Monday, July 30, 2007

Grey's Baby Rabies

Ok, explain this to me.

I love Grey's Anatomy and have spent the last several days that I've been laid up post-surgery catching up on Season Three. And holy CRAP, the women have gone nuts. As if they weren't before, but still. I suppose this contains spoilers.

The thing that made me the most upset is Callie (my favorite character -- I'm glad she seems to be sticking around) approached her husband George about wanting to have a baby. Lovely, curvy, strong Callie, who doesn't want babies, approaches George and says something that she has no desire to carry a baby around in her body for 9 months and raise a kid, but her hormones are telling her she wants a baby. She knows it's hormones, but is she saying she wants to have a baby? Her answer? "Apparently." Apparently?!

Add that to Addison ranting and raving about "forgetting to have a baby" and whining that she's now surrounded by babies...SHE'S A O.B.!!! The chief's WIFE is pregnant at 52? WHAT?! And now suddenly Alex wants to be a father to Eva's baby?! Babies here, babies there, because that's what we needed in this HOSPITAL DRAMA, we need more babies!!

The show was so courageous in the way it handled Cristina's unwanted pregnancy, at least talking honestly about abortion, and I was happy to see that Bailey's baby didn't play heavily into the plot (though I have to wonder whatever happened to it). But now, the baby-centric shift has me concerned for the next season. What, can no one relate to these characters because they're not mothers?

Honestly, though, the thing that bothers me the most is Callie's statement that "apparently" she wants a baby, even though she says in the same breath that she doesn't want one because of how it will affect her career. And nevermind that their marriage is SO NOT OKAY. A baby's going to help that? I'll be curious to see how they handle that, because what that shotgun marriage needs is so NOT a baby.

I don't know, I'm always a little disappointed when shows turn babycentric. Maybe it's because I can't relate to it. Grey's took SUCH an extreme turn in the last few episodes that it's really bugging me.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Shifting Tide

I wandered onto my MySpace page today and looked at my Friends list to find a large number of profile photos changed. Quite literally over half my girlfriends have changed their photos to pictures of their newborns or creepy pictures of their pregnant bellies (am I the only woman who is freaked out by bellies and "bumps"--or who REALLY hates the word "bump"?). Anyway, it really threw me.

I wasn't terribly surprised--obviously I know that an almost silly percentage of my friends have been preggo or have recently had little ones in the last few months. An even greater number are joining the ranks of the TTCs (Trying to Conceive, apparently). It really hadn't hit me, though, until I saw that page of photos.

To see it in black and white... I don't know, I see myself fading more and more out of the loop. I haven't decided how I feel about this yet, but it's unsettling.

Friday, July 13, 2007

A Breath of Fresh Air

Last night I had my girly appointment with my new doctor. I chose a young doctor intentionally, and I’m sort of getting used to having a doctor who’s my age, but I’m very impressed with her. She diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome when other doctors saw my weight as a cause rather than a symptom, and she’s very kind and knowledgeable. And, if I didn’t like her enough, we had this exchange yesterday:

Doc: “Are you planning a pregnancy?”
Me: “No.”
Doc: “Now, or not ever?”
Me: “Never.”

She proceeded to tell me how she wishes all her patients would consider what having a child meant. She admitted that she had no idea what she was in for when her daughter was born just under a year ago. “Your life doesn’t just change,” she said. “Your life is over! I’m just so glad I waited ‘til I was 30 and did everything I did until then.” She said it was the hardest thing she ever did and she could totally appreciate why someone wouldn’t want a child. Of course she loves her daughter, but she couldn't believe just how much of an adjustment it required in her world.

And the best part?

She never asked me why I didn’t want one. This was the absolute first time I’ve mentioned my childfree-ness to someone other than a fellow CF and the words “why not?” were never uttered.

It was so nice.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Didn't We Just Do This?

I received an invitation in the mail for our niece’s first birthday party, and I was flabbergasted. It’s really the only word. Now, of course a first birthday is a big deal. But this wasn’t just any birthday party:

They rented a hall. And not just any hall; a fancy place that doesn’t say “birthday party” so much as it says “My Super Sweet 16”. They also included hotel information in case we’d like to stay overnight (they’re about a 3 to 4-hour drive away; they reserved a block and it’s NOT at the Super 8). This hall also means they’ve invited enough people to justify renting a hall and reserving a block. My husband’s grandmother was invited, to show how deep they went with this. She is the child’s father’s stepfather’s ex-wife’s mother, not even related AT ALL.

Now, I can understand this if their house wasn’t suited to host a party. But it’s the same size as the houses in the rest of the family. They’re also custom printed invitations; now, I do custom printed invitations all the time, but that’s because I’m a graphic designer and I enjoy showing off. What we’re looking at here looks to be more of an event than the baby shower we had barely a year ago when we all spent a great deal of money to help welcome little Josie into the world. All I could think when I saw this invitation was "I'm sorry, but didn't we just do this?"

I’m all about celebrating birthdays, but I feel like every month we have a little one’s birthday to celebrate. This wouldn't be a big deal, but celebrating with my husband’s step-side of the family includes bringing a very expensive gift (otherwise you look — and feel — cheap). It’s STUPID. These are not wealthy people, but they live as if they are, having extravagant parties and shunning Target and TJ Maxx in favor of Marshall Fields and Von Maur. And we’re expected to keep up with this standard. It’s absurd.

Contrast this to my best friend’s son’s 5th birthday party, a simple pool party for family at their home. Sure, she bakes a funky cake for him, but she loves to do this. And there’s no ridiculous expectation for gifts—sure you bring something because it’s fun to buy things for 5-year-old boys (and hell, Transformers are in the stores now!), but there’s no fear of being seen as cheap because you bought his cool Transformers T-shirt from Target for $8 and not the $30 fancypants one from Lord & Taylor. Her kids’ first birthdays were mellow, and they have continued to follow suit. These parties make sense, but even these are still expensive.

Birthday parties are an expense that I think few consider when adding up the price of raising a kid. No, going to the extremes that my husband’s family is going to is seriously overboard, but even a small party for the family can get extremely expensive. Now add up the parties once the kid gets into school. Inviting 30 kids so no one in class feels left out, competing with the other families. And don’t forget that each of these 30 kids is having a party, so a couple times a month you’ll be buying a present so your kid doesn’t attend the party empty-handed. I can’t believe how much my mom spends on birthday presents for my niece’s friends. I suppose it’s not any more expensive than one of our dinner parties, or bringing a bottle of wine to a friend’s; I guess what’s mostly at issue is that I don’t enjoy myself at the kids’ pool party where I’m playing babysitter/lifeguard. Perhaps this is where “selfish” comes in. But I digress…

My point is that little Josie, their “miracle baby”, is going to be spoiled senseless, just like all the other kids in that family. That’s reason alone to not want to bring kids into that family. I would have to return all the expensive gifts because I wouldn’t be able to stand my kid wearing a $50 outfit or playing with a $100 toy. They deserve nice things, but nice and extravagant are two very different things.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I’ve been seeing a word battered about lately to describe childfree folk and it’s been frustrating me.

SMUG: contentedly confident of one's ability, superiority, or correctness; complacent.

Are we confident, outspoken? Of course. We have to be. We’re constantly put in a position where we have to be. When you put someone on the defensive, you’re asking them to talk themselves up, to prove their point. I know in my experience if I respond with vagueness, without passion, out of desire to avoid confrontation, that’s when it gets the worst. I’ve learned through experience that my passion needs to match the passion of the person presenting the challenge, and parenting is something that obviously inspires a lot of passion.

Ours is a lifestyle that requires confidence. The moment people find out we intend not to have children, we’re anomalies, topics of discussion. Sometimes it’s respectful interest that motivates people to ask questions, and that I welcome. But I’ve found the people most likely to write us off as smug are those who egg us on, who force us onto the defensive so we have to proclaim “hell yes I made this decision and I’m damn proud because it’s the right one for me!” When we find others that share our views (like in an internet forum), we rejoice, we get excited, we relish the opportunity to share our story in the safety of others.

In the meantime, many of the mothers in my life (my close friends thankfully excluded) are incredibly smug. There are the breastfeeding Nazis who thrive on making even other moms feel inadequate if they don’t want to or aren’t in a position to breastfeed, nevermind the moms who adopt. There’s the pedestal moms, like my sister-in-law, who truly and honestly believe that the act of motherhood is the only way through which one can become a “complete” human being, or the martyr moms whom no one could possibly understand how much they sacrifice for their kids, and that sacrifice clearly makes them better people than the rest of us. These moms throw hypothetical arguments at us, designed to rattle us emotionally, that, when we throw them back, make us rude and smug. Suggest to them that they might regret their decision, or make them justify why they felt the need to go through expensive fertility treatments instead of adopting one of the kids that already exist (I have mixed feelings about this) and it just serves as confirmation that we’re heartless. But yet when we inflect our words with a confidence that says “don’t challenge me on this one” in hopes of avoiding a conflict, we’re being smug and self-righteous.

Am I the only one who sees this double-standard?

Here’s the thing; they’re not better than us. And we’re not better than them. We’re all just folk here, all making choices that suit our lives. We childfree are proud of being self-aware, unrattled (usually) by societal pressure and confident in the choices we make for our lives.

If that constitutes smugness, add smug to the list with selfish, I suppose.

Monday, July 02, 2007


This weekend I witnessed a moment of poor parenting as a direct result of childfree envy and it made me REALLY, really sad. We attended a party at the home of some friends, and our lone childed friend chose to bring his three kids – 7-year-old twins and a 9-year-old. The rest of us, many of them longtime friends of his, are pushing 30 or comfortably there. Some are childfree by choice, some simply haven’t taken the plunge yet, and others are childless after infertility. Regardless of the circumstances, though, these were the only kids. They’re close with the host couple, though, and as such they were welcome at the party. It was widely known, though, that there would be a great deal of drinking at said party, and this was deemed acceptable around the kids; we were instructed to pretend the kids, who spent most of their time in the pool, weren’t there. This was pretty okay.

Except their dad, also pretended they weren’t there. It’s no secret that his marriage has been strained recently and he’s going through a “what am I doing with my life” crisis. He’s been (more or less publicly) wishing his family away, wishing he could have the do-over at life you don’t get when you start having kids at 24. To be fair, his wife is pretty awful, and he’s spent the last few years trying to please her, which can’t happen until he eliminates all ties with all his friends (we’re all a bad influence and she is ANTI-childfree), even though he’s usually a GREAT dad. Well, I think he snapped on Saturday, when he proceeded to get drunk. But not just a little drunk – we’re talking slurry, sloppy, puking-in-the-bathroom, pass-out-on-the-futon, you-ain’t--23-no-more drunk. It was really sad.

His eldest was REALLY upset at seeing her dad like this, and we all tried to help. I was left to wonder… why did he bring the kids if he intended on drinking like this? Why not leave them with his wife, who didn’t want to come and be forced to socialize with all of us non-moms? And if the kids are there, I’m sorry, but you exercise some restraint. I don’t care HOW much you long to “let loose”; getting that drunk in front of your kids is NEVER acceptable parenting.

So while I can understand why his wife looked to this occurrence as confirmation that we’re all just pushing her husband toward hellfire and brimstone (ironic, because they’re pagan), I wonder at the motivation for leaving the kids at a party with all his awful friends. If she foresaw this (“I knew this would happen!”), why let the kids come in the first place? Seems a really crappy way to make a point.

While I was adamant about following the “forget the kids are even here” instruction, I was keeping an eye. I gladly handed off the Wii to them so they weren’t horsing around by the pool or threatening to knock over the liquor table with errantly thrown water balloons (it happened twice…) I was also well aware when the conversations veered into the unsavory, and was apparently the designated shusher. I resented the fact that their father had made such a mess of himself that the rest of us were picking up his slack. I resented the fact that he brought his kids with no intention of watching them. Their dad is one of the brothers in the group (we’re all family), but my gods I wanted to strangle him. Not as much as his wife did, though.

The bottom line is that it made me incredibly sad that this father wanted so badly to escape his life that he let himself become that way in front of his kids, who mean the world to him. It gave me some insight into the life of my own alcoholic father, and that made my heart hurt. I don’t remember an incident like this with him, but I also don’t doubt that my friend’s eldest daughter will ever forget that night. She was really shaken up, and I saw myself in her eyes.

(my apologies for the rambliness of this post... trying to get posts in when I can, and sometimes that means sacrificing a proper edit)