Thursday, January 12, 2012

In the Life F.C.


I was heating up my lunch today in the office kitchen when an associate (who I do not know well) asked me how I was doing and how my holidays were.  We got to chatting about holidays and winter and I mentioned that I am disappointed that we haven't gotten any snow this year so far because I love to ski, particularly on real snow, as opposed to machine-made.  She was nodding vigorously in agreement, so I asked her if she also likes to ski.  She said, "Yes, I used to... B.C."  I asked, "B.C.?"  and she replied, "Before Children".  We both got a good laugh.  I replied, "I like that!  So let's see...I guess that makes me F.C. - Free of Children!"  She looked a little confused for a moment, but then she laughed.

Exchanges like this are seemingly small and insignificant until one really thinks about the bigger implication of what is being expressed.  I like to think of these types of interactions as nice little reminders of just how good we childfree people have it.  So often we take for granted our freedoms and our ability to continue doing all the things we love uninterupted when so many of our counterparts long ago bid farewell to their hobbies, their friends, their interests, their free time and adult recreation because they made one seemingly simple decision.  If the thought pops into my mind that I might like to go skiing on Saturday, I pack up my skiis, hop in the car and head to the slopes.  If a parent decides he would like to go skiing on Saturday, he will most likely immediately decide that it's impossible because it would involve taking the kid, which would not work because the kid does not know how to ski, or does not want to learn how to ski, or decides it would be too expensive to take the kid, or it would be too difficult to arrange a sitter on such short notice, or it wouldn't be possible because Saturday is the day that Junior has football practice.  Just thinking about it is enough to bring on a headache.

But it's not just our pursuit of recreation that is so much easier for the childfree.  When I go home after a busy day at work, I most likely will not feel like cooking.  Maybe I will throw together a salad.  Maybe I will eat a bowl of cereal.  Or maybe (if I am feeling particularly naughty, which tends to happen as it gets closer to the weekend) I will eat chocolate chip cookies.  In any of these scenarios, here's what I am not doing.  I am not slaving.  I am not serving.  I am not rushing.  I am not negotiating.  I am not catering to picky tastes. I am not making multiple meals to please multiple palates.  I am not worrying.  And the icing on the cake? I am not spending $800 - $1,200 a month on groceries!

Oh, my poor, pitiable childfree life - such an empty, lacking life - sitting home with hubby at night, relaxing on the couch, reading or cackling over Seinfeld re-runs, talking leisurely about our day, making plans for the weekend, going to bed early and getting a nice, full night of sleep, waking up well-rested, having time in the morning to exercise, browse the internet, have a nice breakfast together, talk and ease into the day.  No racing, no rushing, no corraling, no noise, no arguing, no homework, no resentment.

The morale of this story?  A life B.C. is good, but a life F.C. is infinitely better.

29 comments:

Spectra said...

Great points! I work with a few women who are also childfree and we talk about our hobbies and interests--one woman birdwatches, one crosscountry skis and bikes, I like to bake, work out, and take care of my dog. My sister used to love to do pottery, but with 3 kids now, she has very little time to do it anymore. Her "hobbies" now include changing diapers, watching animal videos on YouTube with her son, and feeding/bathing/cleaning up after kids. She told me that the other week, two of hers were vomiting everywhere. She spent at least an entire day cleaning up puke. Sorry, but that is NOT something I ever want to do.

Crochet Homemade! said...

So true. I'm 25, many of my friends have decided to start having children. As time progresses, our conversations are less and less positive about their lives, but somehow my child free life gets better and better by the day. More money saved, fun trips taken, quiet evenings in, and a seemingly healthier, much more fun relationship. I'm so glad that I made this choice. I love your blog!!

Childfreeeee said...

I love this life too. In fact, I am constantly amazed that more people don't embrace this lifestyle. I always refer to it as the world's greatest kept secret...the childfree life.

Frugal Feminist said...

F.C. - love it! My friends are starting to have kids, and I'm watching as their leisure time disappears. It's making me think twice about having children. I'm glad there are blogs like yours to remind people of the bright side of choosing to live a child-free life.

CFVixen said...

FC...definitely the life I want! :)

therider said...

Ditto. World's greatest open secret indeed.

Everyday gets better in my F.C. lifestyle, particularly when I observe my peers who recently became parents. I just can't understand how my friends who I knew as smart and creative are blindly taking up this society mandated life script and kissing goodbye to a life of freedom and opportunities.

Dave said...

Throw in being job-free (I am an early retiree in large part due to being childfree) and I have both personal freedom and economic freedom to come and go as I please. So call me "F.W." and "F. C." :)

shell said...

Great post Mandy--to become a parent is perhaps the biggest decision a person will ever make in
their life, and once it’s made, it’s not one that can be reversed. And yet so little thought goes into what a TASK being a parent is.

Being childfree means : LESS mess, stress and worry..

and:

MORE freedom time & money...

plus you are not contributing to overpopulation, traffic congestion or urban sprawl-!

My 3 closest friends from highschool and I are all childfree. We've all got stable marriages,
we've all had fulfilling careers & lives --we have all been able to enjoy travel and we all have nice homes.
Two of the four of us have vacation homes.
And we all enjoy LIFE and our own interests. There is time & money for fun, art, music & the theatre! And volunteering--giving back to our communities! We all volunteer.

OH - and pets - we all love and pamper our beloved pets !

I totally agree with therider who says:
"I just can't understand how my friends who I knew as smart and creative are blindly taking up this society mandated life script and kissing goodbye to a life of freedom and opportunities..."

TLewis said...

Thank you for reminding me just how much I enjoy the little things about being F.C. Last night we went to World Market to browse, just because we could.

Living in suburbia I feel like an outcast being the only one who not only does not have children, but who also does not have any desire to have them.
Your blog makes me feel more validated in my decision and less like an outcast.

Temujin said...

Thank you for calling it the "childfree life" or just "life" instead of the "childfree lifestyle." I hate it when people call this a "lifestyle," like we're all swingers or something. (No offense meant to childfree swingers out there. :-) ) If it's a "lifestyle," then we're deviants and freaks somehow, not like healthy, normal, good people.

If someone wants to use the word lifestyle, then fair is fair -- refer to a "childed lifestyle" also.

bonclyde149150 said...

I'm childfree. This blog has made me very observant of people with kids in public and seeing them makes me embrace my F.C. life.

Anna said...

Good point Temujin! I think it would be a great idea to start calling it a Childed Lifestyle. Lifestyle to me implies a choice made for self-centered reasons. "I live by the beach because I just love the lifestyle". What are parents if not people who have CHOSEN to have kids (whether it was a well thought out educated decision or not) because they wanted to have them for selfish reasons? When parents act like martyrs it would be sweet to come back with "but I thought you chose to have kids because you love the childed lifestyle?".

A friend of mine recently posted on facebook that it is only 8am and she's already bored because her oldest kid has gone to Australia today to spend time with family over there (she has 3 other kids and they are still at home today as far as I know). I can't remember the last time I was bored in my own house. Probably when I was a kid. It seems like CF people have more hobbies or are generally better at entertaining themselves because our leisure time is usually centered around doing things that we enjoy. Childed people spend so much time keeping their kids happy and entertained they don't know what to do with themselves when the kids are not there.

TLO said...

I believe that the closer I get to 40 (just 4 years away, and I'm actually thrilled about this!), the younger I feel overall. I know it's mainly because my husband and I live the way we do. We, too, have SO much freedom--to travel, to go out to dinner on a whim after work, to sleep in at times (well, if the dogs let us!), and to forego elaborate/planned meals at the end of the day! There is no one tugging at us to make snacks, help with homework, read just ONE MORE story to, etc. I know that to many parents out there, my life seems joyless, selfish, and empty, but to be honest, most of our parenting friends appear envy our lifestyle. :) Not that they'd give up their kids, but... I know they are having more "midlife crisis" issues than we are/will ever have. ;)

Happily CF said...

I love this post. It reminded me of something I just read today, although I am wracking my brain right now to remember what it was and where it was. (I guess I'm getting old....) Anyway, it was this exact sort of thing... a woman who used to have some hobby/avocation which she gave up when she had children. It'll come to me... it could be anything. People give up so much.


I also had thoughts along these lines yesterday morning when I slept in and then had nothing in particular I needed to do during the day. My cats rely on either my husband or me for fresh water in the morning... and that's it. They do cry a little if we take too long getting up in the morning, and that's enough! I don't have some appendage who needs to be fed, or bathed, or diapered, or anything like that.

I'm going to Europe in the spring, as my husband and I like to do at least once a year. It is the very rare family with children which can even afford to go to Europe, let alone have a freewheeling, unstructured, good time.

Lazy and selfish? I don't think so. Some will say so, but why is tending to one's own needs and making the most of oneself either of those things?

Valerie said...

I needed this post. Lately I have been feeling the "blahs," and thinking that I would like to experience something new (and wondering if children is the last "new" thing in the world). Your post is a reminder that having children might be new at first, but it is even easier to enter into a rut and lose yourself if you have kids versus being able to pursue your own interests if you don't have kids. I take my free time for granted.

Sansim said...

During a company dinner last week, a colleague of mine, whom I do not know very well told me that he decided to have his son (who is now 2 years old), because at the time (he is now 37), he felt that he had experienced everything he needed to experience and that he was becoming bored with himself, so he felt that he was ready for something "bigger/better", which is, to take care of someone else who needed him...!!!??? I am a 36 year old woman and I know that I have not experienced everything and I can't even imagine being bored with myself...I simply do not understand this. There are not enough hours in a day for me to accomplish all the things I am interested in doing. How can someone be so bored that the they can think that creating a new human will fix this???

Childfreeeee said...

Sansim,

My brother actually said something similar to me when his girlfriend was pregnant with his first (and only) kid. In regards to deciding to have a kid, he told me that he was approaching 40 and at this point "what else is there, really?"

He was serious.

What else IS there? There is so much in this world and life to explore, to learn, to discover, to try, to create, to investigate, to dream about, to ponder, to invent, write about (and to BLOG about!)...I cannot FATHOM being of the belief that the only thing left in life at age 40 is reproducing so I have something to do.

Temujin said...

"What else is there really?"

Now I've heard it all. This has to be one of the worst reasons to have a kid: a lack of imagination.

shell said...

E-gads--bringing a kid into the world with an agenda! The kid has to serve the purpose of bringing you something to "do" because you are bored? Well if they think that [ and how can anyone with half a brain even think that ? ] then once the bundle of joy arrives they will soon wake up to reality. When you have a kid you take on a job that lasts 20 years at least--no pay and no days off. And YOUR needs will now come last.

TLO said...

I tend to think quite a few people also follow the pattern they think they are "supposed" to follow, sans question... They "grow up", get jobs, get married/enter a relationship, have kids--end of story. There isn't always an imaginative thought process, which saddens me.
Conversely, I say, "What isn't there to do?" I see endless possibilities before me/my little family, which consists of myself, husband, and two dogs.
I also sometimes wonder: do married/committed couples simply wonder how they will cope if it's "just" the two of them, indefinitely? How they will relate to each other, if they will get bored, if they will encounter issues with which they might actually have to contend? Personally, I feel fortunate that my husband and I have sufficient time to devote to our evolving marriage (and, yes, marriage does take work!). I recently said to my husband, "I am SO glad we can deal with any issues we have NOW, rather than when our kids have 'flown the nest' in 20-ish years. We might then wake up and realize we hate each other/have nothing in common and were just putting it off." ;)

Dee said...

My husband and I are taking a trip to Guatemala next week. We're going with a few others and one person had to drop out. I posted on Facebook that we had an opening if anyone was interested, and everyone who commented said they would love to go but they are all moms who can't go because of their kids.

SylDLucas said...

Agree completely. (Except, in No Children, No Guilt, my dinner of choice was a heated can of soup. :) )

I'll think about this freedom sometimes (and will often remind myself to not take it for granted) when I just want to leave to go to the store. Cats in? Check. Easy.

Jess said...

Mandy, just last night my husband and I decided to throw our meal plan for the evening out the window, dropped by the local market, and ended up with a dinner of wine, french bread, and brie- just because why the hell not. I would not change this life (not lifestyle) for anything in the world.

TLO said, "I also sometimes wonder: do married/committed couples simply wonder how they will cope if it's "just" the two of them, indefinitely? How they will relate to each other, if they will get bored, if they will encounter issues with which they might actually have to contend?"
I feel like I have this question going through my mind DAILY. You see, my husband and I work at the same company, in the same department, with the same hours. We get questions constantly like, "How can you two stand each other so much?" etc. You know, questions along those lines.

I honestly still don't have a good answer for this that isn't completely rude. My knee-jerk response is to think, "Why the hell would you marry someone who isn't a total BLAST to hang out with?"

I think that most couples start out like my husband and I are now... and then the kids come. And then the kids become first in both parents' lives. The relationship is on the backburner, but a lot of people neglect to remember that it's the little things that make a relationship strong. A couple of years of putting the baby first and suddenly you realize that you don't really, truly know the person sleeping next to you. The very thought makes me sad.

So I agree- FC is the best secret around!

Childfreeeee said...

Jess - I am on the same page. Why on earth would I have married this man if he wasn't my favorite person in the world? I've been with my hubby since 1992 (that's 20 years!) and we've never bored of each other. I would never dream of bringing a third party into the mix to disrupt our relationship and take our attention from each other.

shell said...

I too was amazed that so many women did not really want to spend time with the men they had married. I was just the opposite and I could not imagine bringing a child into our marriage. We were both totally wrapped up in one another. BUT I think there are many women who are mainly interested in having "a baby" [ actually raising the baby-?- not so much ]. Yes it's shocking to us CF women I know. I was shocked.

As a young elementary school teacher I met several of these women. These women can not WAIT to get married and the main reason was -
back in the day - to have a BABY-!! They were not so interested in having an actual " relationship"
with a man and interacting with a husband. They wanted a baby. Needless to say most of these women --that I knew and worked with - are now divorced.

twocents said...

I have written a few other items, haven't seen them yet, might not qualify.
I drove a semi truck for @ 6 years with my (now ex) husband. It was tiring, fatiguing (spelling??) but it was actually something I had always wanted to do. I like driving; long distance, not short hauls. I was able to see something of the country. It was something I was able to do because I was not saddled with kiddies.

I still miss the road (I don't miss the fatigue). It is a bug that bites and never gets out of the bloodstream.

two cents ¢¢

Liz @ MaybeBabyMaybeNot said...

So true! I always tell my friends that I can barely feed MYSELF after a long day at the office, there's no way I could come home to screaming kids. They always say, "Oh, you adapt. You survive." Hmm...was planning on doing more with my life than just surviving. You can keep your Gloria Gaynor songs to yourself.

Happily CF said...

Re: Liz's comment... sometimes I make the same comments about barely being able to take care of MYSELF, let along a child. I usually say it jokingly, and sometimes seriously when I am feeling particularly tired. But, when I really think about it, I think comments like that might be a mistake. It just further strengthens the view many parents have that those without children are immature... it makes them feel somehow more capable than we are.

seltzermint said...

My husband and I eat healthy, varied food on $200 per month and spend about the same amount on 2-3 really nice dinners out each month. It's Saturday night and we're going to read books in bed until the wee hours. Maybe take a sex break or three. Our friends with kids are at Chuck E. Cheese right now.