, and an extra 30 pounds are just a few of the effects that pregnancy can have on a previously beautiful woman's body. I know, some of you out there are going to tell me that post-pregnancy bodies are beautiful too. The Shape of a Mother blog is one web site that exists to champion this viewpoint. While I think the purpose of this blog is quite noble and I'm happy that these women are comfortable with their bodies, I also know that I never, ever want to look like many of the pictures I have viewed there. And I know that once you do, it can be really, really difficult to do anything about it.
Childbirth. Oh joy -- hours and hours of pain, blood, exhaustion, and possibly relieving oneself on the table right in front of one's husband and all the doctors. And afterwards, along with a screaming baby, you get: a permanently stretched-out vagina. No one wants to admit this, but that is the scar that childbirth leaves.
Breastfeeding. Along with having milk stains constantly spreading across your shirt in public, and not being able to go anywhere without your child, and perhaps having cracked and painful nipples from all the sucking, I know that a lot of women's breasts permanently change shape from breastfeeding. They flatten out, and sag in a major way. And I really like mine. Of course age is going to change them a little eventually, but I'd rather not do anything to hurry the process along.
Day-to-day life with a child. In daily life, while running around feeding and changing and playing with and comforting your very high-maintenance new little friend, how exactly are you going to have time to:
Take care of your skin?
Get your nails done?
Shave your legs?
Blow out your hair?
...Not to mention lose that extra 30 pounds of baby weight? It's no wonder so many moms look so run-down and haggard. I've read comments from new moms who claim they don't even have time to shower. And what with saving for little Jane or Johnny's college fund, can you still afford that pricey mascara you love, or fashionable clothes, or great shoes and bags, or pro beauty treatments or any of the rest of it?
I'm not saying all childfree women look perfect. Sure, I might gain a few pounds sometimes, but it's going to be because I drank a few too many glasses of wine or ate too much ice cream, not because I went through the horrors of pregnancy and childbirth. And sure, sometimes I'm lazy about putting on makeup, but it's because I'm lying around the house with my husband on a Sunday watching baseball, not because I couldn't pry my screaming toddler's grabby hands off my eyelash curler long enough to use it.
As a childfree woman, I may not always love my body 100%, but at least I feel like I have control over it. I have time to work out. I have time to cook nutritious meals for myself. I have the time and money to buy nice clothes, get regular pedicures, put on makeup, style my hair and all the other stuff that keeps a woman looking good. And I'd like to keep it that way.
If I really wanted a child, maybe I wouldn't care what it would do to my figure, face, nails, hair or wardrobe. And by itself, vanity would certainly be a silly reason not to have one. But now that I know I don't want children, this is a pretty strong secondary reinforcement for me.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
Susan Jeffers's I'm Okay, You're a Brat was the first "childfree" book I ever read. Actually, I'm not sure it can totally be referred to as "childfree" literature, since the author has kids (much to her apparent regret). But the childfree community is definitely one of the groups this book is directed to, and the childfree would definitely enjoy it. I was already leaning toward not having children before I read this book, but this was definitely one of the pieces of literature that was instrumental in cementing my decision.
I'm Okay, You're a Brat mainly deals with the downside of parenting: how hard it is, how much it changes one's life, and how much of a shock it can be if you don't truly realize what you're in for. If everyone read this book before they had kids, I'm convinced that many people would give it a second thought. The longest chapter in the book is chapter two, which deals with all of the life changes parents have to go through, including the partial or total loss of freedom, sleep, mobility, privacy, money, career opportunities, camaraderie, sanity, self-esteem, personal time, relationships, peace of mind, and fun. Whoa! No thanks.
I also found chapter three, which is an entire chapter devoted to exposing how deeply a baby can change a marriage, quite convincing. This chapter presents the idea that people get married because they like "the package," i.e., they like the way it is. They like spending time together, having sex together, and relating to each other. But once a baby comes into the picture, the "package" changes drastically, which not all marriages can handle.
I won't go through every chapter, but those were a couple I found particularly interesting. If you'd like to find out more, I really encourage you to get the book. It's great validation for the childfree and great information for a fencesitter.
Then all of a sudden I got married and started my first post-law-school job, and realized that "someday" wasn't so far off anymore. And just a few months after that, I came to my decision that I didn't want them. Ever.
Thinking I'd have kids "someday" was easy -- thinking about what they'd actually do to my life now, or at some point soon over the next few years, isn't. "Someday" is very different when you're a child yourself than it is at 26. All of a sudden I realized that that mythical "someday" when I was actually going to want a child was never going to come.
And I had never really wanted it to. The whole thought of "someday" in the first place was socially conditioned. It never really came from what I actually wanted as a person. I suspect many childfree women have gone through the same thing.
Once I stopped thinking "someday" and started thinking "This is my decision," everything suddenly looked very different. And it never looked the same again.
Monday, June 25, 2007
"What I want from marriage is companionship, TONS OF SEX (I love sex), an abundance of alone time with my husband, excessive vacationing, significant disposable income to invest in a gorgeous home or two, and a comfortable, secure life. I want him to be my first priority and I to be his."
This is exactly what I want out of my marriage, too, and it pretty much describes how my husband and I live and what we're headed towards.
One of the things I love most about being childfree is the fact that my husband and I have the ability to completely focus on our marriage. Of course we do have jobs and other responsibilities, but in the personal half of my life, my husband is priority #1, and vice versa.
We are a pretty tight couple. We socialize together, we order pizza and watch TV together, we go to ballgames and concerts together, we have cocktails together, and we take lots of fun and relaxing trips together. We can talk to each other as much as we want without being interrupted, and pretty much have as much quiet alone time as we want. We're really close and I don't see that ever changing. Obviously we have problems, but we deal with them openly and work them out because our marriage is the most important thing in our lives.
Would that be the case if we had children? I'm sure we'd still focus as much as we could on each other, but I'm scared of what "as much as we could" means. When kids come into the picture, they tend to steal the show (as they should, if you're going to be good parents).
Goodbye to snuggling with pizza in front of the TV on weeknights, watching Entourage or some equally kid-inappropriate show for hours on end. Goodbye possibly heading up to the bedroom to take a little break from that, and then coming back downstairs for more. Goodbye alone time, goodbye romantic vacations, goodbye nice apartment for two. Basically, goodbye to everything that has defined us as a couple up to now, and everything I love most about my marriage.
Could we deal, as a couple, and stay strong, if we had a kid? Sure, maybe. But why would I want to take that risk? Besides, even if we still had a good marriage, it would be vastly different from the way it is now. And I like the way it is now.
So, no kids for us.
I love it when there's no other noise around me except what I choose to create myself, by typing or walking to the kitchen to get a beer or whatever. No TV, no music, no video games. I love music, but I usually choose not to put any on during those times. If I can get silence, I want that.
There is no such thing as silence with little kids around. Unless they're asleep, and then it's a "Shh, don't wake the baby!" silence, not a peaceful, self-created silence. It seems to me like most parents I know can go weeks, months, or even years without that kind of silence.
I can't. Silent alone time is one of the things I don't think I can ever give up in life. Of course I don't get to have it all the time, but most days, I get at least one or two hours of it, and I really need that.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
They're OK, I guess.
I don't love children, but I don't hate them either. A lot of childfree people seem to really actively dislike children, but that's never been one of my reasons for making this decision. I think kids are okay, even cute sometimes.
But I've never really related to them. I don't know what to do with them. When I hold someone else's baby, it usually starts crying. I don't really know how to play with a little kid either, or talk to one. I have definitely seen people who are naturally great at this. I am not one of them.
I think kids tend to feel pretty much the same way about me that I do about them. I do my best to be nice and polite to the ones I know, like the ones in my family, but I have no idea how to really cultivate a meaningful relationship with them. I'll never be that adult that the kid just adores, and that's just fine with me.
I do sometimes think kids are cute when I'm watching them from afar, especially babies. Honestly, I think it's because they remind me a little of animals. I love animals, and babies and very small children have some of the same qualities that I find cute about animals. They have this wide-eyed curious look and don't really know how to do anything. It's sort of endearing to watch. But put, say, an eight-year-old boy in front of me and sorry, I have no interest whatsoever.
Since having a kid means dealing very closely with all ages of children, I know it isn't for me.
Basically, if you don't want kids, it makes no sense to have them as some sort of insurance against your personal unhappiness. While there's always the possibility that you might change your mind and it'll be too late to do it the traditional way, it's also true that every child should be 100% wanted. Having a child out of fear for your later unhappiness is selfish.
Plus, having kids is irreversible! Not having them isn't. Having kids is an instant, lifelong commitment. There is no giving them back. While I don't currently see myself ever changing my mind about this issue, at least I can change my mind. Parents can't.
Actually, I think this is another reason why I don't want kids. I'm not really into doing things that are permanent and irreversible. It's one thing to make choices that are permanent because you want them to be, like getting married. But choices that are by their very nature permanent, like getting a tattoo, scare the heck out of me. Having kids is about the most permanent choice you could ever make. I'm much more worried that I might regret having them, than that I might regret not having them.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
Back in our room was a guide informing us that the Mirror Lake belongs to an organization called Small Luxury Hotels (of which we have since become members, and which I would encourage any other travel aficionados out there to check out.) Flipping through the guide and looking at all of these amazingly luxurious hotels in exotic locations, I thought about our love of travel and our goals for the future. My husband and I literally have a list of everywhere we want to go in the world, and it is long and ever-growing. We take at least one long (one or two weeks) and one short (four or five days) vacation per year, both of which generally involve leaving the country to jet off to a tropical island or a European city or wherever we might feel like going.
We spare no expense on these trips. What I look forward to when we go away is some serious, adult, romantic time with my husband, including beautiful hotel rooms, nice dinners, breakfasts delivered via room service, and quiet relaxing by whatever body of water is nearby, preferably with a cocktail in hand no matter the time of day.
Yes, you can travel with a child, but not the way we like to do it, and not to many of the destinations we're eager to visit. For example, we've already decided that next year's big trip will be to the Icehotel in Sweden. This is not a destination to which I would bring a small child. This is a destination I want to go to to visit the Absolut Icebar and sip vodka-based cocktails out of glasses carved from ice, to snuggle with my husband in a cozy sleeping bag set on a bed of ice and snow, and perhaps to go on a snowmobile safari or two.
If we had a child, we would have neither the means nor the freedom to take trips like this so often. And that just isn't something I'm willing to give up.
This trip is our annual reunion with my dad's side of the family, and while I've talked openly to my mom about not wanting kids, my dad's side of the family has no clue. We've been married just about a year now, and the last time most of them saw us was at our wedding. While they aren't rude people, they're definitely talkative and inquisitive, and I would be surprised if the "So, when are you two planning to have kids?" question didn't come up.
So what am I going to say?
"Oh, definitely not any time soon!" was my answer the last time I was surprised with this question by a rude coworker. The truth, but not all of it. With my own family I'd like to be a bit more direct. Something like "Oh, definitely not any time soon, if ever," might work. They'll at least get the hint.
I really do want to say "Never" but I just can't. It opens up too much room for debate, and this isn't a choice I want to debate with anyone other than my husband (who, thankfully, I don't have to debate it with.)
I am only 27, and I'm not in the mood for any arguments about how I'll change my mind. I won't. And I don't want to get into why with my huge, perpetually procreating family. I'd prefer to just put them off and let them wait it out. When we're still saying the same thing in our mid-30s, they'll get it on their own.
Friday, June 22, 2007
So now that I am not planning on kids, does this mean that the debate has gone away? Well, unfortunately, no. The suburbia question was brought up again this week and I think it has now been determined that at some stage, I am going to have to bite the bullet and move to quieter suburban digs.
Thank goodness, however, that the extra dimension of children is now gone from the argument. We won't have to leave the city any time soon (I think we've agreed on discussing it sometime in our late 30s, but we'll see.) We can buy a nicer house if and when we do decide to leave, since we don't have kids. We can enjoy the suburban QUIET since we don't have kids. We can still have cocktails, and even dinner, in the city together after work, since we won't have any children to worry about rushing home to. We can pick which town to live in based on things we really care about, such as proximity to the city and whether it's near any good wine bars, without having to worry about whether or not we'll be living in a decent school district. And while I might not love the idea of living in suburbia, at least I don't have to adopt the harried-soccer-mom persona along with it.
Just one more area in my life that's a little less problematic without a child.
But, guess what? Most childfree books, web sites and articles aren't like that at all. I literally think I have read almost all of the easily found childfree web sites on the 'net. I have also read about a dozen books on the topic, which is quite a lot considering there really aren't that many. And after all this research into the childfree community, I've found very, very little to be offended by. If a web site or article or book seems to be the type of thing that would disturb me I just skip it. But those are few and far between.
Most importantly, those people giving the childfree community a bad name have absolutely nothing to do with whether there are GOOD reasons for not having kids. And for many of us, there are. There are a slew of them. It's my hope that at some point, people will become a bit more open-minded about it.