Friday, August 29, 2008

Childfree Folks in the Flesh

To all my childfree cyberspace friends,

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to meet childfree folks in person? Wouldn't it be great to have a circle of friends who you could hang out with who not only understand your choice to be childfree but are childfree themselves?

Today I am writing to pass on a wonderful discovery: If you are not familiar with Meetup, it is a web site whose sole mission is to bring together like-minded people by interest. And surprise of all surprises - "childfree" is one of the interests. Sign on and type "childfree" in the "topic or interest" box, type in your zip code and if you're lucky, a local childfree Meetup group will pop up which you can join (I did!) And then you can go out and meet other childfree people in the flesh and have all kinds of fun and interesting adventures together - none of which revolve around kids!

If there's no childfree Meetup group in your area, you can start one.

It's a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What Does it Mean to be an "American"?

Last night, as I was watching Michelle Obama give her speech at the Democratic Convention, I was really impressed with her message and also with the eloquence and heart-touching quality she possesses. I mean, few people can give her husband a run for the money in the speech department, but Michelle certainly can. In fact, as I was watching her speak, I envisioned her as a future president of our country. She has that elusive, inspiring presidential manner that exudes integrity and intelligence and makes you want her to represent your country. She makes me feel proud to be an American.

But before we get too carried away, let's step out of the rose garden for one moment, shall we? As much as I adore Michelle, there was one part of her speech that I thought would be interesting to discuss critically as it is relevant to the subjects we like to discuss here.

Referring to her daughters, Michelle Obama said:

I think about how one day, they'll have families of their own. And one day, they — and your sons and daughters — will tell their own children about what we did together in this election. They'll tell them how this time, we listened to our hopes, instead of our fears. How this time, we decided to stop doubting and to start dreaming.
My question to Michelle is - how do you know your daughters will have children of their own one day? Isn't that presumptuous? Maybe they will not choose to have children. Maybe they will be (gasp!) childfree. Maybe they will choose to do other things with their lives. Maybe they will set out to do wonderful things because it will benefit all of humanity, not only their own offspring.

Politicians, like the rest of society, assume and promote the idea that being an American means having kids. They are always yapping about "single mothers" and "hard-working families" and people struggling to feed their kids, and struggling to get healthcare for their kids, and on and on and on for their kids. Well, there are plenty of hard-working Americans whose lives do not revolve around caring for children, but who also are struggling, and they deserve to be acknowledged. In this economy, I don't know one person who isn't feeling the squeeze. We are all struggling to get by, to pay our bills, to pay for groceries, to get quality healthcare, kids or no kids, and it would nice if all Americans were cared about, praised and catered too to the degree that "families" are.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moms who Want Out

Yesterday I caught a bit of the Dr. Phil show (I have to admit this show is a guilty pleasure of mine). Well guess what the show was about yesterday? Mothers who want out!

"Tired of Being a Mom

Motherhood isn't always about the good times, like baking brownies and having game night with the family. Dr. Phil talks to women who say they can’t cope with their children, and they’re running out of resources. Robyn adopted her 10-year-old daughter, Alyssa, six years ago from the Ukraine and says she actually has thoughts of sending the girl back. Robyn says that Alyssa hasn’t bonded with her and doesn’t know how to love anyone. She says her daughter screams, cries, yells and even threatened to kill herself! Robyn’s husband, Joe, can’t imagine living without his adoptive daughter and intends to stand by his commitment to her. What's the real reason Robyn never bonded with Alyssa? Then, Cyndi says if she’d known her 12-year-old son, Alex, had autism and Down syndrome, she may not have brought him into the world. She says he hits himself, screams, grunts at the top of his lungs and wears two pairs of diapers at a time because he’s not potty trained. Her husband, Ulis, says he doesn’t find it difficult to care for Alex, but Cyndi says she’s exhausted and overwhelmed. Should the boy be institutionalized? Find out what Dr. Phil thinks. Plus, meet a mom with four kids who’s already left home twice. Now she’s scared she may leave again — this time for good. "
Click here to watch a clip.

The interview that was the most interesting to me was the last interview with Charity, the mom of 4 kids who is so overwhelmed, she has left the family twice and is contemplating leaving for good. This interview was the most interesting to me because this woman's children are "normal" and her situation isn't extreme or unique. This is a woman who is honest about motherhood - that it is not what she expected, that she was fed messages about how wonderful motherhood would be and it's not, she expresses regret over what she could have done with her life is she wasn't saddled down with all these kids, that her entire life consists of chasing after her kids and constant chaos and yelling and screaming. Honestly, it was quite shocking to hear a mother saying all this stuff on national t.v. because motherhood is the sacred cow in our culture and here's someone who's telling it like it really is.

Anyway, Dr. Phil's sage advice to her can be summarized as "get over yourself" and "take some time for yourself every once in awhile". Yeah, I am sure that will fix the problem. The only real "fix" for this problem is not having kids in the first place and this would have been the perfect opportunity for Dr. Phil to talk about the fact that motherhood is a DECISION and a CHOICE and not all women should have kids. Motherhood is not the utopian wellspring of happiness it is portrayed to be.

Unfortunately for Charity, we cannot turn back the clock and undo choices like having kids. This woman made her bed and sadly, she's lying in it.

Read more about Charity's interview here.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Perhaps Childfreedom is Catching On?

From News:

More women are having fewer children, if at all

More women in their early 40s are childless, and those who are having children are having fewer than ever before, the Census Bureau said Monday.

In the last 30 years, the number of women age 40 to 44 with no children has doubled, from 10 percent to 20 percent. And those who are mothers have an average of 1.9 children each, more than one child fewer than women of the same age in 1976.

The report, Fertility of American Women: 2006, is the first from the Census Bureau to use data from an annual survey of 76 million women, ages 15 to 50, allowing a state-by-state comparison of fertility patterns. About 4.2 million women participating in the survey, which was conducted from January through December 2006, had had a child in the previous year. The statistics could be used by state agencies to provide maternal care services, the report said.

The survey found that in 2006 women with graduate or professional degrees recorded the most births of all educational levels. About 36 percent of women who gave birth in the previous 12 months were separated, divorced, widowed or unmarried.

Unemployed women had about twice as many babies as working women, although women in the labor force accounted for the majority — 57 percent — of recent births. Only a quarter of all women who had a child over the past year were living below the poverty level.

Coupled with fertility data collected biannually, the report also revealed longer term trends, including how second-generation Hispanic women are having fewer babies than their foreign-born grandmothers and first-generation American mothers.

Differences among states also emerged. California, Nevada, Texas, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, New York and New Jersey had a greater percentage of foreign-born women who became mothers in 2006. A bigger share of women in the Southeast and Southwest who gave birth in the year prior to the survey did so in poverty.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kids Gone Wild

One of the things I frequently wonder about parents is this: why do people have children and then not teach them how to behave? By "behave", I am not talking about subjective things that people may disagree on like whether a child should address an adult by "Mr." or "Mrs." or by their first name. I am talking about obvious things that should be common standards of behavior for every civilized person.

For example, today hubby and I were out running errands and we decided to eat at The Cheesecake Factory. Thinking back, this was probably a mistake since having a meal at The Cheesecake Factory tends to be akin to going to a three-ring circus, but nevertheless...

We sat down and began perusing the menu when a young family was seated next to us - a mother, father and a little girl, probably two years old. With the exception of about 5-10 minutes, the ENTIRE hour they were there the little girl STOOD on the chair. Not once did either of her parents instruct her to SIT down. They just let her stand as they went about eating their dinner. She was standing and looking over the divider at other people, climbing on the chair and being a general annoyance. For the 5-10 minutes that she actually sat, she did so with her feet on the table. When her feet were not on the table, she was kicking her mother in the boobs. Not once was the little girl instructed in anyway to behave any differently than she was behaving. She was never told to sit. She was never told to take her feet off the table. She was never even told to stop kicking her mother's boobs.

So this got me thinking: at what age will this girl learn that when eating dinner, she should sit at the table - not stand, that her feet go on the floor and not on the table and not on her tablemates' breasts? And the bigger question is - who will teach her these things (since it clearly will not be her parents)? Will it be her teachers once she enters school who will be saddled with the responsibility? Or the minister at church? Or perfect strangers in restaurants who have less restraint than hubby and me? Or will she just grow up to be like a chimpanzee...jumping and climbing, eating with her hands, smearing shit all over the place, screeching and having sex while swinging off trees?

On a womens' discussion board I frequent, one of the women posted a thread entitled, "I don't normally do this, but..." It read:

Today I was in the grocery store and I was walking by the bakery dept. and there was a mother with 4 children standing there and they were staring at the doughnuts and the mom kept asking the kids what kind they wanted. The kids started opening the little bin doors and taste testing the doughnuts - a little glob of frosting here, a little pinch of doughnut there. The mom said NOTHING about the fact these kids were playing with all this food. She just kept asking them what kind they wanted. Finally she grabbed a few doughnuts and started to leave. I said, "Lady, you might want to also buy the doughnuts your kids were playing with because nobody's going to want them after your kids have been playing with them." She, of course, told me to mind my own business in a not-so-friendly way. I told her I would be happy to mind my own business if she would mind her own children.

Now, I don't want to sound like an old curmudgeon - I'm really not that old - but IN MY DAY parents actually raised their children and taught them right from wrong and instructed their children in manners and proper behavior. You would never see a kid sticking his fingers into doughnuts in a case, or standing on his chair at a restaurant table and if you did see such a thing, it would only be for a brief moment because the parent would immediately jump in and correct the kid.

Americans in our current age are just so uncooth and unmannerly. There is no civility anymore. Children are ill-behaved and ill-mannered because they learn from their ill-mannered parents who just don't give a shit. They don't care who their kids are bothering, offending, annoying and contaminating. Through their lack of action, they teach their kids not to care about or have consideration for others. Our society has turned into a kindergarchy where kids rule the world while dim-witted, slack-jawed grown-ups tune out.

The scary thing about all this is that these ill-mannered, uncaring chimpanzees are going to one day run society when we're elderly and vulnerable. Better keep a cyanide pill tucked away someplace handy.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Fine, Freaky Celebs

There are some topics that I just can't stop myself from writing about over and over again because they perpetually fascinate me. Let's see...there's the "obnoxious parents with kids disrupting peaceful environments" (God knows how I love to harp on that topic) and my other favorite, the "media obsession with celebuspawn". Well, given that the Messiahs of all celebrities, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, just added yet 2 more anklebiters to their brood, I thought I would write about them today.

First, let me say that I realize that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are freakishly good-looking. They are the kind of people you just look and say, "how on earth is it possible for any person to be that gorgeous, let alone TWO people in one household?" Their gorgeousness is blinding. It makes sense, then, that the public is curious about what their spawn would look like. After all, as far as babies go, they just don't come any cuter than little Shiloh. I mean, just LOOK at this kid.

Having said that, let's get real here. A newborn baby isn't all that interesting to look at and it's pretty much impossible to tell the degree to which a newborn will eventually become a freak of nature in the looks department. With the exception of possibly hair and skin color, newborn babies pretty much look alike and are non-descript. Take the aforementioned gorgeous Shiloh. Here she is on her first People magazine cover when she was a newborn.

I would argue that she is no more gorgeous as a newborn than any other baby I've seen. In fact, if I was to be completely objective, I'd say that I was more gorgeous as a newborn!

While we're on the subject of freakish celebs, have you heard the rumor about little Suri Cruise (the daughter of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes)? For years, rumors have circulated that Tom Cruise is gay and his marriage to Katie Holmes is an arranged sham. Most people know that Tom Cruise is a rabid Scientologist. The rumor about Suri is that she was conceived via invitro fertilization using the frozen sperm of late founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard.

Wait - before you laugh too hard, take a look at little Suri and tell me which man she most resembles.

Still laughing?

Sunday, August 3, 2008

House of Terrors

I'll tell you. Sometimes I really wonder about people. Seriously.

Our house is currently on the market and we recently starting giving showings to prospective buyers. We recently had had 2 showings in one afternoon, the second of which was a young couple (probably in their early 30s). LOVELY couple - very friendly and very effusive about the house. But WHAT WERE THEY THINKING? They brought along their 2 overly-spirited children, aged 2 and 4.

Needless to say, the entire showing was pure chaos. These children, while certainly very cute (physically-speaking) were not the kind of kids a couple should bring to any civilized interaction requiring any amount of contemplation or serious adult discussion. As soon as the family entered our house, the kids made a bee-line for our cats, who froze in terror at the sight of them, and started chasing them around the house. The degree of zeal exhibited by the 2 year old boy toward our cats was excessive to a degree that I began to get a bit nervous. After all, one of our cats is 20 years old (God forbid - they might give him a heart attack) so I picked him up and carried him while we gave the showing, to protect him from the over-zealous kids.

The family was at our house for about 45 minutes and honestly, I wonder if the adults were really able to absorb the showing at all and take in anything they saw. They spent the entire 45 minutes, grabbing their kids (to keep them from the cats, from the valuables, from the furniture, off the stairs), chasing after them, trying to calm the 2 year old down (who was growing impatient with the whole process and started to throw a temper tantrum). As we walked through the house with them, pointing out the various features of our lovely abode, we could barely get their attention. The husband had flung the tantrum-throwing 2 year old over his shoulder while he flailed and kicked. The wife, was dragging the 4 year old girl through the house as she tried to pull herself loose from her mother's death grip. I could see that they weren't looking at the things we were showing them. They were saying "ooh" and "ahh" and "oh, isn't that nice" but their eyes were not focused on anything we were showing them. They were completely distracted and consumed with their kids. As each minute passed, the level of stress intensified and as we progressed through the house, their attention span grew shorter and shorter and they seemed more and more rushed, as though their was a ticking timebomb that was about to go off and they had to escape the house before that happened.

And the kicker? The man's mother lives one town over. They could have easily dropped the kids off there before they came for the showing. At one point the woman even said, "it probably would have been better if we didn't bring the kids". No shit, Sherlock.

I have a theory about people with kids. I think there's a part of them that thrives on chaos. I think the chaos creates a perception of excitement and drama that gives them the illusion that they have a life. In fact, I think many people have kids because they have no life. They need something to give their lives meaning and make them feel important, so they have kids. And then, once they have them, they drag the little anklebiters all over creation kicking and screaming, subjecting innocent bystanders (like hubby, me and our poor terrorized cats) to their obnoxious behavior.