Bear with me here, as I step off the island of St. Barth & onto mainland US soil for a few weeks vacation, and as I do, I have more time to think and write about non-work / non-island related things. Today’s topic of thought is children.
I went into the Ophthalmologist the other day for an eye exam, in the waiting room was an August issue of Time Magazine. The cover photo of a grinning 30-something year old couple laying on the sand below the heading: THE CHILDFREE LIFE, when having it all means not having children. caught my eye. I picked it up, but didn’t have time to even read the first sentence before I was called in for my appointment. That cover stuck with me throughout my day though, so I searched for the article online later that night and read it. Finally I felt, validation! Say no more… but that makes for a really short blog. So I’ll elaborate a bit.
- I don’t have kids. I’m 41 years old and have remained free of diaper-changing routines, late night baby scream-fests, toddler tantrums and Lego stepping injured feet. I’ve never experienced, for longer than one day, the Terrible Two’s, or Three’s or any other age that children can act terrible for that matter. When children act up around or talk back to me, they generally know, with just a glance, that I am not the one who brought you into this world, which means I do not love you unconditionally, my affection is based on hard conditions of respect. Be cool, and I’ll allow you to occupy the same space as me for a while, we just might have some fun. You don’t respect me & I will be, let’s just say, unpleasant. I don’t have my own, but I’ve been around and observed enough kids to know that they are feeling, emotional, instinctual creatures who operate for the first few years of their lives by what does & doesn’t feel good. You give a kid a look that says things are about to get very difficult for you, then follow through that first time, that kid thinks twice before testing you again. Especially when you aren’t their parent.
- Being childless means that I have the “luxury” of being an observer. I love this. Being an observer means you can be involved or you can just sit back & let it all play out in front of you without needing to take action. I can offer my views -if solicited*- from an outside perspective, or I can blissfully yes the situation to death and go on my merry way. (*Note, I said offer my views -not advice- and if solicited– these 3 words are key. A childless person, male or female should never, in my opinion, ever offer advice, solicited or unsolicited, lest they receive the understandable wrath of the parent for talking about something to which they have no first-hand knowledge. If, however that said parent is venting and asks what I think, my experience is that it is okay to offer what I observe and not how I think it should be done). Child behavior specialists are the only exception to my rule. To me, being an observer is an awesome position in which to be, grandparents of the world, I believe, will back me up on this one.
- I am not a soldier in the trenches fighting the dirty every day battles. I’m more like air support for all my friends and relatives with their muddy boots on the ground. -Things start going wrong? Mom’s under unexpected attack? Nerves frazzled? Patience worn thin? At the point of taking your child out of this world you brought them into?
- Even more than being an observer, I like being Air Support. I like being the risk-taking, a little bit off my rocker Maverick who is called in when the shit hits the fan in family life. When my friends need a night out without their kids, to have an adult conversation with an adult beverage that they don’t have to worry about being spilled by little reaching hands. I love being the go-to-girl for babysitting for parents’ date nights, and being invited to family outings. I love shopping for other peoples’ kids & being the fun auntie who shows up with gifts without reason other than I simply felt like it. I love being at the receiving end of phone calls, Skype chats, Voxers, emails & private Facebook messages in which my friends with children vent about (and also praise) their children. That’s my version of contributing to the family, and I think its an extremely valuable role. Women need to vent, and they need to vent to other women who can listen without interrupting with their own war stories. Of course venting to others who can feel your pain in very important, but other moms are abundant. The Mavericks, like me of the female world are a bit harder to come by.
- The world needs childless women like me. I think we’re as much a necessity as women who have children. In my 20’s, I never imagined I would actually be without my own children. In my 30’s there was a brief time where I imagined what it would be like to be a mom, where I actually envisioned & tried to manifest it. My husband & I were living lives that were unconventional anyway, and we didn’t rock the boat -so to speak- about having or not having a family. My attitude was “if it’s meant to happen for me (us) it’ll happen.” It didn’t happen, and we didn’t push it, I liked my life & figured there was a reason for it, even if I didn’t know what the reason was. Now in my 40’s, I understand that the world needs women like me to help champion all those moms & dads of the world. We are needed to be supportive when necessary, and to shake things up when the time calls for it. To stick our necks out on the line when people with children can’t. We are needed to do all those things in the world that women with children can’t do because they’re sacrificing themselves for the good of their babies. We offer a counterbalance in the grande scheme of things.
- People need to stop asking me why I don’t have kids.
- -Or maybe what I need to do when asked, is respond with “why do you have kids?” After all, It’s just as valid a question, isn’t it? The fact is I just don’t, and I’m happy. I don’t feel like I’m incomplete without children. I’m living the life that was meant for me. I like my life, it’s one that many of my friends who are parents envy. I like being Air Support. I like being the fun auntie. I like enjoying my other people’s children then sending them home. Most of all, I like my island life. Not everyone has kids, and not everyone lives on an island either. But we are all living the life that destiny has laid out for us.