Monday, October 8, 2007

Meow

Okay, today I am going to be very shallow, vain and catty. Hey, I'm a woman! You would expect no less from me, right? Indulge me here.

Recently, I attended the birthday party of my best friend's 4-year old son. It was a big family and close friend affair - a house chock full of babies, toddlers, toys, wrapping paper, cake, noise, wall-to-wall parents chasing after wall-to-wall babies and toddlers and then there were me and hubby - two lone childfree-by-choice people amid a sea of kindercraziness.

Hubby walked in, took one look at the frenetic chaos, and made a bee-line out the front door where he gratefully took refuge drinking martinis out of the back of an old friend's mini-van. It was a regular escapist's tailgate party. I let them be and didn't crash their party. First of all, I am not much of a drinker, plus I knew that hubby and his old friend would really enjoy some quality male bonding time catching up over their drinks. So there I was, stuck with all the women - the mommies. I did the requisite cooing over the kids and I even had some fun playing with them, I admit. When the baby babble got boring, I kept myself occupied at the food table, delighting myself in cookies, birthday cake, brownies and cupcakes.

While I was deciding whether I should indulge in another brownie or one last piece of birthday cake, I looked around the room. I appraised and evaluated all the women and observed them in motion. Most were in my age range - 30's or 40's, a couple were older. All were mothers except me. I looked more closely at them and it suddenly dawned on me that compared to me, these women looked like wrecks - sloppy clothes, wiry hair falling out of messy ponytails, no makeup, spare tire bellies bulging out of ill-fitting jeans. Now, I will tell you up front that I am no Jackie Kennedy, but I can objectively say that I was the most pulled-together, attractive and stylish woman in the room. I am not talking attractive as in pretty (I am not that vain). I am talking attractive as in well-groomed, attentive to one's appearance, physically fit, well-proportioned, and stylish. It didn't take long for me to realize that the sole reason I held this advantage over these women was that I am childfree. My body hasn't been abused by childbirth. I'm not stretched out, worn out and plumped up. My skin glows with plentiful rest and I frequently suprise people when they learn my age (they always guess 6-8 years younger). I have the time and money to get regular haircuts, shop for clothing, put on makeup, style my hair, get an occasional facial and massage, select pretty jewelry to coordinate with my stylin' clothes. I diligently exercise 5-6 days a week to stay fit, energetic and healthy. These mommies are lucky if they can find 5 minutes to locate a pair of socks that match.

Yes, I am being catty today, but you know what? Writing about my catty feelings here and sharing my smugness with you, my childfree friends and sympathizers, provides a nice boost - sharing the little secrets of how being a marginalized member of our society can actually work to one's benefit.

5 comments:

Ellie said...

Longtime lurker, first time commenter. =)

Thanks for your honesty in this post - in all of your posts. I'm a huge fan of your writing, your fresh and positive perspectives, and your ability to really nail so many of the core issues of childfreedom.

Anyway, really - thanks.

Childfreeeee said...

Thanks Ellie! What a lovely comment, and glad you came out of lurkdom! Hope you will continue to post more comments.

Erin said...

Had you swapped out the birthday party scenario with a Christmas party, I could have written this story! In fact, I did write about such a similar experience last holiday season when I dragged a girlfriend to a party with me. It was at an acquaintance's home with the hope of being introduced to some single men that I knew would be there. (It was a party where family, friends, neighbors and co-workers were invited.)

Some parents sat motionless mesmerized by the tv, while others seemed oblivious to the kids running through the house with plastic swords and tripping over each other. There were kids everywhere and I was literally afraid to walk around with watching every step for fear I would plunge a BCBG stiletto into an unsuspecting kid's palm. The parents weren't even paying attention; it was like they were bored with the kids and didn't know how to interact with adults.

It was a very bizarre night. I think the women were intimidated by my friend and I -- fashionably dressed, pulled together -- considering the furtive glances I noticed. Don't worry ladies, I'm not interested in a middle-aged soccer dad with dun'lap and a bad sweater.

It's not always about being CF, it sometimes b/c you're single and people see you as not having a meaningful life (or that you want to steal their husband). If you don't have kids they don't know how to have an adult conversation.

We stuck around for a little while so as not to look rude, and then took off for a local pub where we had some peace and quiet to talk at the bar.

brettc said...

That sounds quite horrible to have to attend!

My wife is just over 30 and people regularly think she's in her early to mid 20s. I'm a couple years older and people think I look younger as well.

Compare that to some people we know with kids. The mothers typically look like a bomb has gone off twixt their head and feet. Especially with one that actually is in her mid-20s. She used to be really attractive, but not now. But she chose to have a baby so that's one of the unfortunate consequences.

Claudel said...

I'm 44 and I've had people thinking I'm in my 20's. I was out with some female friends one evening, at a bar, and a 21 year old boy hit on me. He thought I was 25. I held up my hand to show him my wedding ring and then showed him my driver's license to prove how old I really was. And yes, I am childfree.