nesting * geeking * critiquing

Posts tagged “childless

Not Having Kids

I’m not saying I’m not having kids, and I’m not saying I’m not not having kids. I am saying this video is HILARIOUS!

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Saving Santa

While I’m a big kid myself, I’ve never been a big ‘kid person.’ I can remember saying as a child that I never wanted to have children…these days I’m more open to the idea but we’re not taking any drastic measures to add to our little family. The dogs and cat keep us company without demanding much in the way of obligation, and we’re generally happy with life at the moment.

Not being a ‘kid person’ does not, however, mean that I wholly dislike being around kids. On the contrary, I think spending time with them can offer fresh perspective that’s good for the soul. I just happen to like my time spent in small doses.

The day before Thanksgiving, I had one such opportunity at work. A coworker had brought in her son, C, an adorable third grader; when she needed to run an errand, C got to hang out at my desk for a little while. We watched some videos on YouTube to pass the time—BMX bikers, domino tricks (“those have to be fake!”) and What Does the Fox Say?—which sparked some fantastic conversations. During the fox video, C declared that the costumed singers were dorky but the grandpa character was funny. I commented on his beard looking “like Santa Claus’s.”

“Santa has a really long beard. I wonder how long it’s been since he shaved?” C mused before answering his own question. “Probably not since he was a kid.”
I don’t remember my response, but it was something of the nod-along variety.
“But he’s a VERY generous man,” C stated most sincerely with a little sparkle in his eye. “Bringing toys to all of the little children…it’s amazing.”

“Yep, Santa’s an awfully good guy,” I agreed and made a mental note to choose my words carefully so as not to spoil any of the magic.
“Did you know some kids don’t believe in Santa Claus?” C looked at me with wide eyes full of astonishment.
Trying to appear dumbstruck, I replied, “Really? Well that’s just silly. He still visits me every year!”

“Yeah,” C dismissed my comment and continued, “They think it’s their moms and dads. But how would they even do that?? It’s SO late and they’re in bed asleep.”
I shook my head and shrugged.
“I mean, I know my dad, and I don’t think he’s the kind of person to do that. He likes to sleep.”
“Dads do like their sleep,” I offered just before C got distracted by one of the video suggestions on the screen.

Jedi Master Yoda famously declares in Attack of the Clones: Truly wonderful, the mind of a child is.
And I have to say after interactions like this one, I completely agree.


Enough of the Elf!

It’s still very early in the Christmas season, so I’m going to get this off my chest now lest it fester and spoil my holiday cheer.

Enough with the stupid Elf on the Shelf pictures!

In spite of my childfree status, I can certainly appreciate parents’ desire to keep the Santa magic alive for their little ones. There are few things in life so precious as a child’s fervent belief in good old Saint Nick. In fact, I spent some time discussing Mr. Claus with a little fella at work last Wednesday and have a very sweet interaction to recount one of these days. Today is not that day.

Believe it or not, I happen to think the Elf on the Shelf is kinda fun…or at least preferable to some things. You are welcome to enjoy my mad computer graphic skills for a look at what some of those things might be.Better Than

But I digress. The above does not mean that I care even the tiniest bit about what mischief your elf allegedly causes overnight. Because, really, I don’t. Moreover, I fail to see the point in sharing it on Facebook. It’s only December 4 and I’ve already been subjected to dozens of photos depicting the carefully executed escapades. It would be one thing if I was seeing your child’s half-awake, smiling face or giggly reaction. (Though I did see a couple of those last year, and they’re not really as endearing as one might hope.) Is the overarching idea that I’m supposed to be impressed by your creativity ability to emulate ideas you’ve seen on Pinterest?

Speaking of Pinterest, I’d like to suggest that anyone pinning elf ideas put them on a unique board dedicated solely to that endeavor. I’ve had more than a few unwanted elf pins populate my home feed because I followed someone’s “holiday” board, and I’d have to unfollow the other good ideas to get rid of the elf stuff. It’s not fair! Darn these 21st-century first-world problems. sigh

It must be true that a person’s verbal filter deteriorates as they age, because I’m finding it increasingly hard not to make smart-aleck quips on these dumb Facebook posts. I genuinely fear what kind of loose cannon I’ll have become by the time I reach my elderly years.

While other friends give the obligatory, “Oh, cute idea!” or “I bet JacobSophiaAidenEmmaOliviaNoah loved this!” I’m fighting an overwhelming urge to say, “Congratulations, you deliberately made a mess in your house that you now have to clean up.” And I know a thing or two about making messes, because I can’t keep a clean house without kids.

I propose we petition Facebook to create a “Hide all Elf on the Shelf photos” feature. Would there be some other pictures that were inadvertently hidden? Probably, but I’m willing to take my chances.

Let’s rally, troops! Who’s with me????

{UPDATE: I apparently posted about this very same thing last year. My memory must be going even faster than my verbal filter. Scary!}


What About the Bad Guys?

Once upon a time, I worked a job that was soul-crushingly awful. And “soul-crushingly awful” describes only the good days. The bad days were akin to sliding face-first down a giant razor blade straight into a vat of boiling acid. It’s not a huge exaggeration to say that there were days when I left feeling like the Gestapo dude whose face melts off at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. Those days sucked, and they surfaced far too frequently.

Admittedly, there were a few perks: the pay was pretty decent for my first gig out of college, and a handful of my coworkers were fantastic. One of those associates was named Amy.

Ultimately, the positives failed to outweigh the negatives, and I abandoned the company just shy of my 2-year anniversary. As it turns out, my departure helped pave the way for an infinitely better work environment—the greatest offender came face to face with a pink slip based in large part on my exit interview feedback. I was lauded as a heroine, the provocateur who sparked a revolution towards emancipation. But I digress.

Amy left said company several months prior to my departure to devote time to her photography business (she’s phenomenally good!). Thanks to the magic of technology, we kept in touch via email and, eventually, social networking. Her family relocated to the Seattle area, so we made plans to visit this time around. Some 7 years after parting ways, I finally saw Amy again!

Amy and her husband Justin have fantastic kids: Luke, Ella & Matthias.
We’re not much of kid people, but these three almost converted us. In addition to their fun little personalities, they all dig Star Wars. Luke is a fan of facts…and Luke Skywalker. Ella crushes on Qui-Gon Jinn and Yoda (hey, the heart wants what it wants haha). And Matthias, well, he loves it all—a youngling after my own heart.

‘Thias buddied up to us pretty quickly, a rarity in our childless world. He asked to ride in our car, so I gave him my iPhone to look at pictures of my SW room.
He noticed all sorts of little details that would’ve been lost on most people. One of the more obvious things he commented on was my shelf that features Darth Vader and Stormtroopers.

In his adorable first-grader voice, Matthias asked, “Why do you like the bad guys so much?”

Imagine the sound of crickets for a moment, because that’s what was happening in my head. I had nothing. I’d never given much thought to the idea that I even do like the bad guys. So the answer I gave, the answer that needed the least explanation and self-evaluation was, “I think they look cool.” And they do.

There was a little sigh from the back seat, followed by Matthias’s emphatic response, “I think they look cool, too…but I don’t want them to wiiiin!”

And that’s what reminded me that Star Wars is so much more than the collector-y thrill that it has largely become for me and many other adults. At its core, Star Wars is a character study on the dichotomy of good and evil, of flux and fealty. Fantastical creatures and places and escapades are the proverbial icing on the cake. {Side note: I ADORE cake & icing!}

I loved the SW toys when I was a kid not because they looked cool but because they were a tangible piece of the Star Wars universe. With action figures in hand, I could live out scenes from my favorite adventures. The characters literally became part of my world.

It didn’t matter that I was an only child; most of my SW toys weren’t games that required multiple players to make them fun. It didn’t matter that I was a girl; my SW toys ranged from Ewok stuffed animals (they call them “plush” in the industry today) to action figures that I could “girl-ify” if I so chose—I crafted clothing for Princess Leia using flower petals and scotch tape. My SW toys went hand in hand with my imagination, which paid no mind to the societal constraints that loom in adult consciousness.
Perhaps that’s why I’m still so drawn to toys: they take me back to a time when the world and its worries were no concern of mine.

At some point in my life, I guess I sold out a little bit. I lost sight of the whimsy and gravitated towards what was deemed cool.

For those who’ve forgotten (or weren’t alive yet), there wasn’t much about Star Wars that was still deemed cool by the early ’90s. As I recall, the franchise was all but extinct in the public’s consciousness. It wasn’t until word began spreading of production for the 20th-anniversary “Special Edition” theatrical re-release that the tendrils of SW began to poke back into the collective pop-culture mindset.

The ‘steroid series’ of Hasbro figures launched in 1995, to the mutual delight and chagrin of toy enthusiasts. The classic heroes looked ridiculous, which played into my affinity for the darker characters. The “bad guys” still managed to look cool.

Also responsible was my age and resultant awareness. After a war in the Persian Gulf and bombings at the World Trade Center and Oklahoma federal building, the world around me seemed less gentle. Even fashion and music had trended edgier, more alternative (thanks, Kurt Cobain!).
I began to accept the inevitability of growing up, acknowledging the more melancholy aspects of life as well as the tumult within myself. And yet, I held to the hope of a happy ending.

One needn’t squint too hard to see how that is reflected by Lord Vader, even all those years before we learned of Anakin’s petulant twerp tendencies.

So, that’s why I like the Star Wars bad guys. It’s not just because they look cool, but because they embody the notion that life isn’t always neat and tidy. Were it not for bad guys, there would be no reason for “good” people to rise up and defend honor or virtue. Plus, they are a steadfast reminder that any of us, even the most vile, has a chance for redemption.

On the last night of our Washington stay, we had dinner at Amy’s house. I was treated to a lightsaber battle, a thorough examination of action figures, a cross-examination about SW trivia (most questions starting with, “Do you know…” or “Guess what?!”) and episodes of The Clone Wars and The Yoda Chronicles.

The Force is strong with these friends of mine!

Luke & Matthias

Luke & Matthias, Halloween 2012


Woman, yes. Mom, no.

If you’re a bridge troll like me, you understand how very difficult it can be acclimating to a new group. Now several weeks into my new gig, I’m pleased to say that I get to spend my days with talented, kind, even funny people…and none of them have run away from me screaming. Yet.

But even among the nicest people, I can be counted on to inadvertently make things awkward.
It’s kind of what I do.

On any given day, you can find me spending my lunch hour sitting at my desk—”pinning” to my heart’s content or writing blog posts that never get published or otherwise frittering away my time. No peer pressure to eat or be social or make eye contact; just me and my computer. But upon moving to this department, I was invited to join the lunch club (a genial group of ladies who eat lunch together). My first impulse was panic. Am I going to have to start eating a real lunch? When will I have time to write blog posts that never get published? What about Pinterest? Is eye contact mandatory???

In a very uncharacteristic turn of events, I opted to join the girls for lunch. I ate lunch and tried very hard to be social, and all was well until…

First let me give you a bit of background. <clears throat> When people find out I’ve been married nine years(!), there is no escaping the question of if I have children. The default answer has invariably been “not yet.”

…all was well until the get-to-know-you conversation went to that inevitable “Do you have kids?” place. And for whatever reason, I changed my answer that day at lunch. I left it at “nope.”

(photo from museumofplay.org)

(photo from museumofplay.org)

When this elicited an uncomfortable “Oh” from my lunch party, I felt compelled to keep talking—an unfortunate nervous habit. I volunteered that it was both ‘by chance and by choice.’ This admission was greeted with an equally uncomfortable “Oh” and change of topic.
To be clear, I consider each of these gals to be friends, and none of their reactions offended me in the slightest. The situation itself, however, made me realize that I’m evolving as a person. I’m no longer ashamed to identify myself as a (mostly) willfully childless woman, an anomaly. Here’s why…

By Chance
We decided 7 years ago that it might be nice to have a baby, but it hasn’t happened.
There was an incident six years ago (almost to the day) that may have been a very early-term miscarriage. I’ve no clinical diagnosis thereof, but the evidence suggests it.
Since then, we’ve gone through career changes and moves and financial challenges and the occasional bout of marital discord (anybody who’s been married this long and claims to not have had any of the aforementioned troubles is flat out lying). And now that things are sunny, we are both increasingly comfortable with the idea that parenting might not be in the proverbial cards for us.
If we’re surprised and it happens eventually, wonderful! If it doesn’t, I’m not interested in undertaking extreme medical and financial steps to make it so, and I don’t want to be one of those women that people feel sorry for. Enter childless ‘by choice.’

By Choice
While I’m learning to embrace the notion of life without children, I also find myself wondering if this bit of apathy is something of a glitch. I mean, I like cutesy wootsy widdle clothes and itty bitty fingers as much as the next girl, but I’m not going to try to force it. Frankly, I don’t want to. Am I somehow broken for not actively seeking motherhood? Did one of my woman genes fail to activate or something?
I have a friend who suspects that it may be some subconscious result of having wanted a baby and not having one yet. I think that’s a possibility—there’s always a tiny twinge of pain when I find out about newly expectant parents. But, honestly, I also really REALLY enjoy my current lack of responsibility. On days off, I can sleep in as late as I want and waste time watching Portlandia or playing Lego Star Wars or going shopping (for me!) or doing any number of things that don’t involve paying constant attention to another human’s well-being.

Regardless of the reason or motivation, I continue life as a chick without kids. A “not mom,” if you will. I picked up that label from the good folks over at thenotmom.com; they make me feel like I’m not alone in the world, even if I don’t always agree with their contributors’ politics. It’s kinda nice.

I’ve even become increasingly aware of the presence of women like me in my everyday life; in addition to two of my aunts, I have several coworkers and friends with similar situations. It doesn’t change the cultural/social stigma, but it helps.

Now let me set the record straight on a few things…

Women without children aren’t any less intelligent and don’t harbor any less common sense. That might seem like an obvious statement, but it’s apparently not. Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard some variation of the “you’ll understand when you have kids” comment over the years??? Frankly, it’s insulting and frustrating. Parents have a completely different set of experiences that yield other learnings, things I may never know. But I’m alive; I’ve had my own unique experiences and observations. To say that I can’t understand something or that my opinions are less valid is infuriating.

And elaborating on that, women without children aren’t inherently at odds with parents. In fact, I revere the massive undertaking called parenting. Still, there are times (oh so very many times) that I wish parents would take more responsibility for how their kids behave, since they’re ultimately the ones who teach respect and enforce or neglect boundaries. Now before I start getting hate mail, please understand that I know children have their own personalities and some are more compliant than others—remember that point about childless women still having intelligence and common sense?

Women without children aren’t necessarily selfish. Admittedly, some of my motivations are a bit superficial and selfish, but that’s certainly not the case for everyone. To assume so would make no more sense than assuming that all moms are as selfless as Mother Teresa (also a ‘not mom’ haha). By the same token, women without children may or may not really like kids; just like women with children may or may not really like kids.

Women without children are not people who should be pitied because they don’t know ‘real love.’ This is another peeve of mine—the assertion that only mothers know ‘real love.’ Mothers inherently feel a different kind of love but that’s just it, it’s different. The differing qualities of something do not make it any more or less real to any given person.
You mean to tell me that childless people who are married for decades don’t know about real love? Heck, it’s not even limited to married people; everyone who feels loved knows what ‘real love’ is to them, and that is different for everyone. So let’s just can the idea of ‘real love’ altogether, shall we?!

I guess that’s basically it: everything you didn’t want to know about why I don’t have kids.

Just like The Game of LIFE, I’ll keep going down my little road in “full 3-D action,” and time will tell if any little ‘peg people’ are added along the way. In the meantime, I’m content.