Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Dad's Life

Thanks to Debbie for forwarding this to me. SOO funny and really captures the life of a dad. (Now, all you on-the-fence guys....aren't you just chomping at the bit to have this life?)

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Great cartoon. Thanks, Amy!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Babies Aren't Cute Forever

Here's the thing about babies. They are damned cute. I know not everyone feels this way. In fact, I have heard a lot of childfree people say they have never found babies cute. Many even find them repulsive. I am not one of those people. I guess in this way, I am a typical female. With very few exceptions, I find babies adorable. I love their fat cheeks and their rose petal skin. I love the way it feels to hold a baby in my arms, and a baby's innocent eyes and smile can melt my heart. I love to observe how they change and develop and it's fun to witness them discover things for the first time. They remind me of puppy dogs.

Are you surprised to hear these things from me, Firecracker Mandy, Spokeswoman for Childfreedom?

Don't be. Here's the thing. A person can find babies adorable, love to touch and hold them, enjoy other peoples' babies to the hilt and yet have not a single inkling of desire to have one of her own, and here is why. Unlike most women who lose all sense of reality and perspective when their heartstrings get pulled by the siren song of Rose Petal Cheeks, I am keenly aware that the cute baby phase is fleeting and lasts only a couple of years before the adorable bundle of joy turns into an awkward, annoying kid, a surly teen and often, a troubled adult.

I see the evidence of this all around me. Take our next door neighbors, Len and Clarissa. These poor people are ready to jump off a cliff thanks to their troubled 18 year old daughter. It seems like every week there is some drama going on at their house. We've witnessed full blown screaming matches between them and their daughter. We even witnessed Len smashing a bat through their daughter's car window in a fit of rage and frustration.

Last year, while they were away on vacation, their lovely daughter had a drinking party at their house, a fight broke out and one of the kids threw a cinder block through 2 of their windows to the tune of $2,000. Last night, my hubby was out doing yard work and Len came over to chat and told him the latest about his lovely daughter. He and Clarissa have discovered she has been stealing money from them and after reviewing her cell phone bills, and seeing that most of the calls were to slum ghetto areas, they deduced she is into drugs. So they did something they have never done before. They went into her bedroom and snooped around and guess what they found? A crack pipe. After years of countless episodes, they are finally going to throw her out of the house.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. It seems Len is constantly updating my hubby every time he sees him with awful stories of how their daughter is ruining their life (as well as hers). One time, I ran into them in Macy's and we stood and talked for about 20 minutes. The entire conversation was them bitching about their horrible daughter. These are nice, clean cut middle class people whose worst offense has probably been being too permissive as parents. And look what they got.

But I bet she was a really cute baby.

Last night, we were checking out a rental property (we're selling our house and downsizing). The landlord met us there to show us the property. When we entered, the place was a mess and she was packing up stuff in boxes. She told us her son had been living there. So I asked why she was packing his stuff instead of him. "He moved to Florida". Okay, so he left all the packing for his mom. Nice. During the course of my discussion with her, I told her several reasons we would be good tenants, one of which was the fact that we have no kids to destroy the place. "No kids? You are LUCKY." Putting aside the fact that luck had nothing to do with our being childfree, it was clear that she was conveying she regretted having kids.

I bet her son too was a really cute baby.

This morning as I was getting ready to leave for work, I heard the news that the Craigslist killer, Phillip Markoff, committed suicide in his jail cell, after scrawling a bloody message on his cell wall. Looking at the footage of him on the t.v., I thought to myself - I bet his parents never expected him to grow up to become a murderer. By all accounts, he was a clean cut, preppy medical student, had a beautiful, intelligent fiance and was planning his wedding. On the side, though, he was leading a secret life of perverse sexual escapades via Craigslist and killed one of the women he had a liaison with.

I bet he was also a cute baby.

I realize not all babies grow up to be crack users or Craigslist murderers, but let's face it. There are a lot of troubled people in this world and most of them were at one time cute, cuddly babies. Even normal, well-adjusted people like myself cause their parents unending grief. I was an A student, high-achieving, fairly goody-two-shoes kid and teen (no drugs or drinking), but between my teen years to the present (mostly due to personality conflicts) my mom and I have had more estrangements and fall-outs than I can count. Our relationship is an unending cycle of a year or two of peace, followed by a year or two of strife. The last fallout resulted in an estrangement of over a year and a half.

(And in case you are wondering - yes, I too was a cute baby.)

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Man's View

To start with, I am married and mentally 100% childfree and my wife, though not completely committed to the viewpoint, is gradually coming to terms with what the reality is like for parents in a modern life. When I look around I see hordes of people everywhere. Traffic jams every day. Long lines in stores. The quality of life seems to be going down by the year. The reason? Expanding population, whether by birth or immigration.

I have several friends who have recently had kids. Who I once knew as energetic and productive people have now settled into an existence of stress-laden parental mediocrity. It is not that the human species is at a risk of getting wiped out, or that bringing new humans into this crowded world is a community service, but it might still be worth it if a kid is brought out of strong desire, raised to be an well-rounded mature adult, not project babies meant to be shown off like labradoodles. Yet I still see smart couples falling for the same old wrong reasons like biological urge, parental and peer pressures, and to make a so-called picture perfect family life. In the old days, kids were a true economic asset. Large families lived together, working on a farm or common business, and children were essential to support and continue the whole infrastructure and eventually take care of aging parents. Now, in the age of urban life and nuclear families, they have suddenly become nothing but a mounting liability. They grow up spoilt by their working parents who try to compensate for the quality time they can't spend with them, and leave the nest as soon as they grow up. It costs a staggering $300k to raise one child from birth till high school. College is altogether a different story of debt and scam. From the viewpoint of a CF man who values his freedom and productivity enormously - what is in it for me? Nothing. Nada. Zero. I have to give up my precious free time, freedom, energy and enough money that could take us both on numerous trips to places we would never otherwise see.

I remember how much sacrifice my parents made. Even though they got their satisfaction because myself and my sister turned out decent enough, I don't see why I even need that emotional reward at all. I can spend time on hobbies and volunteer for good causes and get as much or more pleasures out of them. The fact that smart people like us still become parents without thinking critically saddens me. Why one needs a kid should be a much bigger question than why one doesn't. Parenting is not a default thing. Marriage is nothing other than a monogamous bond, and children are never a part of the deal. Yet the media keeps brainwashing us for their own benefit, for families are the biggest consumers of a myriad of products. It is a vicious cycle and it makes me sick. The true responsible ones are those who stay away from parenting with the smallest doubt in the commitment involved. And those who take it up after thinking hard and preparing for the life changes. It is a popular opinion that men only grow up after becoming parents. What complete hogwash !


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Alpha Female

There's a mythical female creature whose sole purpose and meaning in life is derived from her career. She is career hungry! She climbs corporate ladders in a single bound! She tosses people (and babies!) aside as she claws her way to the highest levels of the corporate stratosphere. Her job comes before everything in life. She's like a man in women's clothing - an aggressive, ball-busting, over-achieving, Type A, workaholic. She leaves early in the morning. She stays at work late, burning the midnight oil. Her Blackberry is strapped on like an extra appendage. She gets big promotions and makes big bucks. She drives a BMW and wears designer suits - a true material girl. She is all about getting ahead, so get the hell out of her way! She is the Alpha Female.

She has chosen not to have kids because her job is too important to her. Career comes before everything and while she likes the idea of having a baby, she'd rather have the prestige of a high-level position, an inflated salary, a nice car and clothes. She's worked too hard to get this far and she's not willing to sacrifice or compromise her career, or take a few years out of the workforce to raise children. That would be a big step backwards for her.

The problem with this portrayal of the childfree woman is that it bears little resemblance to reality. Are there childfree women who are intensely career-focused? I am sure there are, just as there are many moms who are intensely career-focused. Are most childfree women Alpha Females whose decision not to have children is purely a refusal to compromise their careers? I don't think so.

In my experience, from my many interactions and interviews with childfree women, the majority have made the decision not to have kids for one or more of the following reasons - most of which have nothing to do with career:

1. She has no maternal instinct or desire to have children, or simply doesn't like kids.

2. She finds the parental lifestyle (and all the burdens associated with it) highly unappealing.

3. She is happy with her life as-is and doesn't want anything coming in and wrecking it.

4. She doesn't want anything to detract from her marriage and other relationships.

5. She has seen what having children has done to her family and friends and wants to spare herself the same awful fate.

6. She enjoys freedom, spontaneity and flexibility in her lifestyle.

7. She has many interests that she does not want to sacrifice.

8. Recreational time is very important to her - time to relax, read, think, dream, vacation, enjoy her time with her partner/spouse and friends.

9. She's done a cost/benefits analysis on having kids and has decided the cost of having kids far outweighs the benefits.

10. She has a low tolerance for stress and chaos.

11. She knows that having children is far too expensive (financially and otherwise).

The idea that all women struggle choosing between motherhood and career (or trying to do both simultaneously) is one that should be put out to pasture.

I am a childfree woman - probably one of the more vocal ones out there - and my decision to be childfree had absolutely nothing to do with career aspirations. Sure, when imagining a life with kids, I contemplated how difficult it would be to balance work and motherhood (since I am not someone who could afford to be a stay-at-home-mom). But that was only one small part of the analysis. Ultimately, my decision to forego the role of mother was about embracing the things in my life that make me truly happy - and relaxed - and fulfilled - and joyful - and spontaneous - and free - and realizing that most (if not all) of those things would go by the wayside the very moment I popped out a child.

In other words, I was simply unwilling to trade a life of:

A happy marriage
A quiet, tranquil household
An abundance of recreation/down time
Positive psychological wellbeing
Quality friendships
Full immersion in interests, education and hobbies
Financial stability
Physical and emotional health


A deteriorating marriage
A noisy, stressful, chaotic household
No time to myself
A stressed-out, burned-out psychological state
Loss of friendships
Loss of hobbies, interests, education
Rigid schedule
Financial strain
Deteriorating physical and emotional health

It's time people stopped assuming that there is only one real reason a woman would opt out of motherhood - that she is a driven, career-starved ladder climber. The truth is, many (if not most) of us have chosen not to have kids for one simple reason:

We believe that parenthood sucks - and we want no part of it.

Friday, August 6, 2010

All My (Pronatalist) Children

My friend Amy emailed me this letter and gave me permission to post it here.

"Ugh, I couldn't run from my television to the computer to message you fast enough after today's All My Children. This is definitely relevant!

On the show, there is a recently-returned couple, Angie and Jesse. They were a supercouple in the 80s, and the notable thing is that they were, by all measurements, the first black supercouple on a soap. Jesse died, Angie hung on a few more years, then they were both off the show. Fast-forward to now, Jesse has returned from the dead, and he and Angie are remarried. They have a grown son who is a practicing doctor, so that makes him at least 30. They were young when they had him, but that still makes Angie around 50. She and her husband each have another child from other marriages, so that makes three who are currently part of their lives.

Angie is a doctor, and because of a patient she treated a few weeks ago without gloves or a mask, she now has a ridiculously long-named infection that could make her go blind (and which she has not yet told her husband about, for no good reason). She is currently on an experimental drug that could SAVE HER VISION. So that she could continue to practice medicine and save lives, as well as continue to see her loved ones and all of their successes and milestones etc. etc. Sounds great, right?

Not so much. Because today, Angie has learned that, by some "miracle" (their choice of words, not mine)...she is pregnant. Surprise! And her specialist who is treating her strange infection has told her that she should consult with her OB/GYN, but that he would recommend that she discontinue the experimental drug if she plans to continue her pregnancy. Leaving aside entirely why this would be a surprise (if they haven't figured out how to use protection by the time they are 50, I can only shake my head in sorrow), my first thought was...this is a question? A woman that age is going to choose continuing a high risk pregnancy for an uncertain outcome (Down syndrome or something else), when she already has three children in her life, over her SIGHT???

I found myself wondering, could the show that brought us daytime's first legal abortion (Susan Lucci's character, Erica Kane, had one in 1973 — never mind that the ABORTED FETUS came back as a grown man a few years ago, but died anyway so karma course-corrected on that one!) maybe make the right choice in 2010? Or are they going to go with the old, tired pro-natalist stance that seems to be practically mandatory on soaps these days? I wondered how long I would have to wait to find out, but then later that episode, Jesse wondered why she was turning down champagne, and jokingly asked if she was pregnant...and she revealed that she was, with many tears and cries of "Miracle!"

So, at least for *now*, she's made her pro-natalist bed and will have to lie in it. But I am holding out hope that she will eventually reveal the truth about her infection to her husband, and they will discuss it together, and then make an INFORMED CHOICE — hopefully the right one — about whether or not to continue this pregnancy. In my mind, there's no choice, aside from the remote possibility that someone was a devout Catholic: at that age, with the likely risk of complications, PLUS the wrinkle about her sight and the experimental drug, I'd opt to have the abortion. But soaps are choosing that option far less these days, if at all (if they need to terminate a pregnancy there's always the patented fall-down-the-stairs, which absolves the character of the "stain" of choosing to end the pregnancy, ugh). To me, it seems colossally selfish to choose anything but termination. If she goes blind, her family will be forced to provide a certain higher level of care for her for the rest of her life, whether that's in the form of a dog, an assistant, special equipment for the home, etc. etc. But as we know so well, even the horror of GOING BLIND is trumped by the perceived magical wonderfulness of a baby, which is believed to be able to FIX ANYTHING. How many unhappy spouses have been suckered in by *that* one, huh?

Augh, I'm so annoyed with All My Children right now I could spit! Aside from the silver lining for me of knowing there's a community (yours!) that understands, I hope you can find something useful in this rant for the blog.


Monday, August 2, 2010

Calling All Guys...

I would like to start a monthly feature on my blog called, A Man's View, featuring the viewpoints of childfree men. It seems like most of the childfree content out there is written by (or about) childfree women, and I'd like to get the men in on the action.

If you are a childfree man and have some relevant viewpoints or thoughts to share that you think would work well on this blog, please contact me at firecracker_mandy(at)yahoo.com. OR, if you are a female reader and you think your boyfriend, hubby or guy friend would be up for the task, please have him email me.

I am especially interested in hearing about the male experience of being childfree, how it impacts friendships and family relationships, the pressures men are under (or not) to have kids, their observations about the lives of their friends and family members who have kids, what makes the childfree male experience unique, or any other interesting perspective on male childfreedom.

Submissions can be anonymous or attributed to the writer if preferred.