Wednesday, July 18, 2007


I'm slightly ashamed to say that money was one of the first things that got me thinking about not having kids. However, at this stage of the game, concern about money is absolutely one of my least important reasons for not wanting them. Nonetheless, I found the following analysis of my discretionary spending quite enlightening. Note that the percentages below are NOT percentages of my total gross income (I'd be homeless if they were!) They are instead percentage breakdowns of how I spend the money that is left over after I take care of rent, bills, savings, groceries and all that more important stuff.

36% eating out

25% clothes, shoes, and beauty products

14% cocktails

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 a lot lately about my career as a lawyer. While I generally enjoy practicing, there are definitely things I dislike about it. The billable hour requirement tops that list. I don't mind working long hours, but I hate the fact that our work is judged so much on quantity, rather than quality. Additionally, I wish my job allowed me more time to write, which I really enjoy and consider myself to be pretty good at doing.

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

Childfree and Loving It!

It's been a while since I did a childfree book review, so I thought I'd post about another of my favorites. Childfree and Loving It!, by Nicki DeFago, seems to be one of the most popular books around the childfree community. I can definitely see why, because it is a great one.

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.

"So, when are YOU going to have a baby?"

One afternoon recently, I walked into the kitchen at work to get a cup of tea. In there was this secretary, Fay. I've known her forever, but not very well.

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

Friday Stroller Rant

Everyone who visits childfree sites regularly has probably heard many a rant about parents who take up three times their space with giant strollers in public, hit other pedestrians with their strollers, and get annoyed if you ask them to move out of the way. I actually hadn't experienced much of this in NYC until now, but last night on my way home from work something happened that drove me absolutely crazy.

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


I really have a thing for balance in life. I seek it out in a rather OCD-ish way by making schedules and lists and setting goals. I'm very ambitious, but living a balanced life doesn't come naturally to me. I tend to get obsessed with one thing at a time and want to focus all my energy on that, whether it's blogging or shopping or cooking or work. So I'm constantly checking myself to make sure that I don't sabotage all the other areas.

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


Career (n.):

(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 and


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.


Since it's Wednesday, it seems like an appropriate day for a post about my longstanding Wednesday tradition with my husband. Every Wednesday, we go out for dinner together.

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 Week with Kids

Finally, my husband and I have returned (and recovered) from our week-long trip to see the family up at the lake house. Since I'm 27, most of my family's children are grown, but I do still have one uncle and aunt with three small kids. They have 6-year-old twins (who are autistic) and one 3-year-old daughter.

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.