January 28, 2008

Something Seasonal

I have been half-starting blog posts in my head for three weeks now. You may have wondered if I was ever going to write again. I have not been feeling very childfree lately. I've been under the weather, and let me tell you, we are having some weather right now in California -- okay, okay, just a little rain!

I think that from the time I started this blog to present day I have been on an evolution of Self. I have come to terms with that part of myself that is very obvious to everyone who meets me. I am a woman without children. It makes people wonder. I take time to get to know. I did a lot of reading (see our compilation post on all the childfree genre book reviews) during this time. I suspect that turning 40 was a bigger deal that I was willing to admit at the time.

I suspect that every woman who remains childfree, for whatever reason, will go through a similar transformation. Those who choose this path early, often called early articulators, will have a different story. We all do. This is one area one does not want to make assumptions, yet people often do. I am acutely aware of how different my life is compared to most childed women around me. It was not easy in my thirties, let's call them the early married years. There were expectations then; I am decidedly outside of the mainstream in my family choices. Being childfree is reflected in almost every aspect of my life, some parts are simply more visible than others. Now I am hanging out with women whose children are grown.

("Write something seasonal Teri -- write something!") We celebrated Christmas our way this year. Mostly, we have shuttled from family home to family home since we've been married. It was nice to be in our home for a change. We hosted close friends, a couple from Atlanta, my adopted Italian grandma, and an old high school chum. It made for some interesting conversation in the kitchen and at the dinner table. We went for a hike, laughed and told old stories to new listeners. It's not all about the kids for us. Our tree was an outdoor tree with colored lights and the good decorations stayed in the box this year. The halls were decked minimally and I am still trying to put all of it away. I didn't wrap a single gift. The gifts where stacked in the hallway, in the brown UPS boxes they came in, labeled "to" and "from". We splurged on our home-cooked food and focused on our guests.

As we approach Valentine's Day I've been reflecting on the fact that we have not planned anything, and I cannot remember the last time we took a week-long vacation together. Trying to figure out how to celebrate our 10th anniversary this year has been torturous. We've always been more of a "weekend-get-away" couple. Our spontaneity sometimes gets in the way of proper social planning. It is a real challenge for us. Not unlike our childed counterparts, we find many demands on our time. Perhaps demand is too strong a word. A child's schedule is demanding; we feel pulled in many directions. We have the family "must attend" functions, and we have hobbies and seasons to our lives. For my husband it is hunting season, deer and duck. For me it is opera season, and the two months up to a performance are busy indeed now that I have joined the "working board" of the local company. I have always been one to make commitments as a volunteer. It connects me to my community, wherever I happen to be. If I was there for more than a year, I was volunteering. For me, it is part social strategy. Volunteering is a great way to make new friends and feel significant. You matter when you are a volunteer.

Although we have no plans for Valentine's Day, I feel we have more than a little romance in our relationship. It has been a long time since we have had a long weekend, or a non-work related trip. We have uninterrupted dinners together almost every night, sometimes I even light candles. On weekends, we read the paper to each other over brunch. We say "please" and "thank you" and "I love you" often. We have every day romance. I don't mind that my husband may be away on a business trip on February 14th. We still hold hands in public.

I realized that today, compared to when I started this blog, I am in a different emotional place. Last weekend, I was invited to cake and coffee at our neighbor's house. I had not yet met the neighbors across the street and was pleased to know they would be coming too. Both of them, as it turns out, are retired school teachers. The first comment the wife made, after the obligatory "nice to finally meet you," was "I haven't seen any children." I simply confirmed, "We don't have children," and let it hang a moment as if it needed no explanation. Luckily, we had plenty of other things to talk about. "How do you keep gophers out of a garden?" "Will the city allow you to re-open the strawberry patch ?" A rousing conversation of gardening and local politics ensued.

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Anita said...

I so enjoyed your post and understood a bit where you are coming from. Last year was an odd year for us, I turned 35, we celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary and I felt this unbelievable silent pressure from everyone to for sure start making a family now...wait much longer and it will be too late. I had my moments of insecurity throughout the year. My mother passed away a year ago Feb 17th and I grieved the loss of a mother/daughter relationship I had. I started thinking about the family line ending with me. I'm the only child on my side and DH is the only child on his side. We are the end of our family lines. All this was whirling around in my mind.

But, every time I go through this time of uncertainty and insecurity...DH and I always come back to the reasons why we chose not to have children and I once again know I've made the right choice.

kris said...

I'm a single woman living in DC - the cat hair covering my clothes makes people think of animals before kids, methinks, but boy do I run into the obstacle of the "child" question. Given that I'm single, I think others are comforted that I will "change my mind" about having children once I find that special someone. Ahem.

I love to hear about the romance still present in your relationship. Holding hands in the everyday? I'll take it.

Ashley said...

I am perusing out of curiosity, and I sincerely wonder(I am not trying to be insulting, really just wondering) why it is you feel you need to start a blog to defend your choice not to have children? And why do all of the women who feel so great about it have to write page long comments about it if it's the way to be?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ashley -- thanks for your comment.

If I had started a blog about knitting, would I be defending knitting or making it the "way to recreate"? I think you mistake us for an advocacy blog.

We are a "live and let live blog". There is a huge stigma associated with women who do not have children. That is what we try to explore here. Even my own Dad does not get it. He is a bit jealous of all the time it takes to maintain this blog in a critical election year in the U.S.

If you are not a childfree woman, you probably won't either, but we can try to shed some light anyway. "A" for effort!

If you chose to explore a little, and I encourage you to check the subject headings in our sidebar, you can take a walk in our shoes. Come prepared with an open mind. We do not use naughty words here to refer to parents, so I don't thing you'll have a reason to be offended. Heck, I happen to know a few. We were not all meant to procreate, and that's okay.

All are welcome here. I thank you again for leaving your thoughtful comment.

Cheers, Peace, Hope and Love to All.

Anita -- Here's an e-HUG!

Kris -- Love that profile photo Babe, but I hope it's not every night!

M said...

Beautiful post Teri. I hadn't been by in a while but was very glad to see your post when I stopped by PW this evening. Like Kris, I also loved the description of your relationship with your husband.

Oh, and, I have to say, you really are very gracious. And I'll leave it at that. Till next time . . .