July 11, 2020

My Favorite Teacher Didn’t Have Kids

My very first teacher was so pretty. She had long brown hair and blue eyes and sounded just like a Disney princess. Ms. N. never raised her voice and she made funny faces when she read stories. She tucked her straight hair behind her ears and after school I tried to perfect her look in my mom’s vanity mirror, but I could never get it just right. I was obsessed with being the teacher’s pet and eventually I  think I was. Ms. N. cast me as the sun in the school play because she loved my smile. I wanted to be just like her when I grew up.

Ms. N. even had a wedding, right at school! All the girls and boys in the tiny Catholic preschool  were paired up and asked to be flower girls and attendants. I wore a cream dress and gloves to look just like the bride. It was the best day of my four-year old life, but I knew what was going to happen next. Miss N was going to replace us with a baby of her very own!

But it didn’t happen. Ms. N. never had kids and she was the best teacher ever. She recently retired after forty years of teaching. Is it possible that her role as teacher was enough to fill her life with joy? Or was she sick of dealing with kids at the end of the day? For some reason I don’t think she ever tired of being around her students and is still involved in their lives today. I always wondered if she chose not to have kids or if she was unable to have them. Ms. N. and I are still friends and maybe someday she will tell me, but I will never ask.

It is because of Ms. N. and other teachers that I decided to teach little ones. I never thought that not having kids of my own mattered, but I think it made me a better teacher. Ms. N. influenced me in so many ways, but I can’t honestly say if I am copying more than Ms. N.’s hair style by not having kids.

  • Mommy Tips for Being an Effective teacher (kidsandmoms1.wordpress.com)
  • http://whynokids.com/2011/03/22/dr-suess-didnt-have-kids/
  • http://lauracarroll.com/2010/12/the-childfree-teacher-experience/
  • http://www.thechildfreelife.com/index.php/viewpoints/180-why-do-i-need-a-child-when-i-already-have-100-kids

Breeders vs. Non-Breeders

Promo shot for Last Splash

Image via Wikipedia

Some people hate the term “breeder.”  Mostly it’s breeders that complain. To me a breeder is someone who chooses to have children and a non-breeder someone who does not. I’m a non-breeder and think it’s a funny title. You are welcome to call me a non-breeder even to my face. Also The Breeders happens to be the name of one of my favorite bands, so named because the term “breeders” is gay slang for heterosexuals. Interesting, right?


Urban Dictionary
has a slightly modified version of the term breeder:

1: slang term used by some childfree people for one who has a child and/or has many after that, refuses to discipline the child/ren, thinks the sun rises and sets for their child/ren, look down upon people who do not have children, and are in general very selfish and greedy when it comes to their whims and those of their child/ren, especially if they can use their parenthood status or their children as an excuse to get their way.

Okay. Ouch. That is not so nice. When did “breeders” become derogatory term against parents?  An alternative definition is  a person who breeds livestock or other animals or plants professionally. (That could be taken a couple of ways perhaps.) Apparently defining the word breeder is not that simple and a touchy subject for many including Renee from the blog www.womanist-musings.com:

“The main slur that has been directed at me from the LGBT community is the term breeder.  I understand that this a reaction to the fact that straight people constantly shame same sex couples for their inability to reproduce.  Though many straight couples spend a lifetime together and chose never to become parents, the biological impossibility of two women, or two men producing a child has been constructed as a negative.”

And on www.christianforums.com

“Are you aware that we parents are sometimes referred to as “breeders” by childfree people? It just made me sad, as I am one of those people who doesn’t judge couples for not wanting a child. That’s their decision, but why should we as parents be termed “breeders” because we decide to have children? The term is primarily use in reference to someone breeding animals! Really… I do find it offensive, and very hurtful.”

So why do we need labels like breeder, non-breeder, childfree, non-parent? Do names and labels hurt or discriminate? What do you think breeders and non-breeders? Are you loud and proud?

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Even Movie Stars are Challenged by Parenting and Non-Parenting Roles

Celebrities make it look so easy, with their $17,000 diamond studded pacifiers and twelve nannies,  but is parenting easier for the rich and famous?

Here are a few quotes from superstars on the challenging role of parenting and the joys of being childfree. See they are just like us!

Julia Roberts is playing mom to Ryan Reynolds in a new film Fireflies in the Garden but even this supermom finds parenthood demanding:

“I think it’s challenging for everybody in different ways. My challenges as a wife and a mother are very different from the ones portrayed in the movie, but I think for everybody it’s a hard challenge.”

Tori Spelling just gave birth to her third baby:

“I’m always questioning, “Am I doing the right thing? Am I okay at this?”

Kendra Wilkinson, the former Playmate and party girl,  is famous for her comments on how parenting changed her sex life.

“The sleep. I used to go to bed around 3 a.m. and wake up at 3 p.m. Now I get up at 3 a.m. and stay up until 3 a.m.”

Mad Men star Christina Hendricks‘ on screen character is currently expecting. Recently, she was asked was asked if she is ready to take on the role of motherhood for real:

“We enjoy other people’s kids very much,” Christina told Access Hollywood’s Billy Bush on the red carpet at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday, when asked if she and her husband, “Body of Proof” actor Geoffrey Arend, are planning on having children. “We’re having fun right now.”

“We’re having a lot of fun,” Geoffrey added.

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 22:  (L-R) Televisi...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

The media are obsessed with pregnant celebrities and are on constant baby bump watch. Does it help an actresses career to get publicity from pregnancy? Does it hurt a career to say no to kids? Actresses Kate Walsh and Cameron Diaz have both spoken up about not being moms and have received a lot of press for choosing their childfree paths. The queen of all stage moms Kris Jenner revealed to US Weekly in August  that she puts pressure on her famous Kardashian daughters to have kids. It makes you wonder, pregnancy or no pregnancy, if it is all just for the ratings.

Too Old to Have Kids?

I’m obsessed with the television show Teen Mom and the five sixteen year olds that MTV has followed over several seasons. Watching the show is an excellent example of not only why we should have abundant, low-cost and available birth control everywhere, but also why sixteen is too young to have kids. So how OLD is too OLD to have kids?

Like many people, I was stunned to see a recent cover of New York magazine with a naked, albeit Photoshopped, grandma-looking pregnant woman. In their article “Parents of a Certain Age” NYMag asked the question, “Is there anything wrong with being 53 and pregnant?” Most readers agreed: YES! Including one reader who was so repulsed he threw the entire magazine in the garbage without reading a single word.

“The age of first motherhood is rising all over the West. In Italy, Germany, and Great Britain, it’s 30. In the U.S., it’s gone up to 25 from 21 since 1970, and in New York State, it’s even higher, at 27. But among the extremely middle-aged, births aren’t just inching up. They are booming. In 2008, the most recent year for which detailed data are available, about 8,000 babies were born to women 45 or older, more than double the number in 1997, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Five hundred and forty-one of these were born to women age 50 or older—a 375 percent increase. In adoption, the story is the same. Nearly a quarter of adopted children in the U.S. have parents more than 45 years older than they are.”

It seems logical that as the average age of the world population continues to rise the age of first time parents will also rise:

“Among the countries currently classified by the United Nations as more developed (with a total population of 1.2 billion in 2005), the overall median age rose from 29.0 in 1950 to 37.3 in 2000, and is forecast to rise to 45.5 by 2050.” (Wikipedia)

So why is there a trend of older parents? Couples are getting married later, and it’s taking longer for wannabe parents to feel financially stable to provide for children. Also, we live in a world where it is possible to have children at a later age through advances in science and medicine. But just because we can reverse menopause and make moms and dads out of senior citizens does it mean that we should?

As a woman on the cusp of forty, I am relieved that I have almost aged out of my fertile years. People ask when I am having kids less and less. My joints are starting to creak and my short-term memory stinks. I am aging, and as my body changes I can understand why it would be difficult to have a baby later in life. I respect that it is a parent’s choice to have kids or not, but I do feel uncomfortable about the risks associated with older parents on both parents and their children.

From the article:

“After 40, a pregnant woman is likelier to become afflicted with preeclampsia, gestational diabetes, and hypertension—the worst outcomes of which can result in the death of the fetus and occasionally the mother as well. It is also after 40 that the risk of having a child with autism increases—by 30 percent for mothers and 50 percent for fathers, says Lisa Croen, a senior scientist at Kaiser Permanente. Advanced paternal age is likewise associated with miscarriage, childhood cancer, autoimmune disease, and schizophrenia and other neuropsychiatric disorders.”

My grandfather once told me that the most embarrassing day of his life was his high school graduation. His forty something year-old mother sat in the audience with her white hair piled high in a bun and a bun in her oven, she was eight months pregnant. So maybe I have good genes and maybe I have science on my side. For me, still, maybe does not equal baby.

WNKies: Can you be too old to have kids?

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Open Letter to a Green Mama

A landfill in Poland

Image via Wikipedia

Dear Green Mama,

I just bought diapers. They are for your new baby. As a childfree woman this is an exceptional and eye-opening day for me. Thank you for taking the time to research the environmental impact of having a child and choosing to use cloth diapers instead of disposables. And thank you for educating me on the new technology of the old standard cloth diapers. Gone are safety pins and saggy rubber pants. Cloth diapers are now made of wool, bamboo, unbleached hemp, and cotton with snug waterproof covers in every color in the Crayola box. You also told me about the burden of disposable diapers on our landfills:

“An average child will go through several thousand diapers in his/her life. Since disposable diapers are discarded after a single use, usage of disposable diapers increases the burden on landfill sites, and increased environmental awareness has led to a growth in campaigns for parents to use reusable alternatives such as cloth or hybrid diapers. An estimated 27.4 billion disposable diapers are used each year in the US, resulting in a possible 3.4 million tons of used diapers adding to landfills each year.” (Source Wikipedia)

There has been much debate over landfill for disposable diapers vs. water usage for cloth diapers. Which is better for the environment? Bleached industrial cotton is terrible for the environment and so is using a washing machine and detergent. However, if you use a full load (pardon the pun) and green laundry products they are better both baby and the world.

Fact: The use of cloth diapers goes up in hard economic times. Parents will spend between $2,000 and $3,000 before potty training on each child vs. $300 for cloth, and the cloth diapers can be recycled and reused for additional children. (Or how about skipping that next child to save some money and the environment?)

But are the cloth diapers better for baby? Many experts believe that potty training is easier for kids with cloth diapers because they can actually feel when they are wet. The fabrics are also free of chemicals and are relatively easy to use.

Back to Green Mama. Thank you also for having a “green shower” free of wrapping paper, decorative paper bags, and plastic bows. Instead, presents will come in reusable baskets and “wrapping” will include cloth diapers with reusable bows. Just during the holidays alone wrapping paper makes up four million tons of waste. I love the idea of eliminating wrapping paper and using cloth instead of disposable. This is one idea that we can all make part of our routine. Just a suggestion, you may not want to wrap your gifts for the childfree in cloth diapers.

Dear WNKers, What do you buy your friend’s babies for gifts?

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When the Kids Ask, “Why No Kids?”

“When are you having babies?”

I’ve heard this question a million times from friends and family, but just the other day I heard it from a kid. As my friend’s six-year-old daughter sat on my lap and played with my hair, she inquired about my reproductive plans. I ignored the question. Then she suggested maybe I should get a new hairstyle. Phew. That was close. I really didn’t want to go there.

“Yes, when?” asked her twin four-year-old brothers as they wrestled on the floor. D’oh!

“Never!” I answered a bit too quickly.

“But why not?” they all pleaded. And I fell for it. I pulled out my high horse and saddled up.

“Because it’s my choice, not everyone has to have kids.”

They blinked back at me. Did I say too much?

“I don’t have to have kids.” I continued to explain.

The boys chimed in, “If you’re married you are supposed to have kids.”

Uh-oh. I tried to stop myself from saying too much, but it was impossible…

“That’s not true. You don’t have to have kids if you’re married.”

I didn’t say you could or maybe even should be married to have kids. And I definitely didn’t say, “Go ask your mom and dad!”

The twins started covering my arms with Halloween tattoos and the little girl tied my hair in a knot on top of my head.

“You’d look better with short hair,” she said.

“Are you having kids?” I asked her. I just couldn’t resist.

“I don’t know yet,” she said. That’s my girl! I thought as I let myself get a makeover by the three kids.

Minutes later my husband walked into the room. He took one look at us and shook his head.

He whispered in my ear, “Great birth control.”

“The kids?” I asked, expecting him to save me.

“No,” he replied. “Your hair!”

Hey WNKers: What would you say if a child asked you, “Why no kids?”

Share your “Why no kids?” stories in the comment section below.

Excuses, Excuses…

It’s fall and my husband and I are swamped and trying to catch up with stuff we let pile up this summer. We don’t have kids so every nice day this summer we decided to go out on the lake instead of working inside. (For more on this read my Endless Summer Vacation post.) We figured it would rain and we could make haste, but it didn’t rain until Irene made a visit. And it hasn’t stopped since. So now we are busy hiding inside and working hard and we even decided to paint the entire interior of our house. It’s been a great excuse when we have to get out of obligations and allows us to leave events and other functions early. “Nope sorry, can’t stay, gotta paint.” It reminds me of some of my friends with kids and how they use them as an excuse to leave early and beg out of boring commitments. I admit, sometimes it makes me green with envy. A recent article in Jezebel “The Almighty Baby Excuse” tackles this very subject:

“Did you know that one of the least publicized advantages of having a baby is that it is, in fact, the greatest excuse ever invented to get out of doing stuff, with no loss of honor? When you were childless, you pretty much had to get spinal meningitis to talk your way out of a bridal tea or a work-sponsored tree-planting ceremony. Now, you have a living breathing RSVP with “decline” checked off, and contrary to what employers everywhere suspect, approximately 97% of the time, you’re not even bullshitting.”

The article struck a nerve with childfree reader MissCrystal. Her comment:

“As a childfree woman who is the only childless woman at my job, I’m offended and disgusted by the amount of work these ladies can get out because of kids/grandkids…as a childfree woman I supposedly have no other priorities or things I want to do other than work. The whole thing angers me and pointing out the hypocrisies of how childfree people are treated versus their counterparts has become my woman crusade.”

So this is a hot button issue for some people. Let me suggest that kids are an excellent excuse to get out of doing things, but still not a super valid reason to actually have them. (They really do get sick all the time!) Also the painting excuse works really well without adding a baby or a needy pet to the household. So far it’s been three weeks of “painting” and counting, although now we’re probably busted.

By the way, the excuse of diarrhea pretty much works every time too. A friend of mine used it twice this summer to cancel on me. What’s your favorite excuse?

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Nulliparity Definition

Shows fundal height at various stages of pregnancy

Image via Wikipedia

Nulliparity isn’t jargon for Jimmy Buffet haters. On the contrary, I suspect there might be a significant overlap between the Parrothead and nulliparity lifestyles!

Deployed infrequently outside of the medical context, a nulliparity definition demands clarification if for no other reason than that it arises from time to time on Why No Kids?

Derived from Latin, the etymology of nulliparity is straightforward:

  • nullus, none
  • parere, to bear

So, in simplest terms, a usable nulliparity definition would be the condition of not bearing offspring (normally applied to a human woman).

A medical term used to refer to a condition or state in which a woman has never given birth to a child, or has never carried a pregnancy. (biology online)

Nulliparity vs. Nullipara

Although I understand why this term evolved to refer almost exclusively to women (men being biologically excepted from pregnancy), I would propose a nulliparity definition that is broader and more inclusive, applying to women and men who have not born offspring. Pregnancy and childbearing, after all, does generally imply the participation of a male in the creative process despite the disparity in inputs (ie. a few minutes versus 9 months!)

That said, the term nullipara specifically refers to a woman who has never given birth.

A female who has never given birth to a child, or has never carried a pregnancy. (biology online)

Choosing Nulliparity

This latter term, although obviously derived from the same Latin root, was unfamiliar to me until recently when I discovered Rhiannon Alton’s blog, Nullipara Life while searching for breeder bingo examples. A catchy title from a woman unabashedly committed to her childfree choice.

Don’t ask me when I’m going to have kids unless you’d like to hear my smart-ass response. I do not want kids. Parenthood is a choice, not an obligation. Some people might think there’s no point to me getting married if I’m not going to have kids…this is a completely asinine and ignorant thing to say. You see, my fiance is more to me than just a reproductive organ. I am not defined by my uterus, so please don’t tell me what I should be doing with it. Also, don’t tell me I’ll change my mind in a few years. How would you feel if I told you you’d change your mind about being a mother in a few years? Think about that the next time you try and pass judgment on me. (Rhiannon Alton)

Nulliparity, folks, is not the exclusive domain of the “childfree by choice” crowd as it certainly includes the involuntarily childless, but the straightforward, efficiency of the term is powerfully, succinctly echoed in Ms. Alton’s comments:

  1. Parenthood is a choice, not an obligation.
  2. You see, my fiance is more to me than just a reproductive organ.
  3. I am not defined by my uterus

Thanks for translating the life choice not to bear children into bold, bullet-point-able 21st century jargon, Ms. Alton! Any questions, folks? I suggest you start with Nullipara Life

Are the Childfree Missing Out?

I’ll admit that I’m not excerpting the most representative excerpt from this childless by choice video, but I can’t help highlighting this universally ingrained response:

Lots of women bond, especially in their 30s and 40s, over the fact that they have had children. So you’ve got a sort of common bond there that you can talk about. And if you meet someone who says, “I don’t want children,” I automatically think, “Why don’t you want children?” … I want to wheel my children out so that they can see how lovely and exciting they are. Somehow I sort of want to pursued them, that they’re missing out on something. (YouTube.com)

You can see the childfree interviewee recoil as she launches into this diatribe with gusto. In fact, the body language throughout this clip is eclipsed only by the accents!

What do you think? Are the childfree missing out?

I Don’t Hate Kids

I don’t hate kids. And I’m guessing that Steve Shives doesn’t hate kids either. After all, he’s created both a “Why I Hate Kids” video and a “Why I Like Kids” video for your lighthearted consumption. This tongue-in-cheek parade of reasons why he could hate kids is arguably inappropriate but strikes me as a reminder that loving kids or hating kids isn’t at the heart of the childfree/breeder divide. Far from it!

But like this Jam Hands post, exaggeration and laughter are a necessary and healthy part of the conversation. That said, here are a few of my favorites from Steve Shives “Why I Hate Kids” list:

  • they are loud
  • the really smart ones can take 3 or 4 years to learn how to wipe their own asses
  • they take over your life
  • they think black and white movies are boring
  • they pee in their beds
  • they get bored easily
  • you have to watch them constantly
  • they’re afraid of cooties and harmless insects but not guns
  • most of them are too small and weak to get any real work out of
  • they lack perspective
  • they are expensive
  • they stole Halloween
  • they don’t get subtlety
  • they don’t look good wearing glasses
  • they get to piss in your face while you change their diaper, and you’re not even supposed to get mad
  • they consume everything and produce nothing
  • they speak openly of their bowel movements

It’s okay to laugh. It’s humor. We won’t tell your spouse. Or your kids! 😉