Friday, June 29, 2007

And... We're Off!

This blog is going to be on vacation for a few days while my husband and I are on our annual trip to my family's lake house in upstate New York. It should be good fodder for later blog posts. From observing my many small cousins and their parents, to possibly dealing with inquiries about our own childfree status, I'm sure I'll have lots to reflect upon when we return on Monday, July 9. See you all then, and have a fun and safe Fourth of July!

The Highly Sensitive Person

I recently ran across a book called The Highly Sensitive Person. While it's not a childfree book per se, it applies very well to me and touches on a lot of the reasons why I don't want to have children.

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

True Confessions

I've seen a lot of tongue-wagging on childfree sites recently about True Mom Confessions and True Dad Confessions. Of course, as soon as I heard these web sites existed, I had to check them out for myself.

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.

New Addition

I haven't posted about this yet, but about a month and a half ago, two friends of ours had their first baby. Not only is it their first baby, it's the first baby anyone has had in our social circle. My husband and I got married within the same year as most of our friends, and that was just last year. So we were all pretty shocked when, just a couple of months after all the weddings were finally over, this couple announced that they were already expecting.

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

Our Bodies

One of the things about being childfree that I really hold dear is never having to take on the extra feminine body issues that mothers have to deal with. Let's think about the effect children have on our bodies for a few moments:

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?
Apply makeup?
Get your nails done?
Shave your legs?
Get waxed?
Blow out your hair?
Work out?

...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

I'm Okay, You're a Brat

I've decided I'm going to start periodically publishing reviews of childfree books on this blog, under the theory that hopefully if you enjoy my blog, you'll enjoy some of the same books I have liked. I've read quite a few books on this subject and am always looking for more (if you have any good recommendations, let me know!)

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.


I really didn't realize that having children was a choice until I was in my mid-20s. I mean, intellectually I knew it was a choice, but I had still always just assumed that I would have them someday. Who doesn't? And why wouldn't I?

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

Love and Marriage

My fellow blogger Childfree Chick recently posted something on her blog that I couldn't have said any better myself:

"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.


There aren't many things I love more than silence. While I adore my husband and cat, some of my favorite hours of the day are late at night after everyone else is asleep, when I have total silence in the apartment. (Of course, this occasionally happens at other times, too, but not very often; I'm not alone in our apartment very much.)

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...

If you're reading this blog, and especially if you're a frequent reader of childfree sites, you might be wondering how I feel about children (aside from the obvious fact that I don't want my own.) The answer?

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.


Very early on in my thought process about being childfree, I often worried that I might regret not having children. Now that I've thought it through and realized all the amazing things I'll get to have and do since we're not planning on children, and all the drudgery of parenting I won't have to deal with, I don't even think about that. There's no way I would ever regret it! But I'm writing this post for any fencesitters out there who might be worried about this issue.

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


The number one reason why I initially began thinking about not having children was my husband's and my shared love for travel. We were up at the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, NY last winter, enjoying a very non-child-friendly vacation which included spa treatments for me, skiing for him, drinking at the ski lodge in the middle of the day, and a couple of nice, elegant, expensive, adult dinners.

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.

Inquisitive Family

For some reason, the first thing I thought about when I woke up this morning was the big family trip to the lake that we all go on every year. It's next weekend. This time next week, I'll be on my way.

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

City Mouse

I live in New York, and have for the past nine years. I have never had any desire to leave the city, and if it were entirely up to me, I probably wouldn't. Before I realized that I did not want children, I used to say to my husband that the only reason I would ever leave would be if we had children. (Actually, if it were up to me, I wouldn't leave then, either, but I had a strong suspicion that my arguments for why raising children in the city can actually be a good thing were never going to be persuasive.)

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.

Public Perceptions of the Childfree

The word "childfree" conjures up unpleasant images for many people. They might be thinking of web sites that refer to parents as "breeders" or call children some really nasty things that I won't even repeat here. These web sites tend to spend more time bashing parents and/or children than saying positive things about, or even discussing, the childfree choice. I myself tend to be a little creeped out by this type of "childfree."

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.