Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Reader Needs our Advice...

Dear Readers,

I received this letter from a reader of my blog and in the letter, he asked for my opinion on what he should do about a difficult situation he is going through. I sent him a reply and I also asked him if he would permit me to post his letter here, so that you can also offer your insights and thoughts about his problem. He gave me his permission, so here is his letter. I have changed his name to protect his privacy. Please feel free to post your reply. Thanks.

"Hello -I've just discovered your blog, and very much wish I had done so earlier. This morning, you see, I'm fresh off the thousandth conflict with my girlfriend, who has stated, extremely clearly, that she wants kids. I've always been on the fence about it -- at least I thought I was -- and have, for the past year, been thinking. And thinking. And thinking. Last month, I set a final deadline for myself, which is imminent, and I still find I'm 'undecided.'

In truth and honesty, I'm not undecided. I don't want kids, and every word I've read of your blog rings starkly true for me. But there's a problem -- a big one. I'm in love with the woman with whom I'm involved. She's wonderful, sweet, smart, creative, and would/will make a fantastic mother. She has all the patience I do not, and I could never deny the happiness she will find in being a parent. In addition, I've had a lot of trouble with relationships in the past, and there's no question this one is the very best I've had. I desperately do not want to let go of it, but this is a crossroads that can only go two directions. There's no in between.

Many people have told me I'd make a good parent. And I probably would. I do love kids. They're fun. Silly. Wacky. I just don't know if I can deal with the un-fun parts of parenthood. I'm pretty sure, actually, that they would drive me nuts. I no more want to clean up someone else's bodily functions than I want someone to clean up mine. Etc., etc., etc.

So. I've tried to present both sides of my problem briefly and equally. 1. I'm in love. 2. I don't want kids. There's no way these two things can happily coexist. So here's the question I'm hoping you can help me solve: I've written one letter to you, and I'll write more if you want clarification, but based on this single letter... should I dive into the relationship? Or let it go and hope to find another?Thanks for your blog. It's really quite excellent.


Pregnant Women are Smug

I think you'll get a kick out of this one.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The Story for Today

Here's the story for today: a cab driver drives a family home from the airport and the couple leaves their 5 year old child in the cab. Guess who the finger of blame gets pointed at? You guessed it - the CABBIE!

Read the full story here.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Message to Parents: NOBODY CARES

Here's a question for the parents out there. What makes you think we are interested in hearing every single detail of your child's life? Here are the Facebook updates posted by an aquaintance (former co-worker) of mine over the last couple weeks. She obviously has no life (or no interests in anything) other than her baby.

7/28: "Taking Baby Joey on his morning walk."

7/27: "Had a nice weekend with family and friends. Now playing with Baby Joey."

7/25: Posts photo album of Baby Joey.

7/25: Posts photo album of kids eating dinner.

7/25: "Going to see the Johnsons with Baby Joey."

7/25: "Time for morning walk with Baby Joey."

7/24: "Poor Baby Joey has 5 teeth coming in at the same time and he is not feeling well."

7/23: "Getting ready to take Baby Joey for his 9 month check-up."

7/21: "The night before job interview and Baby Joey is teething and up all night. Tylenol has failed us LOL"

7/20: Posts photo album of Baby Joey in swimming pool

7/21: "Sleep is over-rated."

7/19: "Playing with Baby Joey."

7/18: Posts photo album of kids (and yes, Baby Joey)

7/18: "4 a.m. wake-up call is better than 3 a.m."

7/17: "Is it worth buying Baby Joey a new toy when all he does is play with the box?"

7/15: "is chanting please baby sleep through the night prayer LOL"

7/11: Posts photo album of Baby Joey.

7/11: "Baby Joey enjoyed his early morning nature walk."

Does anyone really CARE about this stuff? I wonder what people would think of me if I posted similar updates about my cat?

7/27: "Tabby is enjoying having her ears scratched."

7/26: "Scooping out Tabby's litter box. Man, how is it possible to poop out 20 pounds when you only eat 2?"

7/26: "Giving Tabby her morning love snuggle."

7/25: "Took Tabby out on the lawn with her cat leash. She looks so adorable in it!"

7/24: "Tabby saw a rabbit in the yard today. She was licking her chops."

7/23: "Got home 1 hour late from work and Tabby gave me the cold shoulder. I think she's mad at me."

7/22: "Tabby ate too much and puked all over the kitchen floor."

7/20: "Taking Tabby for her bi-annual vet check-up."

7/19: "Tabby didn't snuggle with me last night. My feelings are hurt."

7/18: "Hubby says Tabby loves him the best. I think she loves me more."

7/17: "Gave Tabby a good brushing this morning. Man, she's really shedding!"

7/15: Posts photo album of Tabby rolling on the lawn

7/14: "Tabby's gut is getting bigger. I think she needs to go on a kitty diet."

7/13: Post photo album of Tabby lounging on the couch.

7/12: "Tabby's back right leg is twitching and I am concerned."

7/11: "Tried a new brand of cat food this morning. Tabby turned her nose up at it."

Are you asleep yet?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Childfree Assumptions & Stereotypes that (Usually) are Wrong

One of the things that can be annoying about being a childfree individual (or couple) is the host of automatic assumptions that are made the second someone finds out you don't want kids. So today, I thought I would address these stereotypes.

1. Childfree people are child haters: While certainly a percentage of childfree people do not like children, for many childfree folks, this assumption is not true. There are plenty of childfree folks (including myself) who like children, work with children, donate to children's charities, enjoy their time with nieces, nephews and friends' children, but simply have no desire to undertake the parental lifestyle and all the burden that comes with it.

2. Childfree people are selfish and their lives revolve only around themselves: If I had a dollar for every time this assumption is made, I'd be a rich woman. The idea that a childfree person's life is all about themself is completely false. Childfree individuals do not live an isolated life inside a bubble. We are spouses, significant others, sons and daughters, grandsons and granddaughters, uncles and aunts, devoted friends, pet companions, employees and volunteers. The idea that the only way to be other-people-centered is to have a child is nothing short of ridiculous.

3. Childfree people are rich hedonists: Sure, because we don't have kids, we generally have more disposible income and more free time to do the things we enjoy than our child-encumbered peers, but I don't know many childfree folks who are throwing money around like it grows on trees, or spending their days prancing around naked at Club Med. We're struggling through the same recession as everyone else, we have rents, mortgages and bills to pay just like people with kids and only in our fantasies do we have unlimited vacation time.

4. Childfree people have no lives, or empty lives: In response to this assumption, I'd like to quote the very wise and eloquent Sharla, one of the women I interviewed for my masters thesis, because she really hit the nail on the head: "Yet another misconception is that childfree people lead empty, sad, lonely lives; we are missing out on children, and every adult's life should revolve around children. Because parents' lives are so wrapped up in their children (since children require constant time and attention) they feel as though a person whose life is not run by children would just have a big, empty space inside it. Of course, what they do not realize is that that space is filled up with things they have lost: friendships, hobbies, education, personal time, and career. Our lives are not empty; they are filled with the very same things parents give up before their lives become child-centered."

5. Childfree people are cold, unfeeling, uncaring, immature, underdeveloped human beings: Sadly, the erroneous notion persists that the only way to be a fully developed, productive, self-realized adult is to have children. In fact, often the opposite is true. Because childfree folks are not tethered to incessant demands on their time and energy (by children), they can devote more of their time to pursuing activities that enrich their personal growth and self-actualization, for example education, spiritual pursuits, civic involvement, charitable activities and substantial, meaningful personal relationships. Parents often have to toss these things by the wayside for many years on end just to keep up with parental demands.

6. Childfree people are lost, confused souls who don't know what's important in life: We know what's important in life. It just may be different than what's important in a parent's life. Most childfree people have come to their decision after very thoughtful deliberation and in many cases, have put more thought into the having-a-child decision than many parents who enter into it mindlessly simply because it's what's expected of them. While folks are busy piting us for how confused and lost we are, we're busy enjoying the fabulous lives we've thoughtfully designed for ourselves, most of which would not be possible with children. We often find ourselves pitying the parents we know who have sacrificed so much of themselves (and their lives) at the altar of childrearing.

7. Women who choose not to have children are career-hungry: While it's true that childfree women have a clear advantage over moms in the workplace, since they are fully present in their jobs and not constantly being whisked away by maternity leave, problems at home, sick children, etc., career is only one of a myriad of reasons women choose not to have children. It is erroneous to assume that because a woman chooses not to have children, that she must be obsessed with her career. There's a whole lot more to life than children and career and childfree folks embrace all of it.

8. Childfree people are not parent material: Of course if a person does not want to have children, she should not be a parent. But the assumption that childfree people are automatically not parent material is false. Many childfree people would make terrific parents if they chose that route, but they instead choose to do other things with their lives. For example, I am really good with kids, I like kids and they gravitate to me. People have constantly told me I'd make a great mom. But liking kids and being good with them is one thing. Choosing to be a parent is a whole 'nother bag o'worms. I like dogs too, but I choose not to have them because of the impact they would have on our lifestyle.

Can you think of other childfree assumptions and stereotypes that we need to address? If so, please post a comment...

Thursday, July 16, 2009

World's Oldest Mom Dies

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

The world's oldest new mother - a single woman who gave birth at age 66 - has died at age 69, leaving her 2 year old twins orphaned.

This situation is a vivid example of pronatalism gone awry and illustrates the need for controls to be put on the relentless, unreasonable pursuit of parenthood at all costs. In this case, the cost is being incurred by two innocent children who are left orphaned, all because this woman had a selfish desire to become a mom long after it was reasonable for her to do so.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Shape of a Mother

Here's a pro-mommy web site that has an interesting slant. It's mission is to expose the reality of mothers' bodies (i.e. stretch marks, tummy blubber, sagging boobs, overweight, etc.) so that other mommies (who are suffering with the same disfigurements) can see that said disfigurements are normal. The web site author's dream is to create a site where post-baby bodies can be celebrated and "cherished" because they've "done so much for the human race".

So how it works is that moms with stretch marks, sagging breasts, etc. send the author naked photos of themselves (and accompanying stories of the body issues they're dealing with due to having children) which are then posted on the web site so that other moms with the same disfigurements can see them and feel comforted that they are not alone in having these body issues. Sagging breasts, tummy blubber, overweight and stretch marks are normal and beautiful.

Although not meant to be, this odd little website is a reinforcement to childfreedom, graphically demonstrating two of The Top 100 Reasons Not to Have Kids (and Remain Childfree):

18. You will have the time and energy to exercise regularly and take care of your health and appearance.

30. You will be better able to retain your youthfulness and sex appeal
because your body will not be ravaged by childbearing and a crappy diet.

While not a childfree site by any means, The Shape of a Mother web site does a service to all women (mothers and non-mothers alike) by showing what pregnancy and childbirth really do to women's bodies. Honest depictions of the ravages of childbearing are hard to come by in a culture which glorifies and glamorizes pregnancy and motherhood. Turn on the television or look in any women's or celebrity magazine and these are the types of unrealistic fantasy images you will see of pregnant and post-pregnant bodies:

And then we have the reality of real women's pregnant and post-pregnant bodies - women like your friends and family members who do not have the luxury of air brushing, stylists, personal trainers, plastic surgery and dieticians:

So thank you, The Shape of a Mother, for reminding me of one of the many blessings of being childfree. You didn't mean to do it, but you just provided me with a big dose of gratefulness for the life (and body) I have chosen.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Summertime (and the living is not easy)

On a discussion board I sometimes visit, a woman posted a thread entitled "Losing my temper all the time with my kids". Summer just started a couple weeks ago, but already she's at the end of her rope:

"I am having a tough summer home with my kids. They are about to drive me insane fighting all the time. I am yelling constantly and feeling like a horrible parent. I have one child, 5, who will not play. He will not go do anything on his own and asks me every 10 minutes what he can do now. I try to give him projects, chores, activities, etc., but I can't entertain him all the time. The youngest, 3, is absolutely terrible. He is constantly ruining anything the other kids play with, taking things from them, having tantrums, screaming at me. I try to keep us busy with bowling, swimming, library, etc. Each of them got to pick one summer camp to do. It's too hot to play outside unless we go to the pool, so I'm not going to make them go in the back yard and play. I try to limit t.v. and Wii time, but they just constantly fight and argue all day long. My 8 year old is no trouble - she just reads all day long, but I wish she would play more with the other kids because somehow she gets them playing together well. I am dealing with it poorly, I know, but I'm just worn out of dealing with it. Please tell me I'm not the only one!!!!!"

She got plenty of sympathy from the other moms on the board.

"You are not the only one... I'm going through some hard times with my kids as well and some self realizations that are not pretty either... lot of hugs to you..being parent is a million x10000000000000000 harder then I ever thought..."

"Wow, are my children at your house? I have practically the same age spread (almost 8 and vociferous reader; just turned 6 and needs constant attention, and 3, almost 4, who is the baby and likes to bug everyone) and apparently the same issues. Don't have much to offer in terms of solutions (well, mine was day camp for all 3!) but I can certainly provide hugs and empathy!"

"For four years my sister sent her daughter from California to Wisconsin to spend the summer with our family. So, for a few months out of the year I had two kids instead of just ds. I love her dearly but was always *so* happy when it was time to send her home! The first few weeks, they'd play together and be great companions. Then, they started becoming more like brother and sister with the fighting and clamoring for my attention. I don't know how y'all do it! Kids know precisely how to get on every last nerve....having several do that at one time
Good luck!"

"Don't feel bad. We're going through the same thing. You'd think the kids would be excited to have summer to play all day and do whatever they want. But no. They want me to tell them what to do all the time. Ugh! We've not been having fun either. The only time we have fun and no fighting is when we go to the pool and I don't particularly enjoy going to the pool every day. It's too crowded and too many other damn kids!"

"You are not alone-- summer is off to a similarly rough start for me and DD. Like Lucy, I can offer little to no advice, but (((hugs)) and empathy! "

Ah, summertime. Just look at all the fun and excitement we are missing out on. How sad and dull our childfree lives are.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Oprah: Close, but no cigar

Did anyone catch the Oprah show today? The episode was called The Secret Lives of Moms and it consisted of a bunch of moms (including actress Cheryl Hines) spilling the beans on the "downside" of motherhood - all the dirty little secrets - the horrors, the disappointments, the messes, the upsets, the frustrations. When I stumbled upon this show while channel flipping, I thought, hmm, this might be interesting fodder for my blog. Are they actually going to come clean or is it going to be another one of these mom support sessions where all the moms (and the host) entertain each other with cute little anecdotes which amount to a big group hug and a pat on the back for being the heroines of American culture? Well, I am sorry to report it was just what I suspected it would be.

On the upside, the mothers on the show did spill the beans on the stuff that stays hush-hush and gets pushed under the rug in our reproduction-crazed culture: the loss of identity, the loss of freedom, the loss of friendships, the decline of marital relationships, the loss of a sex life, the sickening and often unbearable day-to-day tasks that mothers must endure. However, it was all said with a hearty chuckle and a yes, we all must endure this and are better people for it mentality that refuses to be shaken loose from our culture. Never once in this discussion, or any discussion on the Oprah show, is there ever any mention of the alternative choice to remain childfree. Motherhood is treated as a mandate - a part of life as required as breathing - and never as a choice. This is particularly disapppointing to me because Oprah herself is childfree by choice and leads a very fulfiling and admirable life.

Imagine how great it would be if Oprah Winfrey did a show dedicated entirely to the childfree lifestyle and interviewed couples (or even women) who have chosen not to have children. What an eye opening and enlightening episode this would be for her audience. Oprah yields tremendous power to influence and is herself a childfree woman, and yet her shows do nothing to so far as mention the alternative of living a life free of children.

As a writer on this issue, I know that a lot of people find my blog because they are searching for information on the option not to have children. More and more people are contemplating this lifestyle, and are itching for more information about what it's really like to be childfree. Those who have already made the childfree choice are yearning for acceptance and understanding in our culture. How sad that we can only find honest information and understanding on childfree blogs and websites? Despite the growing popularity of childfreedom, the mainstream media all but completely ignores the issue and it is really disheartening to me that not even Oprah Winfrey, one of the rare major celebrities who outwardly professes to be childfree by choice, is willing to break the silence on this issue and expose the truth about the childfree lifestyle.

I have decided I am going to write to the producers of the Oprah Winfrey show and suggest my idea for an episode on childfreedom. Will you do the same? Isn't it about time we get some serious, mainstream press? Isn't it time Oprah shines a spotlight on the fabulous lifestyle she herself has embraced?

Please write to the producers of the Oprah Winfrey show here. And if you'd like, please post a copy of your message as a comment to this post as well. I'll be posting mine shortly.

Oh and by the way, happy Independence Day - you know I mean that in more ways than one ;)