Thursday, August 21, 2008

Vacationing Childfree

My vacation with my husband this week has reminded me again just how great childfree travel is. To remind all of you the same, here is a list of just a few things we have done together this week -- all of which would have been impossible with small children.

-Enjoyed long and lazy afternoons in the backyard at our vacation cottage, catching up on our reading.

-Went wine tasting on several days of the week, often stopping to have a glass outside at a particularly pretty vineyard.

-Went to a nighttime outdoor screening of the Audrey Hepburn classic "Sabrina," complete with picnic of wine and cheese.

-Had a quiet dinner at a nice Italian restaurant on the water, at a table out on the deck.

-Visited the bar at our favorite bistro for several cocktails, some Olympics-watching, and a chat with the bartender.

-Had a couple of beers together at 10 PM in the hot tub at the cottage. (I won't say whether or not we opted for bathing suits.)

-Went for an 8-mile canoe trip up the Peconic in a two-person boat, stopping for ice cream at the end.

-Grilled an intimate dinner for two out on the deck at the cottage.

This is the most relaxing week I've had in ages and I don't even want to imagine how it would be transformed if we had a child or three we had to focus on instead of one another.

I actually had a dream last night that we had two children. I told my husband about it when I woke up. He shuddered and said, "Ugh, bad dream."

Diner Brats

My husband and I are on vacation this week on the North Fork of Long Island, our favorite place to go to relax. We like it for the wineries and for the general sense of peace and quiet. Unfortunately, that peace and quiet was shattered over what should have been a relaxing lunch today.

We were at a small luncheonette and ice cream parlor in the area, sitting in a booth and looking over menus, when a family walked in with four screeching children. I immediately rolled my eyes at my husband. I could tell right away that these tykes were going to be trouble. As they gathered around the ice cream counter, screaming "The pink one, Mommy, I want the pink one!" and "I want sprinkles!" and "I want chocolate sauce!", I hoped fervently that they would take their ice cream to go and walk back out into the pretty summer day. Unfortunately, they decided to stay, and to seat themselves at the booth right behind us.

We could not believe the behavior of these children. Their screams reverberated off the walls of the tiny diner, assaulting our ears for the entirety of our meal. There were other families with kids in the diner, but none were making any noise at all except for these children. We actually heard one of the little boys -- maybe six or seven -- shout at his mother, "Mom, DON'T TAKE ANY OF MY ICE CREAM!" My husband and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows.

"If that were my kid, I'd take him outside and smack him," my husband said in a low tone.

"I'd tell him he's buying his own ice cream from now on," I replied.

"Even though he wouldn't have any money, because he wouldn't be getting an allowance for the next decade," my husband agreed.

Finally, the family left. It was astounding how much quieter the diner was. I don't think I'd realized until then just HOW much noise these ill-behaved, entitled brats had been making.

Oh well. At least we're back at our cottage now, blogging in peace and quiet. Those parents get to reap the fruits of their own lack of discipline all day long.

Earplugs, anyone?

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Polite Reminder: Keep Your Damn Mouth Shut

Longtime readers of this blog will remember several past posts from about a year ago, when I had gained some weight and idiotic people who (obviously!) didn't know me very well kept "congratulating" me on what they assumed was my pregnancy. Unfortunately, as I'm naturally rather petite and any extra weight tends to collect around my abdominal area and stay out of my face, arms and legs, gaining a lot of excess weight does kind of tend to make me look pregnant. Which, of course, does not excuse the tactlessness of others in pointing this out.

However, I'm proud to say that I've lost approximately 14 pounds since January of this year, largely due to taking up running and cleaning up my diet. No one has brought up my supposed "pregnancy" in quite a long time, and I thought this nightmare was finally all behind me.

Until the doorman in my building at work today, one of my earlier "congratulators," delivered the ultimate slap in the face. As I breezed by him on my way in this morning, he called out to me:

"Hey! How's the little one?"

So, to all, a polite reminder: PLEASE DO NOT EVER, EVER MENTION A WOMAN'S PREGNANCY TO HER UNLESS YOU ARE 100% SURE THAT SHE IS PREGNANT. And by 100% sure, I mean either she has told you herself that she is, her husband/partner has told you, or she is going into labor and needs medical assistance.

This has been the Childfree Corner PSA of the day.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Another One Bites the Dust

Recently, my husband and I learned that yet another one of our friends is now pregnant. This will make her the third new mother in what used to be our very tight-knit social circle.

I'm still reeling from how quickly all of our friends suddenly decided to have children. I'm 28, which is not exactly a ripe old age to have children for people in New York. Many here don't even marry and settle down until their thirties. So I really was pretty shocked when our friends all suddenly started breeding. We all got married in 2006, and three out of five couples have now procreated, counting the newly expecting one. I never expected it to happen so soon.

I can't even fathom how my friends could want children at this young an age -- or maybe it's just that I can't fathom why they want them at all. I suppose 28 would not be an unreasonable age to have kids, if I were actually planning on having them ever. But the sudden divide between my friends and me has just made it all the more clear to me that my husband and I really are different from them, and that we're choosing something different.

Don't get me wrong -- we've still got plenty of friends with no kids to relate to. Our best friends, the one couple besides us who's held off so far, do plan on having children, but not for a few more years at least. And we've got a bunch of more casual friends with no children yet, some of whom aren't even married. I'm just shocked at how quickly the rest of our friends jumped headfirst into parenthood. One day we thought we had a ton in common with them, and the next day we discovered we now have almost nothing in common.

Oh well... that's the way it goes, I guess.

Happy Birthday To CC...

Childfree Corner is one year old today! Thanks to all who have been reading and continue to do so. Although I don't always respond, please know that it's truly been a great thing for me to read the comments you leave on this blog and know I'm not alone in my thoughts. I hope that reading my posts makes you feel the same way.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Gearing Up for the Annual Family Reunion

Every year, my entire family on my father's side gathers together at my grandparents' lake house in upstate New York. Longtime readers of this blog may remember my post about this last year. We swim, waterski, drink, and build fires and generally have a great time together. However, lately it's also become the time of year when I reflect most on my decision not to have children, and think about it with the most certainty and gratitude.

Not being a fan of kids generally, I don't spend much time around them. But every year at the lake, I interact with my three young cousins, children of my aunt and uncle. They have autistic twin sons who are now 7, and a non-autistic daughter, who is 4.

As terrible as it sounds, my aunt and uncle are my childed cautionary tale. Their children are very sweet, in particular their daughter, who I think is the friendliest, brightest, most well-behaved little girl of her age that I've ever met. And I know they love their kids.

But from the outside looking in, their life looks like hell to me. As my father put it, "they just can't get out from under this crushing burden." My aunt and uncle employ a full-time babysitter for their children, so effectively there are 3 adults to 3 children in their house. Even then, though, they get close to zero time for themselves.

They don't even have time to take care of their own health, which is really important to me. My aunt's never been skinny, but the years have not been good to her -- I was shocked the last time I saw her in a bathing suit. My uncle, too, bemoaned how out of shape he's gotten when I saw him a couple of weeks ago. They feed their kids things like soda and chicken fingers and pretty much seem to eat that way themselves as well whenever I see them eating.

Please understand that I'm not judging them. I understand how tough their lives are, and that circumstances are driving them to this. It's for that exact reason that I'm posting about them here.

No one who has children ever knows if they will end up in a similar situation. My aunt and uncle did not even know until their sons were a few years old that they had special needs. And observing them, I just can't bring myself to take that big a gamble in life.

I feel bad when we see them, because my husband and I live such carefree lives. I feel bad at the lake when we relax as they work their asses off taking care of their children. And I feel bad writing this post about them. But it is what it is. I know my fellow childfrees will understand how I feel.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Finding Purpose Without Children

Some people feel that children give their life more purpose, more meaning. Hats off to them. Truth is, though, we don't need children to do this for us.

I've never really felt that my life lacked meaning. I have a demanding career, wonderful husband, large group of friends, and lots of hobbies and interests to keep me busy. If one is content with enjoying life, one really needn't look for purpose or meaning in it. However, as everyone knows, adding volunteer work to your life is also a great option if you want to do something meaningful with your time.

Recently I've been seriously considering volunteering for the Samaritans of New York, a suicide prevention hotline. Although my husband and I are in a majorly busy phase of life right now (we're moving, and don't have a lot of extra time), I would really like to make time to begin doing this sometime in the next few months, perhaps in the beginning of 2009.

The job is demanding. The Samaritans make clear that their organization is a professional crisis counseling hotline, and that volunteers need to make a serious commitment: 60+ hours of training, followed by a 6-month commitment to 3 5-hour shifts per month plus one weekday (Sun-Thurs) overnight shift per month. I work a normal Monday-Friday day job with pretty long hours as it is, so that's a lot for me. But I really want to do it because it seems like it would be very rewarding, and I think I would be good at it.

To me, making the time for something like this in my life would have way more meaning than making the time to raise some kid. Raising kids, in my mind, is not giving back to the community. This is. And need I even say that I wouldn't have time to do this if I had a baby to take care of?

Just some musings. If you've ever done something similar, I'd love to hear from you, as well as hear about any other volunteer work you do.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Memo to Moms: Don't Take My Work Away

It's finally happened. For the first time, I have been personally affected by bias against the childfree in the workplace. But not in the way you might think.

Usually, the childfree complain that they get stuck with all the work, because moms and dads are trotting out early to go to their kids' soccer games, missing work when their kids get sick, or getting off weekend duty scot-free. However, in this case, my colleague and I are actually having work taken away from us.

Let me explain. I am, as I've posted before, a lawyer. I specialize in trademark law, but my firm as a whole does mostly patent litigation. Patent litigations are very intense and require long hours over many months and years of work.

Trademark work, while not necessarily easier, is more contained. It's easier to regulate one's hours, and easier to customize for a person who wants to, say, work only part-time, or be assured of going home at 5 pm.

That's not why I do this work; I do it because I love it, and so does the one other associate here who specializes in trademark. But you see where this is going, right? Certain mommies on the patent side have now looked over at what we have and decided that they want it.

So a huge new trademark client just came in for us. Of course I can't reveal the name of the client, but it's an extremely well known brand whose work we will now be handling. This work should have been split between me and my other trademark colleague.

But instead, while I'll get a small chunk of it, the lion's share of this work is going to a mommy on the patent side who wants off of her litigations. She's a patent litigator, and came to the firm as one. But that work doesn't fit a family lifestyle. So she's taking ours. As I said, I'll get a small chunk. My colleague will be left out in the cold completely.

Unfair? You bet. I'm hopping mad. But this is the way it works in childfree life.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

The Sex Factor

Last night I finally got to see the "Sex and the City" movie. Yes, I loved it. As a longtime fan and New Yorker, I was in heaven. But on a more serious note, it got me thinking about one of the major reasons I have decided to remain childfree: sex. I suppose this contains spoilers.

In the movie, Miranda and Steve are having a series of problems because, what with the kid, their full-time jobs, and Steve's mother being in a home, they haven't had sex for six months. Yes, you read that right. As a childfree person, I cannot comprehend this. I wanted to know: was this really what having kids led to? My curiosity led me to do some research on the Internet when I got home.

Apparently, Miranda and Steve's predicament isn't all that uncommon. I learned via my Google search that 15 to 20 percent of all married couples today are in "sexless marriages," defined by the experts as those where sex occurs 10 or fewer times per year. Per year?! For those keeping score at home, that's less than once a month. The average among the rest of married couples is 68.5 times per year, a little more than once a week. Not surprisingly, I'm sure, to readers of this blog, many of those in "sexless marriages" attribute their failures to having had children.

This really put things in perspective for me. My husband and I average about twice a week lately, and I'd still like that number to be a little bit higher. I get upset if we haven't had sex for a week or two. How do people survive going one to two whole months?

I don't think I ever want to find out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Where Does a Baby Fit In? Nowhere.

Where does a baby fit into my life? Nowhere, that's where. Here is a brief summary of my day today, which is a fairly typical Wednesday:

5:45 A.M.: Wake up. Tiptoe quietly downstairs and change, brush my teeth, etc.
6:15 A.M.: Go out to run. I'm training for a half marathon. Today's run was pretty short in the scheme of things, only 3.5 miles.
7:15 A.M.: Return home and fix breakfast.
7:45 A.M.: Shower and dress for work.
8:15 A.M.: Leave for work. Read the news on the train.
8:45 A.M.: Arrive at work. Work all day long. Lunch at my desk. As my habitual readers know, I'm a lawyer, and I usually have to work at least as many hours as I did today.
7 P.M.: Leave to go home. I like to read on the train but oftentimes, I have to bring more work to do (this is the reality of big firms and billable hour targets).
7:30 P.M.: Arrive home. Dinner with my husband. Our Wednesday dinners are a sacred tradition, going back to when we first started dating nearly three and a half years ago. Even if we had a child, we would never give this up. We always have dinner together, alone, on Wednesdays. It's our weekly time for one another. Usually we go out, but tonight we're eating at home.
9 or so P.M.: Catch up on some laundry while we watch TV and grab a couple of hours to ourselves.
10:30 P.M.: Pass out -- I've got to get up at 5:30 tomorrow to train. After 7 hours of sleep, it will all begin again.

Where the heck does a child fit in here? As I try to juggle work, running and my marriage, I often feel like I don't even have time for myself, much less someone else. If I had a couple extra hours in my day I'd spend it reading in a quiet place, not taking care of a screaming baby.

So I have to conclude that the answer is: nowhere.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Some Friend You Are

We have two sets of friends who have babies now. One child was born a year ago, and one was born at the end of December 2007. Both couples were fixtures in our social circle until the stork arrived. My husband has known the fathers for many years.

We have seen the couple whose daughter is now a year old a whopping three times since she was born. The other couple we have not seen at all since they had their child, although they do send us about 80 pictures of their baby every single month. No, I'm not exaggerating. "Baby's April Pics" arrive reliably in early May, and there are always between 50 and 100 to look through. But I digress. (My husband and I have considered sending out monthly pictures of our cat in response.)

I'm not heartbroken about not seeing our friends much anymore. I fully expected it. But when they no longer even feel the need to adhere to the basic tenets of common courtesy, I have a problem. That is what happened to my husband this week.

Last Monday, he emailed the father of the one-year-old, asking if his company might have a job available this summer for my husband's brother, who's a junior in college and desperately seeking an internship that might add to his resume. Guess what the response was?


It's been over a week, and nothing. Not even "sorry, man, we just don't have anything available this summer." That would have been fine. But nothing? Really, you don't have time to even type a one-sentence email to an old friend once you've procreated?

If that's the case, count me out for sure.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Moms who Let Themselves Go

I stumbled across this posting on Craigslist a while back, about mothers and wives who lose all regard for appearances. While I certainly wouldn't say I agree with all of it, there are some interesting thoughts there.

Many mothers do, in fact, let themselves go as this posting describes, particularly once they pass a certain age and have had two or three kids. I do not, and will never, condone cheating on one's spouse, as this poster sort of seems to. However, I also think that when you enter an agreement with another healthy adult to remain in a monogamous relationship for the rest of both of your lives, you each have a certain responsibility to make sure you remain reasonably attractive to the other person. This is only fair.

I take this responsibility very seriously. I stay in shape. I watch my diet. I get regular manicures and pedicures. I don't go weeks without shaving or tweezing as needed. I wear makeup, perfume, and jewelry. I make sure my hair looks good... even if we're not going anywhere. I wear cute, fitted clothes (again, even around the house I wear cute p.j.s), and good shoes.

When women have kids and begin to completely neglect all of this, it makes me wonder. And when they complain that their marriages are passionless, and their husbands have become detached, I wonder more.

Cause and effect, kids. It's not rocket science. While I certainly hope that we all love our spouses for who they are, the least you can do for someone who's pledged to sleep with only you for the rest of his life is to make it a pleasant experience for him. And vice versa.

This is a lot easier when you're childfree.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A Saturday in the Life

One of my favorite childfree books, Baby Not On Board, has a great little section called "A Saturday in the Life," which compares a childfree person's typical Saturday to that of a childed person's. The childfree Saturday sounded surprisingly like one of my own. So just for kicks, I thought I'd post what I did (and am doing) today in lieu of playing Mr. Potato Head and running to Costco for more mini corn dogs. Feel free to tell me how you spent your childfree Saturdays, as well!

8 A.M.: Get up. Husband is still sleeping (he is NOT an early weekend riser.) Greet the cat, who follows me downstairs. Pour out some nice Kashi cereal and soymilk for myself and some kitty treats for her.

8:15 A.M.: Settle down in the living room with breakfast. All is quiet. Happily curl up, eat my cereal and finish the book I've been reading.

10 A.M.: Watch two episodes of South Park. Now that is what I call a Saturday morning cartoon!

11 A.M.: Husband wakes up. We sit together and talk for a bit while he opens some mail we got this week.

11:30 A.M.: Head upstairs to update my iPod. We went to a Foo Fighters concert on Tuesday night, so I'm super into them right now. I hit the iTunes store and use some of that nice extra disposable income to fill in all the holes in my Foo collection.

12 P.M.: iPod loaded, it's time to go out for a run. I do two miles downtown and back along the Hudson River, music blasting in my ears.

12:45 P.M.: Back home. Fix lunch (a veggie burger, yogurt and fruit.) Sit with my husband while he watches UFC Unleashed from the DVR. Laugh at it.

1:30 P.M.: Take a shower and take my sweet time doing a body scrub, pedicure, and all those things I don't have time for during the week. Gotta look good to go out tonight!

2:30 P.M.: Interrupt my husband to ask if he's interested in some post-shower fun. He is. Head upstairs.

3:15 P.M.: Get dressed.

3:30 P.M.: Time to get serious. Where are we having dinner tonight? We've got a band of five (childfree, of course) friends to go to dinner and drinks with, and it's up to us to make the reservations. We settle on a fabulous wine bar in Soho that also serves food and call everyone to let them know.

4:15 P.M.: Upstairs for some more quiet time while my husband plays video games. Right now, it's 4:25 and I'm just about done with this blog entry. After that, I plan to do a few things around the house and then...

7 P.M.: Meet our friends for dinner. Enjoy yummy grown-up food and tasting flights of local wine. After dinner, we'll no doubt end up at one of several very good bars in the area. Who knows how late we'll be out?

So in conclusion... yeah, childfree Saturdays are pretty much awesome. I'll take my day in a heartbeat over getting up with some screamy kid, getting him dressed, playing with him all day and cutting up hot dogs for his lunch. No thank you.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Back from the Dead

Hi all!

No, I wasn't really dead, just very busy (in a good way.) I'm popping in briefly to share an article that some idiot wrote over at the Atlantic:

The author essentially advises single women to settle, instead of waiting for the right one to come along. That's bad enough in itself, but what truly irks me are her assumptions about what all women want. Check this out if you're in the mood to get pissed, ladies.