About this Blog

After banging my head in frustration over the obsession everyone around me had with procreation, I went online to find a community of people who were more like me. I have met some fascinating people along the way, but I have also found that many in the childfree community are quite hostile toward Christianity and a Christian world view. I understand that, unfortunately, many of my Christian sisters and brothers have given them a lot of ammunition (undoubtedly, I have been guilty of this at times too). Not wanting to be perceived as "trolling" for expressing my Christian perspective on other people's forums and blogs, I use my own blog to share my musings on childfree life while at the same time expressing my faith.

My intention is to show support to childfree people, both Christian and non-Christian, but from my own Christian perspective. Questions and constructive comments are welcome; negativity and intolerance are not.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Family Legacy

During my morning run, my mind wandered to my family and to my previous blog post, and I began to think about family legacies. Last time I saw her, one of my aunts on my dad’s side -- a lady from the old school -- expressed concern about the passing on of our family name. She hoped that her nephew’s soon-to-be-born child would be a boy so that “Family X” would live on. (Never mind that I kept my name when I married, and so I am perfectly capable of passing it on if I were to so choose.)

But after that incident, it occurred to me that as Christians, the legacy we pass down should be that of Jesus Christ, not our own. To be concerned about passing on our family name is not only narcissistic, but smacks of idolatry. Yes, we in Family X are a talented group, but our purpose on this planet is to be a light that shines for Christ. Our talent, our mental capabilities, our work ethic, our ability for tolerance… those are all gifts from God and must be used as such. Should God see fit to carry on our family name and heritage, so be it. But our concern should be to leave an inheritance of eternal value, something that glorifies God and not ourselves.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What a Christian Family Should Be

Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my mother’s family. I do love them, but they can be difficult to get along with: old-fashioned, resistant to anything different, sometimes judgmental, and engaged in too much drama… simple things become such a scandal in the family. Though I was a bit of a black sheep among them, I always identified with them because of my familiarity with them. Over the past 12 years or so, I have had several occasions to spend time with my father’s side of the family, and being around them has been like looking into a mirror. Despite the “nurture” of being with mom’s family, I and my siblings are by “nature” like dad’s family.

Prior to my parents’ divorce when I was 18, my mother had an affair with a married man. When the details of this came to light, my mother’s family all but disowned her -- but not until after yelling angry, hurtful things at her or sending her hateful letters of condemnation. The next step was to refuse to speak to her or even be in her presence. At about the same time, my paternal grandmother died. My mother came to the visitation to pay her respects (after all, this had been her mother-in-law for about 20 years), and my father’s family welcomed mom with open arms. There were tears, hugs, and kind words. This woman who had hurt all of us and crushed my father was shown such love by dad and his family. It became more and more clear which side of the family I wanted to identify with.

As you can imagine, much of my mother’s family is not too pleased with me being childfree, although I have been able to deflect much of the judgment by saying that I might adopt someday. Of course, this means that at every family event, my aunt wants to know the status of the adoption. And at every event, I am surrounded by obsessed aunts and cousins doting on all of the babies. I know they all think I’m a bit of a freak.

So when I went to a gathering of my dad's side of the family last weekend, and I knew that my cousin's new baby would be there, I felt a little trepidation. Would someone ask me to hold the baby? Would the baby be the focus of the entire get-together? Would someone suggest that I would/should be "next"? I kept reminding myself that dad's family is not like that. They are accepting, non-judgmental, and rational (doctors, mathematicians, architects, computer programmers, etc.). But I was still nervous.

After I arrived, I realized that none of the other cousins there would be bringing children. One cousin is 35, unmarried, and has no kids. My sister is in a similar situation. A younger cousin is still in high school. Most of the other cousins (who were unable to attend) do not have children. A few of our oldest cousins have children who are now ‘tweens and teens. Ok, so I don’t stand out so much.

At one point in a conversation, my husband said something about us being "done" having children after zero kids. It's no secret, but I sank a little as I held my breath for the fallout. NO ONE in the room even batted an eye. The conversation just carried on as if he had said the most normal thing in the world.

When the baby arrived, of course his grandma wanted to spend a lot of time with her first grandchild. There was a very small amount of baby conversation, but most people just went on about their business. For most of the time, the baby was quiet and in a separate room from everyone as a few people took turns holding him. We cousins (including the baby's mom) had a chance to catch up, and I was pleased to see that the mom did not appear to have placenta brain. Instead, she wanted to talk about things like triathlon training.

So, I am once again grateful to have been surrounded by intelligent, educated, and informed people who are kind and accepting of people for who they are. This is what a Christian family should look like.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Childfree Confessions, #3 (I don't like kids.)

I don’t find your child cute.

Some people love looking at baby/toddler pictures or cooing over babies. I’m sorry, I just don’t. I have seen a few pretty babies or toddlers before, but I generally don’t find them cute. Now, show me a picture of a baby animal or walk past me with any sort of cuddly critter, and I’m a pile of mush. But show me a picture of a kid, and you might as well be showing me a photo of a tarantula.

On facebook, it’s easy just to keep scrolling down the page or perhaps hide a baby-obsessed friend’s posts in my newsfeed. In person, I have to make an effort to be kind. When you stuff a stack of photos in my hand, I will smile politely and flip through them. I will find something positive to say… “oh, that’s a cute outfit,” or “what a big smile,” or “this photo is my favorite of the bunch.”

Photos are one thing, but please don’t ask me to hold your baby. Just being near a baby or toddler I feel my heart rate increasing; I fear a panic attack may be imminent. I don’t know why I am so afraid of your offspring, but I am. Maybe it is paedophobia. (Again, think “tarantula.”) I might politely smile at your child, but more likely I will just try to ignore him or her. Please don’t take it personally. Maybe your dog could use some of my attention instead?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Childfree Confessions, #2 (boring conversations)

I find conversation about kids and child-rearing really boring. (I thought about calling this, “You used to be interesting until you had kids,” but I decided that was a little unfair. Read on.)

I was at a party once where a guy monopolized a conversation by talking about comic books for probably a good hour. Few of us could get a word in edgewise, and even when we did, the conversation kept going back to comic books. I and everyone else in the room grew completely bored; some people left. Eventually I just zoned out, possibly even taking a short nap in my chair.

I have no problem with someone collecting and enjoying comic books. As a kid I read them myself, and as an adult I frequently enjoy comic-based movies and TV shows. I could even quite happily entertain a 5-minute conversation about comics. But I don’t have the interest to hear someone drone on and on and on and on…

I have a similar experience when people talk about sports. I don’t care for sports, I don’t watch them on TV, and I’m not even sure which teams represent my state or which team names go with which sport. (The Buffalo Sabres… ummm… do they play baseball?) I do run regularly for my health, and I participate in organized 5k races to help keep me motivated -- but I don’t even enjoy running.

Consequently, when conversations turn to sports, I roll my eyes a little and hope that the subject changes soon. I don’t judge people for being interested in sports, I don’t think sports are bad or evil, and I might even enjoy an interesting anecdote or two about something funny that happened at a game. But I cannot stomach extensive interchanges about scores, statistics, and who traded whom to what team.

The reason I bring up these examples is that I feel the same way when I’m stuck in a group of parents swapping kid stories. However, when someone voices the opinion that conversations should be about more than just parenthood, some parents become extremely defensive. I don’t hate you for being parents, I don’t hate your children, and I do understand that parenthood is an important and integral part of your life. But to me, you are being comic-book-guy or sports-obsessed-guy -- a big boor who cares only about what you have to say.

I’m sure that if I waxed on incessantly about the antics of my cats, about the politics in department X at my workplace, or about the care of houseplants, you would be just as bored. So how about if we all try to focus on those around us instead of being too intent on what we have to say about ourselves?

Friday, August 7, 2009

Childfree Confessions, #1 (life of a parent)

The life of a parent is completely unpalatable to me.

The more sites I frequent online, the more often I see parents accusing the childfree of being envious. “You’re just saying critical things about our sense of entitlement, the obnoxious behavior of our children, our negative impact on the earth’s ecosystems, the mundane aspects of child-rearing, or _____ (fill in the blank) because you wish you had children / you waited too long to have children / you feel like you have missed out / etc.” I can honestly say that, no, this is most definitely not the case. When I see any aspect of parenthood, I am turned off. This can range from mild disgust (similar to when I see someone eating mushrooms, and I want to say, “How can you put those in your mouth?!”) to downright disdain (as when I see someone make what I believe to be an unwise financial decision… “Why on earth are you buying a brand new $45,000 car when you have $60,000 of student loans to pay off?!”). I don’t understand it, I don’t need it, and I don’t find it the least bit appealing.

I have one friend in particular who has completely immersed herself in traditional motherhood. Sometimes I think she judges me or feels sorry for me, but there is no good reason for it. So here is my confession to her and to all of the parents making accusations about the childfree who are bitter about what we are missing.

Dear Friend,
I am truly glad that you find such joy in raising your children. I am glad that being a stay-at-home-mom is a good fit for you. I am glad that you enjoy playhouses, scrapbooking about the kids, pre-school graduations, and all of the things moms do. I really am happy for you, I think.

But please understand that I find your life appalling. The big, gaudy jungle gym in your back yard is something I would never want in my yard. The toys strewn around your home are a bit of a disaster. I would never be able to relax with all of the noise in your household and the incessant “mommy mommy mommy!!!” that you have to listen to. Your children are nice enough, but one of them is overly demanding and self-centered and the other one is just plain dull. I don’t know what I would do if I had children of my own like that, or worse.

I would hate the tedium of bath time, meals, and playing with or entertaining the kids. “Momversations” with children are so boring. The things you do (want to do? have to do?) with your children are things with which I would have no patience. Just thinking about it makes me want to tear my hair out.

I don’t think that having children has helped your relationship with your husband either. I know the two of you have always been in more traditional roles than my husband I and are, but the imbalance seems to have grown greater since you had children. I wouldn’t want my relationship with my spouse to change; it is wonderful as it is. Your “date nights” are bizarre to me, I guess because what you consider to be “date night” is what my husband and I consider to be “every night.”

And you have lost yourself. With your incredible talent, you were on the cusp of an amazing career. I’m glad that you seem happy about giving it up, but I cannot imagine many things in my life that would make me unhappier than to throw away that kind of potential. Instead, everything you say or do is about the kids. Everything. Where did you go?

You probably think I am a horrible person for having these feelings, which is why I generally keep them hidden from the rest of the world. When people like me show our true faces, we are punished with nasty comments like, “Well, it’s a good thing that someone like you DOESN’T have children!” I suppose I should not be hurt by such comments because, yes, it IS a good thing that someone who does not embrace children and motherhood does not have children. But the condescending, holier-than-thou tone serves as a painful reminder of all the people who think I am a freak for my feelings and choices.

Still, I would not trade my life with yours for all the money in the world, but I will keep reminding myself that it’s good for you. So please don’t feel sorry for me, and I’ll try not to feel sorry for you.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Parents, you are really not selling it!

Today's link ties in with my 7/25 entry about "it's all worth it" where I question the sincerity of parents who follow up their complaints about their children and parenthood with the cliche "but it's all worth it."

This week, I had an article published on The Childfree Life website called, "Parents, you are really not selling it!" Check it out.

Monday, August 3, 2009

It’s Not About Me, Me, Me

Although my primary reason for not having children is that I simply do not want them, and further I feel called to not have them, I also believe that it would be selfish and cruel of me to impose this world of suffering on a child. In that sense, I have some mild antinatalist leanings. Being keenly aware of the misery of life, I quite often think that I would be better off to never have been born. I am not clinically depressed nor suicidal, but I am a realist. Each of us is born with a death sentence, and the closer we move toward our expiration date, the more loss we experience: a friend killed by a drunk driver, a grandparent losing a battle with cancer, heart attacks, plane crashes, old age… not to mention the daily trials of illness and injury, stress, and dealing with nasty people.

Please don’t get me wrong - I recognize that I have a wonderful life with a loving husband, dear family, fulfilling career, rewarding volunteer work, beautiful possessions, and precious pets; and I am extremely grateful. And yet, if someone had shown me this world before I was born and asked me whether or not I would like to come into this world, even knowing what my life would be like I would have declined the offer.

This is indeed one reason that I cling to my faith. If this life is all there is, and once we die we just disappear, well then someone might as well kill me now. It’s all a big waste or some cruel cosmic joke. However, if there is a heaven, then someday I might truly appreciate that I came into existence. Even the apostle Paul said, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21) I am reminded of the old chorus we used to sing at church…
“It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ.
One glimpse of his dear face all sorrow will erase.
So bravely run the race ‘til we see Christ.”

Recently at church, the pastor spoke about suffering and about our tendency as humans to ask why. He concluded that it is not for us to know why, and then he said something that struck me to my core. I don’t remember his exact words, but the message that seared my mind was, Life in this world may not be worth it to me, but perhaps my life is worth it to God. My toils here are part of a greater plan, and this isn’t about me. It’s not about my pleasure, it’s not about my relief when I finally make it to heaven, and it’s not about what I am getting out of this deal. It’s about God’s purpose, something that is worth it to him. (This was kind of a “duh” moment - something I have always known - but sometimes you need to get smacked over the head with something to help you remember it again.)

This is not to say that God is unsympathetic to my condition. After all, he has blessed me beyond what I could have ever dared ask. But this is to say that when I have those dark moments like the prophet Elijah, I need to remember that living on this world is not all about me, me, me, and I must remember to listen for the still small voice of God to point me back in the right direction. (I Kings 19:4,12)

One final thought from Revelation 21:4: “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” This is our hope!