Saturday, July 30, 2011

Today Show Gets it Right for Once (mostly)

Looks like the Today Show is making some strides in addressing the issue of childfreedom in a more balanced manner than they have in the past.  In this piece, the Today Show speaks with Lilit Marcus, a young childfree woman, psychiatrist Janet Taylor,  Laura Scott, author of Two is Enough:  A Couple's Guide to Living Childless by Choice and Sarah Brokaw, therapist and author of Fortytude: Making the Next Decades the Best Years of Your Life - Through the 40s, 50s and Beyond.  The guests discuss the subject of women who choose not to have children.

There are a couple good things about this piece. First, the women discuss many of the negative stereotypes childfree women must endure, such as the assumptions that we are selfish, cold, heartless people who do not know our own minds (you know - we'll change our minds later about having kids).  They also discuss the assumptions that all women should aspire to be moms, that motherhood is the one true path to adulthood, maturity, fulfilment and a purposeful life and agree that these assumptions are incorrect, and that there are many ways women can lead satisfying and fulfilling lives apart from having children.

Then there are the downsides:

1. I wish the message was conveyed that not only can childfreedom be equally as fulfilling as motherhood, but many childfree women feel it is more fulfilling and this is an important reason many women opt out of motherhood. 

2.  It is incorrect to say that all childfree women have doubts and second thoughts about their choice.  Childfree women are no more unsure or doubtful about their life choice than mothers.  In fact, while moms are flooding the internet with  "I hate being a mom" and "I regret having kids" posts and discussions,  one would be hard-pressed to find any "I hate being childfree" or "I regret not having kids" posts on the web. So which group is the unsure and regretful one?  And why is it always assumed that the childfree woman is racked with doubt?  Just another false stereotype about childfree women. 

And do we really need the lonely, stark photos of empty playground swings accompanied by a shift in music from upbeat to creepy and forboding at the very moment the issue of childfree doubt arises? (reinforcing the message that childfree women might be making a big mistake).

3.  While the negative stereotypes about childfree women were mentioned, such as selfishness, I wish the piece took the next step and discussed the truth about childfree women:  that they are in fact often better able to live a more selfless and giving life thanks to the freedoms they are afforded by foregoing childrearing - more time to devote to their spouses, families and other personal relationships, more time to be involved in their communities, more time for volunteer and charity work, etc.

4.  Ms. Brokaw's comment at the end of the piece about there being many ways a woman can relate to children without having to be a mom was well-meaning, but reinforces the stereotype that all women are maternal and have a need to express that instinct.  In fact, while many childfree women (including me) consider themselves maternal and express that part of themselves in a variety of ways, there are also many childfree women who have chosen not to have kids precisely because they recognize that they are not maternal - and hurray for them for recognizing this!  There are far too many non-maternal women who have no business being mothers, who go ahead and have children anyway because "it's just what you do" - and the children pay the price.  Additionally, while many childfree women enjoy being around kids or working in careers which place them around children, there are plenty of childfree women who do not enjoy kids and have no interest in caretaking jobs such as social worker, teacher, nurse, doctor and so on. Not all women have a need to have children as an important part of their lives.  However, I suspect this viewpoint (as well as the others I listed here) might be a bit too much for the Today Show's audience to digest.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The "Brat Ban" is Catching On!

According to this article in Shine (on the Parenting page, no less), the "No Kids Allowed" movement is catching on with a variety of businesses.  FINALLY, it appears that businesses are starting to take notice of the formerly untapped treasure trove of childfree and childless customers  - many of whom have disposible income to spare and are aching to dine, travel and shop in peace and quiet.  Hear that businesses?  Cha-Ching!  $$$$$$$$

Bratty children in public places has always been a sore spot for me - in the same way that smoking, shouting, talking loudly on cell phones, farting and other ill behaviors have been.  It's not the fault of children, who I equate with wild animals - creatures who operate on impulse and base desires and need to be trained in order to behave in a civil manner.  The fault lies with the overly-permissive parents who not only allow their children to behave like obnoxious, out of control, screaming apes, but in many cases encourage the behavior by laughing, snapping pictures or even worse, ignoring their children.

And then we have the businesses who - for far too long - have been obsessed with being "family friendly" to the point of coddling misbehaving families by turning a blind eye to their bad behavior, regardless of how it impinges on the enjoyment of their other customers.  I have watched in horror as children have run around in upscale dining areas, played tag, and in one case, sat and watched a young girl standing and jumping on her dining room chair all through dinner while her parents and business management ignored her and never once told her to sit down.

To the parents who react with, "You don't have kids so you have no idea what it is like!  It is impossible to keep them still and quiet in public places!!", I say this:  if you cannot control your children, KEEP THEM AT HOME until you can train them to behave.  Don't assume that because you think your bratty, noisy kids are cute and "just being kids" that fellow customers feel the same way.  When your kid is jumping up and down on his restaurant chair and shouting "pants on the ground!!!" while mooning his sister, don't look over at me with that "Aw shucks, isn't he just so darned cute?!!?", or the even more pathetic look of resignation and defeat, like, "Oh well ... what can I do?"  You can do a lot.  As mentioned above - STAY HOME.  OR if you really insist on taking your children out to nice restaurants or onto airplanes, or other public places where people expect a peaceful experience, train your kids first on how to behave properly.  Here's an idea - say no.  How about, "Sit down and keep quiet?" How about removing your screaming child from the restaurant the minute he starts crying, instead of allowing his caterwalling to go on endlessly, ruining everyone else's dinner?

Seems like common sense to me, but what do I know?

At any rate, I hope the Brat Ban truly is an idea that is catching fire because it is long overdue, especially in the current climate of overly-permissive childrearing that seems to have taken ahold of our culture with a death grip.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Joys of Aunthood (Continued)

Today I would like to write about one of the more subtle benefits of being childfree.  If you have nieces or nephews, or if there are any children in your life that you love, you may appreciate this observation.

As a proud aunt who adores her nieces and nephews, it has always struck me as interesting that I seem to notice and appreciate the little things about them more acutely than their parents do.  I've mentioned this phenomenon before - the fact that every little nuance of the childrens' development and their every antic registers with hubby and me right away and garners an instant reaction (usually hugs and kisses are involved).  I can recall almost everything about them from the day each of them was born, to when they started talking (and the funny things they said, like "sometimes he DO's that"), to their physical changes...for example Little Man's hair which changed from thick, wavy black hair, to fine straight blonde hair within the span of 2 years, to my niece's "twinkle toes" when she puts her feet up against mine to see how much closer in size to mine they have grown since our last visit.  I get a kick out of the eldest niece when she corrects me with her teacher-like voice, "Actually, Aunt Mandy..."  I notice (and love) all of it.

So when I came across a  blog post, written by a mom, in which she laments the loss of memories about her children, it reminded me again of this subtle benefit of having children I love in my life, but not being a parent.

She describes a scene in which she is at the public pool, observing a little boy and his mother.  She realizes in doing so, and noticing all the adorable things about the child - his fatty legs, his palpable excitement over the water - that she cannot really remember those types of fine details about her own childrens' early days.
I kept wondering if the moms were paying attention, really paying attention, to their children. Did the little boy's mom notice his mouth shaped into an "O" of delight? Did the baby girl's mom take note of the gaping distance between her baby's sturdy legs—all curves and rolls—and my seven-year-old's lanky limbs with their sharply defined calf muscles, their bruised and knobby knees?

Really, my question was this: Did I pay attention when my children were that little? Because, while I know they did ecstatic drunken-man circuits in the wading pool or under the yard sprinkler, while I know they learned to walk on fat-rolled legs and marveled at tiny surprises—feathers and shells and grass, the sound that newly shod feet make on gravel—I can't easily conjure up images of how they looked and moved and sounded then. And I wonder, is this just the way it is? Is it impossible to really, in a palpable way, remember each stage of our children's lives, no matter how much attention we pay?
Without realizing it, this blogger is eloquently touching on yet one of the many downsides of being a parent - the fact that the day-to-day minutia and - dare I say it - drudgery of parenthood procludes a person from really savoring the special moments and memories of their children and truly taking it all in.  This has never been lost on me.  From what I have observed, parents are so overwhelmed, overloaded, exhausted and consumed with moment-to-moment survival that those fleeting moments that bring hubby and I such joy and amazement, are met with vacant gazes by the very people who brought the children into the world.
...I pay attention anyway, as much as I can amid the necessary distractions of schedules and chores. This dynamic is just one more reminder of how foolish and full of paradox this endeavor is, this bearing and raising of children. We welcome them knowing that one day we will say goodbye. We shelter them so that eventually they can leave us. We create boundaries with the expectation that they will test them. We give them all that we have and are, so that they will be able to get along without us. We pay attention, though we cannot possibly remember all the sights and sounds, the scents and textures, the baby steps and joyful dances that mark our days as the parents of children.
The moment I see my nieces and nephews, I drink them in.  I size them up.  I put them against me and see how much taller they have gotten.  I watch them demonstrate their latest dance moves.  I sit and listen to them - I mean really listen to them - and the nuances of their thought processes and expressions as they grow and learn and become more enmeshed in the world.  I feel their hugs and notice they feel stronger, just like my niece or nephew is bigger and stronger.  Because I don't see them every day, each change in them registers accutely.  I am not weighed down with the day-to-day mighty responsibility of keeping them alive, happy, healthy and fed, so my moments with them are zen and I am truly in the moment.  I notice every little change in them and file them away in  my mental Aunt catalog...memories which I easily conjure up and treasure.

I do remember each of them in the fatty leg stage.  I can picture them clearly waddling to and fro.  In my mind, I can hear their toddler voices speaking to me.  I can visualize them at each age - what they were doing, how they looked, how they reacted to the world around them.  I remember it all.  I am an involved, devoted, yet unencumbered adult force in their lives, so my mind is a clear, relaxed slate for the kids to etch themselves upon.

Their writings will be etched in my mind and heart forever.

Friday, July 22, 2011


Thank you, CFVixen for sending me this reminder about the most effective form of birth control!

From Fail Blog

Okay, I wouldn't call this a FAIL because in my opinion, this book is filed exactly where it should be!

Saturday, July 9, 2011

A Man's View - Beau

I've been nothing but smiles this past hour. My doctor had called with my lab results.

See, I was 23 and single when I decided to get a vasectomy. This can be controversial for most. In the U.S., 18 is considered the age of adulthood, yet society in general has decided that you don't know what you are doing when you are in your early 20s. I blame it on the coddling of children that many "protective" parents in recent generations have accepted as proper parenting. The idea of making Little Johnny's life easy by putting him in a sterile bubble until he's finished with high school has produced a lot of man-babies who can't make their own decisions once given actual autonomy in adulthood. Dealing with consequences when you never had to growing up... how scary. A generation that knows no consequence... scarier. And since TV has been a prevalent source of "information", my decision-making abilities are compared to those of Spring Break drunken hooligans, the cast of Jersey Shore, or spoiled melodramatic brats with "problems"(Thanks MTV!). But I digress.

I received more criticism for being single. Who would want to date a guy who actively chooses not to have children? What happens when you find "the one" and she decides that she wants to have offspring? Every woman wants a child eventually.

You're right world. I should have conned a woman into thinking that she shouldn't have children with me first before I get such a permanent procedure done. Once I have her initially convinced/trapped, I just have to wait out those constant feelings of wanting to reproduce that she obviously will have until she hits menopause and all that hope is gone. Then we can live unhappily ever after, spiteful at each other and lonely with no one to take care of us. Because that is the fate of all childfree relationships...

Thankfully, I've met a few women who have decided to grab the reins of life and steer their own paths. A woman who thinks about her choices, understands the consequences, and commits to her decisions is the type I'm attracted to.

If anything, this vasectomy has helped me weed out people I don't want to be romantically involved with. Tell a date you don't plan on having kids, she might think you mean that you're not ready to have them yet and you'd be open to the idea later. Tell a date you made sure that you can't physically have kids... more of a make or break moment.

Now that it has been confirmed that the procedure was a success, I move on to other things. The beauty of childfreedom is not the absence of another obligation, but the presence of a life of your choosing. People who are childfree are active, involved, and engaged in the world around them. And since I can't rely on my offspring to live out my dreams for me, it seems I'll have to live them out myself.

If any of your readers want to find out more they can email me or check out the website.


- Beau

Friday, July 8, 2011

Octomom & Brood Invade The Today Show

A warning:  you should only watch this video after taking at least 5 tranquilizers.  It's Octomom on the Today Show.  Watch her brood create complete mayhem on the set while Nadya Suleman manically yells over Ann Curry for the entire interview and Ann and crew try to corral the out-of-control kids.  The scariest thing of all?  This isn't even the whole clan.  5 kids are missing.

Oh, and she's retracting the statement she made to In Touch Magazine in which she said she hates babies and regrets having them.  Guess that interview was a weak moment for her.

God help this woman.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CHILDFREE & Living the Good Life

In celebration of the JOY that is the childfree lifestyle, I would like to add a special scrapbook page to my blog called, "Childfree and Living the Good Life!"

On this page, I will be displaying photos of childfree folks living their life to the fullest - think of it as a scrap book for the childfree.  A picture speaks a thousand words and I would like to show the world - in pictures - what the childfree life is really about - i.e. embracing life and enjoying it to its fullest!

Would you like to contribute a photograph to the scrapbook?  It can be a photo of you (and/or you and friends, partner, family, etc.) doing whatever brings you joy and illustrates how COOL it is to be childfree. 

I'll start!

Please email your photos to me at firecracker_mandy(at)  If you'd like a caption with your photo, send it along in the email.  You can opt to display your name or not - it's okay to be anonymous if you prefer, or just use your intials or screen name.