Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Living Life Big

Recently I was chit-catting with another co-worker of mine - a young woman in her early 30s. About a year and a half ago, when I first started working at my job and was getting to know her, the issue of having children came up. When I told her that my husband and I are childfree by choice, she confided that she and her husband were unsure whether they wanted to have kids. Neither of them had a particularly strong parental desire and they were plenty happy with their lives already. At the time, my assessment was that they probably wouldn't have kids.

Fast forward to a couple weeks ago. My co-worker is now about 5 months pregnant and very much looking forward to being a mom, although she does confess many anxieties about how she will handle having a child and whether she is mom material. Out of curiosity, I asked her what made she and her husband change their minds about having kids, since when I first met her they were on the fence. Her response was, "we just gave it a lot of thought and you know - I realized I'm just a person who has to live life big and have EVERYTHING in life. I always want to have it all!"

My immediate internal reaction (which I did not verbalize for obvious reasons) was "if you want to 'have it all', why would you have kids?" Having kids limits the all you can have, and yet, amazingly 95% of the population has been effectively brainwashed into believing that having kids is part of the "have it all" equation. This fact is a continual source of amazement to me.

An objective assessment of the lives of childfree versus child-encumbered people quickly reveals that unlike childfree folks who can pursue every interest and opportunity in life, child-encumbered people sacrifice almost everything in their lives to "have it all" by having kids. The second they have kids, most of their lives go out the window. As I have lamented before, I can't even get 2 hours with my close friend now that she has children. Dinners out are so rare, I can't even remember the last time we went out to dinner. My friend and her husband no longer take vacations (can't afford now that they have kids), no longer do volunteer work (no time), no longer have dinner parties (too hard to do with kids to take care of), no longer take classes or pursue hobbies, no longer have intellectual discussions, no longer have more than 5 minute phone conversations (and the 5-minute calls they do have are constantly interrupted), no longer do anything other than take care of kids. And this is the have-it-all, live-life-big lifestyle we're all supposed to chase after?

No thanks, I'll pass.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bashing the Baby Bump

Is it just me, or is the media frenzy surrounding celebrity "baby bumps" extremely annoying and tiresome? I like to follow celebrity news like every other mindless American but this is ridiculous. Let me ask you, YOU care which celebrities are pregnant? Does the sight of a female celebrity frolicking in a loose fitting smock send you racing to the entertainment tabloids? When a celebrity's baby is born, do you hustle to the t.v. and hungrily flip channels to see the first footage of the precious little imp?

I personally don't know anyone who gives two hoots about celebrity pregnancies and yet if you are to believe the entertainment television shows, tabloids, blogs and web sites, knocked up celebs are on the top of everyone's MUST KNOW list (but then again, so is the latest on Britney Spears' trainwreck life and I can't figure that out either).

I've given this some thought and the only thing I can think of that may be remotely interesting about celeb's pregnancy is watching previously rail-thin, concentration camp-looking bodies expand into enormity and seeing how they cope with it. Will they get stretch marks and saggy boobs like normal women (probably not, thanks to cosmetic surgery and personal trainers)? This just shows you how hungry Americans are for mindless entertainment because the plain fact is that there just ain't nothin' exceptional or interesting about getting impregnanted and having babies. As I have said before, it's just so ordinary.

Sadly, media frenzy does not end with the birth of the baby. We are bombarded with the nail-bitingly, edge-of-your-seat excitement of Brangelina taking their brood to the playground. WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK? How empty must a person's life be to find a photo of Brad Pitt pushing his kid on a swing entertaining?

No, I just don't get it, and I guess that's a good thing because if I did get it, that would make a pretty sad statment about me.

Monday, October 8, 2007


Okay, today I am going to be very shallow, vain and catty. Hey, I'm a woman! You would expect no less from me, right? Indulge me here.

Recently, I attended the birthday party of my best friend's 4-year old son. It was a big family and close friend affair - a house chock full of babies, toddlers, toys, wrapping paper, cake, noise, wall-to-wall parents chasing after wall-to-wall babies and toddlers and then there were me and hubby - two lone childfree-by-choice people amid a sea of kindercraziness.

Hubby walked in, took one look at the frenetic chaos, and made a bee-line out the front door where he gratefully took refuge drinking martinis out of the back of an old friend's mini-van. It was a regular escapist's tailgate party. I let them be and didn't crash their party. First of all, I am not much of a drinker, plus I knew that hubby and his old friend would really enjoy some quality male bonding time catching up over their drinks. So there I was, stuck with all the women - the mommies. I did the requisite cooing over the kids and I even had some fun playing with them, I admit. When the baby babble got boring, I kept myself occupied at the food table, delighting myself in cookies, birthday cake, brownies and cupcakes.

While I was deciding whether I should indulge in another brownie or one last piece of birthday cake, I looked around the room. I appraised and evaluated all the women and observed them in motion. Most were in my age range - 30's or 40's, a couple were older. All were mothers except me. I looked more closely at them and it suddenly dawned on me that compared to me, these women looked like wrecks - sloppy clothes, wiry hair falling out of messy ponytails, no makeup, spare tire bellies bulging out of ill-fitting jeans. Now, I will tell you up front that I am no Jackie Kennedy, but I can objectively say that I was the most pulled-together, attractive and stylish woman in the room. I am not talking attractive as in pretty (I am not that vain). I am talking attractive as in well-groomed, attentive to one's appearance, physically fit, well-proportioned, and stylish. It didn't take long for me to realize that the sole reason I held this advantage over these women was that I am childfree. My body hasn't been abused by childbirth. I'm not stretched out, worn out and plumped up. My skin glows with plentiful rest and I frequently suprise people when they learn my age (they always guess 6-8 years younger). I have the time and money to get regular haircuts, shop for clothing, put on makeup, style my hair, get an occasional facial and massage, select pretty jewelry to coordinate with my stylin' clothes. I diligently exercise 5-6 days a week to stay fit, energetic and healthy. These mommies are lucky if they can find 5 minutes to locate a pair of socks that match.

Yes, I am being catty today, but you know what? Writing about my catty feelings here and sharing my smugness with you, my childfree friends and sympathizers, provides a nice boost - sharing the little secrets of how being a marginalized member of our society can actually work to one's benefit.