First off, Happy Thanksgiving to those of you who celebrate. I hope you did like me and ate everything in sight because this is the one day of year where it's not only acceptable - it's encouraged! This year I am thankful for many of the things you'd expect - my hubby, my health, my adorable furboys, the fact that I have a job. The list goes on. I am also thankful for you, my dear readers - for reading my rants and through your feedback, validating my feelings and making me realize that there are way too many people who share my feeling for me to be crazy. I hope my blog provides a little validation for you too.
On Wednesday, I left the office at 2:00, but before I did, I stopped by the waiting room and grabbed a magazine to read on the train. I really don't care for our office's selection of magazines - it's the usual tripe, and the women's magazines usually end up annoying me more than entertaining me, but I went against my better judgement and grabbed the November issue of Redbook to read on the way home.
In addition to finding a yummy-looking recipe for cranberry apple chutney, I learned something very interesting while reading Redbook. Hubby and me are NOT a family. Redbook is very clear about this in their article entitled What's the Right-Size Family? The tag line to the title is "Sometimes you build your family by choice, and sometimes by chance. These eight couples share the stories of how 1, 2, 6...even 12...is just the right number of children".
So against my better judgement, I tortured myself and read through the entire article just to make sure they really didn't present a couple who chose not to have children. Heck, I would have even be happy to see a presentation of a childless by circumstance couple who, in the normal feel-good Redbook fashion, overcame their circumstance and came to embrace their life as-is.
Ah, but alas, this was all just fantasy on my part. As would be expected from such a typical rag, the usual assumptions were made: first, that all couples have or want children - that it's not a matter of whether a couple will have kids but how many. Second, that a couple who does not have children is not a family and of course, the underlying sub-message to that - that if you desire to live and create a family lifestyle for yourself, you'll need to pop out at least one kid.
I got to read heartwarming stories of blissful families like Jody and Chad who have come to terms with the fact that they will only have one child together (Chad already has a brood from a previous marriage and had a vasectomy before meeting Jody). Of course, it never occurs to them to adopt, but that's another issue. And then we have Aly and Jay who started with one but ended up with five and talk about how "awesome" it is to have this many kids, even though, Aly admits, there are days when she doesn't sit down for 12 hours straight. Lisa Renee and Russell opted to have 2 (and no more) because having 2 is manageable enough to allow them to "put their marriage first", for example taking 3 trips per year by themselves (yeah, we childfree couples know all about putting marriages first, if anyone's interested).
Then we get to the "faithful" family of Kate and Ray who allow God to determine how many kids they have. No surprise, they're up to 12. While saying it can be difficult, they mostly stress how blessed they feel and how the local business just love to see their van pull into their parking lots (can you imagine the carbon footprint of this family?)
The article goes on to feature 4 more families: one with a big age gap between their 2 kids, one who opted for just 1 child, another one with a big brood. Some of them (like the only-child couple and the couple with 6 children) describe the judgements they suffer from others who think their choice of number of children is wrong. Ha! They haven't seen anything. Try stating aloud that you have chosen not to have kids and then you can talk about judgements.
I guess what irritates me the most about this article is the title itself and the one obvious missing answer: What's the Right-Size Family?" The question begs for at least ONE of the answers to be "2 - just the couple" and yet, despite the fact that 7 - 10% of all couples opt to be childfree and very much consider themselves a family, not a single sentence in this article mentions this option as an answer to the question it presents.
I don't know about you, but I consider hubby and me (with or without our furry boys) a family. I always have. Hubby is my family. He's more family to me than my parents and siblings. He is the person who loves and understands me the most. He is the person I have built a life with - who I share and run a household with, who I go through all of life's joys, trials and tribulations with. We grow and develop together and make each other better people. If that isn't a family, I don't know what is. Frankly, I am sick and tired of being marginalized and treated as though we do not exist when the truth is - not only do we exist, but we flourish because of our chosen lifestyle.
Rags like Redbook (and the media in general) love to expand the boundaries of what constitutes a family and for the most part, I think that's a good thing. Today, family is no longer narrowly defined as a married couple with children. We have blended families, single-parent families, even families with 2 moms or 2 dads. The idea of family has been stretched so far beyond it's original definition that almost anything will be defined and embraced as family - that is, except for childfree and childless couples. For some reason we cannot seem to earn that title. We've come a long way baby, but we haven't gotten there yet.
So what do you think? Is a couple without children a "family"? Cast your vote on my new poll.
Friday, November 27, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
Guess what the big celebrity news is right now? Heidi Klum strutting her glorious post-baby bod down the Victoria's Secret catwalk. See, ladies - it's just like they always tell us - pregnancy and childbirth is the best thing a woman can do. It makes her BETTER. It makes her more beautiful. It makes her sexier and more glamorous. You can have all the babies you want and still be a hot chick - just look at Heidi. She is proof it is true!
So what are you waiting for?! Pop out those babies! We guarantee you - no stretch marks, no droopy boobs, no weight gain, no big hips.
Whatsamatter? Don't you believe me?
Monday, November 16, 2009
In 1992 I was 26 years old and already certain I did not want to have children. At this point, hubby and I were still dating and only a year or two into our relationship and I counted my lucky stars at my good fortune in finding a man who was on the same page concerning children. We were excitedly planning our future together, saving for a house and in the early stages of talking about getting married.
At that time, I was employed as a legal secretary while I worked my way through college. A memory came back to me the other day of a certain attorney who worked in the office with me. He was about 40 years old and I recall he was a bit of a jerk and a chauvinist. One day, I was having a conversation with my boss about how I was not going to have children and the chauvinist overheard me. He said in a very knowing tone, "oh, yes you will. All women want to have kids. You'll change your mind", to which I replied that I most certainly would not. He kept insisting that I would and said he'd bet money on it. I said, "really?" and together we drew up an Affidavit which my boss notarized. He bet me $300 that by the age of 35 I would have a child.
That was 17 years ago and here I am at age 43 and still happily childfree.
I have debated about contacting that attorney and seeing if he'll pay up. I no longer have the Affidavit (I have no idea what I did with it). Do you think I should? It might be worth it just to make a point.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
This article by Liz Langley is so awesome, I just have to share it with you. Thanks, CFVixen, for forwarding.
9 Silly Things People Say When They Hear You Don't Want Kids (and Ways to Counter Them)
9 Silly Things People Say When They Hear You Don't Want Kids (and Ways to Counter Them)
Thursday, November 5, 2009
Today I thought I would pose a question to all of you: how do you meet other childfree folks? I don't know about you, but my experience has been that most of the childfree people I connect with are on-line, through sites like this, or discussion boards or other places where I am not likely to meet them in person.
In "real life" I know very few people who define themselves as "childfree". I know people who don't have kids, but in some cases I think they hold that distinction by circumstance, not by any deliberate decision.
I have been very proactive in trying to foster childfree friendships. I once even ran a childfree social group through Meetup.com. While this was a great idea in principle, and Meetup.com's web site is very well organized, easy to use and attracts plenty of members, I came to discover that most people who sign up for social groups on-line are all talk and no action. They sign up in droves, but very, very few actually turn out for gatherings or make any meaningful effort at getting to know others. With over 120 members and an vast assortment of events for members to choose from, I was lucky if 3 or 4 people turned out at any given event.
This surprised me. I had this idea in my mind that childfree people would not only have plenty of free time to invest in social relationships, but given their marginalized status in our baby-crazed society, would be STARVED to meet like-minded folks who could spend an evening talking about something other than diapers and school systems.
How about you? Do you have many childfree friends? Do you meet many childfree people? How do you do it?
Also, for our single readers who are looking for a childfree soulmate, how does one find one? (I am sure many would love your tips if you've had success in this area). I was lucky to find mine by chance, but I know it's not that easy for many.
Please share by posting a comment.