Barefoot Monologues

A Journey of the Sole


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Soapbox for the Child-Free Lunatic

If you have gotten to know me at all, then you know that my hubby and I are not planning to have any children. It’s a decision we both made about ourselves well before we met, and after seven years of being together, we still believe we chose wisely. As pretty much all our friends have started procreating around us, we have noticed a division of opinions, interests and general understanding that has more or less separated us from them. It’s like a tall picket fence of questions and apprehension, and we are alone on the opposite side. Not to mention of course that I have stood up on my overused little soapbox more than once on the topic of children, garnering many a hairy eyeball from my bewildered bystanders.

I’m sure you can imagine that we have had to contend with a slew of misconceptions: are we infertile, asexual, lunatics, aliens, or do we just downright hate children? The last assumption there is probably the only one hubby and I haven’t used as an excuse/shield when fielding questions from nosy elderly people. No, we don’t hate children. Have you ever seen us with your toddlers? They love us more than Dora the Explorer and are still asking about us a week later. No, we like kids (especially YOUR kids), but we just don’t really need any of our own.

But if you’re still struggling to comprehend why we would go to such lengths to resist the powerful adulthood peer-pressure to procreate, then I have pulled together a small sampling for you from my ongoing list of 10,000 reasons why I don’t want children:

Reason I am Child-Free #12
Hubby and I have compiled a detailed lifestyle analysis and concluded that our home decor and table wear just doesn’t jive well with a Pack ‘n Play set.

Reason I am Child-Free #29
I’d much rather have my friends yammer on about what a good mommy I would be, than have them gossip amongst themselves about what a bad mommy I am.

Reason I am Child-Free #56
Given current popular trends, it seems I’d be required to scour the dictionary or my own peculiar hobbies in search of a newly inappropriate and unheard-of name for my child. Some recent examples: Ransom, Millenium, Gambit, Apple, Kal-El and Audio. But given my interests and peculiar vernacular, I’m not sure the name Pikermi would garner much appreciation from my unfortunate progeny.

Reason I am Child-Free #190
On any given day I will forget either my cell phone, deodorant, purse, car keys, gym clothes, lunch bag, makeup, gloves, wedding rings, shoes or all of the above, at home. Sometimes I don’t realize it until I’m already at work. Forgetting a kid at home might not be quite as forgivable as having sweaty armpits.

Reason I am Child-Free #335
Everyone around me already has this whole baby thing covered like television has reality shows. I’m okay with filling in the variety.

Reason I am Child-Free #424
I am an animal person. No, I mean really. Like, I would be sorely disappointed if my child was born without furry ears, paws and a tail.

Reason I am Child-Free #986
A state-of-the-art car seat, 20lb diaper bag, 3 quarts of spilled milk, 14 stuffed animals, a box of wet-wipes, two blankets, Bandaids, hand sanitizer, a DVD-player, 47 SpongeBob SquarePants DVDs, kid-friendly snacks and a toddler would not fit in my 2-door Honda Civic. I barely have room for all my running clothes.

Reason I am Child-Free #1,523
I already kinda feel old. I don’t think I could stand it if a person three decades younger than me was walking around my house, telling me about the newest tech gadgets that I can’t manage to wrap my primitive, pre-millenial brain around. I never want to utter the words “I don’t get all those new fan dangled computer toys you kids have now.”

Reason I am Child-Free #3,500
I am a master complainer. I already bitch and moan obsessively about virtually everything from traffic to weather to my hair to the number of days in a week. I doubt my friends would much appreciate 1,478 NEW daily complaints about sleep deprivation, diaper rashes, sore breasts, ear infections, weight gain, bottle feeding, nap schedules, daycare costs, colic, the loss of all my dreams and ambitions and all the various other stresses that come with child rearing. On Facebook.

Reason I am Child-Free #6,527
If I forget to feed my dog, I can expect to be serenaded by the sound of the pantry door as it rocks lightly on its hinges, prodded by a hungry, sniffly wet nose. If I forget to feed my child, I can expect my front door to be bashed in by Social Services. I prefer my hints to be subtle.

Reason I am Child-Free #8,001
As a child-free person, I’m an excellent friend to have. I will never (accidentally or purposely) make you question your parental skills by rambling on tirelessly about why I would have done something differently than you because I somehow know more about child-rearing. I’ll just listen and say, “well…sounds like you handled that perfectly.”

Of course, I do realize that everything in life is a balancing act between what you’ve chosen to do and what you’ve chosen against. In recognition of that fact I have started a second list, of reasons why being a parent might not be such a bad idea. After all, it’s only fair.

Good Reason to Have Kids #1
The next time someone asks me if I’m pregnant I could ramble on happily about my adorable baby bump, rather than break down in tears and run to the ladies room in a fit of bad body image and internal self-loathing.

Good Reason to Have Kids #2
Moreover, I’d have a permanent allowable excuse for my muffin-top.

Good Reason to Have Kids #3
Tax return time is AWESOME!

Good Reason to Have Kids #4
I would be able to use the several weeks of paid maternity leave that the working women of America have fought so hard to instill into my employee benefits.

Good Reason to Have Kids #5
People would stop asking me when I’m going to have a baby, and start asking me when I’m going to have a second one.

Good Reason to Have Kids #6
Party conversation with my female peers would finally be interesting again. I would actually be able to contribute to topics like morning sickness and breast pumps. Rather than cowering self-consciously in a corner sipping the only alcoholic beverage in the house, or talking to the men while fending off suspicious stares from all the hormonal pregnant wives in the next room.

Thanks to anyone who is still reading, especially those of you who are parents. Naturally this post is designed to be tongue-in-cheek. If you’ve got some good additions to either of my lists, I’d love to hear them.

And I especially thank my phenomenal friends, you know who you are. The ones who support me wholeheartedly in my anti-parenthood psychosis, even though you don’t understand it one bit.


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Dusk

I have never really liked dusk. So disquieting, that brief suspension of time after the sun’s disappearance over the horizon, before the rest of the sky collapses. It’s not yet dark, but the whole world looks different for awhile. Every color except blue fades into darkness and a murky blur descends on the streets, the houses and trees. It is at this time when the long shadow of your loneliness is cast. It’s the place where your skeletons and ghosts come to find you. Where all the ends of things collide.

It was precisely dusk and I was eleven years old, killing time while my father played a softball game for the Men’s League (he used to call it the “Old Fogie’s League,” because it was for guys over thirty). We couldn’t be bothered to sit still through all seven boring innings, so my brother and I were usually sent off to loiter in the playground that was set up around the back of the ball field. This night’s game started later than usual, and as we marched around the outside of the wrought iron fence toward the playground, I could feel the dusk chasing after me. I turned the corner at the back end of the field, and the tall wooden jungle gym came into view, hanging black and heavy against the sky like a great haunted mansion.

All the other kids had long since gone home, and my brother and I were the only ones there. He didn’t seem to notice the creaking stillness of the structure made alive by the heft of its shadows. The site of a deserted jungle gym thrilled the heck out of him. He sped to a gallop and rushed toward the hulking formation. His silhouette disappeared against the blackness and for a moment he wasn’t there anymore. He was sucked into it, and I was all alone. But a few seconds later his boy-shaped shadow peeked out, four limbs and a center blob crossing under the monkey bars from right to left.

My heart began beating again, cautiously. My brother called out to me, and I started toward the solemn giant, either to join the game or to rescue him from his dark fate.