Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat

To all my readers - Happy Halloween! I hope you are going to do something fun to celebrate today. Halloween is one of my favorite holidays - always has been. I love the mood, the chill in the air, the atmosphere, the creepiness, the costumes, and of course - the candy. I may not go trick-or-treating anymore, but I always make sure I get as much candy for myself as I do for the kids going door to door.

Speaking of kids going door to door, it seems to me they are not as polite as they used to be. In fact, over the years it has gotten so bad that hubby refuses to hand out candy anymore and requests that I do the same. Many kids do not say thank you and some do not even bother to say "trick-or-treat".

One Halloween, much to the shock of my friend Sara who was hanging out with me handing out candy, I flat out refused to give candy to a trick or treater. Here's what happened:

He was a teenaged boy who showed up at our doorstep wearing no costume. Nothing. I opened the door and he stood there, costumeless, with a pillow case which he opened and shoved toward me. He didn't say a word. I asked, "Can I help you?" He gave me a dirty look, waited for a moment and then let out an annoyed sigh....... "trick or treat". The disgust in his voice was palpable, like lady, you are really wasting my time. "Aren't you forgetting something?", I asked. He looked back at me blankly, completely perplexed as to what he had forgotten. He had no idea what I was asking him. "Where's your costume?" He replied smartly that he was dressed as himself to which I advised him to come back wearing a costume and I would give him candy.

Sara's mouth dropped open in shock. She couldn't believe I refused to hand out candy to this boy, but it was a moment of clarity for me. People cannot be entitled assholes unless others enable them by rewarding their ill behavior, and I decided that night that the buck stopped at my doorstep.

Luckily, the boy and his friends didn't return to our house later that night with a carton of eggs (I half expected it), but I will say that hubby was beaming with pride when he heard how I stood my ground.

Trick or treat.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Parental Entitlement Revisted

Today my staff and I were celebrating a birthday and enjoying some birthday cake. We always get to discussing some interesting topics during these parties and today the subject of property taxes came up. This is a hot button issue for me as I live in one of the highest property tax states in the U.S. and hubby and I are really struggling financially right now, in large part due to this.

The birthday lady (aged 68) complained that she has to pay such high taxes when she is long past the days of having kids in the public schools. I complained that it is unfair that seniors and people without kids have to pay as high property taxes as people with kids. I stated my opinion that all citizens should contribute to the schools, but that those with kids should contribute more, perhaps an additional flat rate per child. The more kids a household has, the higher taxes they pay. THAT seems fair to me.

At this point, a young mom of 4 spoke up, "Yes, but the people with kids can't afford to pay more because they have kids to support."

And this is when Firecracker Mandy made her appearance. "True, but having kids is a choice. It's not like being afflicted with some disease that you have no control over."

That shut her up real quick.

I am continually amazed by the entitlement that people feel simply because they have kids. "I have kids and it's a struggle to support them so YOU help me out and pay for my kids' education." It's always this attitude of roll-out-the-red-carpet-for-the-"families". Pop out a kid and receive free meal tickets. Everyone should open their wallets wide for those who made the choice to reproduce. "I reproduce, therefore I receive."

It's truly sickening.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Potty Training, Peanut Allergies and Zhu-Zhu Pets

Do you miss your friends? If you're childfree and your friends are parents, I am guessing your answer is probably yes.

Being childfree bestows many advantages - we have more time, more money, more rest, happier marriages, more flexibility and spontanaeity, and more time to devote to the important relationships in our lives. The problem is that most people have kids, and losing a friend to parenthood can be akin to experiencing the death of a loved one for many of us.

I still see my best friend Sara on a regular basis - not as regular as before she became a mom, but I give her credit for being proactive about staying in touch and planning dates to get together with me. The problem is, Sara's identity has been supplanted by her kids' identities, which makes for not-so-interesting interactions between us. Here's a typical conversation between Sara and me:

Sara: So how's everything with you? What have you been up to?

Me: Well, I've had some issues at work to deal with. I had to "write up" 2 people last week, which is something I really hate doing. We're still trying to sell the house too which is getting really old. On the up side, we're going away on a fun camping trip this coming weekend. It'll be great to have some time out in nature. What's new with you?

Sara: Well, Michael had his first guitar lesson on Friday and he just loved it. We're taking the kids to Sesame Place next weekend for their birthdays. Oh and get this - I met with Michael's teacher last week and she told me he is getting perfect grades.

Me: Good for him!

Sara: Yeah, and oh - the kids were so cute on Sunday. My sister came over with her girls and you should have seen them playing together. Jason is finally learning to share his toys.

Me: So the boys have a lot going on, but what's new with you?

Sara: (has no reply)

Whenever I ask Sara what's new with her, or how she is doing, she immediately starts telling me how the kids are doing, what the kids are up to, what successes or failures the kids have experienced. She no longer has her own identity. Her entire life - every waking moment - is living for and through the kids. It's as though some soulless robot has taken possession of her and she doesn't exist anymore. It creeps me out.

We rarely talk about current events anymore because she doesn't have the time or interest to follow the news. We don't talk about work issues too much either. Correction - I talk about work issues and Sara nods her head, but we can't compare notes anymore because she's stay-at-home-mom. The only subject she can talk about is childrearing and honestly, it's so boring. I love Sara and I love her kids too. I like to know what they are up to, but endless pratter about potty training, peanut allergies and Zhu-Zhu pets gets old real quick.

Sara is like family to me, so I will endure the best I can but I am coming to terms with the fact that it's going to be several years before Sara's interests expand outward again out of her bubble and back into the world where the rest of us live.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Cute Pug with an Incomplete Message

AW...what a GOOD BOY this little pug is! He demonstrates for all of us the ways we can be green.

There's one problem. No surprise - the most impactful way to be green is not listed:


You can replace all your lightbulbs, recycle all your plastics, drive hybrid cars, go vegetarian, and drink filtered water out the wazoo but none of those actions will reduce your carbon footprint like the simple act of remaining childfree. NOTHING.

But as we can see, that message is so taboo even cute little pugs are afraid to say it.

So I will.

Monday, October 18, 2010

C is for Clone

Hubby and I were out shopping recently and found ourselves in a large outlet center. Outlets of all kinds - every clothing designer was represented from Esprit, to Calvin Klein to DKNY. It was fun window shopping and perusing all the latest fashions, and for the most part our shopping experience was a relaxed affair - casually breezing in and out of the shops that lined the promenade; that is, until we approached the Coach outlet. As we drew closer to the store, the air of calmness was replaced with frenetic chaos. As we peered into the store window, it appeared there was some kind of free-for-all going on. Hordes of women (I estimated over 100) crowded the store, pushing and shoving their way through the aisles, stepping over children, madly yanking handbags off shelves. A woman shoved through a group of shoppers with about 10 handbags hanging from her arm as though she was a human coat hanger. 12 cashiers were working at a fevered pitch to accommodate the throngs of customers, the line stretching to the back of the store. The floor associates were visibly perspiring.

What's going on here? I wondered.

Hubby surmised they must be giving away free handbags and took a seat on a park bench while I went inside to investigate.

To my disappointment, there were no freebies being handed out - just hordes of women acting like there were.

I walked around and looked at the handbags - $179 for this bag, $229 for that. A $500 bag on sale for 30% off (let's see....that makes it $350). A miniscule, cheap-looking change purse for "only $37". Apparently these were bargain basement prices judging by the reaction of the rabid women in the store - aggressively grabbing merchandise and laughing giddily over their big finds, like they had just won the lottery.

And me? I was standing in the center of the store scratching my head.

You see, I don't get the Coach handbag craze. I really don't. They seem to be decent enough bags, but in all honesty, I've seen far more stylish quality handbags from other manufacturers for less. Coach quality is good but it ain't all that.

What really gets me scratching my head, though, is the insatiable hunger women have to look just like everyone else, paying big bucks for the privilege of serving as a walking billboard with corporate logos plastered all over them. Everywhere I look - in the city, in the suburbs, at the mall - it has gotten to the point where 7 out of 10 women are carrying Coach handbags plastered with the C logo. Even underprivileged women who can't afford $50 for a handbag, let alone $500, scrape their pennies together and race to city street corners to buy $10 vinyl knock-offs so they can at least appear to be members of the Coach club.

What is it about being just like everyone else that is so appealing? I don't get it.

As is my usual tendency, I began philosophizing to make sense of it all. I theorized that the same psychological phenomenon that fuels The Coach Craze also fuels The Baby Craze. It seems to me that human beings, and particularly women, are addicted to peer acceptance and approval and being part of a club. In the case of Coach handbags, displaying the esteemed Coach logo gains a woman entrance into some sort of imaginary sorority which deems her culturally superior in some way. But superior to whom, I wonder? When everyone else is doing the exact same thing, how can one differentiate herself as superior?

I asked one of the sales associates which bags are the most popular and he replied that the ones with wall-to-wall Coach logos on them are the biggest sellers. The more elegant, understated (and in my opinion, appealing), plain bags are not as popular. The women who buy the C-plastered bags want to make sure that everyone who sees them knows their bag is Coach, and they are a bona fide member of the Coach cult.

Just as most women wear Coach handbags because that's the thing to do, I believe that most women have babies because that's just the thing to do. Women look around and see what everyone else is doing and they mindlessly imitate. Everyone is carrying Coach bags, so I must carry one. Everyone is having kids, so I must have kids. They don't think about what makes the most sense or whether what they are imitating is worth the cost, or even worth imitating. They just copy and breathe a sigh of relief that they have conformed to the status quo and are now members of the sorority. Coach handbags aren't anything special. They're not exquisite in any way. In fact, in my humble opinion, Coach bags are are best boring and at worst (as in the C-plastered bags) tacky. Reproducing isn't anything special either. Yet most women seem to charge through life with the sole objective of being postergirls for mediocrity, strolling the mall with 2 kids in tow and a tacky Coach bag slung over their shoulders and self-satisfied smirks that say, I'm all that and a bag of chips.

As for me, I've always thought that striving for individuality is the way to go. I like to stand out in a crowd. But hey - if any clothing or handbag designer wants to send me around with their logo plastered all over my ass, I'm happy to oblige. But they better open up their checkbook nice and wide first.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Motherhood may turn a woman into a miraculous superhero, but it doesn't do much for a marriage. Looks like Christina Aguilera and hubby and calling it quits after their passionate marriage devolved into something closer to friendship. Hm, wonder what could have caused this to happen?

Thanks to CFVixen for the link.

Monday, October 11, 2010

How to Endure (Being Childfree)

Every week, I get personal emails from readers who have comments, questions and topic ideas (I love getting them, so please keep them coming). One type of email that I get pretty frequently - from young childfree folks, mostly - is the question of how to endure the relentless pressure to have kids and the constant invalidation of our childfree stance. How do we stay strong and not cave in? How do we endure being in the unheralded (and often marginalized) minority? How do we endure the guilt trips, the negative assumptions and judgements that bombard us simply because we have chosen not to have kids? How do we hold strong to our conviction that being childfree is the best choice for us when loved ones and friends are constantly condemning our decision and telling us we are making a big mistake that we will grow to regret?

I can only speak from my own experience, and I hope that other experienced, confident childfree folks will chime in with comments relaying their experiences as well. Let's help out our fellow childfree folks who are struggling.

Here's what I have to say on this subject:

1. Nobody knows what type of life will make you the happiest more than you do, and don't let them convince you otherwise. Your mom might think she knows, but she's not you. Your best friend may love being a mom and assume you will love it too, but she's not you.

2. No childed person can authoritatively speak about childfree regret. Why? Because they have not experienced it and never will. The only people who can definitively speak about whether choosing to be childfree will result in a life of regret are mature childfree people. We've heard from Shelley who is 62, loves her childfree life and has no regrets about her choice. I am 44 and am more solid and convicted to my choice with every passing year. In fact, I thank my lucky stars every day that I had the courage and conviction to choose this life. I've not yet met a childfree person who has regretted the choice.

And let's not forget that while it's kept very hush-hush, there are parents who regret having kids. I've spoken to some of them and thanks to the anonymity afforded by the internet, hoardes of regretful parents are coming forth to spill their guts.

3. None of the people who are pressuring you to have kids will raise them for you. Enough said.

4. Being conventional, fitting in, being accepted and validated by others is great, but it's not better than living an authentic life. All human beings want to feel accepted, understood and part of a group and having kids provides a person with multiple forms of instant approval, acceptance and validation. On the other hand, choosing to be childfree provides no such validation (except from other childfree folks). This can mislead some people into thinking that having children is the easy route and choosing the childfree life is too difficult. Think again. Think about what is truly involved in having kids. Objectively observe your childed friends, families and coworkers and assess the total cost involved in being a member of the parent club. The cost is staggering and far higher than the cost of feeling invalidated which - in the big picture - is not really that big a deal. The trick is to find and develop self esteem and sense of self from within and not from external sources.

The cost of selling your soul to a life you do not want is the highest price a person can pay.

5. To develop conviction and confidence in your decision and to feel understood, validated and accepted, network with other childfree folks. Check out and see if there is a childfree social group in your area - join and participate! Same with No Kidding. If no group is available in your area, start one! Participate on childfree discussion boards. Read childfree blogs. The perception that you are an oddball and the only person who has made the childfree decision and experiencing these feelings of isolation and pressure is an illusion. There is an army of CF folks to connect with who have experienced (or are currently experiencing) the same feelings you are right now and they love to talk about it and support each other.

6. Adjust your attitude. Instead of wallowing in insecurity and believing the naysayers who tell you that you are wrong to think the way you do, look at it a different way: you are holding one of the world's best-kept secrets, and you're smarter than the average bear to have connected the dots and acquired it. Treasure it and be grateful that you had the presence of mind to think for yourself and be a free-thinking individual, instead of just one more herd-following sheep. Smile and let them wonder about you. Prove them wrong by standing tall and wearing your childfree status like a badge of honor. Relish in unnerving people.

7. It gets easier. The older you get, the more secure you will become in yourself and the less pressure and invalidation you will receive from the childed majority. More importantly, the less you will give a hoot what people think about you. It takes some time, but eventually people come to accept that they are not going to change your mind about having kids and - hey - you don't seem so unhappy afterall. Realize that most people have never met a childfree person before and haven't had any childfree role models, so we can't completely blame them for their ignorance and assumptions. YOU be that role model and set them straight.

And while you're at it, set the example for the budding childfree population coming up after you.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The "Unflappable" Working Mom

I saw this entertaining article on Yahoo this morning called The Ten Secrets of One Unflappable Working Mother. Give it a read and then count your blessings that you did not opt for that life.

The article is full of advice for women who have opted for the untenable life of juggling motherhood and career (a.k.a. the headless chicken life) - advice which basically boils down to this: Multitask! Do personal stuff at work and work stuff at home! Create a "Command Central" in your house where you can get stuff done while keeping an eye on the chaos! Keep positive and try not to focus on how hard your life is - you are an important person with many hats! Don't worry about getting anything accomplished in the morning - just get the kids out of the house on time and consider that success! Don't agonize over your decisions! Limit bragging about your kids while at the office! (Hey, I like that one).

The fact that working moms need advice about how to manage their lives says something, doesn't it? It says to me that such a life is undesirable. The fact that anyone would voluntarily choose to to live a life where their every waking moment is overscheduled, overwhelming, filled with incessant and competing demands that assault the senses, exhaust energy levels and send a woman into fight-or-fight mode confounds me.

Oh that's right. I keep forgetting. It's so worth it.