Wednesday, September 19, 2007

My 15 Minutes of Fame

Childfree Corner will soon be coming to a New York Observer article near you.

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

I'm Not Pregnant, I'm Just Fat

Because it makes me feel better and I thought it might amuse, I've come up with a list of comebacks for women who are mistaken for being pregnant. Some of these are my own inventions and some were gathered from around the 'net.

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!"

-Expecting what?

-I'm expecting a lot of things, but a baby isn't one of them.

"So, how far along are you?"

-27 years.

"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 now "congratulated" me on being pregnant: 4, in under 2 months.

Number of people who have asked whether I am before doing so: 0.


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.


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

Friday Fun: Kremlin Cocktail

In my recent cocktail-mixing experiments, I came across this seemingly little-known recipe. I now firmly believe that this is the world's greatest nightcap/after-dinner drink. Mix a couple up tonight for you and your partner and toast your ability to relax together childfree, or just enjoy one by yourself while watching the late show.

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.


This is an unusually serious topic for a Friday, but it's something that's been on my mind.

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

CNN Article Supports Equal Time Off for the Childfree

How exciting! Coincidentally, just the day after my blog post on this subject, has published an article supporting equal flexibility for parents and the childfree in the workplace.

My fellow childfrees, we are BEING HEARD!

"You Aren't a Real Adult Until You Have Kids!"

One of the reasons that nosy, meddlesome people often hit us with as to why we should have children is that we won't really be adults until we do. I most heartily disagree.

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

Parents at Work

A common complaint in the childfree community is that parents get more flexibility and more time off in the workplace than those without children, while us childfrees are left to cover for them. "Oh, Mary can't stay late -- she has kids," is something many of us have heard before.

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

Bartender, Another One, Please

My latest obsession is mixing cocktails. Lately I've been practicing one drink at a time until I can make it just right and have the formula memorized, then I move on to the next one. (So far I've got martinis, Black Russians, White Russians, Greyhounds and Salty Dogs down pat... anyone who wants my recipes can feel free to ask!)

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.

"She Has Your Eyes"

Today, one of the two paralegals who works for me returned from maternity leave. I'm thrilled that she's back; she's my right hand. She's an extremely smart and efficient worker, and getting along without her really has been rough. She's also a lovely person and I hope she's happy about her new baby (although when I asked her how the baby was, her first reaction was, no joke, an eyeroll. I'm guessing she's a bit fatigued.)

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

Building the Pitt-Jolie Nation

Today's news from the world of celebrity gossip: Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are ready for another child.

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.