Can Freedom and Kids Co-Exist?

On Sunday night, CBS' 60 Minutes ran an interview of critically-acclaimed British actress Dame Helen Mirren, whose most recent role is in The Queen. Morley Safer interviewed Mirren on a number of subjects, including growing up as the granddaughter of a Russian nobleman and a butcher to Queen Victoria, her deep insecuriites as a 20 year old, making nude film scenes, her happy marriage to American film-maker Taylor Hackford, and what it's like to be the only actress ever to portray both Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Elizabeth II.

Then Safer asked the 61-year-old Mirren if she'd regretted not having children.

"Absolutely not," Mirren replied without hesitation. "Because I don't have children, I've been able to be...free."

Mirren waved her hand gesturing to the obvious conclusion: that freedom from being a mother has made possible all of the above.

I, on the other hand, was feeling anything but free as I stood in my bedroom folding my eighth load of laundry as my kids horsed around in an overtired frenzy. "Do not jump on the bed and mess up the folded laundry!" I must have yelled 10 times. The day before I'd been on a road trip, but not the Thelma and Louise kind. I'd driven more than 300 miles to take my son to a 10-hour basketball tournament in rural Virginia. I'd gotten a speeding ticket that will force me to drive 300 miles back for a court appearance in two weeks. I'd rolled into our driveway at 11 p.m. and was still grouchy 20 hours later. A normal weekend, in other words -- two days in the kind of kid-focused life I'd always imagined when my husband and I decided to try to make a baby. Exactly the kind of chaotic, kid-filled life I'd always dreamed of. The life I am very lucky to have.

On the TV screen, Mirren looked and sounded peaceful, naturally radiant, brilliant, confident and blissed-out happy -- nothing like what I imagine I'm going to look or sound like at 61 after two more decades of devoting myself to my kids and doing what little work I can squeeze in between laundry, pediatrician appointments, teacher conferences, college visiting trips, basketball practices and taking the car into the repair shop.

I do not personally begrudge Helen Mirren that exquisite freedom, her beauty, career success, her five houses in three countries, or being the subject of a 20-minute profile on 60 Minutes. But watching her made me feel like I wanted to rip out my uterus. Mirren is right. You can't have freedom and kids.

Before I had kids, no one could capture in words the incredible joy I'd feel for my children from the second each was born. My love for them fills every fiber of my body even when I'm furious with them for knocking over carefully folded laundry or cracking each other on the head with naked Barbies.

But I also never knew that at times I'd regret having kids almost as passionately as I love having them. Because of everything I've sacrificed for them. Because of everything I won't do in this life because of them. Because taking care of them has taken years off my life due to the hard work and sleepless nights childcare demands, and because I love them so much I worry incessantly about reckless drivers and childhood cancers and the drowning risks presented by the creek in the park near my house. And I'm a very privileged mom -- I live in a country that values and protects women's rights, my kids don't have chronic illnesses or development issues, I have health insurance, financial security and a stable marriage. I can only imagine the deeply hidden mixed feelings of moms who face harder roads. I don't like to admit it, but that's the truth about motherhood.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  January 10, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Conflicts
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first!

(i probably have an unfair advantage, but anyway...)

Posted by: Leslie | January 10, 2007 7:08 AM

'that's the truth about motherhood'

Leslie, your essay may reveal your truth about your perception of your own life, but your essay in no way reflects the truth about my life and my motherhood experience. I have never regretted having my children, not for a minute.

And how about having the kids fold the laundry? They won't be so quick to undo their own work.

Posted by: experienced mom | January 10, 2007 7:21 AM

Gosh Leslie - That column doesn't really sound like you. I had to double check to make sure I was reading your words as I can relate to much of what you wrote.

I could care less about Dame Helen Miren. As a rule I try NOT to compare myself and my life to others, particularly celebrities, but it happens. It is human nature to want what you don't have and second guess decisions, particularly the big ones - it is how you handle the wants and doubts that count - not that you have them.

You wrote: "But I also never knew that at times I'd regret having kids almost as passionately as I love having them." This does not make you a bad mother, and please don't let people tell you it does. It just makes you honest.

Regrets, I've had few, but too few to mention - as Sinatra once sang. I think of what our lives would have been like to not have had kids, however I also think about how we should have had another (to total 3) or had them earlier or later in our marriage. It is all water under the bridge now. My mind tends to do the "what if" but I usually have 10 other things that snap me back into reality - like the laundry - or the dog needing a walk (which he does right now), or the kids begging for breakfast (also happening).

I try to always count my blessings during the high stress times, sounds like you have done the same.

Posted by: cmac | January 10, 2007 7:45 AM

Everything on this blog comes down to one thing - choices. Make 'em, own 'em and don't look back.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 7:47 AM

I loved this essay. My sister does not have kids and I do. She has traveled the world, sleeps in on weekends, and blissfully shops the stores in New York. I have two great kids, have fun family vacations and push a fire truck cart around Giant. My sister is mostly happy and loves her freedom. And spends lots of time with my kids. I am mostly happy and occasionally borrow her Chelsea apartment for a weekend of child free time.

Posted by: Raising One of Each | January 10, 2007 7:59 AM

Leslie,

Funny! Seriously, it made me laugh this early a.m.

Posted by: First Comment | January 10, 2007 8:04 AM

I really don't care what an actress says either. Their lives are always going to be easier and more liberated than ours whether they have kids or not. Having my daughter almost killed me, but I don't regret having her for one moment. I do regret the fact that she won't sleep in her bed all night and that she won't eat broccoli. Sometimes I wish I could watch a movie without hearing who is that, what is that, and why. However, I think my dad sums it up best when I come home with her and he says you used to do that and it seems like just yesterday. Time passes quickly, too quickly to worry about an actress and her five houses.

On the speeding ticket thing, why can't you just pay it? Are you going to try and fight it? Is it worth driving 300 miles?

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 8:05 AM

Every time someone says being childless enables them to do , it would be nice if they acknowledged in the same breath
that If everyone felt this way, the human race would cease to exist.

And in the absolute GRAND scheme of things that should matter to humans, it is THE most important issue.

of course, that's just a biological perspective.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 8:08 AM

'early a.m'

huh? early am is 5:15, when my clock goes off. cmac, your kids want breakfast at 7:45? Mine got on the buses at 6:30am.

SLEEP in Fairfax is trying to get later high school and junior high start times.

www.sleepinfairfax.org

Posted by: experienced mom | January 10, 2007 8:09 AM

whoa... how about that. if you include text enclosed in angle brackets, this blog deletes the whole expression.

So my comment should have read:

Every time someone says being childless enables them to do INSERT_SOMETHING_WONDERFUL_AND_FABULOUS, it would be nice if they acknowledged in the same breath...

Posted by: Stupid Parser | January 10, 2007 8:12 AM

Time for me to go wake up the kids for preschool (it was a bad night, so they're sleeping in).

Posted by: Neighbor | January 10, 2007 8:13 AM

Many new parents ask my wife when they will be able to sleep thru the night. Fredia and I always have a good laugh as we know the answer is once you are a parent, NEVER AGAIN!

Even though our 3 older kids are 27, 23 & 21, we still spend time being a parent to all of them. There is always pain involved with this and pride.

The 23 yr old started a new job on Monday with great benefits and a bonafide career. The 21 yr old is going to the UAE rather than Iraq and the 27 yr old is just getting by. So we feel joy pride and angst this week.

This is our choice and we stand by it but as Leslie says sometimes it is very difficult.

BTW, I am glad you have done your laundry. Our washing machine broke down Monday, I spent the day waiting on the repairman as Fredia had to meet with some clients. So that was our career balance for this week.

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 8:15 AM

"Mirren is right. You can't have freedom and kids."

You also can't have "freedom" and a demanding job, "freedom" and a marriage, "freedom" and student loans/mortgage/car payment, "freedom" ... and basically any responsibility whatsoever. Again, who cares what an actress says? Any good artist is going to be self-centered and narcissistic by nature (sorry, it's true), and that's honestly not the type of person you probably want as your mom anyway (e.g. "Mommy Dearest", anyone remember that book?)

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | January 10, 2007 8:17 AM

To experienced mom,

'early a.m'... maybe we are not in the same time zone!

Posted by: First Comment | January 10, 2007 8:18 AM

free is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 8:19 AM

free is just another word for nothing left to lose.

Janice Joplin, someone is showing his/her age!

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 8:22 AM

Leslie:

I understand your feelings. I am a very independent 33 year old who is pregnant (very pregnant) with my first child. My husband and I are thrilled but we are already lamenting what we know will be a loss of freedom. For example, we like to travel and do so at every opportunity. That will no longer be the case. At least not as easily as it was since we have no family in the area to ask to babysit while we are gone (like my parents did when I was a child). However, that is the choice we made and we accept it. We are looking forward to being parents.

I have no doubt that there will be days filled with joy and days filled with the regret that you speak of. Others may not feel that way, which is fine. (And, by others, I do not include Helen Mirren or any other privileged celebrity who is not faced with "normal" child rearing complexities.) Feeling that way will not make me a bad parent, no matter what anyone says.

(And, before anyone raises the issue, YES we intend to travel with our child as well. However, there are some activities we enjoy -scubadiving, for example- that are not suitable for young children.)

Posted by: JS | January 10, 2007 8:23 AM

'maybe we are not in the same time zone'

duh to me, at me, and for me.

time for more coffee!!

Posted by: experienced mom | January 10, 2007 8:24 AM

Perhaps there is a freedom to it, but I'm with moxiemom here -- the choices we make are our own, and the best thing to do is accept the consequences of those choices, for good or ill.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 8:26 AM

Glad I got you, First Comment!

StudentMom2Be - Yes, you are totally right. Any kind of serious commitment precludes "freedom." I think the Helen Mirren interview just caught me at exactly the wrong moment -- you know, one of those weird times where you look at how someone else's life looks from the outside and you think for a second, "everything I did was wrong!"

Re: my ticket. It is one of those where you cannot just pay it. Have to go to court. Someone local told me it's kind of a scam to benefit local lawyers who make a business out of one-time court appearances. We will see...at least it is a very pretty drive!

Posted by: Leslie | January 10, 2007 8:30 AM

Experience Mom,

No insult intended, just a fact.

Posted by: First Comment | January 10, 2007 8:31 AM

Hear, Hear on ignoring the actresses comments. While I am sure Dame Mirren is a nice person, I don't care a whit about what wisdom or not she is spouting. The same goes for actors and politics.

That rant over, it IS hard sometimes to realize that my husband and I can no longer take a week off and wait at the airport for a last-minute fare to a unknown country. But, that is also why we had kids later in our marriage. We got our yayas out (mostly) prior to starting a family. Fewer regrets on unbridled freedom but a smaller family due to age.

Posted by: NC Mom | January 10, 2007 8:31 AM

JS- I'm in exactly your shoes. I'm overdue with my first, and the other night I realized, "We're having a BABY!" It scares the crap out of me, but I'm so excited. From what I'm told 6 months is the best time to travel, so plan something for the summer! So, you can't SCUBA dive, but that's a small sacrifice. You'll learn to accept flying to the grandparents, dropping the kids off, and flying off to your adventure. They'll just be less frequent adventures, what with double flight costs! It's a different life, but don't forget who you are won't change. Have the babysitting offers started flooding in? USE THEM! Do you have other friends with young babies? They RULE. Have fun and good luck!

Posted by: atb | January 10, 2007 8:32 AM

Leslie - for someone who laments so frequently about how little time she has to do anything this post sounds to me like you had an awful lot of time to sit around and stew about something fairly trivial. We all have plenty of freedom and plenty of responsibility with or without kids - I don't live a glamorous life and I don't sleep in late not because I don't have the freedom but because that is not my priority.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 8:35 AM

Leslie,

"...Any kind of serious commitment precludes "freedom." I think the Helen Mirren interview just caught me at exactly the wrong moment -- you know, one of those weird times where you look at how someone else's life looks from the outside and you think for a second, "everything I did was wrong!"

Any parent who is honest with his/her self has these moments.

As for the speeding ticket, I know what you mean. Fredia got one last year and had to show up at court, no paying by mail. She was able to get out of it though.

I am glad that you have your laundry done!

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 8:36 AM

Good morning. I could have written that column. AS Leslie says, no one loves their kids more than (she) or I do, and I wouldn't say I actually regret having them (I don't know if she actually meant she passionately regretted it either). More to the point, there is a certain amount of rage and frustration about the things one must give up in order to raise them properly. For me, that meant giving up work and I totally feel frustrated that I've accomplished few of the things I dreamed of doing before I had children at 28 (more than halfway finished graduate school, but didn't finish it, on the way to a solid career path but never quite got high up enough to guarantee a good salary when I go back). Giving up work was necessary for us as my job was not high paying enough to really make it worthwhile after child care expenses and the fact that my husband has his own business and is rarely home made it especially difficult to work. Just because I still think it is the best option available to me after considering all angles, I am only human and can't help but mourn the loss of some of the other things I wanted to do, but can't because of the kids. I'm an actress also, but clearly no Helen Mirren, because I am not going to leave the house at 6:00 every night and hire a babysitter to go to rehearsals and have someone else put these developing, delicate children who don't see their father at night to bed. That is just not best for them. I don't want to be a martyr but you do give up many things when you must put your child's well being above anything you will consider for yourself, and yes it's a choice - blah blah blah - but it doesn't mean it is not without pain.

Posted by: Alexandria Mom | January 10, 2007 8:38 AM

No, experienced mom, it is not a time zone issue. I have a kindergartner that goes to school at 11:15 - he wanted breakfast. My 3rd grader has a bad head cold that she is just getting over and I am taking her to school late after her decongestant kicks in (thank you Ziacam for shorting this cold!).

My day usually starts at 6:10, we are operating under a delayed schedule today. We have the opposite schedule here in Loudoun which makes more sense. Elementary starts at 7:50 (bus at 7:30) middle school starts at 8:20 (bus at 7:55) High School starts at 8:50 (bus at 8:25). It is easier to get an elementary kid out of bed at 6:30 then a Highschooler.

Posted by: cmac | January 10, 2007 8:39 AM

'No insult intended'
I know, I'm just laughing at myself.

Thanks Fred, I was thinking parenting was for life. I feel sad for the people that get turned out at age 18. So you get to sleep all night some nights, right? And at least your kids don't need babysitters anymore. I hope your joys outweigh your sorrows!

Posted by: experienced mom | January 10, 2007 8:40 AM

Fred: But at least you have plenty of ice while you wait for the washer repairman.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 8:44 AM

The Road Not Taken

"TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

"Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

"And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-- Robert Frost, 1920

Leslie, you took your road, and Dame Helen
took hers. You have made the world a
better place by taking your road and doing
your duty as you have seen it, and so has
Dame Helen.

If life is about trying to balance
Justice, Truth and Freedom (Captain Video),
Truth, Justice and the American Way (Superman),
and Ivy (Harvard, Penn), then it is
to be expected that any one of these
ideals (say, Freedom) is not going to
be attained 100%. Dame Helen may have
more Freedom, but Leslie, you have lived
the American Way.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 10, 2007 8:44 AM

cmac-I also checked to see who was writing the blog entry this morning. I didn't believe it was Leslie either!

experienced mom-chapel hill, nc starts elementary first, then middle, then high. It works well. Research shows later start time helps older kids learn more with this schedule since they're awake. Natural bioclock shifts later as they get older.
It certainly seems true for us and those around us.

moxiemom-well I don't like to rethink choices ad nauseum. Sometimes it is good to remake choices. All choices don't last forever.

Leslie-I also stew about things in the background.

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 8:46 AM

I really identify with your sentiments in this essay as well.

It's all well and good to say "I'll still be the same person and I can still have adventures, etc. etc. etc." but honestly, no one ever told me that it would be possible to go something like twelve weeks of my life with every chunk of time in my schedule allocated to either work, family-related activities or sleep/housekeeping -- including weekends; without enough time to even do some little spontaneous thing like go to a movie.

I don't think I fully understood that even when they're weaned and no longer attached to you, there's still such a long way to go until they're independent, so many many years until you will have big chunks of time again to work on your own projects.

I definitely understand that sense of regret -- because nothing really prepared me for how even once I have big chunks of time again (like when I'm an empty nester), I still won't be the same person I once was. Something about that mountain of laundry there -- it really hit home!

Posted by: Armchair Mom | January 10, 2007 8:46 AM

I'm thinking 'freedom' isn't the word Mirren should have used. I believe she's trying convey the notion of no responsibilities. I guess I'm going back to freshman civics here, but with freedom comes tons of responsibilities. Mirren couldn't have done what she did if she had tons of responsibilities to others (e.g., kids, elderly parents, farm/family business to manage, and the like). The only responsibility she seems to have is towards her art, which is fine for her.

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 8:51 AM

Leslie - you put into words what many of us think. But, in this case, while it may always be a juggling act to balance your life and your kids, it might be a little easier if you get them a little more under control. You certainly should never have to yell at them 10 times to stop jumping, they needed a time-out...

Posted by: jan | January 10, 2007 8:57 AM

Somewhere Kris Kristofferson weeps ...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 9:02 AM

To quote Janice Joplin "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose".

At times I do think of where my life would be now if I was not a parent, and I do miss out on the freedom of getting on a plane and just going anywhere (safe or not) at the drop of the hat. Or even living overseas, which is something I have worked for my whole career to be able to do. Often this moments coincide with a bad morning/or a fussy stage. Then I think of the downside of the life that I am "missing out on", and remember how much I love my child... I am happy and cannot imagine life without her. Life is a game of balance, and choices. I have made mine, and they came with an opportunity cost.

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 9:02 AM

Interesting blog. My husband and I are struggling with the choice of having kids or not. We are leaning towards having them b/c in our minds, we thought that we might regret not having them. I see that's not always the case, and it's a scary thought! This blog has brought more indecision to an already terribly indecisive situation.

Posted by: Arlington | January 10, 2007 9:04 AM

to Alexandria mom - "I'm an actress also, but clearly no Helen Mirren, because I am not going to leave the house at 6:00 every night and hire a babysitter to go to rehearsals..."

Helen Mirren didn't do that either, since she didn't have children. Maybe the reason she didn't have children because she realized that she couldn't be that kind of mother and also be an actress.

As far as caring what celebrities say, I feel that Leslie is using the comments as a discussion point, not that she or anyone else cares what they have to say. Why should we care about what is said by anonymous bloggers?

Off topic - has anyone read the frontpage article about minimum wage? This shows another side of how Americans live. It is not always so easy to go to college and better yourself. The young man who is profiled in the story partially supports his family. Even if he were to get student loans, grants, scholarships and a part-time job, how could he continue to provide the support he is providing now?

Posted by: xyz | January 10, 2007 9:07 AM

My husband and I considered the might regret not having when we were debating, and for us, it would have been absolutely true. If we had not had our child, we would have missed out on so much laughter, fun and love. You don't know what you are missing until you have it. Don't be naive about the amount of work and changes you will have to make, but for us it was 100% worth it.

Posted by: to arlington | January 10, 2007 9:08 AM

As a single person without children I have alot of responsibilities - to my parents, my job, my friends. I have a mortgage to pay and home repairs to make. True that we all make choices but sometimes they are made for us by not giving us the opportunity to be a parent. It doesn't make us less of a person or a bad person.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 9:11 AM

While I can't relate to Leslie's feeling the occassional regret about having kids, I know she is not alone. I have had several women, about 30% of my friends, admit if they had to do it all over again, they would not have chosen to have kids. Some admitted they had their kids for the wrong reasons:save a bad marriage, stupidity, no BC, fear of regret etc... But some just admitted that even though they bring great joy, they also are an equal burden. Now I have actually met a larger amount of men who have regretted then women. I am not sure what that says. But in my circle of friends, I have found only about 20% of women are estatic about having kids. DD is only 3 years old and not a moment of the last three years have I regretted her birth. I think I spent the first 18 months of her life in complete Mommy heaven. I have come down to earth and now realize my DD is not the complete angel I thought she was. But I definitely am still in love with being a mother. But I am not sure that I will always feel that way. And I don't think Leslie is a bad parent in any way for saying she has some regrets. I think she does own up to her choices. She has not abandoned her children in anyway. As long as your children never know, when they are children, that you sometimes had regrets, they will be fine. I actually think it is valuable discussion when they are adults to let them know it is human to regret decisions. Even the decision to have them.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 9:17 AM

Arlington, it can be a tough decision, but I'd say don't have them if you don't REALLY want them. It is indeed the most wonderful thing, but it is also the most difficult and demanding thing I've ever done. On top of the operational aspects there is an emotional part too. I have never loved someone in my life as much as I love my kids and that is a blessing and a curse because there is an inevitable worry for their welfare that I don't think you ever, ever lose (Fred, I'm sure you can speak to this). Someone once said that to have children is to have your heart walking around outside of your body. I think that's a pretty apt description. That said, I think few people are ever 100% sure of it. The fact that you are being thoughtful about it says to me that you would be terrific parents if you chose that route. Good luck.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 9:18 AM

This was a brutally honest column that should be read by anyone contemplating parenthood. Being a parent means inviting strangers into your home to live for several decades. It is hard work. Sometimes I think parenthood is most enjoyable in the afterglow of memory. And the personality, intelligence, health, and success of your children is in no way assured - even if the parents do all the "right things." Children do not "enhance" your life, they become your life. Yes, there are moments of transcendental joy, but there are also many moments of deep despair. Anyone who expects otherwise should just get a dog.

Posted by: Been There | January 10, 2007 9:18 AM

To Stupid Parser, a childless person could, I guess, acknowledge that it's a good thing that people want children so that the human race can continue, but it seems like a waste of breath to me. In fact, most people want to have children. We don't need to offer incentives to have kids because people want them. We will not get to the point where no one wants kids.

Do you want them to say this to acknowledge that they're not doing their part to further the goal of society (self-perpetuation)? Or do you want to hear it as some sort of apology, like "I have a great life, but I recognize that I didn't do what's best for humankind, so I'm selfish."

It's like Matt in Aberdeen wrote: Leslie chose hers, Helen chose heres. Neither path is better (for the record, the path Leslie chose is by far the most travelled). So why shouldn't childless people be allowed to love their decision? No one asks people with children why they're so happy.

Maybe this comment caught me on an off moment akin to folding the eighth load of laundry. If it's snarky, please ignore.

Posted by: Meesh | January 10, 2007 9:20 AM

Experienced Mom,

We still have one at home and he was sick last night! Somedays, the joy outweights the sorrows, other days it is the reverse.

I never realized how much parents worry about their children until I became a parent. When I was in Viet Nam, I had no idea that my parents were even worried! Now that my daughter is in the Air Force, I have been concerned about her going to war and was relieved to find out that she is going elsewhere next month.

KLB SS MD,

I turned off the ice maker because I was painting the laundry room and had to move the i.m. So there are only a few cubes this a.m.

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 9:21 AM

There can be an intense sadness in those of us who have not had children when all around us friends and family are having them. We deal and move on - sometimes we get a dog but not because we don't want the joys and despairs of children but because we can't have it. I guess I would just hope that people with kids don't look at us all as being selfish because I don't think I am at all.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 9:26 AM

"Being a parent means inviting strangers into your home to live for several decades"

This statement makes no sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 9:28 AM

This isn't unique to moms, or even parents. "You can't have your cake and eat it too."

Part of growing up is learning to make real, conscious choices, rather than just drifting through life. I chose to take a job right out of college, rather than go to grad school (I actually go the job offer and an acceptance letter to Vanderbilt's grad program on the same day) - because I wanted to get married, and didn't want to starve. The job wasn't as fun as grad school - but on balance, it provide a better life for us.

I took a 2 hour commute so my kids could have a house with a big yard to play in, complete with trees and squirrels.

I don't regret those decisions - because I know why I made them.

Having children means we give up things. Really think about it, and know why you're deciding to start a family. Then, you may get angry, you may get frustrated - and you will get tired - but you won't regret it.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 9:28 AM

While serious commitments do preclude absolute freedom, you can change or drop most other commitments! You can quit a high-pressure job or take a vacation, for instance. You can't quit being a parent. That's a 24/7 commitment that precludes freedom.

As for the biological perspective.... Since there are enough people having kids to continue our already populous species, I'll take my freedom over kids. When we hit the endangered species list, we'll talk.

Posted by: Free in DC | January 10, 2007 9:28 AM

Being childless enables you to die alone, to not leave your mark on the world (who is going to watch these movies I have never heard of now 100 years from now). It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride, it enables you to never know what it means to act completely selflessly and live as selfishly as you desire.
Some people are way to selfish and narcissistic to reproduce and it is great that they can realize this. It is not for me though. I am looking forward to many children in my future. I am gaining so much more than what I am losing and I can't wait.

And btw, you don't need a lawyer for a traffic ticket. I have been to traffic court 5 times without a lawyer and all my tickets were reduced to non-moving violations (I think all ended up as parking on the sidewalk) $100-$200 fine. Much cheaper than getting a lawyer AND paying a fine.

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 9:29 AM

She's an ACTRESS. There is plenty of time to be "free" (whatever that means) and it's called the empty nest years! Also, have your children join in on the freedom. Travel with them, enjoy the theatre with them. THey will thank you for it. Are kids stopping other actresses? Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt seem to be doing just fine with their freedom with 3 kids. Actresses/actors live in a different world-I would never compare my life to theirs.

I'm honestly not sure what to say! I appreciate your honesty, though I have never regretted having my daughter. If I had more than one, I may have those feelings, though. Having an only, it seems more feasible to either have freedom or include my daughter in a lot of things that those with multiple kids can't.

Right on single mom!!! : To quote Janice Joplin "freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose".

I fall squarely in the camp of "what's the point to life if there's no one to share it with?"

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | January 10, 2007 9:31 AM

Anyone who doesn't wonder periodically about their life choices and wonder "what if..." lacks imagination.

And any parent who doesn't acknowledge at least ONCE in a while that parenting puts a real crimp on your life is a bottle short of a six-pack.

I feel twinges periodically too.

As for the person who wrote in and said Leslie had "too much time" to stew overlooks the fact that folding laundry is hardly intellectually taxing. My mind wanders too; usually wondering where the hell the other sock is lurking. And why do I care anyway?

Posted by: MdMother | January 10, 2007 9:34 AM

"you don't need a lawyer for a traffic ticket"

Who takes a lawyer to traffic court for a ticket? Are we really that dependent on lawyers in D.C.?

Does that strike anyone else as bizarre?

Posted by: Demos | January 10, 2007 9:34 AM

"Being childless enables you to die alone, to not leave your mark on the world (who is going to watch these movies I have never heard of now 100 years from now)."

Some people view their art or their other works (fighting for a cause they believe in, helping make others' lives easier, for two examples) count as a mark. They don't always have to be people (although they would count too). Some people leave both, but others are perfectly content to have their art or the other effects of their labors stand as their legacy.

Posted by: Food for Thought | January 10, 2007 9:34 AM

Arlington,

My husband and I also struggled with the decision whether or not to have children. I imagined myself looking back in 30 years or so when there was no more decision to be made. Which would I be likely to regret? Having children, or not having them?

We have an 18 mo daughter now, and I do not regret the decision at all. Don't get me wrong, there are brief twinges of regret; my husband and I can't do a lot of things that we used to do because of our responsibility to her, but she has brought so much joy and love to our lives that those moments are fleeting.

Take your time and make the choice that is right for you. We'll all be here if you want more input.

Posted by: Jen | January 10, 2007 9:34 AM

KLB SS MD - I'm so sorry if you feel judged. When I meet people who don't have children I know that its none of my business as to why. There are myriad reasons why someone might not have a child. Frankly I think that actively choosing not to have kids is pretty unselfish and difficult thing to do in today's society. Believe you me, there are scads of parents out there who had kids because they thought they should or as some extension of their ego.

Whatever your situation, I am sorry for your sadness and I appreciate you raising a good point here that isn't often considered.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 9:35 AM

Anyone who doesn't wonder periodically about their life choices and wonder "what if..." lacks imagination.

And any parent who doesn't acknowledge at least ONCE in a while that parenting puts a real crimp on your life is a bottle short of a six-pack.

I feel twinges periodically too.

As for the person who wrote in and said Leslie had "too much time" to stew, overlooks the fact that folding laundry is hardly intellectually taxing. My mind wanders too; usually wondering where the hell the other sock is lurking. And why do I care anyway?

Posted by: MdMother | January 10, 2007 9:35 AM

Freedom - On the other hand, choosing to have children offers you the freedom to love, to watch a human develop; it offers you the freedom to have wonderful trips and adventures that you would never have only with adults. Children offer you the freedom to think about what travel, plays, operas, concerts are really important to you so that you can select and anticipate those special events. Having children offers you the freedom to see the world through the eyes of a child.

There is alot of freedom in having children.

Posted by: Pam | January 10, 2007 9:35 AM

Thanks moxiemom. I don't feel as tho I my life is worthless because I don't have a child. I am the named guardian of for two of my friend's children in case something happens to them so I must have done something right. When one kid pulled out an album a couple of months ago and was showing me his pics (birthdays, holidays, even some vacations) there I was on almost every page. I would take them for a weekend once a month so the parents could do something by themselves - we would have a ball. Maybe I have the best of both worlds?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 9:40 AM

"Some people view their art or their other works (fighting for a cause they believe in, helping make others' lives easier, for two examples) count as a mark. "

Yes, they do. And a few remarkable individuals make contributions to society that make a difference for centuries.

Most of us, though, lead civic and occupational lives that will be forgotten in a very short time. The adage "no one is irreplacable" is almost frighteningly true. Our causes and contributions seem terribly important to us (and we should take them seriously), but for most, family will be by far the most signifacant legacy we can leave.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 9:41 AM

Well, no, one can't have kids and complete freedom. When I announced my impending first adoption, many many people told me "It will change your life." Well, duh, that was the point. On the other hand, my sister doesn't have kids and probably never will. That is a good thing for her, but wouldn't have been okay for me. To each her own.

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 10, 2007 9:44 AM

To KLB SS MD

No one's life is worthless. Kids are a blessing - but they aren't the only blessing in life. And, as you point out, you don't have to be a biological parent to enjoy them, and help them along the way.

Children are important to me. I do not, however, ever want to say anything that denegrates or hurts someone who is unable (for whatever reason) to have children.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 9:46 AM

Mom2b - don't know if you intended your post to be as mean and condescending as it sounds.

Being childless enables you to die alone, to not leave your mark on the world (who is going to watch these movies I have never heard of now 100 years from now). It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride, it enables you to never know what it means to act completely selflessly and live as selfishly as you desire.
Some people are way to selfish and narcissistic to reproduce and it is great that they can realize this.

Having children does NOT guarantee that you will not die alone. Children die, children choose not to care for their parents (see earlier blog about elder care). The thing with kids is there in NO guarantee. No guarantee they will be healthy, no guarantee they wil be decent people, no guarantee they won't die. So they are not an insurance policy.

Secondly, you sure seem to know a lot about having children when you haven't had one yet. Your view is awfully, awfully rosy. It 'aint all sunshine and butterfly kisses, sometimes it a lot of crying (the baby and you) and a lot of poop and biting. I also don't think that having children is some noble act full of selflessness - people have children because they get something out of it too. There is a lot of sacrifice, but there are a lot of rewards too. Finally, I think that one can be noble and selfless and change the world or at least their little corner of it without having children. In fact one could argue that with the "freedom" of not having children one can impact the world in a greater fashion - Oprah and Mother Teresa come to mind.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 9:46 AM

Most people's legacies are their children. This actress that Leslie was speaking of, I have never heard of, but I'm not one for TV, movies, celebrity worship....and I doubt many people will be watching these movies in 50 years (or even 20).

Imagining what life would be like without children, is totally normal and I would think most people do it, but actually regretting having your children, I just don't get. I think there are enough people with kids to look to, blogs, books, information all over the place where the responsibility of a child shouldn't come as a surprise.
I have a friend from work that is constantly talking about how she just isn't maternal and regrets having her children. I actually believe she shouldn't have. She is constantly guilt ridden when not around her kids and when she is with them constantly anxious and wanting to be anywhere that her children aren't. She is one of many women who had kids because that was what was next....college, marriage, kids.....It is good to hear about people that chose a different path so women who truly don't want and shouldn't have kids have another model of what life can be.

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 9:47 AM

Am I the only person who has never even once cared about leaving my mark upon the world?

I had children because I wanted to have a family, not to leave a part of myself. And my job is what I do to provide for myself and my family.

For the parents of young children here, remember that your feelings about parenthood and your children can change over time. My teenagers leave me wondering on a regular basis why I ever had kids :)

As far as traveling when the nest is empty and bringing the grown children along - that may not work. My mother and I had completely different ideas regarding travel and other interests. I wanted to spend my vacations with my friends and later my husband, not with my mother.

Leslie, my children don't always listen to me either. I find that people with children who are well behaved don't consider that some children are more strong-willed and defiant than others, and that multiple children are more difficult to manage than only children.

Posted by: curious | January 10, 2007 9:48 AM

"Being childless enables you to die alone, to not leave your mark on the world (who is going to watch these movies I have never heard of now 100 years from now). It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride, it enables you to never know what it means to act completely selflessly"

Yeah, that childless Mother Theresa was damn selfish. And yeah, I find it totally unlikely that childless Anna Pavlova ever knew true joy.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 10, 2007 9:48 AM

"Having children does NOT guarantee that you will not die alone."

No, but it sure improves the odds.

"It 'aint all sunshine and butterfly kisses"

No, but the rewards are there (and really, how many of us do truly scut work on the job and get nothing but an ever-shrinking paycheck?)

"In fact one could argue that with the "freedom" of not having children one can impact the world in a greater fashion - Oprah and Mother Teresa come to mind."

Of course one could - but really, how many of us are Oprah or Mother Teresa material?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 9:51 AM

Everyone talks about having kids for the future. I thoroughly enjoy my daughter for the here and now. It is not to have her take care of me in my old age, to leave my mark, or even to give me grandkids (although I hope at least one of my girls does have children). My advice is have them if you want them for a lifetime. If not, skip it. It is OK not to have kids.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 9:52 AM

"Am I the only person who has never even once cared about leaving my mark upon the world?"

Apparantly. This whole mortality thing seems to be a big issue for many of us here.

Posted by: Demos | January 10, 2007 9:53 AM

to KLB SS MD - that's awesome to hear about the kids in your life and you have done something right if you were chosen as guardian. Also, I think that your relationship with those kids is special and in some ways more powerful because you actively chose them and chose to be in their lives when you didn't have to. They are lucky to have you. I always wanted a cool "aunt" to be a buffer with my parents and take me on nifty trips. Don't let these others get you down.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 9:53 AM

My godfather has no children, he is a professor, he has touched the lives of thousands, and he has certainly enriched my life and the lives of my children and family.

I have a colleague who died recently, he had no children, yet there were hundreds of people at his funeral and a fair portion of them had to fly in from overseas to attend. I think we can say that his life mattered and affected people irrrespective of his breeding status. Hell, my kids cried for him, they knew and liked him.

Saying that childless people have no influence and leave no "mark" upon the world is stupid.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 9:54 AM

"Most people's legacies are their children. This actress that Leslie was speaking of, I have never heard of, but I'm not one for TV, movies, celebrity worship....and I doubt many people will be watching these movies in 50 years (or even 20)."

You know, most people will never hear of your kids, either. Whether or not anyone's heard or something or someone isn't necessarily the best way to judge its value.

And knowing who Helen Mirren is has a lot more to do with having a working knowledge of the arts, and a lot less to do with 'celebrity worship.' Angelina Jolie she ain't.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 10, 2007 9:56 AM

"My teenagers leave me wondering on a regular basis why I ever had kids :)"

They can be a challenge. I find myself looking forward to grandkids.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 9:57 AM

To MEESH, who said "We don't need to offer incentives to have kids because people want them. We will not get to the point where no one wants kids."

Take a look at Europe and some Asian countries -- they ARE at that point and now have to offer incentives for people to have children to avoid continuing their negative population growth.

It's not happening here, but saying it's impossible is naive.

Posted by: JennyK | January 10, 2007 9:58 AM

Most people are not Mother Theresa (or even an Oprah type) and don't have any significant legacy to leave. Although leaving a legacy certainly isn't the only reason to have children. I also doubt leaving a legacy is something you think about when raising small children...it is something that I plan on thinking about towards the end of my life.
I am looking forward to the sunshine and butterfly kisses more than I worry about crying, poop, and biting.

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 9:58 AM

Most people are not Mother Theresa (or even an Oprah type) and don't have any significant legacy to leave. Although leaving a legacy certainly isn't the only reason to have children. I also doubt leaving a legacy is something you think about when raising small children...it is something that I plan on thinking about towards the end of my life.
I am looking forward to the sunshine and butterfly kisses more than I worry about crying, poop, and biting.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 10:00 AM

Most people are not Mother Theresa (or even an Oprah type) and don't have any significant legacy to leave. Although leaving a legacy certainly isn't the only reason to have children. I also doubt leaving a legacy is something you think about when raising small children...it is something that I plan on thinking about towards the end of my life.
I am looking forward to the sunshine and butterfly kisses more than I worry about crying, poop, and biting.

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 10:00 AM

Wow, are the snarky folks just not up yet? I loved the post and even tho I don't have kids, there are times that I regret or think, "what if I had done X instead". I think Leslie is being honest and I'm surprised that no one has completely attacked her yet for this. Oh well, I guess that will be coming.

Posted by: Tina | January 10, 2007 10:01 AM

The hard part is when you are no longer the "cool aunt". Not, of course, because I am no longer cool because I am but because their view of cool has changed. When they were 8 and 10 it was fun to go to play putt putt all day but now that they are mid-teens they sure as heck don't want to be seen with me doing that! Parents probably have the same problem.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 10:02 AM

"You know, most people will never hear of your kids, either. Whether or not anyone's heard or something or someone isn't necessarily the best way to judge its value."

No, but they - or their kids - will be here long after I'm gone. How my wife and I raise them will still have an impact. The audit report I should be working on this morning won't.

And honestly - are you doing something at work this morning that's genuinely going to make a difference 50 years from now (and are you the only one who can or will do it)?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 10:04 AM

Mom2b - you are the mom who ends up crying at playgroup because its not at all what you thought it would be. It seems to me that having children isn't selfless for you at all, it seems to be all about what you are getting out of it. Nothing wrong with that, just not selfless. p.s. there is significantly more poop than butterfly kisses.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 10:05 AM

Just a suggestion, Leslie: Why don't the kids do their own laundry? I was doing mine as soon as I could reach the dials. People become overly indulgent of their children and their kids never grow up with a sense of responsibility or even with the knowledge of how to do basic things (laundry, cooking, etc.). So, do them and yourself a favor and have them do their own laundry.

Posted by: Ryan | January 10, 2007 10:06 AM

KLB SS MD,

You mean you have never heard that a teenager wants to be dropped off 2 blocks from school so she will not be seen with her mother and that embarrasing mommy van?

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 10:06 AM

"It's not happening here, but saying it's impossible is naive."

Good point. We should probably ask ourselves why we don't have that problem yet, and what we can do to avoid it.

Posted by: Demos | January 10, 2007 10:07 AM

How odd, I just got the following email from my 76 year old dad who also likes to call and warn me of impending weather in my area.

"On this cool January morning, I am thinking of my children and how
proud I am of both of you. I can't imagine my life with out you.
Love, DAD"

Whew, glad to know he still feels that way after the wringer we put him through. haha

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 10:08 AM

"When they were 8 and 10 it was fun to go to play putt putt all day but now that they are mid-teens they sure as heck don't want to be seen with me doing that! Parents probably have the same problem."

Trust me - an aunt or uncle can never reach the same depths of "uncoolness" as a parent.

Just for kicks, you should get with their parents and run a simple experiment. Find something they'd really like to do. Then set it up so they can go with you, or with their parents. Do this a few times, then count how often they choose you. I guarantee it will make you feel better.

;-)

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 10:13 AM

"Most people's legacies are their children. This actress that Leslie was speaking of, I have never heard of, but I'm not one for TV, movies, celebrity worship....and I doubt many people will be watching these movies in 50 years (or even 20)."

You might want to check out Mirren's work before commenting on it. She is a profound artist that most "child legacies" won't be.

Posted by: Liz | January 10, 2007 10:14 AM

Fred, Of course I have heard of that - I was one of those kids.
I didn't write here as a sympathy ploy rather to make people think before they make a general statement that all childless people are selfish, blah blah blah.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 10:14 AM

Older dad - I will give that a shot. Do I have to let the parents in on the experiment?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 10:17 AM

Giving up freedom is choice number one in having kids. For me the trade-off has been that I've eventually reached a very contented life.

It occurred to me recently that it was time that I could take back some freedom. My son is old enough to be responsible for my youngest. She's such a difficult child that I haven't found anyone I really trust to care for her. In recent years we've had her direct her amazing energy in sports and that's become our recreation and those parents our friends and company.

This year I've planned two getaways with my husband and I'm looking into tickets for plays and concerts. Depending on how many kids you have, the loss of freedom isn't a lifetime curse.

Posted by: soccermom | January 10, 2007 10:17 AM

a couple anecdotes in response to mom2b's scare tactics:

my uncle never had children. he had a sibling and nieces who loved him, and a wonderful girlfriend and friends. we were all with him when he died.

my aunt never had children. she has many siblings and nieces/nephews and friends all over the country. we, her family, all spend time and holidays together and any of us would be there for her whenever she needs it. she absolutely will not die alone.

i love my cool aunts. they are always fun, and they were amazing when i was that age where parents are waaayyy uncool, and we are still close now that i'm all grown up.

i can't wait to be a cool aunt to my nieces and nephews, and i have no intention of dying alone, kids or not.

Posted by: i should be working | January 10, 2007 10:19 AM

soccermom - duck, 'cuz its coming your way.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 10:20 AM

I'm with Ryan. At 6, I started doing my own laundry. It was the only chore that my parents made me do throughout my childhood. I wish I had been asked to do more, since I had a very rude awakening in adulthood. To this day, laundry is the only chore I enjoy doing.

Posted by: Neighbor | January 10, 2007 10:23 AM

Well, I picked up my son (15 yr old) from school yesterday in the "creepy" van. He always makes a point of "creepy" the van is. He does not seem to mind when I pick him up in the Infiniti. :)

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 10:23 AM

I'm with Ryan. At 6, I started doing my own laundry. It was the only chore that my parents made me do throughout my childhood. I wish I had been asked to do more, since I had a very rude awakening in adulthood. To this day, laundry is the only chore I enjoy doing.

Posted by: Neighbor | January 10, 2007 10:24 AM

Has anybody seen that show on the discovery channel about the couple who had 4 young children, then the mother got pregnant with quintuplets? To top it off, the father lost his job when the quints were about 6 months old - only saw the one episode, but talk about a balancing act - 9 kids, none over the age of 6 or 7!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 10:24 AM

Moxiemom, Thanks for your comment..feeling a little sick and blue today and mom2b's comment certainly didn't help.
I know I have made a difference in the lives of my nieces and nephews (they have thanked me for being there), so I know I shouldn't listen to such comments. *sigh(

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 10:27 AM

So moxiemom since there is more poop than butterfly kisses, do you regret having kids more than you are content with the life you have yourself?

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 10:28 AM

The grass is always greener. Especially when folding laundry! ;)

Helen's comments are inspiring to me, even though I love being a mother, because it proves that it can be done. Seriously, I think the world still needs examples of women who don't choose the Mommy-track...and are happy about it.

On the other hand, I think she overestimates the impact of not having kids and understates the importance of her own talent. I mean- how many people are going to become world class actors- whether they have children or not? Looking at my own life, I think I would still be a paper-shuffling bureaucrat, even if I didn't have any kids. It is a nice fantasy that we could all be as "free" as her, if we had made different choices- but I don't think that is true for most women.

Posted by: Silver Spring | January 10, 2007 10:33 AM

I'm not convinced that it is important to "leave a legacy". We aren't Egyptian Pharohs who need to build monuments to secure our immortality!

Posted by: Free in DC | January 10, 2007 10:34 AM

Great post, Leslie - seems we are all appreciating the "truth hurts" angle this morning. I have a bit of a different perspective on this - as much as it's equated w/ parenthood, I've never had "freedom" - but the flip side is that I'm presented with the opportunity of being "free" at the still very young age of 35 when my son graduates - IF i choose not to have more kids ... and then I could even conceivably do it all over again... I know there are posters here who have older children and then chose to have more children either with a different partner or because they realized they wanted more - I would be very curious to hear how the freedom aspect played into decisions to have additional children after already being a parent for so long.

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 10, 2007 10:34 AM

This is the best column I have ever read by LSM. I thought it was a guest blogger.

Alexandria, if you are not sooooo wanting to have kids that you would do in vitro, adopt, be a single parent, then just don't do it. It is forever. And not always good--and my kids are practically perfect! I have had moments tinged with "what if"--what if I had waited longer, taken that full time job when the first was a baby, etc. I have had moments when I wished I was single and childless--but what I really wanted was to feel the way I felt before I got married and had kids, before I really became a responsible adult. When I was single, I could sleep in, stay up late, spend my paycheck on whatever I wanted, go to the bathroom alone. I truly believe that you must follow your heart in this choice. If your heart isn't saying anything, then that is a message in itself. There are so many bad parents out there (well, I think this because I just went on a field trip with my kid's 7th grade. If the kids are any reflection of the parents, then the parents ought to be in jail! I need a day to get over it). Not saying you would be one of them, but there are lots of ways to be an influence on a child without having one.

And for all of those tired parents with little ones, keep the faith. You will sleep again! It is a RARE night I get woken by a child---more common for my husband to wake me up with his snores! They grow up.

Posted by: jane | January 10, 2007 10:35 AM

Great post, Leslie - seems we are all appreciating the "truth hurts" angle this morning. I have a bit of a different perspective on this - as much as it's equated w/ parenthood, I've never had "freedom" - but the flip side is that I'm presented with the opportunity of being "free" at the still very young age of 35 when my son graduates - IF i choose not to have more kids ... and then I could even conceivably do it all over again... I know there are posters here who have older children and then chose to have more children either with a different partner or because they realized they wanted more - I would be very curious to hear how the freedom aspect played into decisions to have additional children after already being a parent for so long.

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 10, 2007 10:35 AM

Mom2b - I love my kids, I love my life. I wouldn't change a thing. Because I don't love every single second of it doesn't mean I would change it.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 10:36 AM

mom2b - I do not think that your comment to moxiemom is very fair. I think that all parents would agree that at times we put may more into parenting than we get back (directly). We do it for the love of our children, and at times if that does not sustain us - the pure needs of keeping the child alive/healthy. I think that for every 10 poopy diapers, 20 spit ups, and 5 temper tanrums there is one kiss and smile that melts your heart. That one moment of pure love makes up for all of the above. And that is the remider we get for why we are going this crazy thing called parenting.

One can be content with the life that you have chosen, yet also think about the life that we have not chosen from time to time. the grass is always greener on the other side - or at least sometimes

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 10:36 AM

Missicat - don't let them get you down. I don't anymore. Once you make peace with either your decision or circumstances you just enjoy your life. PS - I love my dog.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 10:37 AM

I gave my mom a sign that said "Grandchildren are the reward you get for not strangling your teenagers" during a time when my teenaged sister was being particularly difficult.

I saw that interview and to be honest, I tuned it out the moment Dame Mirren made that "profound" statement on motherhood. My thought was, what does she know? My second thought was, a lot of celebs have kids for the wrong reasons, maybe she realized she didn't want to go down that path. Hello Brittany?

Here is my solution. You can "have it all" just not all at once. For now, my focus is and needs to be on the welfare of my children. If that means I can't just jet off to India for two weeks, then I don't go to India. But, someday my children will be grown and living independent lives. Then I will have the "freedom" I did before children.

Posted by: LM in WI | January 10, 2007 10:37 AM

I love being a mom and I love my daughter more than anything, but I totally relate to this post and others who acknowledge these feelings. Sometimes the changes in my life since I became a mom are so striking (like the previous poster who mentioned 12 weeks without anything spontaneous!) that I find myself thinking "I can't wait until she's old enough to [fill in activity I want to do] with me." I have to constantly remind myself not to wish these precious times away. Working motherhood sometimes gets in the way of being free to just "be" with your child, too... always worrying about the next task, load of laundry, etc. That's my biggest struggle

Posted by: justhavetosay | January 10, 2007 10:37 AM

"Older dad - I will give that a shot. Do I have to let the parents in on the experiment?"

No, of course not. The only advantage would be if you wanted to set it up as a real scientific experiement, where they were offered the exact same outing, but with different people.

Honestly, I don't think it's going to be that hard to figure out what they prefer. My kids (14 & 18) would - in a heartbeat - pick an outing with my sister or my parents over one with my wife and I.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 10:38 AM

Anyway can freedom and kids co-exist? I believe it can. You give up things, but get back just as much if not more. You give up things like foreign travel on a whim...and replace it with a weekend jaunt to the shore watching your kids discover the waves. You give up romantic dinners out for taco's and a giant mess on the floor but kids reactions and conversations can be priceless.
How do you balance the things you have to give up with what you gain as a parent? Obviously many people find it worth it or so many people wouldn't be having kids.
Also interesting, the birthrate in Western Europe (where it is supposedly easier to enter and exit workforce, where there is subsidized childcare, where there is more vacation time) the birth rate is much smaller. Why is it where is seems like balance is much easier to achieve, do people have fewer children?

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 10:41 AM

"seems we are all appreciating the "truth hurts" angle this morning."

Only if you have unrealistic expectations. If you approach things understanding that anything of real value in life takes hard work and sacrifice, then this is all a "well, yeah - you gotta go to the store if you expect to find food in the fridge" discussion.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 10:43 AM

This is something I struggle with as I am going to try to have a child soon. On one hand, because I didn't marry till 35 and have had a very full, independent life (travel, adventures, successful career, I won't have the "I never got to..." regret (and I don't mind walking away from my career; I was ready to anyway). Then again, because I've done all those things, I'm used to a life in which I get to. And my husband fears the freedom factor even more.

Though: He said "We won't get to hop out to the movies and dinner whenever we want," and I pointed out, we don't really anyway -- especially since we got TiVo.

Posted by: Alice | January 10, 2007 10:43 AM

Leslie, you are so right!
I didn't see your posting as a complaint, or a tirade against the injustice of having children. Rather, it's a very honest assessment of the fact that you realize you would have achieved different things in your life if you had chosen not to have them.
I am a mother of two, and I muse sometimes about where all that energy would have gone without them, even though I look at them every day and see where all the energy is going, and I am very proud.
I should have some time left after they go off on their own to put that energy to a different use!
To anyone else who is thinking about this question, I suggest reading Get to Work, Linda Hirshman's controversial manifesto. It's very thought-provoking!

Posted by: meg.lewis | January 10, 2007 10:44 AM

Thanks KLB, just feeling blah today.
Remember mom2b - some of us selfish childless folks may be the very ones who will help you when you get overwhelmed! :-)

Love my kitties, too.

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 10:44 AM

well said single mom. My dh and I joke that kid joy is like crack - its addictive and therefore makes us wipe bottoms, mitigate arguments, endlessly clean etc... just for that "hit" of kid joy (kisses, hugs, "you're the best mommy" etc..

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 10:45 AM

Mom2be: I think in Europe they have fewer kids, even though they have subsidized child care, over all they find it still harder financially to raise children. Things like land purchase and gas are still way more expensive then in the US. Geographically, we are just larger and we have relatively low gas prices compared to most of the world. Taxes are low too compared to some countries.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 10:49 AM

Wow...this blog has been really insightful. After a lifetime of "I never want kids!" about a year ago I met a man who changed my mind. I'm scared to death of having them, even though I know we won't have them for at least another five or six years. This blog has confirmed my fears, but the good news is at least I'm being prepared well in advance, so I won't be surprised when the time comes. That said, no one should ever be chastised for their choices regarding parenthood, as long as their choices aren't hurting anyone. We may criticize the welfare mom who can't name her children's fathers, but there is nothing wrong with a person who recognizes that he or she would not be a good parent (for whatever reason) and chooses not to become one.

"I guess I would just hope that people with kids don't look at us all as being selfish because I don't think I am at all."

Some parents are more selfish than child-free people, as has been pointed out before, because they want a little clone of themselves. I can't tell you how many times I was asked "Don't you want to have kids of your own? Don't you want a little Laura running around?" My answer was that if that were the only reason for me to become a parent, it was a pretty bad reason. I know some people on here think I'm conceited, and maybe I am, but I'm hopefully not THAT in love with myself.

Today's blog and every poster has really helped me reach into my own brain and realistically examine the reasons I've changed my mind and decided I want children. I'm still scared, but I still want them in the future, and I feel a little more prepared every time I read this blog, and I thank you guys for that.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 10:53 AM

Yes moxiemom and single mom, I did mention people obviously imagine what life would be like without their kids...what I said I didn't understand was the regret part of it. It is one thing to say, I regret never having finished grad school but quite another thing to say I regret having children because they prevented me from doing all these things that I didn't bother doing before I had them. People ponder the road they choose not to take, but I don't think it is fair to blame your children for not taking that road, which I frequently hear people do, at least in my field. I work in technology, where there are few women and the men I work with all have stay at home wives.

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 10:53 AM

"I'm not convinced that it is important to "leave a legacy". We aren't Egyptian Pharohs who need to build monuments to secure our immortality!"

No, of course we don't have to leave a legacy. But this comes up when parents say that think what they're doing is important - for their families, and for society as a while. Non-parents then often say "well, what I'm doing is important too - maybe even more important than bringing another child into the world."

Fact is, most kids grow up to be just another schmuck, just like the rest of us. Of course, this does mean that we get at least one more generation of schmucks.

The other relevant fact is that the non-child contribution of most people is just to be another working stiff, just like the rest of us.

There may not be a whole lot of value in this discussion - I suspect it has relatively little the decisions real people make about parenthood. For me, personally, I have a better shot at making a difference by contributing to the next generation than by any remarkable achievement of my own (for what that's worth).

Posted by: Demos | January 10, 2007 10:53 AM

I'm going to post this without even looking at the other comments like I always do in case I chicken out. What Leslie says rings completely true for me. There is a piece of me that always wonders what my life would be like without children. I love them and would give my life for them and wouldn't change my experience, but I definitely wish sometimes that I was free to be the carefree woman I was before kids. At one point before I was married, I considered not having children, and thought about how great it would be to pursue my own interests without consideration for anyone else. I've come to realize that I'm a better person because I care the way I do about my children. Motherhood has made me less selfish, and for my own good.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 10, 2007 10:55 AM

Lurker here ... Just a note: the quote about freedom being just another word for nothing left to lose?

NOT a Janis Joplin quote. Kris Kristofferson wrote "Me and Bobbi McGee." Joplin just has the most famous version of it. (And I love Joplin, so this isn't a knock on her at all.)

Sorry to be the anal music person - you should see me when I'm watching American Idol! (It's a lot of "Noooo - did she really just call "Because the Night" a Natalie Merchant song?!?"!)

Posted by: GG2 | January 10, 2007 10:55 AM

Leslie,

I really appreciated your essay and thoughts. As someone who is childless by choice, my husband and I have been through the myriad of snotty - but sometimes thoughtful -- questions from people about our decision.

Reading your essay reminded me WHY we made that decision, but more than that, it also reminded me (as others have said) that we all have to decide what is important in our lives and then live for that. If it's kids, great. If it's traveling the world, great. If both can't occur, time to make some decisions.

But as human beings, that's what we're meant to do -- realy weight what's going on in our hearts with what's going on in our heads and find some way -- ANY way -- to make them mesh somehow.

Posted by: ilc | January 10, 2007 10:55 AM

I couldn't get through the 100+ comments already, so please bear with me if I'm being repetitive.

My husband and I are debating kids. Not sure where we're going to land on that, but we do have a game plan that doesn't necessarily make us "free" if we don't (or can't) have kids of our own.

It's a plan that includes involvement in our local Big Brother/Sister and Junior Achievement programs and spending time with our nieces and nephews.

And besides - my husband has been known to knock freshly folded laundry off the bed ;)

Posted by: Chasmosaur | January 10, 2007 10:57 AM

"Being childless enables you to die alone, to not leave your mark on the world .... It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride, it enables you to never know what it means to act completely selflessly and live as selfishly as you desire. Some people are way to selfish and narcissistic to reproduce and it is great that they can realize this."

I am so saddened by the judgemental nature of this post. Having children does not guarantee you won't die alone and if that is the reason to reproduce I think that is selfish -- having a child so that you have a nurse in old age. Implying that childless people can't be selfless is so wrong. Many people devout their lives to others -- sometimes at the expense of having a family and sometimes not -- to make the world a better place. Their energy, money, and careers focus on the greater good -- making a difference in big and small ways. I know people without children who are mentors, foster parents, community advocates, etc. I have a childless friend in the Beirut working to build democracy and peace in the region and I take offense at the description of her selfishness about not having children -- "not leave your mark on the world" and "never know what it means to act completely selflessly"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 10:59 AM

It's all about choices. It's not like Helen Mirren isn't giving up anything to enjoy the things she says her freedom allows her. She's giving up one of the most profound experiences a human being can have. Sure having kids is hard and relentless and often means giving stuff up. But so what? For me at least, it gives meaning to my life in a way a whole lot of traveling, eating out and shopping didn't in my 20s.

Posted by: chicagomom | January 10, 2007 11:01 AM

Mom2b - Thanks for the clarification. What I'm trying to say is that I question your ability to speak so authoritatively on a subject about which you have little experience. In addition, I take issue with what appears to be your inclination to make people who don't have childre feel bad or less than you because of their situation.

I know that being an expectant mom for the first time is the most exciting thing in the world and that you feel like you are doing something special and miraculous (which you are) but that doesn't give you the right to make others feel bad. By all means, enjoy the ride but not at others expense.

Remember, some people "can't" have children of their own. I can't begin to imagine how very painful that must be. Just be grateful that you can.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 11:02 AM

Remember mom2b - some of us selfish childless folks may be the very ones who will help you when you get overwhelmed! :-)

----------------------------------

Not so sure about that - 90% of the others on this board, I would gladly help. I generally give my help to those whose company I enjoy (and that requires being less judgemental).

to all the grumps - There are many who enjoy devoting themselves to meaningful, less glamorous work (in my case teaching). I find my job as rewarding as the time I devote to it. (ooops - time to get back to work I guess.)

Posted by: not sure missicat | January 10, 2007 11:02 AM

And any parent who doesn't acknowledge at least ONCE in a while that parenting puts a real crimp on your life is a bottle short of a six-pack.

Please speak for everyone since you know us all so well or just speak for yourself. Maybe are some people are one bottle short of a six-pack because you drank it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:03 AM

I knew at the age of 10 I didn't want kids. I'm in my 40s now and am very happy and content with not having kids in my life at all. I've never changed a diaper and that is fine with me. No regrets here.

Posted by: Childfree | January 10, 2007 11:08 AM

Mom2b, I suspect that your lack of precision in word choice is complicating the issue. "Regret" has no negative connotations and by definition suggests nothing about blame, but you seem to be accusing those who admit ocassionally regreting their choice to have kids of somehow blaming the children for the fact that the parents aren't getting to do wild and wacky things. You're making a straw man argument, and not a very good one at that.

The fact that parents occasionally regret having kids doesn't mean that the kids are unloved or unappreciated or that the parents would choose not to have the kids if they had it to do over. It just means that life is complicated and sometimes, despite our best intentions, we regret not being able to make a different choice for ourselves. Regret, like sacrifice and responsibility, is one of those words that we become more familiar with as we grow older. It's healthy, and normal - even when it involves our kids.

Posted by: Ann_in_SS | January 10, 2007 11:09 AM

Leslie, this was a beautiful post. I have no kids yet and I'm still in the process of deciding whether I want them, but it's exceedingly rare for parents to admit to regret and it's something I wonder about frequently. I enjoy sleeping in on weekends and traveling and having extra time that I can spend at my discretion, but to express such thoughts openly to my friends with kids yields nothing but criticism about my selfishness and my life's lack of purpose.

I value your honesty.

Posted by: not a mom | January 10, 2007 11:09 AM

Mom2b - thanks for the clarification. What I'm responding to is your speaking so authoritatively on a subject with which you have relatively little experience.

I also take umbrage with your apparent inclination to make people who haven't made the same choice as you have feel bad or less than, because of that.

The choice to have children or not, is a very personal choice. Whether someone "can" have children is another deeply personal and often deeply painful situation. I think its unfair to try to diminish people for different choices about which we generally know nothing.

I know that being an expectant, first time mom is literally the most exciting, magical and miraculous thing ever, but that doesn't give you the right to dimish others with your enthusiasm. Enjoy the ride, just not at others expense.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 11:10 AM

Just because some people can't have children doesn't mean that those who can, should.

Posted by: Unreal | January 10, 2007 11:12 AM

This post, and the comments it has generated, has been really interesting for me to see- the grass really does seem to be greener on the other side of the fence, at least at times, for just about everybody! I don't have children and probably never will, but I get similar twinges of "gee, wouldn't that be fun" when I see the public facade of some celebrity's seemingly blissful family life ("Brangelina" being a good example here). That's why I come to this blog for a reality check sometimes.

Re: legacies- I make efforts to leave a modest legacy in various ways, and honestly have no idea which of them will be most significant, or if any of them will be, whether it's something I do for someone in my family (no kids != no family), for a friend, through my work, or through a volunteer or charitable contribution. The accusation of being selfish for not having children (almost always aimed at women but not men, it seems to me) I usually just find confusing, because raising a child well is certainly a positive legacy, but if I was doing that I would be less able to do some of these other things that I hope are also leaving a legacy.

Posted by: SheGeek | January 10, 2007 11:15 AM

I have no intention of making childless women feel bad. I actually encourage them to speak to their reasons for not having children. I know many women who probably wouldn't have had children if it wasn't what they considered to be the next logical step in life. The question on this blog is can freedom and kids co-exist...and I think for everything I am giving up, I am gaining something much greater so I would say yes, I personally am better off, as I am excited to grow into this role where I am free to experience a whole new set of emotions (both highs and lows) I know I would have never personally experienced without children. I have a very good job and am in a position where few women work, and I know I this is not enough and I feel I am missing something without having children and I know I have a lot more to give. (and I do have an active social life, volunteer, am close with family and friends, active in church).

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 11:16 AM

or me at least, it gives meaning to my life in a way a whole lot of traveling, eating out and shopping didn't in my 20s.

----------------------------------

But that is not how everyone spends their twenties! Hypothetical: suppose you spend your twenties in graduate school working hard and living on little. In your thirties you find yourself teaching in a small college, where you have a rewarding job that provides you the opportunity to teach and mentor many students. The more time you devote to classes and campus life the more rewarding the job is.

Now obviously parenthood and teaching aren't mutually exclusive, but the small child era does limit things for a few years for all but a few superhuman souls. In some cases, the way tenure track works, women still need to make a decision about which they want to risk their career for a higher chance of parenthood (pre 35).

I don't think Mirren was talking about the freedom to be materialistic, but instead the freedom to devote herself to work.

How about: war reporters, aid workers, doctors, scientists, the list goes on... it is of course possible to do these things and be parents - but I would respect those who claimed they thought they gave more through work than they thought they would through parenthood.

Posted by: to chicagomom | January 10, 2007 11:18 AM

"Please speak for everyone since you know us all so well or just speak for yourself. Maybe some people are one bottle short of a six-pack because you drank it."

To quote the Simpson's comic book guy, "Worst comeback ever!"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:20 AM

Just a side note: after reading the column this morning, contemplating the "what ifs," getting laundry done, unloading dishwasher, finally taking a shower and trying to get out the door with a semi-sick kid I was exhausted.

As I'm saying goodbye to my husband and dog, and finally my son, he runs up to me singing "Banana Split for my baby, a glass a plain water for me!" That is all I needed to get through the rest of the day.....

Posted by: cmac | January 10, 2007 11:23 AM

On the other hand:

My favorite British actress, often compared (favorably) to Helen Mirren, is Judi Dench. She has made many wonderful comments about her experience of motherhood, and (according to imdb), "My only regret is that I didn't have more children."

Posted by: Neighbor | January 10, 2007 11:23 AM

Leslie, I think this was your best column that I've read. Because it was finally brutally honest about your own life. I admire your work so much. And I'm a 26 year old male who knows he could never be put through that same trauma. But Leslie, your columns often scare the bejesus out of me. Not because your life is hard....but because you are usually (subtly or not so subtly) determined to guilt every woman on Earth into wanting to live a Righteous Full Blooded American life exactly like yours. THAT'S the insanity. In a moment of calmness, you'll realize you don't really hate that Queen (or whoever she was) as much as you thought. I respect people for the choices they make, and I try not to impose my own on others. (Unless they're trying to hurt me, obviously) I respect (and admire) your decision to take the path you've chosen in life. But it's very clearly a mindnumbingly hectic/frantic existence. But that's YOUR choice. You can't write a column where you're judging everyone else for not living this insane version of motherhood exactly like yours. And if the insane/uterus ripping days start to outweigh the joyous (or I guess even neutral?) child rearing days then it may be time to make a serious change in your life. Another choice....which I would totally understand and totally respect you for.

For what it's worth, this is one young man who will never take for granted the challenges that all mother's face. If I can be a better husband to a future wife, or dad to a future daughter, I hope you will also consider that to be part of your triumphs and 'Egyptian Legacies'. I would not have learned about all this without reading your columns and their many responses. And trying to take better responsibility for my own choices in life. You just gotta do the best you can in your own life, Leslie. And I will continually wish you good luck in that.

Posted by: Haynes | January 10, 2007 11:23 AM

JS and Singlemom, you don't have to give up travel with kids, you just have to plan a bit more -- and, frankly, not that much more when they're really small and totally portable. We like to travel and have taken our son on several trips. If you're used to travel, you'll take it in stride.

I agree with MoxieMom and to some extent with Older Dad about choices, though I think most people fail to see the positive side of that. As Older Dad put it (the part I disagree with him) "having children means we give things up". It's true, I guess, but is a 'glass half empty' way of putting it.
I prefer to think of it postiviely and expansively: you CAN have it all -- just make sure you're in charge of the definition of "all".
All for my family includes travel and a full 'adult' life that our son is part of. In addition to exploring the wonderful world of Chuckie Cheese, we go to museums, have dinner out a nice restaurant if that's in the budget and what we want. We don't stop because of him; we help him learn how to function in lots of circumstances, both kid-oriented and adult.
Someone else's "All" would sound really different, but it's theirs. Yes, "own it" as MoxieMom says, but more than that, enjoy it, celebrate, you chose it!

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | January 10, 2007 11:25 AM

Not sure what this "freedom" everyone seems to want is, exactly. Though it does seem to involve travel. Well, I travel all the time and its mostly work. And I miss my kids when I'm away. I call my wife so there is some connection there but I get a huge kick out of the discussions at home and I can't participate on the road. So, that sucks.

I can't help but feel that satisfaction in life begins with understanding who you are and what and who you love, not some checklist of things and goals. Maybe Dame so-and-so has no regrets but so what? What has that to do with you or me?

Speaking of traveling with kids, we waited until ours were at least old enough to manage their own airline meals (remember them?). If you are contemplating flying with an infant, please re-think or publish your schedule here, so the rest of us can avoid that flight.

Posted by: Dave | January 10, 2007 11:26 AM

re·gret -verb (used with object) 1. to feel sorrow or remorse for (an act, fault, disappointment, etc.): He no sooner spoke than he regretted it.
2. to think of with a sense of loss: to regret one's vanished youth.
-noun 3. a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc.
4. a feeling of sorrow or remorse for a fault, act, loss, disappointment, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:28 AM

"Please speak for everyone since you know us all so well or just speak for yourself. Maybe some people are one bottle short of a six-pack because you drank it."

That person must be enjoying a lobotomy if s/he can honestly say they have never once wondered or wished they had made a different choice.

I thought it was, "Worst comeback--ever!" You know, the pause that says it all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:29 AM

"It is one thing to say, I regret never having finished grad school but quite another thing to say I regret having children because they prevented me from doing all these things that I didn't bother doing before I had them. People ponder the road they choose not to take, but I don't think it is fair to blame your children for not taking that road, which I frequently hear people do, at least in my field."

mom2b, I don't think you're listening very carefully to your friends and colleagues. They are not blaming their children, they are taking personal responsibility for their own choices and stating that because they made the choice to have kids, they did not have the opportunity to do X, Y, or Z. All choices take time. For a variety of reasons, including resources and timing, you can't necessarily accomplish prior to childbirth all of your life goals, whether building a Habitat for Humanity house, or inventing an alternative energy source for automobiles, or creating a workable solution to end poverty in Alabama, or visiting those 1001 places before you die. All pregnancies aren't planned. Some interests strike you later in life. Give people room to express what they're thinking without being so judgmental. Please. Otherwise, you'll be the new mom that has everything figured out and chastises other moms for anything they say that doesn't fit into your Stepford Parent idea of how parents, as well as nonparents, should think, feel and live.

There's a big difference between blame and honest evaluation.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:33 AM

"Please speak for everyone since you know us all so well or just speak for yourself. Maybe some people are one bottle short of a six-pack because you drank it."

To quote the Simpson's comic book guy, "Worst comeback ever!"

I thought it was funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:34 AM

"I actually encourage them to speak to their reasons for not having children."

That is a very patronizing attitude. Why should they use you as some sort of confessional? Why should they explain their decisions to YOU? Who died and made you Supreme Mugwump?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:34 AM

Great column. I don't know anyone who doesn't sometimes wonder what might have been. Last week, as my continually sick son was keeping me up and night and causing me to miss deadlines at work (something I never do), I wished for a minute I'd never had him. Then I thought about the reality of that statement, and burst into tears at even the thought of this gorgeous, wonderful, precious little being not existing. I never for a minute really, truly wished he wasn't here -- I just wanted a break from the (temporarily) overwhelming responsibility.

I suspect when we talk about "freedom," we're really talking about some idealized, movie-star life that we wish we had, not the life we really would have led without children. Yeah, I seriously wish I could just pick up and fly off to Greece for a few weeks on a yacht in the sun. But the fact is, before I had kids, I never did that anyway -- even if I could have afforded it, the job that earned me the money to pay for it all would have imposed its own set of responsibilities, and I've just never been that spontaneous of a person in the first place (plus I'm cheap). So thing preventing me from doing that sort of thing isn't my kids, it is, and always has been, ME.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 11:36 AM

re flying with infants: I got some great travel tips from an experienced Mom about travelling with infants and they really worked for me:
- don't let them drink anything for a little while before take-off; if they're on solids, let them have some pretzels. They'll be good and thirsty at take-off and a bottle/sippy will give them something to focus on and will keep their ears clear. No sodas!! You (and every other passenger) will pay if you let them have caffeine.
- BabyB'air vests are great - they buckle the child (2yrs and younger) to you quite safely but give them, and you, some wiggle room
- crayons and books galore - nothing that beeps, honks, sings or otherwise overstimulates the child and aggravates other passengers
- window seats if you can. it pens them in and gives them lots of stuff to look at, especially while you're waiting on the ground
- for longer trips, movies and cartoons are usually available in flight now (or if you have a laptop or portable DVD, use that) -- just don't start with those, or you'll have used your best defense too soon!

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | January 10, 2007 11:39 AM

Re; travel with kids. Just took the 4 and 6 yr. olds to Europe. It was a wonderful, wonderful trip - but it was an exhausting trip and a very, very, very different trip than the other times we have been to Europe. Not a lot of museuems, not a lot of contemplating history, not a lot of wine and fine dining - but a lot of fun, a lot of pizza, a lot of opening the world to them and a lot of fun seeing it through their eyes. I think its great to travel with kids, but you need to manage your expectations carefully.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 11:39 AM

re flying with infants: I got some great travel tips from an experienced Mom about travelling with infants and they really worked for me:
- don't let them drink anything for a little while before take-off; if they're on solids, let them have some pretzels. They'll be good and thirsty at take-off and a bottle/sippy will give them something to focus on and will keep their ears clear. No sodas!! You (and every other passenger) will pay if you let them have caffeine.
- BabyB'air vests are great - they buckle the child (2yrs and younger) to you quite safely but give them, and you, some wiggle room
- crayons and books galore - nothing that beeps, honks, sings or otherwise overstimulates the child and aggravates other passengers
- window seats if you can. it pens them in and gives them lots of stuff to look at, especially while you're waiting on the ground
- for longer trips, movies and cartoons are usually available in flight now (or if you have a laptop or portable DVD, use that) -- just don't start with those, or you'll have used your best defense too soon!

Posted by: VAtoddlerMom | January 10, 2007 11:42 AM

Mom2b seems extraordinarily condescending and judgemental today. Hopefully she can be less so if her child(ren) ever disappoint her.

Posted by: non-mom2b lover | January 10, 2007 11:43 AM

"Every time someone says being childless enables them to do INSERT_SOMETHING_WONDERFUL_AND_FABULOUS, it would be nice if they acknowledged in the same breath
that If everyone felt this way, the human race would cease to exist.

"And in the absolute GRAND scheme of things that should matter to humans, it is THE most important issue.

"of course, that's just a biological perspective."

Are you a farmer, rancher, hunter, gatherer, fisherman, or fisherwoman?

If none of those, then every time you say you like your job do you also acknowledge in the same breath that if everyone felt this way, the human race would starve to death?

Just another biological perspective.

"While serious commitments do preclude absolute freedom, you can change or drop most other commitments! You can quit a high-pressure job or take a vacation, for instance. You can't quit being a parent."

Technically speaking, you can if you (and in some cases, the other parent too) put the child up for adoption or foster care.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:43 AM

"We may criticize the welfare mom who can't name her children's fathers..."
.....

Could we please try not to perpetuate false stereotypes here?

The average welfare mother is a mother in her thirties who has two children -- who were born WITHIN A MARRIAGE that later failed. The fastest way onto welfare is to get a divorce.

Posted by: to Mona | January 10, 2007 11:45 AM

Leslie, I stumbled across this blog entry this morning. I am happy to see a public posting from a woman who admits openly there are some moments of thought other than I was only here for children. It makes the argument you are human after all and stands against the grain of a society that persecutes women who ever doubt having children or who chose not to. My wife and I are not having children, and are all to familiar with this argument. And before anyone scoffs at us, we made that decision because we know who we are, and what OUR limits are. Call us what you want, truth is we made the decision together. Lastly and sorry to get sidetracked, as surprised as I was to read your post, I am equally as surprised at the amount of well tempered responses. Typically posts like these across the blogosphere are not well received. Congrats to your readers for being understanding and open-minded (well almost all of them), and thanks for sharing that sometimes humans do look back, and wonder... what if I took the other road...


Posted by: MB in MD | January 10, 2007 11:48 AM

to Mona, thanks for your correction. I watch too much Maury Povich. :-(

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 11:49 AM

I'll second what Laura said- just because I don't have children doesn't mean I'm jetting to Greece on a whim. As long as I'm working, any jetting anywhere will have to be arranged in advance. Sometimes I tell myself I'll do such things when I'm retired, but I probably won't be doing it then, either- just not my personality.

Posted by: SheGeek | January 10, 2007 11:49 AM

Does anyone else find it amusing that mom2b has all the answers on how great motherhood is, when she hasn't even produced a live child? So all of her answers and condensation is being directed at people who are or have had this experience?

As for her encouraging childless women to defend themselves from her biologically superior position, the less said the better, I suspect.

Biologically speaking, no one who is a parent is a biological success. It isn't until you are a GRANDparent that you can heave that sigh of relief. At least until the next pandemic.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:51 AM

I thought of something while reading non-momb2be lovers comments... is anyone else really nervous about when their child gets older (ie in school, or after) that the children dissapoint them, and how they will handle it?

I just imagine that my child will be fairly smart and good in school, play a sport or two, and instrument perhaps, then go to college and live happily ever after. Logically, I know that life is not perfect, but I really wonder how I will handle the bumbs in the road while accepting my child as she is, yet also accepting that she may not become the person that I was planning for. I always joke that she can be anything she wants - except for a cheerleader... anyone with older kids have experience with this? Did it ever make you regret your decision to have children more?

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 11:51 AM

I thought of something while reading non-momb2be lovers comments... is anyone else really nervous about when their child gets older (ie in school, or after) that the children dissapoint them, and how they will handle it?

I just imagine that my child will be fairly smart and good in school, play a sport or two, and instrument perhaps, then go to college and live happily ever after. Logically, I know that life is not perfect, but I really wonder how I will handle the bumbs in the road while accepting my child as she is, yet also accepting that she may not become the person that I was planning for. I always joke that she can be anything she wants - except for a cheerleader... anyone with older kids have experience with this? Did it ever make you regret your decision to have children more?

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 11:52 AM

"If everyone felt this way, the human race would cease to exist."

We have more than 6 billion people in the world, and the number is growing rapidly. Overpopulation, not underpopulation, is more of a problem. If everyone chose to have 5 kids, the world would have a much greater problem than if everyone chose to have between 0 and 5 kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 11:56 AM

Leslie - thanks so much for the thoughtful, honest post. It sounds like you're wrote from the heart today. As someone who's in the process of deciding whether or not to have kids I appreciated this unsentimental characterization of parenthood. And it's INCREDIBLY refreshing to read a description of a childless woman that doesn't include the put-down word "bitter."

Posted by: Friend | January 10, 2007 11:57 AM

In all fairness to mom2be, she is on an emotional and hormonal roller coaster now. I don't think you can even begin to evaluate parenthood till your done nursing them and/or the child is at least one year old. You are generally just on too much of a high to think clearly. I distinctly remember thinking no one in the world could love their child as much as I love DD. Now, I look back and laugh at that.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 11:57 AM

Before I had kids, people told me about how kids limit your freedom: they said we should sleep NOW, see movies NOW, travel NOW, go to bars and clubs NOW, because after kids, the freedom to do those things was gone. We were ok with that. We thought the thing about sleep must be an exaggeration, we could rent movies, travel when we're retired, and we were tired of bars and clubs.

What they didn't tell us is that after you have kids you also don't get to go to the bathroom by yourself (or, sometimes, at all), or to eat your whole lunch (or, sometimes, any of it), have clean clothes free of projectile sweet potatoes, fold a given set of laundry once and only once, have undamaged furniture without the imprints of little paint-covered fingers, a clean house, talk to your husband about something private, have a nice relaxed conversation on the telephone, watch the tv shows I like without it involving a knock-down-drag-out tantrum from my toddler, or any other of the day to day things we take for granted before we have kids.

In the big picture I don't regret having kids, except for the brief moments where my toddler is really truly driving me crazy. I chose to have them. But sometimes I really wish I didn't have to deal with them. But kids bring good things too. After you have kids, you don't worry so much about your own death, because you are more afraid of theirs'. That, in itself, is a sort of liberation.

Posted by: m | January 10, 2007 11:58 AM

Leslie - thanks so much for the thoughtful, honest post. It sounds like you're wrote from the heart today. As someone who's in the process of deciding whether or not to have kids I appreciated this unsentimental characterization of parenthood. And it's INCREDIBLY refreshing to read a description of a childless woman that doesn't include the put-down word "bitter."

Posted by: Friend | January 10, 2007 11:58 AM

The "stranger into your home " comment means that you do not know what you will be getting. Children are not clones. Two smart people can have a slow child. Two athletes can have a clumsy child. Two quiet people can have a loud gregarious child. Two loud gregarious people can have a quiet reserved child. Further, the political and religious leanings of a child have a way of evolving in independent ways past a certain age. If you want to have children, you must be willing to accept this.

Posted by: Been There | January 10, 2007 11:59 AM

foamgnone, this is not the only time that mom2b will be on a hormonal roller coaster (child #2 if that happens for example) so I for one am not letting all of her comments slide.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 12:00 PM

DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE! What did you expect her to say. All people adjust what they say to make themselves look better. Do I regret not being able to go on a moment's notice like my single guy friends? Sometimes, but I don't miss the loneliness that seems to pervade their existence either. Nothing compares to my 5 year old son running off the basketball court into my arms beaming after scoring his 4th basket (especially after we practiced at home every night because he thought he was terrible). "Freedom" hardly compares.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 12:03 PM

As far as the legacy thing goes... Every time you say or do something that impacts another person you've left a legacy.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:04 PM

"I can't help but feel that satisfaction in life begins with understanding who you are and what and who you love, not some checklist of things and goals."

But for some, these things are one in the same. Some people are truly passionate about their careers, hobbies, etc. And there's nothing wrong with having goals. If it's to be successful associate, or parent, what does it really matter, as long as someone is happy and content with what they've chosen?


"Maybe Dame so-and-so has no regrets but so what? What has that to do with you or me?"

Nothing, just that she's comfortable with how she's lived her life, and she was not afraid to take a different path. I think we all get caught up in our own little nucleus, it seems irrelevant when someone has chosen a different path. It's jarring when that tunnel vision is broken.

Posted by: perspective | January 10, 2007 12:06 PM

Been there - I agree. My dh and I will sometimes look at each other and say "Who are these tiny, unreasonable people who keep appearing in our kitchen demanding to be fed each morning?" haha. The older they get, the more I realize while they may look like us, they are their own people, which is daunting and very, very cool.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 12:07 PM

I absolutely adore Helen Mirren and she has every right to make whatever choices she makes about her lifestyle and her work. If you've never heard of her, you've been living in a cave somewhere.

Do those of you with children really think those kids will take care of you in your old age? Think again. They will choose your nursing home, have you cared for by strangers (mostly non-English speaking), and use your money to do it. When you are dying they will be standing by your bedside arguing over who gets what's left. Just because you're childless doesn't mean you will spend your life alone. There are millions of unwanted children in this country. Millions of accidents, millions of 'Jeez, what did I get myself into now?' Those extolling the joys of parenthood should adopt some of those who were not wanted.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:11 PM

For example:

Toddler: (jumping on little brother).

Me: If you jump on your little brother I will have to give you a timeout.

Toddler (pointing): Maybe I give YOU timeout! Maybe I give you BIG timeout!

Me: Oh YEAH!? How about a cuddle!

Toddler: Ok. (cuddles).

Toddler: Maybe I NOT give you timeout.

Posted by: m | January 10, 2007 12:11 PM

"foamgnone, this is not the only time that mom2b will be on a hormonal roller coaster (child #2 if that happens for example) so I for one am not letting all of her comments slide."

I concur. It's the start of a slippery slope when we let people off the hook for their behaviors, particularly when we start saying it's all due to hormones.

I find her pedantic, myself.

Posted by: MdMother | January 10, 2007 12:15 PM

"It is one thing to say, I regret never having finished grad school but quite another thing to say I regret having children because they prevented me from doing all these things that I didn't bother doing before I had them"

Some people regret having children for other reasons than not being able to do the things they were able to do pre-kids. Unfortunately, many children come with many problems. That doesn't mean you don't love them, but it can be a life that is much different than the life of most parents. Dealing with illness, depression, drug-addiction, anorexia, bulimia, children who are bullies, anti-social psychopathic children, children who grow up to be serial killers. I think if I were the mother of Hitler, Ted Bundy, Sadaam Hussien, Susan Smith or many others, I would definitely regret having had children.

Posted by: anonfornow | January 10, 2007 12:16 PM

M...
cuddles are great ... hugs not drugs, remember that?... but being a parent and not being the childs best friend is as big a responsibility as chosing to have them.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:16 PM

What a timely column. I have been overwhelmed lately and have been wishing I could have the quiet, organized life I previously had. It's a relief to know that others sometimes look back... I had a "high" this morning Me: Are you hungry? Him: No I'm Cohen. So silly...

Posted by: s | January 10, 2007 12:17 PM

"As Older Dad put it (the part I disagree with him) 'having children means we give things up'. It's true, I guess, but is a 'glass half empty' way of putting it.
I prefer to think of it postiviely and expansively: you CAN have it all -- just make sure you're in charge of the definition of 'all'."

I not sure we really disagree all that much. The rewards of family life are much greater than the costs. My children mean much more to me than my job (I'm a strong believer in the credo "work to live - don't live to work"). As does my wife (we're now old enough to be starting to think about life after kids).

But kids do require time, effort and money - time, effort and money that can't be spent on other things. I think it's fair to describe that as a sacrifice. The idea of "sacrifice" isn't bad - or perhaps we should call it "paying your dues" or "making the investment." In any event, we do it willingly, and get back much more in return.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 12:17 PM

tried to post earlier but it didn't get through, I guess - condensed version:

To think that having children means that we are leaving a legacy is an extremely self-important point of view. Very few people leave any type of legacy in any way whatsoever.

We don't have kids, want to, but probably won't (long story). The truth of it is that we don't do a lot of traveling even though we don't have kids - we don't have the time, although we very much want to. The truth is that if traveling is important to you, you can do it with or without kids, and while we know this, the fear that we never will go any where ever again if we do have them is part of the reason we don't have them. Yes, we like to do what we like to do - and there isn't anything selfish or wrong with that. There are limits no matter what you choose, but only if you allow them - if I want to do something and it is important enough, I am going to do with or without kids.
We are much too caught up in 'what we should do' - whether that is with or without kids - and we don't do enough of 'what we want to do' - whether that is with or without kids.
We impose a lot of limitations on ourselves, and that is what it truly boils
down to.
Part of the reason that we don't have kids is that we don't have any relatives nearby to help - but the truth of it is that they would come to help if we asked them to do so - for whatever reason. We probably wouldn't have any time to ourselves and we would be asking THEM to leave, when it comes down to it.

Maybe I am a bit Pollyanna-ish, but due to some things that have happened recently, we all need to understand and believe that life is too short - if it is important enough, do it, make it work, whatever that means.

Posted by: we all make choices | January 10, 2007 12:21 PM

"Mom2b seems extraordinarily condescending and judgemental today. Hopefully she can be less so if her child(ren) ever disappoint her."

You must mean WHEN they disappoint her. 'Cause they will, even if it is only momentarily.

Posted by: another non-fan of mom2b | January 10, 2007 12:21 PM

"Alexandria, if you are not sooooo wanting to have kids that you would do in vitro, adopt, be a single parent, then just don't do it"

I disagree. I wanted to have children, but knew that I didn't want them enough to go through in vitro, adoption, or intentional single parenthood. I was willing to make a full life for myself without children if it didn't happen the old-fashioned way. I had two, and am very happy other than the occasional "Why did I want kids?" days.

I would think that if you are ambivalent, then maybe you shouldn't have kids unless you reach a point where you desire kids and are no longer ambivalent. That point doesn't have to be at the extreme of "I'll do anything to have a child".

Posted by: xyz | January 10, 2007 12:22 PM

"is anyone else really nervous about when their child gets older (ie in school, or after) that the children dissapoint them, and how they will handle it?"

I am laughing at this (in a friendly way). Before my daughter was born, I had such a clear idea of who she was going to be, and what I would and would not do as a mom. Like, for ex., she WOULD do sports, she would NOT have everything pink, etc. etc. etc.

Well, that little girl came out as different from my mental vision as you could possibly imagine. She knew exactly who she was and what she wanted from the get-go, and that absolutely included pink and dolls and princesses and dance and all that stuff. It made me realize how little "control" I actually have over who she is and what she will be. And that who she was was really, really cool, even when it didn't match my preconceived notions. And that it is a serious privilege for me to be allowed to watch her grow into herself and (I hope) guide her along the way.

So, yeah, I worry about being disappointed in the big sense -- drugs, teen pregnancy, etc. But I don't worry about it in the context of her choosing a different path than I would choose for her, because I know it's not my place to even try to control who she is fundamentally. I think of the phrase "if only she used her powers for good" a lot: my job as mom is to help her learn to direct all of her energies and talents in good, productive ways -- and then get the heck out of the way and clap. And if that means she wants to be a cheerleader, then God help me, I'm just going to have to suck it up and support her in that.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 12:23 PM

'"Mom2b seems extraordinarily condescending and judgemental today. Hopefully she can be less so if her child(ren) ever disappoint her."

You must mean WHEN they disappoint her. 'Cause they will, even if it is only momentarily.'

Silly you! Don't you know that Mom2b will give birth to the perfect child, who will save the world, cure cancer, wipe out world hunger AND figure out how to lose weight while eating everything you want?

Then, to top it off, she'll have ANOTHER one!

She's already planned her legacy after all, and has so much first-hand experience to share with us all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:24 PM

MdMother, Imagine the blog this would be if we started on the hormone issue. I detest it when someone says I am "PMSing". How patronizing (esp if said by a man). Did it ever occur to them that maybe I am just plain old mad or sad?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 12:24 PM

'"Mom2b seems extraordinarily condescending and judgemental today. Hopefully she can be less so if her child(ren) ever disappoint her."

You must mean WHEN they disappoint her. 'Cause they will, even if it is only momentarily.'

Silly you! Don't you know that Mom2b will give birth to the perfect child, who will save the world, cure cancer, wipe out world hunger AND figure out how to lose weight while eating everything you want?

Then, to top it off, she'll have ANOTHER one!

She's already planned her legacy and has so much first-hand experience to share with us all.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:25 PM

free is just another word for nothing left to lose.
Janice Joplin, someone is showing his/her age!
Posted by: the original anon
***********************
Actually, the line is:
Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose
Written by Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, covered by Joplin on her album Pearl (1971).

Posted by: REALLY showing my age | January 10, 2007 12:26 PM

"Do those of you with children really think those kids will take care of you in your old age? Think again. They will choose your nursing home, have you cared for by strangers (mostly non-English speaking), and use your money to do it. When you are dying they will be standing by your bedside arguing over who gets what's left. Just because you're childless doesn't mean you will spend your life alone. There are millions of unwanted children in this country. Millions of accidents, millions of 'Jeez, what did I get myself into now?' Those extolling the joys of parenthood should adopt some of those who were not wanted."

This post is almost incoherent. No matter how indifferent children may be at times, does 12:11 PM really think that we'll be better cared for by strangers?

If kids are a curse on our old age, why recommend that we adopt?

And isn't 12:11 PM aware that many of us do in fact adopt?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:26 PM

If you have the "choice" to have a child... remember - having children means it is not about YOU anymore. It is about the children and all the responsibility that goes with them. With that SAID - this is not a bad thing! It is all a matter of attitude! Yes, children will probably strain your life style, your energy level, your marriage, your work, etc. HOWEVER, if you look at having children and the associated responsibilities with the correct attitude you'll know that whatever sacrifices you need to make will pay off in other ways. Building a strong family can be a wonderful thing!

It is not fair though - if you are unable and this includes your spouse - to sacrifice for your family - your children - and you have the option - then don't have children. It's not fair to them. It isn't fair to your spouse.

If you do choice to have children.. make sure both of you do everything to keep your marriage in tact. Don't fight over trivial stuff. My co-worker today got into a disgreement with her spouse because she'd bought their child a toy and she hadn't yet thrown the packaging away.. he chastised her - versus why didn't HE just throw the packaging away - he could have avoided taking something trivial and making it an issue. Make sure your relationship with your spouse is strong before having children. If it is a tough relationship without children - it won't get better WITH children.

Just my two cents. I'm in the tough terrible teenage years (ages 19 and 16).. after going thru a divorce 18 months ago (marriage problems partially due to disagreement on kids; not putting marriage first, etc)... my oldest son won't even talk to me now due to punishment I had to enforce due to poor choices he made... Do I REGRET having kids - NO - but I sure wish I had a better attitude when raising them and had put my marriage first so I wouldn't be divorced today.

Life is tough - just have the right attitude and everything will work out ok!

Posted by: cyntia | January 10, 2007 12:28 PM

Good question, single mom. Life is a crapshoot (can you say that on this blog?). I feel very lucky that the two children I adopted turned out to be very smart. I did not know this when I adopted them. I can already tell that they will be able to attend college (assuming they don't get a traumatic brain injury somewhere along the way). Whether or not they will choose to do so is a different story. And although I hope they do, my greatest concern for them is that they choose a life's work that is satisfying for them. I also hope that they conduct their lives in a way that brightens the lives of others. I told that to my social worker when preparing to adopt my second daughter. I meant it then and I mean it now. I also hope they provide me with grandchildren! But my hopes and expectations do not include making lots of money, having a "good" career, or any of the other things many people think are desirable. I could still be disappointed, but I am trying to raise them to be the kind of person who will make the choices I wish for them. I guess time will tell, but I don't worry about being disappointed.

Posted by: sngle mother by choice | January 10, 2007 12:30 PM

"Very few people leave any type of legacy in any way whatsoever."

Amen to that. Though passing our DNA on down the line is at least something.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:30 PM

"You can still travel with children."

LOL - maybe you can, but once my husband and I had children, we had less money and vacation time to do much traveling. Day care and other expenses involved in raising children took away a large portion of our previous vacation and travel budget. Kid duties used up vacation time that was previously only used for vacation. Weekend jaunts were limited because the weekend time was spent with extended family who live where we do or doing errands and chores that we couldn't get to during the week. Having family close may seem like a benefit if you are looking for someone to watch your kids so you can go out. In reality, it changes your leisure time because you tend to spend more time with extended family. Those grandparents, aunts and uncles sure want to spend time with you once your family expands. But, since I love spending time with family, it is not really a sacrifice. We just didn't travel much. One family vacation per year.

Posted by: duh | January 10, 2007 12:32 PM

cynthia - super advice and I'm sorry for your situation. There's plenty of rosy child rearing propaganda out there, but not a ton about the nitty, gritty of it. Its important to go in with your eyes wide open - thanks for sharing your story and hang in there. If your child doesn't boycott you at some point in their teen years, you are likely not doing your job. Hopefully, he will apologize profusely some day when he has kids of his own.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 12:36 PM

Laura,

My now-teenage daughter went through the stage of being stereotypically feminine stage between the ages of 4-6. Most of us do (male/female) around then. Note all the "princess" costumes sold to the age group AND all the male "superhero" costumes for the boys.

These things may change with your kid(s) as they age as well. Don't fret.

Posted by: MdMother | January 10, 2007 12:40 PM

There is never a day that I regret having a child. My son is almost three years old. Being a working mom and without any grandparents in the area, every day is spent working to provide for the family or taking care of the family. So many times, I'm tired and exhausted, but I've never seriously considered not having kids.

Even after going through all this, we've been desparately trying for a second. After almost two years of trying, we are considering IUI and IVF treatments to help us conceive. If the decision was purely an economic or rational one, no one in their right mind would do it. But somehow, the power of love enables us to keep going through all the tough times.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 12:41 PM

Laura: That is kind of funny. I had the same preconceived notions before DD arrived too. But unlike you I wanted DD to love girly girl things. So far she likes them a little but as someone described her last week, "as a cool tough little girl." I had to laugh. I always wanted a dainty little girl and that is what I got. Love her to bits anyway. She does love hand bags, jewlery and shoes. She just wants to wear them as she is sliding down the banister of the stairs or climbing on the roof of her play house.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 12:44 PM

One of my best friends has a drop dead gorgeous tall, blond daughter (age 14) who hates pink and all things girly. She will be a great catch someday as she loves to go fishing with her dad (baits her own hook and cleans the fish too), watch baseball games and grill.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 12:47 PM

Fonamgnome - there is nothing I love more than my 4 year old dd, over accessorized, in her princess costume climbing a tree or playing in the sandbox. I love that being a princess and being rough and tumble are not mutually exclusive in her book. I also love that one can wear their best gown to Target when you are four. Ahhhh, the freedom of four!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 12:48 PM

duh:

I love spending time with my family as well, even though we don't have kids - and I am pretty sure that they love having us around - they were excited when we mentioned the possibility of moving their way sometime this year. We spend ALL of our vacations with our relatives now - even without kids. Hubby has promised me a vacation by ourselves this year - we haven't had a real honeymoon and have been married for 4 years - even going to the point of asking his parents to come and watch the dogs for us when we go, as part of our Christmas present from them (we will pay for their tickets)!!!

Most people, including myself, are limited mostly by the limitations placed on themselves. Yes, most of us have economic limitations, kids or not, but then we often have unrealistic ideas about what 'vacations' or 'traveling' should be, too.

Freedom is an interesting word and has different meanings for all of us - and it is important that each of know what it means for our own lives. It involves making choices for our own lives and knowing that those choices are informed ones.

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 12:49 PM

Travel with kids is definitely possible and even enjoyable. We've taken our 4-year old to Europe, Hawaii, and the Caribean. The last trip included our 2-year old son as well. Were they as relaxing as previous trips to those places (which we'd taken pre-kids), NO. We're they still fun, yes. Did we as parents get something different out of the trips--definitely, by seeing the world through a child's perspective.

We thought long and hard about having kids before deciding that was the path we wanted to take. Do I sometimes wish that I didn't have the responsibility of being a parent (as well as homeowner, pet owner, wife)--sure, but those times don't last long. But I also don't feel like I've lost my freedom, because I had the freedom to decide whether to have kids or not. I've certainly lost some privacy (the comment about not going to the bathroom alone was right on target when you have toddlers), my ability to sleep for 8 hours uninteruppted (even if the kids sleep that long I can't sleep more than 4 hours at a time), some of my easy-goingness (I feel like a tyrant sometimes telling everyone what they need to do or not do), some spontaniety.

And for the record being a celebrity (with or without kids) involves loss of freedom --freedom of privacy. To me that is a scary thing to lose, but with our media-frenzy world it is an inevitible.

Posted by: New Poster | January 10, 2007 12:49 PM

I'm intrigued by a lot of the posts here that mention giving up travel/dinners out/movies etc when having children. How often do you guys REALLY do that? I vacation maybe once a year to the same destination (VERY kid friendly place), generally cook, and prefer Netflix and Tivo to stinky cinemas with people cracking gum in your ear. Perhaps I'm just a lot more low-key than a lot of folks lol.

Posted by: StudentMom2Be | January 10, 2007 12:50 PM

"What they didn't tell us is that after you have kids you also don't get to go to the bathroom by yourself (or, sometimes, at all), or to eat your whole lunch (or, sometimes, any of it), have clean clothes free of projectile sweet potatoes, fold a given set of laundry once and only once, have undamaged furniture without the imprints of little paint-covered fingers, a clean house, . . . "

Huh? None of this happened to me.

". . . have a nice relaxed conversation on the telephone, . . ."

Nor this.

". . . watch the tv shows I like without it involving a knock-down-drag-out tantrum from my toddler, . . ."

This is right, though:

Toddler: "Farve, I want a glass of water!"
Father: "Wait 'til the commercial."

Or even worse:

Toddler: "Farve, I want a glass of water!"
Father: "Wait 'til the commercial" (And it's non-commercial Public TV!)

This problem solved itself just after Child #3 was born and Child #1 started school. The picture tube on the television set failed, and unlike previous times, we never repaired it or bought another set. TV was making me a bad father (see above anecdotes), so we did not need it.

What we found out was that by not fixing the TV, we were making a present to ourselves of several hours' worth of time every day. Time to throw the ball around with the kids in the back yard, time to read them "Donald Duck and the Golden Helmet," time to talk to each other, time just to look out the window and watch the cows graze on the farm across the road.

Subscribe to "Broadcasting & Cable" magazine, and you'll learn that your eyes on that tube are a valuable commodity. The advertisers on commercial TV ought to pay you for every hour you take out of your life to watch their shows and ads. The propagandists on non-commercial Public TV ought to pay you for every hour you watch their propaganda. If your kids are keeping you from watching television, they are doing you a favor.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 10, 2007 12:51 PM

ditto, Moxiemom + foamgnome. I love that for my daughter, being a princess doesn't seem at all inconsistent with digging up worms.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 12:51 PM

Speaking of songs from way back when...

My 15 yr old was looking at my MP3's. I overhead him talking on the phone to his buddy. "Dad listens to Led Zepplin!" 15 yr old was amazed that I could actually know something about rock music.

(gee, I guess I remember something out of that drug induced haze back in the 70's)

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 12:52 PM

Moxiemom: I am waiting for the Princess phenomen (sp?) to come to our house. DD has just turned 3 and is only briefly interested in the Princess. She actually puts on the accessories and announces that she is the queen not the princess. LOL. But we took her on the Disney cruise last September and she HATED the $60 Princess dress. Literally cried when we put her in it and pararaded her around all the Princesses. She was very intrigued by the Pirates and Captain Hook. Every one tells me the Princess passion makes its appearance during year 2. So I keep hoping. We have 4 Princess dresses in her closet waiting to be used.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 12:52 PM

Laura,

What is wrong with being a cheerleader?

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 12:53 PM

Matt - while I love t.v. I have found that the less t.v. our kids watch, the better behaved they are.

Laura - nice to hear. We should all try to be more four.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 12:55 PM

KLB SS MD and missicat,

Since most of us agree that fulfillment rarely comes from one's job/career, but comes from what you do outside of work, making the choice to have goods necessarily eliminates other things that could have been done during the same hours. Saying you can have it all but not all at once is not true in my opinion. Realizing that the answer turns on the diversity and number of the items in the bucket labeled, "all", time remains finite and none of us knows when our time will be up. Some choices get knocked out by virtue of other choices.

I have two girlfriends who are now in their mid-40s who, for different reasons, are childless. The time I've devoted to parenting, one or the other has devoted to: furthering her education and publishing in her field, developing hobbies and interests to a high level, adult-oriented travel (long flights, an aggressive itinerary), written several books, chaired time-intensive non-profit boards accomplishing vital social goals in each of two cities, devoted significant time to counseling to sustain a marriage that otherwise would have collapsed, devoted 6 months to seriously exploring the possibility of going to seminary. Several of those endeavors are endeavors I would have loved to pursue. Will I have time later? Maybe, but I can't count on it. None of us can.

Please ignore those who can't graciously appreciate that you may have made one life choice, or had that life choice made for you, different from them.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 12:55 PM

I meant year 3.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 12:56 PM

New Poster:

You give me hope! What a refreshing post. I think I would be a lot like you if I had kids - especially the not being able to sleep 8 hours even if they did - I can't now and we just have dogs!

I think it is GREAT that you have not let having kids determine when or where or how you go on vacation. And your comment about celebrities is dead-on. Although I have to also say that while Brangelina may still trot aroun the world, I am sure they do so with the help of at least one or two nannies, which of course, they can easily afford to at least help. (I'm not saying the nannies are doing all of it because clearly the two of them are taking the kids along everywhere, even if I think it is a bit ridiculous - and how will they do it when the kids are school-age? Have a teacher come along? I guess it isn't so far-fetched. . .

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 12:58 PM

Thank you, Matt in Aberdeen and everyone one else who has weighed in so far today. Very comforting advice and shared experiences.

It's true that Helen Mirren has no responsibilities except to her art -- and that's okay, perfect for her. I've made other choices and thank god they were choices. That makes them so much easier to live with!

My three week pile of laundry is done. I am very grateful for that fact.

Thank you too to the person who called the column "brutally honest." My biggest comforts in parenting come from others who are also completely honest about the joys and tradeoffs of parenting.

Posted by: Leslie | January 10, 2007 12:58 PM

Thanks NClawyer. Can we add making a killer margarita or mimosas to the list of accomplishments?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 12:59 PM

"...Hopefully, he will apologize profusely some day when he has kids of his own."

One day I was talking to my late dad about my older son. I was saying how the son (then a teenager) would not do this or that and that he was otherwise not helping out the family much. My dad's reply was, "Ha! Now you know how I felt the last 30 years!"

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 1:02 PM

Original anon, I figured I'd tick someone off with that remark. It's my background. I was a kid pre-Title IX and in the early days after its passage, and there just weren't a lot of sports for girls (basically, gymnastics and dance). So it was "boys play sports, girls cheer for boys playing sports." And it just really bugged me that girls were supposed to support boys instead of being out there doing things themselves. Plus back then, all the girls I knew wanted to be cheerleaders so they could wear cute sweaters and short skirts and jump up and down to attract attention to their, umm, assets. The whole boy as conquering hero, girl as bouncing "assets" really bugged me.

I realize that cheerleading has come a long way, and really involves athletic skills nowadays -- some of the things that I see people doing on ESPN are just amazing, there are college scholarships, etc. So it's not necessarily a fair prejudice on my part. But it's still an instinctive negative reaction that I have -- and wanting my daughter to take advantage of opportunities that weren't available to me.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 1:02 PM

The whole "leaving a legacy" thing confuses me - maybe in the super-short term you leave a "legacy," but your kids are going to die, too. And so are their children. Think about the billions (trillions?) of people who have lived on Earth. Someday most of us will be tiny, insignificant specs, just as those who lived 100, 500 or 1,000 years before us did (note I said most: if you are a future Darwin, Einstein or Salk, you can omit yourself from that statement).
And re: traveling in planes with children. Insofar as you can avoid it, please do.

Posted by: SMF | January 10, 2007 1:03 PM

I have lots of ice!

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 1:04 PM

Thanks NClawyer...I don't feel 100% childfree since I am involved with my nieces and nephews, both timewise and financially.
KLB - yes, those are quite fine accomplishments!

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 1:05 PM

Well, I do know one freedom that gets knocked out once you have kids:

the freedom to have sex wherever you fancy within your own home--no fear of the "littlest audience"; or worse, "the littlest audience" remember and RE-TELLING what they have witnessed!

And I don't know about the rest of the mothers, but my sexual desire was WAY WAY DOWN for at least a year. Yeah, I participated in it, but it was rarely as full of zip and zing as it was previously.

Fortunately, somewhere along the line, they sleep at someone ELSE'S house (family or friend's) and at least theoretically wild monkey sex can happen.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:06 PM

Fred! I can't believe you read my mind - I was literally getting ready to type a question to that effect.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 1:07 PM

the original anon:

If I had a daughter, I would prefer that she not be a cheerleader. If she REALLY wanted to try it, I would let her, but I would prefer that she play soccer, basketball, run track, or something like that. I think cheerleading is a very stereotypical role for a girl, plus it is hard on the body image (not that those other things might not be - a tough line to walk).

Like I said, if she really wanted to try it, I would let her, but I would like her to be a true athlete (and boy, am I going to get reamed for this - I know some of you think cheerleading is a real sport, but I don't).

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 1:07 PM

Addendum - my legacy point is moot if you believe in something like chaos theory (i.e.-if you pull the wings off a butterfly somewhere, it creates a hurricane, or something along those lines).

Posted by: SMF | January 10, 2007 1:11 PM

"Toddler: (jumping on little brother).

Me: If you jump on your little brother I will have to give you a timeout.

Toddler (pointing): Maybe I give YOU timeout! Maybe I give you BIG timeout!

Me: Oh YEAH!? How about a cuddle!

Toddler: Ok. (cuddles).

Toddler: Maybe I NOT give you timeout."

What a great way to reinforce bad behavior! NOT!

Posted by: I have a clue | January 10, 2007 1:11 PM

"Toddler: (jumping on little brother).

Me: If you jump on your little brother I will have to give you a timeout.

Toddler (pointing): Maybe I give YOU timeout! Maybe I give you BIG timeout!

Me: Oh YEAH!? How about a cuddle!

Toddler: Ok. (cuddles).

Toddler: Maybe I NOT give you timeout."

What a great way to reinforce bad behavior!

Posted by: I have a clue | January 10, 2007 1:11 PM

I agree with you anonymous.

I think all the time about another career. I do not every question or ponder my life without my daughter. Maybe when she is a teenager I'll feel differently, but right now, nope. I think that if people readily accept that some people think about doing things differently, then you also have to accept that some people don't have those thoughts. It's one thing to engage others about how they feel, but it is entirely different to say, well, everyone feels the same way and if they don't something is wrong with them.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 1:12 PM

I was a HS cheerleader back in the days when cheering was really just that cheering. It involved some dance, some gymnastics, but mostly it was just peppy. But really guys, that did not stop me from going to grad school for a degree in mathematics. It was also a lot of fun. I would not rule it out for your daughter. It was a lot of fun. BTW, I did not have major "assets." I was the tiny one on the top of the pyramid.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 1:12 PM

geez, moving a little too fast today, evidently: I meant, of course, have "KIDS" not "goods".

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 1:12 PM

lay off the no kids on planes - maybe you should stay home.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:13 PM

lay off the no kids on planes - maybe you should stay home.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:13 PM

"Well, I do know one freedom that gets knocked out once you have kids:

the freedom to have sex wherever you fancy within your own home--no fear of the "littlest audience"; or worse, "the littlest audience" remember and RE-TELLING what they have witnessed!"

There's this couple we know where the wife works as a labor and delivery nurse on week-ends and teaches water safety instructors during the week. They have six sons and six daughters. How did they conceive the eleven youngest if their privacy and desire vanished after the oldest one was born?

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | January 10, 2007 1:13 PM

Addendum - my legacy point is moot if you believe in something like chaos theory (i.e.-if you pull the wings off a butterfly somewhere, it creates a hurricane, or something along those lines).

Posted by: SMF | January 10, 2007 1:14 PM

I agree with you anonymous.

I think all the time about another career. I do not every question or ponder my life without my daughter. Maybe when she is a teenager I'll feel differently, but right now, nope. I think that if people readily accept that some people think about doing things differently, then you also have to accept that some people don't have those thoughts. It's one thing to engage others about how they feel, but it is entirely different to say, well, everyone feels the same way and if they don't something is wrong with them.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 1:14 PM

They have six sons and six daughters.

forget sex how do they afford to eat?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:17 PM

I don't stay home, but my daughter does until she is old enough to behave well on a plane.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:19 PM

KLB SS MD, Making a killer margarita or mimosa certainly ranks high on my list of skills. As I recall on another day you mentioned making them by the pitcher -- even better.


Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 1:22 PM

I travel frequently, and I've found most kids cry until their ears pop, then sleep the rest of the way. I don't have too much of a problem with them, any more than people have a problem with me snoring on the plane. The exception was the day after Xmas, from Vegas, when this little girl kept getting passed around from row to row, and I swear, every time she moved, she pooped herself, because the stench in the cabin was such that it repeatedly woke my boyfriend up--and he is a very heavy sleeper. I kept waiting for oxygen masks to drop...and wondering, is there no place to change a diaper on a plane? The bathrooms are entirely too small, for sure, but it's so cruel to let a little one squish around in her own filth for five hours, not to mention those of us who have to smell it.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 1:24 PM

If you want to limit your daughters experiences, that is fine. Don't expect others to as well. My kid behaves well on a plane because he has been on one and as a result, knows what is expected of him. This debate will never be solved. Agree to disagree and keep your opinions to yourself. It is getting aggravating!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:24 PM

NClawyer, I was actually drinking mimosas by the glass. I do the margaritas by the shaker (make a couple at a time right).
That was the day I was doing my first IM chat with an internet match. Needed a bit of liquid courage.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 1:26 PM

I travel frequently, and I've found most kids cry until their ears pop, then sleep the rest of the way. I don't have too much of a problem with them, any more than people have a problem with me snoring on the plane. The exception was the day after Xmas, from Vegas, when this little girl kept getting passed around from row to row, and I swear, every time she moved, she pooped herself, because the stench in the cabin was such that it repeatedly woke my boyfriend up--and he is a very heavy sleeper. I kept waiting for oxygen masks to drop...and wondering, is there no place to change a diaper on a plane? The bathrooms are entirely too small, for sure, but it's so cruel to let a little one squish around in her own filth for five hours, not to mention those of us who have to smell it.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 1:26 PM

Well my children are able (at their young ages) to behave well on an airplane, so we choose to take them on one. Gotta love the freedom of our society!

Posted by: New Poster | January 10, 2007 1:27 PM

If you want to limit your daughters experiences, that is fine. Don't expect others to as well. My kid behaves well on a plane because he has been on one and as a result, knows what is expected of him. This debate will never be solved. Agree to disagree and keep your opinions to yourself. It is getting aggravating!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:28 PM

NClawyer, I do the mimosas by the glass and margaritas by the shaker - why make one at a time, right? I was doing my first on-line chat with an internet match for a date and needed a bit of liquid courage.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 1:28 PM

KLB SS MD - you are officially invited to be a member of our book club (bring the booze).

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 1:29 PM

NClawyer, I was actually drinking mimosas by the glass. I do the margaritas by the shaker (make a couple at a time right).
That was the day I was doing my first IM chat with an internet match. Needed a bit of liquid courage.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 1:29 PM

No more aggravating than your little "angel" misbehaving on a plane. We can agree to disagree - you can bring your kid on the plane, and I can let you know how appalling I think that is. I don't think it's limiting to keep children under 5 off of planes. I don't remember vacations before I was about 7, so how is that limiting? Maybe your kid is one of those Wobegon kids that will remembering being in utero.......

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:30 PM

Cheerleader comment.

Thanks for your propective. I would ask wouldn't interest in cheerleading be an early interest in a career such as acting? singing? even being a professional dance instructor?

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 1:32 PM

KLB - How did the internet chat go? That can be nervewracking, I know!

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 1:33 PM

WAMC, I agreed with you and Laura until a few weeks when I started paying attention to several cheerleading teams practicing in the gym at the health club I attend. These athletes are champion tumblers and gymnasts and exhibit athletic poise and ability that's lightyears ahead of anything accomplished by the cheerleaders at my former high school. The coaches are experts in gymnastics training and preach all those traditional sports values like perserverance and discipline. Would I rather our daughter participate in a team sport like basketball or soccer? probably. but it's not because cheerleading isn't a capital-R Real Sport.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:34 PM

There is no reason for people with little kids to not have the same rights to travel on planes as other people.

No one person is so important enough to be able to say that little kids, even babies, should not be taken on planes. How pompous.

That being said, there is also no reason that people should not expect their kids to behave on planes. The parents who allow their children to become nuisances are the problem, not the kids. Sure, little babies will cry sometimes, but where is the right to quiet given to plane passengers? What about the right to have at least the seat one pays for - the last flight I was on I was seated in a row (3 seats total) with two other people, both of whom required extensions on their seat belts. Sure, they have a right to fly, but I was pretty uncomfortable for a long time!

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 1:35 PM

Great post, Leslie, and the commentary has been good reading as well. After not one but two unplanned pregnancies (breastfeeding may protect you while you're doing it, but watch out right after you stop!) starting at age 35, and...um...a still-youthful marriage too, I am still reeling. Mom2b can be forgiven because she just doesn't know yet! There is absolutely no way to understand what motherhood will be until you're there. I, for one, went about loudly talking about how I was going to "wear" my baby everywhere (was instead so grateful for that battery-powered swing), and was going to breastfeed for a year (got to 4 months) and so on and so on.

I don't regret "a hair on their heads" to quote a favorite author (can't remember her name but must recommend her book "The River Midnight" to all)...but after parapatetic singlehood for most of my adult life, I'm not sure I'll ever fully "adjust." But I can also say that every day, every single day, I marvel at this love which is like no other - and at my two beautiful little friends. I also notice that other things that used to be so vitally important, like status at work, or doing the "right" activities, don't matter much now, and I sure am more humble!

On the other hand, I have the utmost respect for women who decide not to have children and are sure about it. They tend to be self-assured in other areas too, which makes them great company. In contrast, though, I know ever so many men approaching 50, unmarried, and DESPERATE to meet women of breeding age. And when I suggest Big Brothers, or adoption, they don't want that - the "legacy" thing seems to be paramount for them. Since men don't have to think about it quite as much, some may put off thinking about it, and time passes quickly!

And I have gone on for too long - thanks to everyone for honest and heartfelt contributions.

Posted by: Jill in Denver | January 10, 2007 1:37 PM

To the original anon: I am not sure cheerleading has a lot to do with acting. I did both drama and cheerleading. I don't remember cheering overlap with those type of skills used in drama. It definitely has a lot to do with dance, acrobatics, and gymnastics. But I was also a gymnast. Thank goodness it had nothing to do with singing or I would never had made the squad.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 1:37 PM

WAMC, I agreed with you and Laura until a few weeks when I started paying attention to several cheerleading teams practicing in the gym at the health club I attend. These athletes are champion tumblers and gymnasts and exhibit athletic poise and ability that's lightyears ahead of anything accomplished by the cheerleaders at my former high school. The coaches are experts in gymnastics training and preach all those traditional sports values like perserverance and discipline. Would I rather our daughter participate in a team sport like basketball or soccer? probably. but it's not because cheerleading isn't a capital-R Real Sport.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:38 PM

Anon at 12:16: Perhaps Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh and others of that ilk became what they did BECAUSE of their mothers. Traditionally mothers are the primary caretakers of children. No matter how liberated or new age you want to be, it all comes back to the mother. The mother who gives cuddles and hugs after a disobeyed order might be raising another little Saddam. Adolf might have been a delight as a toddler, who knows. Whatever your children turn out to be is a reflection on the mother. If you're not up to the task, don't produce children and inflict them on the rest of the world.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:38 PM

Who said he was a little angel? I said he behaves well - not perfectly. Every opportunity is one to learn and I do by best to teach him and he learns from those around him. Maybe the next time you are exiting a plane, you notice a child for the first time because he has been a normal, well behaved child, you will learn something and come off your pedastal. Like I said, keep your opinions to yourself.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:40 PM

"How did they conceive the eleven youngest if their privacy and desire vanished after the oldest one was born?"

This is why bedrooms come with doors.

Posted by: Demos | January 10, 2007 1:42 PM

Great post, Leslie, and the commentary has been good reading as well. After not one but two unplanned pregnancies (breastfeeding may protect you while you're doing it, but watch out right after you stop!) starting at age 35, and...um...a still-youthful marriage too, I am still reeling. Mom2b can be forgiven because she just doesn't know yet! There is absolutely no way to understand what motherhood will be until you're there. I, for one, prated endlessly about how I was going to "wear" my baby everywhere (was soooo grateful for that battery-powered swing), was going to breastfeed for a year (got to 4 months), was going to engage in all sorts of interative and educational activities ("slacker mom") and so on and so on.

I don't regret "a hair on their heads" to quote a favorite author (can't remember her name but must recommend her book "The River Midnight" to all)...but after parapetetic singlehood for most of my adult life, I'm not sure I'll ever fully "adjust." But I can also say that every day, every single day, I marvel at this love which is like no other - and at my two beautiful little friends. I also notice that other things that used to be so vitally important, like status at work, or doing the "right" activities, don't matter much now, and I sure am more humble!

On the other hand, I have the utmost respect for women who decide not to have children and are sure about it. They tend to be self-assured in other areas too, which makes them great company. In contrast, though, I know ever so many men approaching 50, unmarried, and DESPERATE to meet women of breeding age. And when I suggest Big Brothers, or adoption, they don't want that - the "legacy" thing seems to be paramount for them. Since men don't have to think about it quite as much, some may put off thinking about it, and time passes quickly!

And I have gone on for too long - thanks to everyone for honest and heartfelt contributions.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:42 PM

Re: kids on planes. I think that children who are able to behave appropriately should be anywhere. I think that children who can't behave, no matter the age should not be everywhere. At Friday's I expect there to be a certain amount of mahem and some kids stuff. I do not expect that at Morton's. Children do need to go out to learn how to behave there are just appropriate venues for that. If you are takinga plane to Orlando, you need to expect kids. We are all part of society and need to tolerate each other. I tolerate the loudmouth next to me on the plane, the person with a terrible cold - there's lots of annoying stuff. Get over it. I'm pretty sure that no one is more horrified by a screaming toddler on a plane than the mother. Most moms do their very best.

Re; cheerleading - I don't really think its a sport either. It may require some level of athleticism, but in the end it is a supporting (usually the boys) role and a role where they are expected to be pretty and skinny. My dd will get enough messages in society telling her to "support boys" and be pretty, I'd rather she be the one competing. My 2 cents.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 1:43 PM

NClawyer, I do the mimosas by the glass and margaritas by the shaker - why make one at a time, right? I was doing my first on-line chat with an internet match for a date and needed a bit of liquid courage.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 1:43 PM

moxiemom: They now have cheer competitions. I think cheering has taken on a whole new dimension. It really has nothing to do with cheering someone else on. It did in my days but now it is a sport by itself.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 1:45 PM

The whole discussion about cheerleading is almost completely moot - children come with their own personalities. We parents really have very little control over whether they are drawn to music, drama, sports, academics - or even cheerleading.

Of course, we can insist that they participate in certain school activities and forbid them from participating in others, but in my experience that doesn't usually turn out very well. It can also create an incredible amount of conflict with your child - often at an age when you're struggling to keep them engaged with you.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 10, 2007 1:46 PM

When I see well-behaved children on planes, I compliment their parents. The whole "I-can-take-my-kid-anywhere-I-dern-well-feel-like-it-and-you-can't-say-anything" argument reminds me of the My Name is Earl episode with Joy's parents. Her mom, played by Brett Butler, is a gambling addict, and epilogues her "I'll do what I want" statements with: "Don't judge me." You can bring inappropriately aged children on planes all you want - just don't expect others not to say anything.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:47 PM

"No more aggravating than your little "angel" misbehaving on a plane. We can agree to disagree - you can bring your kid on the plane, and I can let you know how appalling I think that is."

to anon at 1:30, the thing I find the oddest about your repeated and vehement postings on this topic is the underlying assumption that all kids are alike. If you've learned one thing whether in your own life or on this blog, it's that kids have individual personalities and styles and the parenting styles that shape those kids are breathtaking in their variety. Both of my kids have always been great flyers, and I mean always. No crying, no ears popping. Nothing. Neither I nor their Dad can claim credit for how "good" they are on the plane, but anyone who's around us would much rather have my son or daughter in front of them then the guys who insists on tilting his seat back into your lap on a crowded commuter plane.

You go right on ahead and be appalled now, ya hear, and when our family sits in front of you I hope you mistakenly offer to change seats with the guy behind obnoxious-seat-tilter man on your next ten flights. We'd rather be seated in proximity to grown-up folks with a personality.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:47 PM

Re: Cheerleading comments:

Original anon and foamgnome, you're right -- one of the things about having a daughter who is so different than I expected is that I have to look at these things with a fresh eye. And she LOVES being on stage, so I can see any kind of performing (including cheerleading) being a real interest to her, and being a good experience on a number of levels. Which is why I would let her do it and support her if she wants to. It's just that given my experiences, doing so would involve some sucking it up and getting over my own preconceived notions and expectations. Which is actually pretty much what parenthood is about anyway. :-)

It's the classic parenthood irony. I desperately want my daughter to be free of some of the restrictions I grew up with. But if I'm not careful, I run the risk of replacing those restrictions with my own expectations that she may find just as restrictive. And thus we enter "grin and bear it" land.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 1:50 PM

Way to go Matt in Aberdeen for not having a tv. I have only have one that gets only local channels and is watched only for the news (and an occasional episode of Grey's Anatomy)

Once I was on an airplane and some lady turned around and slapped a kid that wasn't hers for kicking her seat.

Posted by: mom2b | January 10, 2007 1:51 PM

To the folks who don't like being "inconvenienced" by other people's children on planes, too bad. Children are part of our society as well, and I have yet to hear about some incident on a plane started by a minor that gets into the news. However, you do hear about looney-tunes who make threats against the crew or passengers, get up when they're supposed to remain seated, etc. I say we just ban the crabby people from flying and be done with it.

What you resist, persists.

Posted by: HaHa | January 10, 2007 1:51 PM

foamgnome - point taken, however, I would still prefer that my dd participate in a sporting activity in which her success is measured only by her skill level not her appearance.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 1:52 PM

Then I will expect a compliment from you to my son if we are ever on a plane together for his appropriate behaviour.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 1:53 PM

I flew on a plane to Cali with a bunch of 19-20 yo Marines - would have taken a planeful of screaming babies over that any day.

Posted by: me | January 10, 2007 1:54 PM

Disclaimer--I was a cheerleader

I am going to let my daughter do whatever activity she wants. By telling them you don't want them to cheer, you are just stereotyping them into another group. I am also surprised that no one has commented on how society stereotypes boys. If girls are pretty and seen as supporting them, then they in return have to be tough and protecting.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 1:55 PM

moxiemom, very good point. I know my husband doesn't consider anything that can't be objectively measured a "sport" (yes, he's an engineer). He has also vowed that my daughter will never do figure skating precisely because of that. Yeah, good luck with that, since she loves pretty dresses, dance, gymnastics, and skating. . . .

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 1:56 PM

Even if there are cheerleading competitions (I was aware of this), I would rather my daughter (if I had one) be a part of another sport. There are too many ribbons and little skirts involved for me to think that it is a good 'sport.' (Now someone is going say something about ice-skating - ok - its a sport).

I have done a lot of thinking about having a little girl (something I really want), and I have a lot of what I am sure are pre-conceived notions about what I would and wouldn't do - very little pink, but dresses. Very few dolls, but lots of books. Lots of listening. Anyway - its neither here nor there because I most likely won't have one - but I guess I would just really really try to do things differently than my mom did.

What scares me the most about having kids is the fact that I do not have very much patience - and that is a well-established fact - so I don't think I am well-suited to parenthood. (Maybe I just think that - my mom told me I didn't have any when I was 5 or 6 and it has stuck).

On the other hand, everyone who meets my dogs tells me I would make a great mom - most say that they have never seen such well-behaved dogs who listen to their owner as well as mine do - and they are a breed that is not well-known for being easily trained.

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 1:56 PM

Regarding kids and planes. DD is OK on planes. On short plane rides she is pretty good. Long ones would probably be a night mare. But how do people expect kids to learn something if they are not suppose to take them places. DD is horrible at resturants. Therefore we only take her to kid friendly place and very seldom. Usually only for lunch or when we can't get out of it. You know the situation. Like when great Aunt whats her name is in town and demands that we eat at the Olive Garden or Red Lobster. Mind you not exactly four star resturants. We bring all the crayons, sticker books, and a doll and we are still dealing with a kid that likes to get up and down, crawl under the table and whatever. I always explain to Great Aunt whats her name or whoever, take out is always a better option. They never listen. They spend the first 15 minutes telling me what a beautiful child we have. They spend the next 2 hours gritting their teeth for and trying not to tell me what a terrible brat she is. I know this. I am working on it. But you got to cut us some slack. Also expectations are a big thing too. Like Moxiemom said, please don't expect to take a quiet flight to Orlando. We specifically booked a Disney cruise because we knew DD could not handle any other type of vacation. I was so relieved when DD was not the only terrible passenger on the boat. But even then there were people on the Disney cruise complaining about the kids. Why would you take a Disney cruise if you did not expect it to be full of over extended parents, whiny kids, and bad behavior?

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 1:59 PM

OK - so I have to throw in my two cents about cheering. I'd rather my child be on the field playing the sport rather than on the sidelines chriping and bouncing away cheering them along. I do realize that it requires skill and in some places is a bit of an obcession, but it is an old stereotype of mine that the real action is in the field, and not the sidelines. I'd much rather see my daughter playing a sport and being cheered on by the boys? Or if there are going to be cheerleaders they should cheer both girl and boy sports.

this is totally off topic!

As for the kids on planes; hey they should be able to travel as well. My daughter was on her first flight at 8 weeks, and traveled lots when going to see her grandparents. Some flights were good, and others were a bit fussy but we always enjoyed the trip we went on, and I did my best to keep her quiet during the flight. If you do not like kids on planes travel business class more - very few parents will splurge for those tickets for their tikes

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 2:00 PM

Beware - do not compare children to dogs. This has been done here before with dire consequences.

Posted by: to WAMC | January 10, 2007 2:00 PM

If the seat tilter is quiet and doesn't snore, I'll take that offer any day. Also, for what it's worth, the obnoxious cellphone talker, the person taking up part of my sovereign seat space and the man snoring across the aisle also raise my ire. It isn't just parents that let their kids misbehave - it is a basic breakdown of concern for others' collective comfort in public spaces that bothers me. Someone yakking on the phone loudly next to me in a restaurant is also inconsiderate. Look, I only talk about kids because this is a kid related blog (I should probably be seeking a cellphone addict blog to tell them how annoying their habit is, too, but I like this one better). This just seems like a good forum to talk about general civic manners related to children. In general, I don't think kids younger than 5 belong on planes. I get that sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that put them there - and I have actually been in a situation more than once where a mom is flying alone, looks exhausted, and her baby won't stop crying because of discomfort etc., and I offer to hold the child so she can take a few minutes to herself. And I make it a point to avoid flying during school vacation weeks, I don't fly to places like Orlando, etc., so I don't purposefully travel in kid-heavy zones. The whole "we're part of a society and have to tolerate each other" just doesn't ring true to me because I'm talking about people who don't give one thought to anyone else besides themselves (why should IIIII not be able to go on vacation, just because I have kids, etc.), so why should we have to?

Posted by: Erin | January 10, 2007 2:02 PM

Anon at 12:16: Perhaps Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Ted Bundy, Timothy McVeigh and others of that ilk became what they did BECAUSE of their mothers.

Perhaps that is true. But it is also true that many people are what they are in spite of their parents, not because of them. Think of how many families have both good and bad apples even though they were raised by the same parents.

Posted by: 12:16 | January 10, 2007 2:02 PM

Moxiemom, With all due respect, making. Cheer, which combines tumbling and gymnastics, is a sport now - appearance is irrelevant except with the caveat that if one is excessively overweight, it's unlikely that she will have the stamina and athleticism required to perform the stunts. The same is true for mens basketball where extra weight slows an athlete down.

were dd to opt for cheer, just as you prefer (and I agree), she'd be judged solely on her ability, at least in the majority of urban and suburban programs.

I'm in complete agreement with you in terms of wanting to encourage athleticism in my daughter, and am only weighing in for the purpose of saying we may not want to close the cheer door based on our high-school memories.

All the above comes with the disclaimer that I assume there remain small towns where nothing's changed since those bucolic '50s we were remembering so fondly only yesterday.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 2:03 PM

WAMC do you have Jack Russles by chance?

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 2:04 PM

You worry about reckless drivers?

Seems to me, if you have a Virginia "speeding" ticket that requires you to come to court, YOU must be charged with reckless driving (20 miles over the speed limit). Hmmmm.

Posted by: GG | January 10, 2007 2:07 PM

The column is called ON CHEERLEADING today instead on On Balance. Actually I was a cheerleader and I hated it. It was a status symbol in the 80's and was more of a clique - some athleticism was involved but what counted most was that you looked good in the little skirt, dated the popular guys and acting in accordance with the will of the Captain of the Cheerleading squad. I lasted a year.

I am sure it is different now. It couldn't possibly be any worse.

Posted by: CMAC | January 10, 2007 2:08 PM

I am thinking of not signing my daugther up for gymnastics for fear that it may feed into cheer leading (also, I hear that it stunts your growth if you take it too seriously). I will of course support her in anything she wants to do, but I will secretly keep the hope that cheerleading is not a part of that.

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 2:10 PM

Cheering is now the most dangerous HS sport. I believe insurance is becoming an issue for some schools. I have some questions about allowing gymnastics on a hardwood floor that do not have anything to do with perceived "girliness"

Posted by: cheering | January 10, 2007 2:11 PM

Beware - do not compare children to dogs. This has been done here before with dire consequences.

I didn't intend to do that. I don't care what others think anymore. All I am saying is that in several conversations over the holidays and at other times, OTHER PEOPLE said that they didn't understand my reluctance to have kids - because based on how they saw my interactions with what I have for a family (how much energy I put into the dogs, how I feed them, how much they are willing to do for me, etc), that I would be a good mom. That is all.

Scarry - no - not Jack Russells - Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 2:11 PM

Missicat, The chat is going well - we have been emailing every day and chatting most nights. By the time I actually meet him we will be very well acquainted.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 2:12 PM

Compromise: if your child is misbehaved, stay home (all of you or just the child). If your child can fly eight hours to London, and not throw one fit the entire time, then go right ahead. He slept, read stories and pretty much hung out. We stretched our legs together a couple of times like other passengers and that was it.
In two weeks, he only had one blow out and it wasn't on the plane. He had loads of fun chasing pigeons in Trafalgur Square and in front of Notre Dame, was stunned into silence by the Eiffel Tower at night. Even though it was months ago, he still talks about it. I would do it all again in a second. Traveling with him is more effort than traveling alone but worth every second.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 2:13 PM

whao, blame the mom for all the bad men in the world. nary a mention of the dad???? what's wrong with that picture?

Posted by: quark | January 10, 2007 2:14 PM

whoa, blame the mom for all the bad men in the world. nary a mention of the dad???? what's wrong with that picture?

Posted by: quark | January 10, 2007 2:14 PM

cmac, you and I must have gone to the same high school. :-)

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 2:15 PM

Cheering is a very dangerous sport. It also has to do with a lack of adult supervision and the rules regarding adults per child ratio. I personally would not stop DD from cheering or gymnastics. Most children do not get anywhere near as accomplished in any sport for it to be a huge danger besides the normal broken arms of childhood. I think my DD will end up being a mountain climber over a cheerleader any day.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 2:15 PM

I have those days, too, when I wonder why in the world I dived into the life I'm in now. I married into a family that goes to church weekly, does choir and committees there as well, is on a bowling league weekly, had a budding teenager (DD is 13 now) and stayed so busy that house and home were minimally clean and just liveable most of the week. I was a single girl that was a homebody and practically lived at Target. Now I shop once a week for groceries and that's it. There are days when I just want to run screaming for the hills!

Then there are days where DD asks 'can I please cook dinner tonight?' and honey says 'baby, come cuddle with me - I need some couple time' and I get to just be loved and content. It's suddenly all OK. All wonderful, in fact.

I never was sure that I wanted a child. Now that I have a teenager, I'm looking forward to having a baby so I get to experience the other half of the equation - and MAYBE get a girly girl like me, instead of the tomboy that I'm raising now. LOL

Posted by: Rebecca In AR | January 10, 2007 2:17 PM

Scarry - no - not Jack Russells - Rhodesian Ridgebacks.

My mom has jack russles and they were hard to train. I love the ridgebacks. They are so cute. We saw a few in fairfax once when we were walking. I didn't find what you said offensive. I think people get upset when people say dogs are the same as kids or they would save a dog before a kid.

I see what you are trying to say. Loving animals is a good indication of a caring person.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 2:18 PM

NC Lawyer - I'm going to respectfully disagree re: appearance. I've not yet seen a goblin cheerleader and I'm pretty sure that girls are encouraged to wear make up and do their hair nicely and I'm also not a fan of the belly baring uniforms. I'd rather she have a lacrosse stick. I'm not a fan of gymnastics becasuse I think that there can be more lifetime physical ailments as a result and again, weight becomes an issue. Re; my ds - he is unequivocally not allowed to wrestle, or play football. DOn't like the weird very unhealthy weight stuff in wrestling and again, I think football is more likely to result in some lifelong ailments than other sports. My 2 cents again. This is not meant to decry anyone elses choices for their children re: athletics.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 2:19 PM

A.S.Neill of Summerhill is often quoted as saying "freedom, not license." Referring to the fact that students have freedom to do as they please at the school, as long as it does not interfere with other students' rights.

As long as my children being out in public whether on a plane, in a restaurant, at the grocery store, or at the playground doesn't get in the way of others' rights I don't see a problem with them being there no matter what their age. I've been in plenty of places where kids and adults have been rude and inconsiderate of others' rights (including my own), so I personally am very sensitive to the fact that my kids act appropriately for the situation they are in. If I don't think they can handle it, I don't take them, but I also make sure before the situation (like a plane trip) that we discuss how they should behave, how other people don't want to hear them yelling or have their seat kicked, etc. Perhaps more difficult to do with young children, but not impossible.

Posted by: New Poster | January 10, 2007 2:19 PM

cmac, you and I must have gone to the same high school. :-)

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 2:21 PM

I usually don't comment on posts that are too kid-oriented - I've learned (sometimes the hard way) that most parents will go into instant attack mode if a non-parent expresses any opinion about parenting, regardless of the source or content of that opinion. Well, I'm bored today, so here goes . . . :-)

I want to be a parent, but I know I'm not quite ready to make the sacrifices yet. I have a few years before I'll be an "older mom," so that's okay. When the time comes, I know I'll have to work full-time and arrange childcare. That was hard for me - my mom was a SAHM, and my childhood view of my life was always that I would be one day, too.

It's been great reading everyone's thoughts about being a parent today. I think I understand what I'm in for, insofar as I understand that I can't possibly understand the joys or difficulties until I experience them for myself. :-) I did do enough overnight and weekend babysitting of young kids to understand what it's like when you've got two kids screaming because one needs a diaper and the other needs a bottle, and you just want two minutes to go to the bathroom by yourself. I also know it's different when they're your own kids.

I have my own ideas about what I will and will not do with my future kids, and I understand that the reality of the future kids will probably change all of them. I do have ideals I will try to stick to, although I won't mention those here - see my opening comment. :-)

So, yeah. Mainly, if we do have kids, I'm going to be the best parent I can figure out how to be, and then I'm going to cross my fingers and hope for the best. :-) I hope my kids do change my life - I'm looking forward to having my eyes opened and my priorities rearranged in ways I've never imagined before.

Posted by: FutureMom | January 10, 2007 2:24 PM

Moxiemom,

I have just have to tell you that the volleyball and basketball teams at my school were full of vain girls who wore makeup and worried about what the boys thought of them. On the belly baring issue, I have never seen a high school cheerleading squad allowed to wear them. Frankly this whole discussion has opened my eyes to the fact that if a girl wants to be a cheerleader she is more than likely going to be labeled by other girls and their mothers than by society and the boys. I mean no offense with that comment, but I really don't know where all the cheerleading angst is coming from.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 2:25 PM

"Like Moxiemom said, please don't expect to take a quiet flight to Orlando."

Explain all those kids on that flight back from Vegas?! The stinky one was one of many. Do they really enjoy Danny Gans, Celine Dion and strippers?

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 2:26 PM

WAMC, I'm with you on the patience thing. In law school, I had several friends tell me in all seriousness that I'd be a great mom. It was such a stunner that I remember it today; like you, I always grew up with my mom complaining that I had zero patience, feeling like an inherently selfish person, and just didn't see how that was really "mom" material. Now my mom tells me that I'm FAR more patient with my kids than she ever was with me! So give at least a little credence to your friends -- sometimes, they can see things that we ourselves can't see.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 2:27 PM

I have zero patience, and that has been the toughest part of parenting for me is to learn how to be patient with my child. Though I am still not a very patient person in other areas of my life.

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 2:30 PM

What is so wrong about the color pink?

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 2:30 PM

"Like Moxiemom said, please don't expect to take a quiet flight to Orlando."

Explain all those kids on that flight back from Vegas?! The stinky one was one of many. Do they really enjoy Danny Gans, Celine Dion and strippers?

I have family friends in Vegas maybe they do too. People actually live there you know.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 2:31 PM

What is so wrong about the color pink?

The crazy feminists don't like it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 2:37 PM

The crazy feminists don't like it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 2:41 PM

"Wheresoever you go, go wholeheartedly."
- Confucius

I adore Helen Mirren, but who knows? The fact that she appreciates what not having children has given her does not preclude her having moments like yours, where she wonders or even romanticizes what might have been.

As an actress and mother, I think the key is, as in the philosopher's quote above, to find the joy in wherever you are right now.

Posted by: Ana Maria | January 10, 2007 2:41 PM

The crazy feminists don't like it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 2:42 PM

I was a cheerleader in high school and I also lettered in track, swimming, and tennis. There are plenty of co-ed squads these days, which cheer for both men and women. I wouldn't forbid my children from cheering but I won't go out of my way to encourage it either, due to the risk of injury, not because it's not a "real sport."

Posted by: January 10, 2007 | January 10, 2007 2:43 PM

I know vegas has worked to become family friendly and amusement park like - but the delinquency of some parents is tough to watch. On my one and only casino trip (not vegas) at 11:00 there were a number of 12-14 year olds pushing strollers while waiting for their parents. This board is a nice fantasyland of almost entirely good parenting... should we take the kids to Europe or ban more dangerous sports? but I am sure Lizzie could provide less pleasant examples from her husband's work life.

Posted by: vegas | January 10, 2007 2:43 PM

I wonder if part of the issue between those with children and those without children involves terminology. "Childless" seems like something is missing, "Childfree" seems like gloating... how about just "no children" - no reasons or value judgements necessary?

Posted by: terminology | January 10, 2007 2:44 PM

That eighth load of laundry would have put anyone in a bad mood. I mean, I love being a mom. But I love it most when I'm not in the physical space of my house, not looking at the mess, and not listening to the ding of the computer letting me know there's another work email. A lot of what is stressful and even regretful about parenting, at least for me, hinges on the added physical labor and the lack of sleep! Even if Helen Mirren had kids, I'm pretty sure she wouldn't have been cleaning up after them because she could have afforded to hire someone to do it! Leslie, I appreciated the honesty of your post.

Posted by: writing mommy | January 10, 2007 2:47 PM

The 'turn' in the topic today in is interesting.

Scarry - I have seen belly-baring outfits on young cheerleaders and dance line girls (do they still have this?).

The original anon - I don't know why I would limit pink - but it is so stereotypical - I guess I would just prefer to see my girl in another color. I would dress her in dresses and hats (I always feel so self-conscious wearing the). I guess that is partly because I now live in what is considered the 'south' and I just see girls wearing dresses more than I did when I lived in the 'north' and I think it is nice (she can have jeans and pants, too). But as far as pink - well - I guess it is just so EXPECTED and I am someone who really tries to avoid that -

Laura - thanks for the encouragement. Interesting how things we are told as a child stick with us. I see my brother and his wife raising their daughters in a very different way than we were raised - and it is encouraging. Over the holidays I had the opportunity to observe my parents taking care of their three granddaughters for a few hours and I saw so much of what drives me crazy about my mom.

Anyway - to get back on topic, freedom is all about what choices, too

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 2:47 PM

But my SO's favorite color is pink!

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 2:51 PM

"But as far as pink - well - I guess it is just so EXPECTED and I am someone who really tries to avoid that -"

Ha. I have blonde hair and blue eyes and was always dressed in blue, whereas my dark-haired, dark-eyed sister always got pink. Each of us got SO SICK of her color. I remember reading a scene in Little House on the Prairie where Ma puts the pink ribbons in Mary's hair and the blue ribbons in Laura's hair by mistake and the girls are so happy, because they're sick of their colors, too. I was like, "Wow, we're not the only ones."

I love blue now and don't really care for pink, but it took about 20 years.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 10, 2007 2:52 PM

Scarry, I tend to agree that a girl who opts to be a cheerleader is going to have to overcome some assumptions by some other girls and their moms, and I am betting some boys also will make some unfair assumptions.

I'd say that Laura's initial post on this topic best expresses why - for many of us who came through high school pre-Title IX, the athletic options for girls were limited and we resented being offered only an opportunity to cheer on the guys. This board tends to attract a high percentage of girls who in high school were overachievers, and thought their high school cheerleading squad was full of a bunch of vapid non-athletes. There it is. I do not mean and do not think that you or foamgnome were vapid non-athletes. I went to a county high school in central Virginia in the 70s, and my experience reflected that time,location and student pool.

One of the great things about having kids, for some of us, is we may reconsider old, entrenched opinions and look at things in a new light. I was challenged on my negative attitudes toward cheering only recently by a friend. Others may continue to hate it, and I can accept that this is a small issue on which we need not all agree. For our dd, we'll support whatever sport she's interested in, suited toward, that we can afford and that fits our family lifestyle. We also struggle not to convey to either of our kids our biases toward and against certain sports, instruments, artistic approaches, etc. so they don't have to deal with the baggage of disappointing us by the interests they choose.

the original anon: pink is shorthand for all that is traditionally feminine, frail, delicate, and princess-like. To many of us, a pink world is one where a girl is restricted to only x number of traditional choices and ways of seeing herself and living her life, and we'd prefer that our various daughters have many colors and options in their worlds. A mom trying to raise a girl to find her own way and not be mired in stereotypes tends to rebel against the whole Disney Princess mentality which starts with painting one's entire existence pink. In short, pink makes me see red. To others, it's just a color.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 2:55 PM

I think there are a lot of colors that are considered feminine. Like lilac, purple, pastels etc... I think for some people, pink screams sterotypical girly girl. Personally, I love pink. But I also like lavedar. Anything but sage green my friends.

Posted by: foamgnome | January 10, 2007 2:56 PM

It is interesting that the comments here are all about the choices that folks may or may not allow daughters. It seems to me that at
young ages girls are cut more slack. How many parents would allow the girls to get the superhero stuff if they wanted it? How many would let the boy get the princess stuff? Girls can wear blue without trouble... I don't see so many boys in pink! I can't imagine there are no boys out there who like the color?

Posted by: vantage point | January 10, 2007 2:57 PM

I don't have time to read the 309 comments before mine, but I know some will be full of spite toward parents or full of spite toward those who choose not to be parents. Ultimately, it's an individual choice. I, for one, at 44, have not had one moment of regret over not having children. It's something I've basically known was "not for me" since I was rather young. There's no specific reason(s) -- it just wasn't my path.

Do I feel more free than parents I know? Yes, absolutely. Do they have something I will never have? Yes, absolutely. My mom was one of the most "free" people I've ever met, and yet she was a full-time mother ever since my younger sister, who is handicapped, was born. Caregiving didn't stop her from living the life she wanted to live. It's all choice and perspective. We can't have it all in one lifetime. Maybe in the next I'll have six kid of my own and adopt 10 more.

P.S. I do not owe it to the world to have a child. That's one argument that just makes no sense at all to me.

Posted by: JMB | January 10, 2007 2:57 PM

Re: Kids on planes
I hate to travel. And I really, really hate air travel, especially as it is today.
But if my children are ever to see their relatives, travel by air they must. It would take about three weeks to drive to see same relatives. The relatives are unwilling to fly up here.
When we fly, we tend to take red eyes, which are generally pretty good for small children who are able to sleep (though terribly uncomfortable for parents who are not). I have noticed that on these flights, and at the airports where we must embark and disembark, it's usually not the kids who are causing trouble. It's the late-night drunks. My kids and I, during our travels, have been eyewitnesses to quite a few drunk-and-disorderly arrests.

Posted by: alaskan | January 10, 2007 2:58 PM

the sane, neurologically stable feminists don't like pink either, and many of them are men.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:01 PM

As a former cheerleader, I wish I could take credit for these words, but I can't.

All I Need to Know About Working, I learned by being a Cheerleader

Getting to the top of the pyramid means taking a few risks.

Step lightly on your way to the top.

Keep cheering, even if you are winning.

Appearances count. (As mom used to say, "if you are going to do a backflip in a miniskirt, you'd better be wearing your best underneath.")

Having the lead at halftime doesn't mean you can slack for the last half of the game.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | January 10, 2007 3:02 PM

Many kids are better behaved in stores than adults on cell phones.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 3:04 PM

the sane, neurologically stable feminists don't like pink either, and many of them are men

Huh, since when are men allowed in that club?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:04 PM

There are a lot cheerleader haters here. Probably the ones who secretly craved it and weren't picked. Since this is a heavy feminist board I am not surprised by the stalinist responses.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 3:06 PM

Never considered that the color pink could be such a tool of enslavement and oppression! I just thought that it was a girl color.

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 3:06 PM

Alaskan, I take lots of red-eyes too, from west coast to east coast, and I've noticed that pretty much everyone is bleary-eyed and ready to lean back and snooze. I've never noticed any drunks, but maybe I'm too tired to pay attention. In general, I haven't had much problem with kids on planes. I get more annoyed getting stuck behind people with strollers and carry-ons that they are absolutely determined to stuff into an overhead bin, whether it wants to fit or not. Oh, annoyances on a plane, we could have a whole other blog on those. And it's certainly not limited to children!

Slightly off-topic: has anyone here ever flown with a cat? I have to take a cross-country one-way with two cats (yes, I plan on buying two seats). I refuse to put them in cargo, but I'm concerned because they've never flown before. My oldest has had long car trips with no trouble (about the same length as the flight time), and my youngest does okay on short car trips--no data on the long ones. But I'm worried about them flying. Any tips or pointers? Sorry about the off-topic, but I want to make flying as stress-free as possible for them. Thanks!

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 3:08 PM

JennyK said: "To MEESH, who said "We don't need to offer incentives to have kids because people want them. We will not get to the point where no one wants kids."
Take a look at Europe and some Asian countries -- they ARE at that point and now have to offer incentives for people to have children to avoid continuing their negative population growth.
It's not happening here, but saying it's impossible is naive."

Negative population growth and offering incentives is one set of problems that comes from people not being able to afford to raise children. That doesn't mean that people don't want them.

I will stick to my original point that we will not get to a point where NO ONE wants kids. It's flat out impossible. If I live to see that day, I will eat my laptop.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:08 PM

vantage point, one stretches one's sons' and daughters' boundaries in ways that tend not to bring heaps of public scorn on them. Dressing your 4-year old boy in pink, when it's not his idea, then sending him to school for the day is likely to bring him nothing but embarrassment and to what end? My kids are not tools for my politics. My daughter has action figures. My son loves stuffed animals. If he wanted princess stuff, we'd buy it, but we won't buy it and force him to play with it. We introduce and expose each to non-traditional interests and choices and see what they choose.

The point is to make our kids' worlds more open and less narrow, not to substitute different narrow expectations for dated ones.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:09 PM

By all means, bring your babies on flight, particularly around the holidays to visit the grandparents. I'll just upgrade to first class and avoid you as best I can. If I can't, I'll smile at your kid, anyway.

I agree wholeheartedly with the fellow who wanted to ban crabby people from flying ahead of babies, whose behavior certainly is no reflection on their parents; they are too little to know better, afterall.

By the way, I once foolishly caught an early morning flight to Orlando. It was filled with kids and some drunk yokels going on a fishing trip. All at 7 AM. I ended up turning down the business so as not to relive that experience.

Those of you with no kids and plenty of time and money for leisure, I expect to look great, smile a lot and generally add to the goodwill of the community at large. We don't expect any grumpiness out of any of you.

Those of us with kids can keep the community, churches, schools and cheerleading squads going strong and generally take on the responsibility to supply the foundation for our human existence for the others.

A fair deal all around, in my opinion.

Posted by: Dave | January 10, 2007 3:09 PM

"I am thinking of not signing my daugther up for gymnastics for fear that it may feed into cheer leading "

You gotta be kidding. Cheerleading may be terribly retro and superficial (though didn't I hear that it can lead to the presidency?), but it's nothing to be afraid of.

"pink is shorthand for all that is traditionally feminine, frail, delicate, and princess-like. To many of us, a pink world is one where a girl is restricted to only x number of traditional choices and ways of seeing herself and living her life, and we'd prefer that our various daughters have many colors and options in their worlds."

Pink is just a color, for goodness sake. It's a silly for a woman to think that wearing pink threatens her womanhood as it is for a man to think that wearing pink threatens his manhood.

Or do you think that making a young boy wear pink shorts will cause him to grow up to be gay?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:10 PM

Slightly off-topic: has anyone here ever flown with a cat? I have to take a cross-country one-way with two cats (yes, I plan on buying two seats)

Mona,

I don't think you are allowed to have pets on the plane. I mean someone could be allergic to them.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 3:12 PM

Mona - I haven't travelled with my cats, but have friends who have - I would suggest talking to your vet, apparently there is some sort of "kitty valium" that you can give your pets that will keep them calm. Good luck!

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 3:13 PM

In High School, our most academically talented female was the head cheerleader. Of course, she ran off, pregnant, on the back of a motorcycle shortly after graduation. Although I think that was more of a mother/daughter issue. She is now a successful business women.

Posted by: the original anon | January 10, 2007 3:13 PM

"has anyone here ever flown with a cat?"

My sister flew with her tiny dog from AZ to Hartford last year. She was advised to not give her anything to drink (nowhere to for them to pee on a plane) and to tranq her.

And make sure that you have made it very very clear to the airline personnel that you will have two cats and that they need to let other passengers know. My husband is extremely allergic to cat dander and if he flew with one in the cabin for longer than an hour, he would probably need to go to the ER upon landing.

Posted by: Lizzie | January 10, 2007 3:15 PM

"Those of us with kids can keep the community, churches, schools and cheerleading squads going strong and generally take on the responsibility to supply the foundation for our human existence for the others."

Wait wait WAIT. People without kids don't contribute to any of the above? What was I doing then on Saturday, building a Habitat for Humanity home? I didn't know there was a parents-only requirement. And all that time I spent teaching self-defense to college girls was wasted? I didn't know my contributions didn't count unless I was a parent. :-(

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 3:16 PM

Huh, since when are men allowed in that club?

Posted by: | January 10, 2007 03:04 PM

To anon at 3:04, Are you really suggesting that men can't be or aren't feminists? Jeez, I'm married to a baseball-loving, anti-gun control, Mississippi-born, engineering-background, It professional who also happens to be a feminist. He'd be shocked to hear he's suddenly been kicked out of the club. When I lived in D.C., there were tons of men who identified themselves as supporting the goals of feminism -- equal opportunity to make life choices and be paid equally for equal work contribution -- and they make fine husbands and great dads, in my experience.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:17 PM

"Huh, since when are men allowed in that club?"

Since when did we want in? After all, they'll freak out if we decide to wear a pink tie one day.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:17 PM

Oops, that was me at 3:08

And to Mona: Good thinking about not putting pets in cargo. The number of pets that never make it out alive is shockingly high.

When my two hounds had to sit through a 9-hour car ride, we gave them ACE (sedatives). We asked our vet for the right dosage, (because vets use the stuff to euthanize animals, so too much is bad) and they were okay.

They haven't flown (and probably won't because they each weigh 60 pounds), but I think that the advice might still be good.

Posted by: Meesh | January 10, 2007 3:17 PM

mona weren't you the one complaining about the smell from a poopy diaper? If your cats poop or pee on the plane they will have to do an emergency landing.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:18 PM

I thought pink was a more republican color (one of the reasons why I'd boycott it :)

The problem with the color is when you go shopping for girls clothes - everything is pink! You get tired of it, why is it that at stores the boy stuff is blue the girl stuff is pink? There are more colors in the rainbow!! It would be nice to have more choice is all. I was at the gap and bought my daughter the school bus lunch box (from the boy side) because she really liked it, the cashier asked why I did not get the girl one (which was pink with an apple).

And yes, I am kidding about the gymnastics thing...

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 3:18 PM

But Mona, now we don't have to do anything but smile and be in a good mood! yay!
;-)

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 3:21 PM

"Are you really suggesting that men can't be or aren't feminists?"

It's a tongue in cheek way of saying that too many feminists seem to be opposed to men - particularly men who take any pride in their manhood. And before anyone goes nuts over the word "manhood," it does not mean denigrating or oppressing women, children, housepets or third-world countries. But just as women should take pride in who and what they are, men should as well. And yes, I'm convinced that men and women, while equal, are not identical.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:22 PM


"It's a silly for a woman to think that wearing pink threatens her womanhood as it is for a man to think that wearing pink threatens his manhood."

Anon at 3:10, Someone asked. I responded. So crucify me. The above comment, however, truly is silly. The only one saying that a color is threatening is you. Have a good day, oh bold anonymous one.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 3:23 PM

Thanks so much for the advice about the cats, guys. And to the anon poster who was concerned about poop, when these guys travel, they get so nervous that they just huddle into their blankets and pillows until they're home again. They get too freaked out to use the bathroom until they're in familiar surroundings. I've moved these guys before, and as I've said, traveled with one, and they don't poop in their carriers. Cats are too fastidious to do that anyway. It's that "don't s*** where you eat" mentality.

I was just basically worried about their ears popping and the crowds at the airport and such. I've been advised not to sedate them because they have traveled relatively well in the past, and as a poster implied, it may be difficult to determine the correct dosage of sedative. But thanks for all your input! Much appreciated.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 3:24 PM

Oh, my 2 year old son loves pink and his sister's princess dresses and fairy costumes. He's recently gotten his own less frilly costumes --pirate and firefighter. Actually they both got pirate costumes.

I too thought no pink for my daughter, but once she was born almost every gift of baby clothes was pink (I think she got one purple outfit). So for her first 9 months she was pretty much pinked out. Less pink clothing now but she still has quite a bit.

Posted by: New Poster | January 10, 2007 3:24 PM

My ***&#$# computer fritzed out when I was replying to your cat question. Here's the shorter version:

-- Check that you have all of their records, shots, etc., up to date and the airlines has that documentation

-- Ask your vet for some 'relaxer' pills. Just give them to your kitty(ies) about a hour before take off and it will calm them right down.

-- Ensure you're kitty carrier fits under the seat in front of you. Most do - but check just to be sure.

It's really no problem flying with cats (or small dogs) at all. :-)

Posted by: ilc..to Mona | January 10, 2007 3:27 PM

"equal opportunity to make life choices and be paid equally for equal work contribution -- and they make fine husbands and great dads, in my experience."

This is where I get confused about feminism. I actually thought that it meant equal rights and the ability to do what you want, which could include wearing pink, being a cheerleader, posing for playboy or having ten kids.

What I actually see on this board sometimes and in life is that most feminists would hate the woman who did any of the above things.

I am just wondering because I don't call my self a feminists per se.

Posted by: scarry | January 10, 2007 3:28 PM

Anyone remember yesterday when I pointed out how feminists are openly ridiculed on this blog but somehow babies are off limits? If only I got paid to be right.

What's next? Are we going to bash people without children and their contributions to society? Oh, wait...

Posted by: Meesh | January 10, 2007 3:28 PM

a great idea i had the other day!

there should be separate "family planes" where just families with infants, toddlers and small children can fly together. it would be more fun for the parents of small kids to have other parents on the same plane as them. because everyone on the flight has small kids, they would all be more comfortable and not get nasty looks from other passengers when their kid cries, has a smelly diaper, needs to be breastfed, etc.

Posted by: kids on planes idea | January 10, 2007 3:29 PM

Anyone remember yesterday when I pointed out how feminists are openly ridiculed on this blog but somehow babies are off limits? If only I got paid to be right.

What's next? Are we going to bash people without children and their contributions to society? Oh, wait...

Posted by: Meesh | January 10, 2007 3:30 PM

"It would be nice to have more choice is all."

That's fair. I get sick of the "in color of the season" myself.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:30 PM

I don't know how many feminists are too many, but secure men have never had a problem with feminism. Of course, secure men also don't tend to label those who disagree with them as followers of dead communists, but we can see that pATRICK has failed to take his medication once again.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:31 PM

a great idea i had the other day!

there should be separate "family planes" where just families with infants, toddlers and small children can fly together. it would be more fun for the parents of small kids to have other parents on the same plane as them. because everyone on the flight has small kids, they would all be more comfortable and not get nasty looks from other passengers when their kid cries, has a smelly diaper, needs to be breastfed, etc. everyone would be in the same boat so they would get more empathy from one another, their kids would play together, etc... :)

Posted by: kids on planes idea | January 10, 2007 3:32 PM

So what does happen if a passenger is traveling with an animal that another passenger is allergic to?

Posted by: s | January 10, 2007 3:32 PM

a great idea i had the other day!

there should be separate "family planes" where just families with infants, toddlers and small children can fly together. it would be more fun for the parents of small kids to have other parents on the same plane as them. because everyone on the flight has small kids, they would all be more comfortable and not get nasty looks from other passengers when their kid cries, has a smelly diaper, needs to be breastfed, etc. everyone would be in the same boat so they would get more empathy from one another, their kids would play together, etc... :)

Posted by: kids on planes idea | January 10, 2007 3:33 PM

Meesh turn about is fair play.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:33 PM

So what does happen if a passenger is traveling with an animal that another passenger is allergic to?

Posted by: s | January 10, 2007 3:34 PM

So what does happen if a passenger is traveling with an animal that another passenger is allergic to?

Posted by: s | January 10, 2007 3:34 PM

My mother and I got some bad news this morning - her best friend's husband committed suicide last night, leaving her and their 3 kids (ages 19, 17, and 8) behind. My mother's best friend (call her Sally) is completely clueless about everything (and of course, totally grief-stricken). She doesn't know whether or not the rent and utilities have been paid yet for the month, how much money they have in their bank accounts, how to apply for social security benefits for herself and the kids, how to get at his 401(k) plan, whether or not his insurance policy had a suicide clause, and he did not have a will.

My mother went through all of this when my father passed away (I was 17 and my brother was 14) so she's on the first flight out tomorrow to New York to help Sally navigate the waters of this hard time. But I can't help think that in this day and age, no woman - and especially no mother who three kids rely on - should be this clueless about her family's financial affairs (SAHM or not).

My mother and grandmother both lost husband when they had small kids (my grandfather died when my father was one), and to see her best friend (who I've known all my life) go through the same thing is heartbreaking. Please, mothers, KNOW SOMETHING about your finances, your legal affairs, etc., because you never ever know what will happen when you wake up in the morning.

Posted by: PLS | January 10, 2007 3:35 PM

"Anon at 3:10, Someone asked. I responded. So crucify me. The above comment, however, truly is silly. The only one saying that a color is threatening is you. Have a good day, oh bold anonymous one."

It's not silly at all. You're torqued about a particular color, not because of taste or aesthetics, but because of all the baggage you've associated with it. How did you put it? "In short, pink makes me see red"? It's a problem for you because you see it as a "girl color" - or perhaps a "non-liberated girl color."

That's as dumb as a boy or man being unwilling to wear pink because they see it as a "girl color."

By all means - avoid pink because you simply don't like it. But it's silly to load it down with all sorts of gender politics significance. Again - it's just a color.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:37 PM

"appearance is irrelevant except with the caveat that if one is excessively overweight,"

BAHAHAHAHA!!!

You may be able to make the cheer team even if you're butt ugly, but believe me, appearance is still very important. And the disgusting thing is that it starts at such an early age now. Children as young as 3 and 4 are starting cheerleading and going to competitions where heavy makeup and hair done perfectly are the norm - and the attitude amongst young competitive cheerleaders is one of elitism and snobbery. Apparently the groups that Walt Disney World least like to see come to visit their parks for competitions are cheerleading groups because of their bad behavior and rudeness.

Just because they're doing athletic maneuvers doesn't mean that it's a "sport."

Posted by: ugh | January 10, 2007 3:37 PM

that is a great idea. They have a separate family car on the train that goes from london to paris

Posted by: to kids on plane idea | January 10, 2007 3:37 PM

To S: see Lizzie's comment: "And make sure that you have made it very very clear to the airline personnel that you will have two cats and that they need to let other passengers know."

I was on a recent flight that allowed no PEANUT products! Can you imagine? By peanut products I mean nothing that could possibly have ever touched any kind of nut ever in the world. I took my Pringles on board anyway. I try to avoid communal surfaces in planes, didn't use the restroom, and truthfully, didn't even open the darn things while on board. Anyone else baffled by the increase in peanut allergies? I never remembered this being a problem until about ten years or so ago. Now it's everywhere...or maybe I just spent my childhood in a cave.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 3:43 PM

Stupid Parser said:

"Every time someone says being childless enables them to do INSERT_SOMETHING_WONDERFUL_AND_FABULOUS, it would be nice if they acknowledged in the same breath..."

Consider this done, and done by me on multiple occasions. I'm happily child free, but am quick to admit that -someone has to do it- , and that -someone- is you! Better me than you!

Posted by: ALP | January 10, 2007 3:44 PM

Scarry,

I agree with you that the available choices should include the ones you mention as well as the entire bucket of traditional choices. But it's so much easier apparantly to judge people negatively based on code words and choices that, as you note, women who opt for traditional choices can become the victim of unfair and inaccurate assumptions about their politics, intelligence, education and a whole host of other things. The feminist-slamming ("crazy feminists") today came out of the blue, pun intended, from one of our neighborhood anonymous contributors when I tried to explain the pink issue, as it were, without using inflammatory language. It's a shame these types don't dispute substance, but would rather toss vitriol. You'd think I'd suggested that we ban breast-feeding. Hey, there's an idea for the next time the board gets a little dull.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 3:44 PM

My mother and grandmother both lost husband when they had small kids (my grandfather died when my father was one), and to see her best friend (who I've known all my life) go through the same thing is heartbreaking. Please, mothers, KNOW SOMETHING about your finances, your legal affairs, etc., because you never ever know what will happen when you wake up in the morning.

This can go both ways! Men KNOW SOMETHING about your finances.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:44 PM

Well if they were going where I wanted to go, which would not be Orlando, on the dates I wanted to travel, and if the price were the same (or better yet cheaper--family discount and all) I'd be all for it. But since I've only seen a handful of kids on the flights we've been on it wouldn't work for us or the airlines.

Posted by: N ew Poster | January 10, 2007 3:50 PM

I know a number of families in which the SAH Mom handles all the family finances, and the WOH Dad hasn't a clue about where the money is, which bills have been paid, etc. Whenever one parent primarily handles all financial decisions, including preparation of jointly filed taxes, the other parent owes it to himself/herself and their kids to be clued in and know where to find all the answers quickly in case of emergency.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 3:52 PM

Stupid Parser said:

"Every time someone says being childless enables them to do INSERT_SOMETHING_WONDERFUL_AND_FABULOUS, it would be nice if they acknowledged in the same breath..."

Consider this done, and done by me on multiple occasions. I'm happily w/out kids, but am quick to admit that someone has to do it, and that someone is you! Better me than you!

AND to this comment:
"Those of us with kids can keep the community, churches, schools and cheerleading squads going strong and generally take on the responsibility to supply the foundation for our human existence for the others."

I had to read this one several times just to be sure of what I'd read. Having done extensive volunteer work, I can say without a doubt in my experience, the people putting in the most time were those without kids!


Posted by: ALP | January 10, 2007 3:53 PM

Of course it can go both ways. I was writing it to say mothers because in this situation (and in my mother's and grandmother's situations), it was the women who were left to pick up the pieces after their husband's deaths.

Posted by: PLS | January 10, 2007 3:54 PM

Seems someone has overdosed on the feminist kool-aid again. Yawn

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 3:55 PM

ACK - I meant -Better you than me- in the post above. I thought the quart of coffee I had this am took, but I guess not!

Posted by: ALP | January 10, 2007 3:55 PM

call the local commonwealth's attorney about the speeding ticket...

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 4:00 PM

anon at 3:37, since you still seem to have difficulty attaching a name to your sentiments, it's intriguing to me that it's so important to you to say, "It's just a color" and stomp your feet online multiple times. If you've concluded, as it appears you have, that we shouldn't consider the impact on our kids of bowing down to the Disney empire's version of what girls should seek, I expect you'll make different choices with your daughters and I'm sure they'll turn out fine. I wish you had the same confidence in parents with whose views you disagree that you didn't have to be so condescending.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 4:02 PM

Meesh thinks we should pick on babies now, what's next puppies and kittens?

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 4:07 PM

As the mother of a child with a severe peanut allergy, I am not surprised by your experience on the peanut free flight. There are only a few foods that cause life-threatening reactions and peanuts are one of them. If my child breaths peanut dust or comes in contact with a peanut, you'd better have the epi pen posed and waiting and 911 on speed dial. He is part of a growing population of kids who have severe allergies. It seems a small price to pay to ask people on public transportation to avoid eating peanuts. Did you really miss them all that much?

Posted by: to Mona | January 10, 2007 4:10 PM

some people are allergic to cats too.

Posted by: to to mona | January 10, 2007 4:13 PM

NC LAWYER, we are going to DISNEYWORLD in two months. We already booked the Cinderella table too. Guess we are just brainwashed ninnies according to you enlightened liberals. How do you haughty people make it through the day? DISNEY's evil influence , give me a break!

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 4:16 PM

Yes, and I don't think cats should be allowed in the cabin either. What if someone has allergy-induced asthma flies next to a person who's flying with a cat?

Posted by: To to to Mona | January 10, 2007 4:17 PM

pATRICK, that's not what Meesh thinks. Read yesterday's blog for a refresher.

is the kool-aid spiked and if so, where can we get some?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 4:17 PM

4:10, did my statements imply that it was an inconvenience, or that I was complaining? If so, I apologize. I was intending to convey an attitude of surprise, as noted in my comments regarding not having seen this phenomenon but for the last ten years or so. I wonder where it's coming from; I really do. I'm not trying to undermine the seriousness of anyone's allergies...just wondering why we hear so much about it now and didn't when I was a kid.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 4:18 PM

"It's a problem for you because you see it as a "girl color" - or perhaps a "non-liberated girl color."

That's as dumb as a boy or man being unwilling to wear pink because they see it as a 'girl color.'"

Most men I know won't wear pink because they see it as a girl color. It may be dumb, but it's reality. It ain't rabid feminists sitting around making this sh*t up.

Unless you really think that all the men who refuse to wear pink (or dress their sons in pink) are doing it just because the color doesn't go with their hair.

Posted by: Laura | January 10, 2007 4:19 PM

"This is the best column I have ever read by LSM. I thought it was a guest blogger."

OUCH! Wow!

Posted by: Balt Dad | January 10, 2007 4:20 PM

Mona, I am with you on the confusion about peanut allergies - don't remember any kids dying from it when I was a kid (all of ten years ago!) When and why did it become so serious? And I don't want to argue w/ the person who said "a small price to pay" but I have to confess I eat a lot of pb&j and find it annoying that I am not supposed to send it in my kid's lunch ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | January 10, 2007 4:23 PM

Well, Patrick, I didn't say you were brainwashed, but if the shoe fits -- only you, no one else on this board with whom I may or may not always agree, but who is generally agreeable, or at least has a sense of humor -- feel free to wear it at the Cinderella table. Thanks for the compliment about my enlightened state.

Always so much anger. You and your wife fighting again about her occasional work-related travel?

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 4:24 PM

Soy Butter is a great alternative to peanut butter.. and makes a great sandwitch. Though most brands I have seen the say is processed on machines that also process tree nuts. At least I do not feel guilty about sending my child to school with a PB&J sandwitch...

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 4:29 PM

"If you've concluded, as it appears you have, that we shouldn't consider the impact on our kids of bowing down to the Disney empire's version of what girls should seek . . ."

Disney princesses? Well sure - that's another matter (though I would suggest that they have morphed more than a bit over time - they've come a long way from Sleeping Beauty). But caring what movies and books your kids watch and read is far different from caring about what colors they wear.

"Most men I know won't wear pink because they see it as a girl color. It may be dumb, but it's reality. It ain't rabid feminists sitting around making this sh*t up."

Well H*** - someone didn't send me the memo! I have a pink shirt, pink tie, and pink sweater. (Course, my wife gave them all to me. Hey, wait a minute - are you trying to tell me she wishes I was a girl? Maybe she's really a closet lesbian. Hmm . . . )

I also have some pink jockey shorts, but that's my fault - I forgot to separate the "white's" and "colored's" (my excuse, though, is that I disapprove of segregation).

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 4:30 PM

BTW, I've found that what people would think of as "girl's colors" tend to get me the most compliments when worn as a tie, against a crisp white shirt, with a nice charcoal suit. Patterns containing pinks, purples, yellows, light greens tend to get more complements than the basic reds and blues.

Politicians would never wear anything but a red or blue tie, but nobody ever accused them of having good taste in clothes.

Posted by: Random Guy | January 10, 2007 4:30 PM

Only "angry" at kooky liberals who try to infer evil plots by Disney and want to social engineer their children based on wacky politics. My lovely wife is doing fine thank you.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 4:31 PM

It's more than just a peanut or tree nut allergy as if someone can't eat or even touch it. But it seems like more kids have air-borne allergies as well, both nut and some even dairy. What makes it even tricker is when you can't bring items that might have come in contact with or been processed in plants that have nuts or dairy. I know when we meet with a certain playgroup, several kids with known life-threatening air-borne allergies I'm always very worried about 1) causing any problems for the other kids while 2) figuring out what snacks to bring for my kids to eat.

I do think it only a small price to pay not to eat peanuts/nuts in public, but what about no products processed in plants with peanuts and/or dairy. I've specifically looked in the cracker/snack aisle and most products say that they have been in plants with peanuts.


Posted by: New Poster | January 10, 2007 4:32 PM

All this discussion about colors reminds me of the "color wheel" of years ago. We were all either a spring, summer, winter or fall. Color coordination mandated by your skin and hair color.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 4:35 PM

Getting to the party late, but oh what the heck, I'll chime in.

Mom2b -

"I have no intention of making childless women feel bad. I actually encourage them to speak to their reasons for not having children."

So you really mean that you didn't mean to make childless women feel bad? Because I can't see how your first post was designed for anything else. I mean, saying "Being childless enables you to die alone...It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride..." I mean, it seems to me that you're saying that childless women live half a life.

As for knowing reasons, sure, I'll share mine. I am childless. It is NOT because I'm selfish. I don't want to pass on two very bad diseases to any children, one mental, one physical. Also, I would have to stop lifesaving medication in order to become pregnant and carry a healthy child. (Every single one of my medications would harm an unborn child.) I can't do it. If it's selfish to want to stay healthy, then I guess I am.

As for leaving my mark...I can think of several ways I'll do that without kids. I volunteer at an animal shelter. 300 or so animals got homes this year because I worked with families to get them adopted.

If people wonder why sometimes childless people get angry, your first post was a great example of why. You're choosing to have kids. Wonderful. I'm sure it's the right decision for you. Not having any is the right decision for me. All I want is for people to have the common courtesy to respect that.

Posted by: AG | January 10, 2007 4:35 PM

To Childfree

"I knew at the age of 10 I didn't want kids. I'm in my 40s now and am very happy and content with not having kids in my life at all. I've never changed a diaper and that is fine with me. No regrets here. "

My wife was the same way ... at age 42 she changed her mind and we decided to have a son. It has been life changing and wonderful for us.

Good for you either way!

Posted by: Balt Dad | January 10, 2007 4:36 PM

AG, Amen.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 4:36 PM

I'm just surprised Leslie Morgan Steiner agreed to put her byline on this. I'd be worried my kids would discover this in a Google search one day.

Posted by: Years from Parenthood | January 10, 2007 4:38 PM

I am an allergy-free, petless, childless singleton, so I don't have strong views on this - but the following article seemed interesting:

http://www.latimes.com/travel/la-tr-insider24dec24,1,4372632,full.column?coll=la-travel-headlines

I think the deadliness of peanut allergies, puts them in a class by themself. I am also not convinced that a pet in a carrier poses more harm than an untidy pet owner? How to you regulate the dander people carry on board on their sweaters?
- Do people with pet allergies make a habit of taking medication before all flights? Is it effective?
- It seems like there should be severe sanctions against those who take pets out of carriers on flights.

Some pets are in a protected class - namely guide dogs. I would put banning guide dogs on par with banning children... The blind person has as much right to fly as the allergy-person. How should that be handled?

Posted by: don't know | January 10, 2007 4:39 PM

AG - well put. Thanks for giving your time to help the animals.

Posted by: Missicat | January 10, 2007 4:39 PM

Having flown with a cat before, I've never had airline personnel tell the other passengers that a cat was on board. They know (it's on the passenger list), but I don't think they tell anyone.

The only thing I'd tell you to do is book a flight EARLY - most airlines have a 2 cat limit in the cabin. Also, with two cats security might be interesting - I had to take mine out of the carrier and carry him through the metal detector.

Finally, usually if you ask the gate personnel nicely, they'll let you board with first class to give you some time to get the carriers under the seats. I know Delta always let me do it.

Posted by: AG - to Mona | January 10, 2007 4:41 PM

It is the lack of choice that really bothers us coooky female liberals!! Why can't I but pullups without some sort of princess on them? If I get the boy ones is the padding in the right places? Why is it that this princess and pink stuff is jammed down our throats? It would be nice if clothes and diapers (especially pull ups) came in non gender spefic colors/designs. We are of course going to rebel against the lack of choice and predetermination of what our daughters should be like.

I am going to disney in a couple months as well, and did not even know about the princess table. Plan on spending most of our time in Animal Kingdom because that is what she loves best. I have dolls and princess costumes for her a home that she has never touched, perhaps one day she will go through a phase or I will jsut dump them.

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 4:42 PM

"So you really mean that you didn't mean to make childless women feel bad? Because I can't see how your first post was designed for anything else. I mean, saying 'Being childless enables you to die alone...It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride...' I mean, it seems to me that you're saying that childless women live half a life."

O.k. - then how do you tell a non-parent that you think they're missing out on something priceless, and that good friends and neighbors simply are not the same as children? It's no insult to tell people that you think they're missing out on something wonderful.

Or do you think it's an insult to tell parents that they're missing out on something wonderful because they can't drop everything and travel? Or to tell stay-at-home moms that they're missing out on something wonderful by not developing a career (which point has been made over and over and over on this blog)?

Smugness happens. On both sides. Get over it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 4:43 PM

"Why is it that this princess and pink stuff is jammed down our throats?"

Dunno. Reckon maybe someone is buying the stuff? Maybe even likes it?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 4:44 PM

Why can't they be generic - pictures of animals, toys, balloons, crayons, etc... why do they have to be disney, bob the builder, etc. It makes me cringe buying these things... Enough advertising - now it has to be on my kid's underwear??

Posted by: pullups | January 10, 2007 4:52 PM

NC Lawyer,

I would guess that nothing you wear either visible or not, nothing that you buy, nothing in your house or anywhere else that you can control, is pink.

Obviously, the elimination of all pink colours would accelerate the cause of equality.

Posted by: The Original Anon | January 10, 2007 4:54 PM

"I also have some pink jockey shorts, but that's my fault - I forgot to separate the "white's" and "colored's""

I have a very pale pink judo gi - for exactly the same reason. Lucky I'm a guy - if I were a girl, I couldn't wear it any more. What a bummer that would be.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 4:58 PM

Single Mom,

I would recommend dumping the Disney vacation and going to Wash D.C. instead. You can dress your child (ren) of either sex in black and white clothing. You then could have a fun vacation reviewing Title 20 U.S.C. Sections 1681-1688

Posted by: The Original Anon | January 10, 2007 4:59 PM

AG, thanks for the input. You guys are so helpful, that's why I love this board. I didn't know about the two-cat limit, but I assumed such would be the case because of carry-on restrictions. Basically, my boyfriend is helping me make the move, and he'll take care of one of the cats while I take care of the other, so it'll be easier to maneuver. We will have to book early, and pay extra for a direct flight, but it's only one-way so hopefully that'll take away some of the cost. My little cat can be in a small carrier, but I bought a medium-size carrier for my big cat. Should I put her in a small carrier for the flight?

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 5:00 PM

To - The Original Anon

I live in DC, so I can do that anytime. Perhaps I will download it if possible and use it as a bedtime story. Actually, my child wears a lot of red, fall colors, even some pink and pastel purple. I am not the type to spell womyn with a Y, but I think that we should not assume that pink is for girls and blue is for boys...

Posted by: single mom | January 10, 2007 5:09 PM

The Original Anon, You'd be wrong. Stay away from the ponies or you'll lose some big bucks. If you believe that your selection of colors in your residence and wardrobe impacts the progress of equality or any other societal construct, I question your sanity, but wish you well in your endeavors.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 5:09 PM

Your post makes no sense. "O.k. - then how do you tell a non-parent that you think they're missing out on something priceless, and that good friends and neighbors simply are not the same as children? It's no insult to tell people that you think they're missing out on something wonderful". What point are you trying to make here?

Posted by: To: Anonymous @January 10, 2007 04:43 PM | January 10, 2007 5:10 PM

"I have a very pale pink judo gi - for exactly the same reason. Lucky I'm a guy - if I were a girl, I couldn't wear it any more. What a bummer that would be."

Fred must have done the laundry that day.

If you were a girl, I'm sure you'd continue to wear the pink gi unless you quit judo - not feminine enough; the boys might be turned off by your toughness - and tried out for the cheerleading squad instead.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:12 PM

NC lawyer - just sat down with a margarita after a chilly half hour walk with the dog (yes, gloating just a bit).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:12 PM

to KLB SS MD:
I'm jealous too!

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 5:14 PM

dotted, either get over it or come over. Plenty to go around.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:16 PM

Mona - good luck with the cats. My dh drove from Indiana to PA with the three cats because I couldn't figure out how to fly with all three in the cabin so I can relate!

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 5:17 PM

Just arrived home and checked the last few comments.

Did someone question my laundry skills?

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 5:19 PM

"What point are you trying to make here?"

That it's not unfair to say that if you choose not to have children then, well, when you're old you still won't have children. It's not unfair to say that if you choose not to have children, then you'll miss out on all the joys and emotional satisfaction of parenthood. It's not unfair to say that if you choose not to have children, then your legacy is pretty much limited to whatever you yourself can accomplish, right here and now.

Yeah, the original post was sarcastic and over the top. Most of the posts by non-parents were too.

But the points are, at bottom fair game - certainly as fair as telling a stay-at-home mom that's she's missing out by not building a career.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:20 PM

A friend just sent me this - laughed out loud. It can be changed to suit your needs:

Two boys in Boston were playing baseball when one of them was attacked by a killer Rottweiler.
The dog had already locked his jaws on the boy's legs.
Thinking quickly, the other boy ripped a board off of a nearby fence, wedged it into the dog's collar and twisted it, breaking the dog's neck.

A newspaper reporter from the Boston Herald witnessed the incident and rushed over to interview the boy. The reporter began entering data into his laptop,
beginning with the headline,

'Brave Boston Red Sox Fan Saves Friend From Jaws Of Vicious Animal.'

"But I'm not a Boston Red Sox fan," the little hero interjected. "Sorry" replied the reporter. "But since we're in Boston, I just assumed you were."

Hitting the delete key, the reporter began again,
"John Kerry Fan Rescues Friend From Horrific Dog Attack"

"But I'm not a John Kerry fan either," the boy responds. The reporter says, "I assumed everybody in this state was either for the Red Sox, John Kerry, or Ted Kennedy . What team or person do you like?''.

"I'm a New York Yankee fan, and I really like George W. Bush" the boy says.

Hitting the delete key, the reporter begins again:

"Arrogant Little Republican Bastard Kills Beloved Family Pet."

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:20 PM

The tangents this blog has taken today reminded me of an interesting article I read recently about how/when pink came to be known as a "girl" color. (It may have been part of an article the NYTimes ran in late December about Disney princesses - but I'm not sure.) I may be garbling the facts slightly, but when "pink" and "blue" first came in fashion as baby/nursery colors in the early 20th century, pink was originally considered more masculine because it was close to red, and blue more feminine because it was considered more calm and restrained. The article pointed out that most of the early Disney princesses/heroines wore blue rather than pink - think Alice, Snow White, and Cinderella - because it was considered the "feminine" color. It wasn't until closer to the 70s and 80s that pink was solidified as the "girl" color, and blue the "boy" color. If I can find the original article I read, I'll post a link. I found the history of the color fascinating, especially as a feminist mother of a daughter (who had an initial ban on the color pink, but later decided it wasn't a battle worth continuing)

Posted by: Re: pink vs. blue | January 10, 2007 5:24 PM

Again, as has been previously stated here today, it is not guaranteed that when a parent is old he/she will have children. Sadly they die or the family has a falling out.
AS for the legacy - it has also been stated today that the majority of the people don't leave what would be considered "a legacy". They and their children hopefully positively contribute to society in some way or other. People without children can do the same thing.

Posted by: To:To: Anonymous @January 10, 2007 04:43 PM | January 10, 2007 5:24 PM

"Did someone question my laundry skills?"

Yes - and quite unfairly. I now formally declare that Fred did not do my laundry. I can screw it up all by myself.

"If you were a girl, I'm sure you'd continue to wear the pink gi unless you quit judo - not feminine enough; the boys might be turned off by your toughness - and tried out for the cheerleading squad instead."

Really? I don't think a single female in this conversation has fessed up to wearing pink - but several men have. Besides, if I were a girl who was interested in boys, why would I ever quit judo? How many other sports are there where a girl's encouraged to get down on the floor and wrestle with boys in her pajamas?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:25 PM

Well, I would never wear pink, except when I do the laundry!

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 5:26 PM

I'd love a topic of the apalling Disney vacation. A steaming cesspool of the uneducated and unimaginative who've taken a home equity loan to buy plastic crap they are convinced is part of the American dream.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:27 PM

Fred has been too busy painting the laundry room and making ice to worry about making white clothes pink. I remember the first time I did laundry as a kid - I was so proud until I saw that all my father's underwear and t-shirts were pink because I threw in my red bathrobe.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:27 PM

Oh, KLB, I am so envious. The images of margaritas and dog(s) will sustain me through my commute. I might even imagine a pink swizzle stick in that glorious liquid, just to annoy the self-righteous.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 5:29 PM

"Again, as has been previously stated here today, it is not guaranteed that when a parent is old he/she will have children. Sadly they die or the family has a falling out."

No one ever claimed that it is. On the other hand, it's pretty well guaranteed that the non-parents will not.

"AS for the legacy - it has also been stated today that the majority of the people don't leave what would be considered "a legacy". They and their children hopefully positively contribute to society in some way or other. People without children can do the same thing."

No one ever denied this either. But again, for most of us, if we are to have any lasting impact 50 years after our deaths, it will be through surviving family members.

Bottom line, I never said that those points were the be-all-and-end-all of the discussion - I just said that they were fair ones to offer. They're certainly no less fair than the ones non-parents and working moms routinely give in defense of their choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:31 PM

NC lawyer - I'll make it even better - it is in a green margarita glass with a pink flamingo on the side!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:33 PM

Here's the link to the article discussing the origins of pink - it was part of a article about princesses - "What's Wrong with Cinderella?" You may need a subscription to NYTimes to access it, but those of you discussing pink, Disney, and princesses might find it interesting!

http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=F40B1EFB38550C778EDDAB0994DE404482

Posted by: Pink vs. blue | January 10, 2007 5:34 PM

""Arrogant Little Republican Bastard Kills Beloved Family Pet.""

Thank you - this one made my day!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:35 PM

If you believe that your selection of colors in your residence and wardrobe impacts the progress of equality or any other societal construct


No, I was just using a bit of satire to make a point.

Posted by: the | January 10, 2007 5:36 PM

"It enables you to miss the full realm of emotions you feel as a parent....pure joy, elation, pride..."

"...sorrow, regret, fear, anger..." Not everyone raises a fine, independent adult child. All of the people in prison today had mothers. Many people I know are going through horrible situations with their adult children and/or grandchildren. Some have been physicall assaulted, some of advanced age are spending all their extra money to help out children who simply never got on track as adults, for whatever reason.

I'm not saying that parenting isn't filled with wonderful moments, but it when someone writes this "full range of human emotion" crap, but then doesn't list the negative human emotions, then they're clearly trying to tell me I'm missing something and MAKE ME FEEL BAD. Who cares if I don't go through "the full range of human emotions"? Is there a checklist? Hmmm, I know that I have felt, at one time or another, "pure joy, elation, and pride". The thing is, you can't make me feel bad because it's my choice and I've always been sure of it.

How can you miss something you never had?

Posted by: MRC | January 10, 2007 5:37 PM

I'd love a topic of the apalling Disney vacation. A steaming cesspool of the uneducated and unimaginative who've taken a home equity loan to buy plastic crap they are convinced is part of the American dream.

Posted by: | January 10, 2007 05:27 PM


I hope for your sake you've donned the obligatory flameproof suit, although it should be fun to see the defenders of the Mouse circle the wagons.

Fred, I must admit I laughed at the image of the you sneaking in and washing this poster's masculine red gym shorts and white gi in hot water. It's a darn good thing you have a better sense of humor than the average bear. Well, that and a very large ice-maker.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 5:38 PM

After hearing the description from KLB SS MD:
I'm making a pink margarita later on tonight...in your honor of course!

And I think NC lawyer will be right behind me in spirit!

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 5:38 PM

Sorry, missed the name. Here is the comment with attribution

If you believe that your selection of colors in your residence and wardrobe impacts the progress of equality or any other societal construct


No, I was just using a bit of satire to make a point.

Posted by: The Original Anon | January 10, 2007 5:39 PM

What MRC said! People without children can certainly feel every emotion - pride in their own or other family/friend's accomplishments - sorrow at a family member or dear friend's death - elation of falling in love.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:41 PM

dotted - how do you make it pink? Food coloring? I have had blue margaritas (blue curacao) and lavendar (really - lavendar margarita mix) but not pink. Do tell!

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:43 PM

My aunt had no children but she has had a great influence on me and on several of my cousins. She traveled the world, lived to be 94, held many respected jobs, built her own savings so she had plenty to live on and something to leave all of us, died with loving family around her, and showed me and other female cousins that you DON'T have to get married or have children to lead a full and interesting live, experience a wide range of human emotions, and leave a "legacy".

Posted by: MRC | January 10, 2007 5:44 PM

dotted, you're a fine, fine woman. I will have to keep my eyes open when next drinking and/or dining in Chapel Hill for a secure chick with a fine sense of humor and good taste in beverages, and I'll introduce myself. If it's not you, I'll still have met another interesting new friend.

now if we could put that pink margarita in a pink tumbler with the pink flamingo on the side, it would taste even better.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 5:45 PM

Maybe we could start our own "Pink Hat" society.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:47 PM

"How can you miss something you never had?"

Well, I've "missed lunch," "missed the train," "missed the boat," and "missed the point" before.

"I'm not saying that parenting isn't filled with wonderful moments, but it when someone writes this "full range of human emotion" crap, but then doesn't list the negative human emotions, then they're clearly trying to tell me I'm missing something and MAKE ME FEEL BAD."

I'll buy that - but only if we're willing to say that when someone talks about the advantages of being single or childless or a working mom or feminist etc, but then doesn't list the negatives, "then they're clearly trying to tell me I'm missing something and MAKE ME FEEL BAD."

Just because someone tells you that you're missing something, that doesn't necessarily mean that they're trying to make you "FEEL BAD." Knowing that others think your choices have some real downsides should neither come as a surprise to you, or cause you any particular emotional distress. It happens to all of us.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:47 PM

"... I don't think a single female in this conversation has fessed up to wearing pink..."

Fredia's favorite color is pink. She wears it often. But of course, she is a girlie girl.

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 5:47 PM

Getting back to the original subject of this blog - I did not have children until I was in my mid-30's, having been previously convinced that I would make a terrible parent and did not want to have children. The change of sentiment occurred at age 35 in a moment something like St. Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. It was a Saturday afternoon and I was driving past a high school football field where a marching band was practicing, and there were a few parents in the stand watching. As I drove by I thought, what a nice way to spend a Saturday afternoon, and then, bam! I realized that I did want to have children after all. I've never really travelled and on our budget we certainly can't do it with our kids. I have worked in an underpaid government job in order to keep sane hours and get home in time to be with them. I'll never be partner in a law firm, and I will never make a lot of money because I can't put in the total time and dedication required without giving up time with my family. And sometimes I do feel a little wistful about that when I look at what we don't have materially. And I worry about what we will retire on after we get through paying for what I hope will be excellent education for both. However, I have never ever regretted having my children. Even in their most disappointing moments, their obnoxious snits, their braces and other expenses, I am still grateful for their presence in my life. I feel blessed to have had them.

Posted by: lawyermom | January 10, 2007 5:48 PM

I have a pink scrub top but don't wear it much as it shows too much dirt. Darker colors are the way to go. Fred, you are welcome to join the "Pink Hat Society" as an honorary member.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:49 PM

'No one ever denied this either. But again, for most of us, if we are to have any lasting impact 50 years after our deaths, it will be through surviving family members.'

Yes, a lasting impact on the environment, depletion of resources, etc. And who's to say that your child will have any significant positive impact? Finally, WHO CARES if you have any lasting impact, anyway? I never understood that rationale.

Posted by: In Wyoming | January 10, 2007 5:49 PM

not a girlie girl (love the outdoors, hiking, running, swimming, biking, etc.) and I wear pink.

Posted by: s | January 10, 2007 5:50 PM

You forgot to add bah humbug to your Disney rant, Ebenezer.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 5:50 PM

"Fredia's favorite color is pink. She wears it often. But of course, she is a girlie girl."

O.k. Fred, now I'm jealous. You're both clearly way too liberated and fun loving.

"Maybe we could start our own "Pink Hat" society."

I'm thinking that Fred and I should start our own "Pink Jockey Shorts" society. But you and Fredia can be honorary members.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:50 PM

We can just have a "Pink Whatever Society" and let anyone who can laugh at themself be an HONORED member.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 5:52 PM

"Finally, WHO CARES if you have any lasting impact, anyway?"

I don't know. It sure seems to hit a nerve, though. Non-parents are jumping up and down saying "hey, but we have a legacy too!"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:53 PM

To Wyoming.

I would suggest immediate self immolation in a previously existing compost heap. This way you will not have the guilt of depleting anymore resources and the positive benefit of being fertilizer

Posted by: The Original Anon | January 10, 2007 5:53 PM

Thank you 'In Wyoming,' - I was going to say something along the lines of you post but didn't.

The legacy stuff is just ridiculous. Really really ridiculous.

Posted by: WAMC | January 10, 2007 5:54 PM

didn't add the bah humbug because I'm pretty sure Disney tradmarked it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:55 PM

"I would suggest immediate self immolation in a previously existing compost heap. This way you will not have the guilt of depleting anymore resources and the positive benefit of being fertilizer"

But only if you are responsible enough to avoid the use of gasoline or other petroleum products in the process.

Or wait - just how much carbon does a burning body release into the atmosphere? Maybe you'd better plant a tree first.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:55 PM

And what a great legacy Jeffrey Dahlmer's mother left!

Posted by: To: Anonymous @January 10, 2007 04:43 PM | January 10, 2007 5:55 PM

"We can just have a "Pink Whatever Society" and let anyone who can laugh at themself be an HONORED member."

Amen to that. I gotta go home now. Have a wonderful evening.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:57 PM

Anon, what "lasting impact" do you expect to have 50 years after your death? Great great grandchildren who have heard a few stories about you? That's not really a "lasting impact", that's simple procreation, which anyone can do. We're still talking about my aunt and using her as a life example 20 years after her death. Ok, so we're her "surviving family members" but not her children. Thus, you don't have to have a child of your own to be remembered by surviving family members.

I myself intend to leave my money to family members and a few deserving charities. I'll get a plaque on a wall somewhere -- does that qualify as a "lasting impact"?

Using up the Earth's natural resources will also have a lasting impact.

Posted by: MRC | January 10, 2007 5:57 PM

"And what a great legacy Jeffrey Dahlmer's mother left!"

Yep, she must have been a working girl.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:57 PM

"Using up the Earth's natural resources will also have a lasting impact."

I'll put that on my "not to do" list. Gotta save them for my progeny.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 5:59 PM

Anyone remember when people could SMOKE on a plane? Geez, I'll take crying kids, no free meals, and a few annoyances over that any day.

Traveling via commercial airlines today is like riding the bus 40 years ago. If you want to avoid crying children, buy your own Cessna or start an "adults only" airline. Oh, wait, Hooters already did that!

Posted by: Kimber | January 10, 2007 5:59 PM

Hooters wasn't an adult airline - I flew it with my whole family and had one of the more plesant traveling experiences of my life. Only one Hooters girl who was really nice, but we also had real, hot food (sausage mcmuffins) and top quality service. Nobody could believe it when I told them. I was pretty bummed when they went out of business.

Posted by: moxiemom | January 10, 2007 6:02 PM

LawyerMom, I'm happy for you and glad that you the 10,000 other women who have told this same tale endless times had your moment of enlightment and that your child has been a blessing in your life and you're so grateful and....

Still doesn't make me regret not having my old child. I've had experiences you will never have also. Not saying that in a "nah nah nah" tone, just saying, not every woman is going to have that "conversion", nor should they.

Posted by: Xtina | January 10, 2007 6:04 PM

I know Hooters wasn't really an "adult only" airline. I was just making the joke because you'd think most parents wouldn't jump to take their 8-year-old on a Hooters flight. I did hear a lot of good things about it, and like Independence Air, it seemed to have died too soon.

Posted by: Kimber | January 10, 2007 6:06 PM

Xtina - dig the name.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 6:07 PM

A touch of cranberry juice makes a pink margarita for me...and gives me the illusion of being healthy at the same time.

Others use maraschino cherry juice, but that is just way too sweet for me.

Finally, I like pink. Coincidentally,, I wore a pink sweater today even. I just hate boring clothes! My favorite is my dandy burberry pink/beige hat.

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 6:08 PM

My fav color is almost any shade of red - one bedroom is burgundy (sexy) and one living wall is poppy red (cheerful).

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 6:11 PM

"That it's not unfair to say that if you choose not to have children then, well, when you're old you still won't have children. It's not unfair to say that if you choose not to have children, then you'll miss out on all the joys and emotional satisfaction of parenthood. It's not unfair to say that if you choose not to have children, then your legacy is pretty much limited to whatever you yourself can accomplish, right here and now."

No kids here, and would agree that all those things are perfectly fair things to say. However, I am compelled to ask: you DO know that such statements directed at one firmly in the "no kids" camp are a waste of time? Those of us that knew early on childbearing was not for us don't SEE joy and emotional satisfaction in parenthood - so it is irrelevant for you to say that we are missing it. We don't consider building a future legacy through bearing children when we are gone as a priority, so pointing out we miss out on that simply draws a yawn. We've made our peace with the fact our genetic material will not be passed down...and it is OK!

What's with this legacy stuff anyway...once you are dead, what does it matter what you have left behind? The only reason I can think of to obsess on the legacy issue is to nurture one's ego while one is still alive!

So, it just seems like a pointless conversation to have - if I listed all the advantages I see in not having kids to a parent...I would expect to see their eyes glaze over in due time. That's why, at least in person, I don't even bother bringing the issue up (I'm only posting now as we are slow at work - otherwise I would not bother! Boredom does strange things)


Posted by: ALP | January 10, 2007 6:11 PM

ALP,

Give us some reasons!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 6:14 PM

Other than,

1. It will ruin my body.

2. It cost too much money

3. The earth is over populated as it is.

(and if it is not your voluntery choice, you need not repond)

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 6:16 PM

I cringe when I hear people dismiss humanity like a virus. These comments almost have a Nazi like ring to them .We are far more important than this rock we sit on. Having said that does not let us abuse God's Creation but keep in mind that your children are the most valuable resources of the earth.

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 6:24 PM

"I realize that cheerleading has come a long way, and really involves athletic skills nowadays -- some of the things that I see people doing on ESPN are just amazing, there are college scholarships, etc."

My high school had a coed "tournament cheerleading" team as well as girl sports teams, boy sports teams, and girl cheerleading teams for boys sports teams. The tournament cheerleading team went to tournaments where a bunch of teams did cheer routines on stage and got scored by judges. One of the flyers posted around school in September when all the clubs advertised themselves went "Any man can hold her hand, only the elite can hold her feet!" and showed a boy standing up and stretching his arms upward while a girl did a split standing on one of his hands with one foot.

"I don't think it's limiting to keep children under 5 off of planes."

What about when an American adopts a Chinese baby or a German adopts an American baby?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 6:24 PM

"Here's the link to the article discussing the origins of pink - it was part of a article about princesses - "What's Wrong with Cinderella?"

I read this article, too. It was fascinating. It clearly described many of the changing social interpretations of color. Which brings me to. . .

"By all means - avoid pink because you simply don't like it. But it's silly to load it down with all sorts of gender politics significance. Again - it's just a color."

It's not just a color. It's culturally associated with stereotypically feminine things. It's not limited to those things, but it is associated with them. I wear pink occasionally because my husband thinks I look hot in pink. I know the cultural associations (and disagree with them; I call myself a feminist) and made a decision to wear it in spite of what I perceive it to stand for. On the other hand, I'd prefer my daughter not to wear it, because I don't want her influenced by cultural associations she's too young to understand yet.

Posted by: Kim | January 10, 2007 6:37 PM

"It would be nice if clothes and diapers (especially pull ups) came in non gender spefic colors/designs."

I once saw a store where lots of infant clothes came in three versions: pink for girls, blue for boys, and green for don't know yet. I guess people could buy the green versions even if they did already know whether the baby was a boy or girl.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 10, 2007 6:37 PM

Most people are not dismissing humanity - some just have no burning desire to be a parent, plain and simple. Others have been unable for some reason. Are you dismissing those of us who have not been able to procreate?

Posted by: To pATRICK | January 10, 2007 6:37 PM

Yellow is also a popular gender non-specific color.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 6:38 PM

I just had my first child last year but can totally relate to Helen Mirren's sentiments. I think parents can have some freedom, but absolute freedom is out of the question.

That said, one doesn't have to take Leslie's approach of putting kids before husband and anything else that can bring adult joy. I'm sorry, but there will be times when my daughter has to come along with ME and do something like salsa dancing just because I like to do that. I'm not planning to spend my life folding her laundry and being her personal driver. Thank God, Lincoln set us free in 1864.

Posted by: denkpaard | January 10, 2007 6:40 PM

Oops - 1863.

Posted by: denkpaard | January 10, 2007 6:46 PM

No, I am addressing those who think that the resources of the earth are more important than human beings and act as if humanity is some sort of cancer. Did you even read my post?

Posted by: pATRICK | January 10, 2007 6:47 PM

Yes I read it - disagree. No one has said that humanity is a type of cancer. Show me one!

Posted by: To pATRICK | January 10, 2007 6:49 PM

KLB SS MD,

Coming to this conversation REALLY late...

We have been blessed with several friends who have never had children -- by choice or by circumstance. They are the cool aunts who took my kids out for contraband ice cream behind our backs, to the zoo when we couldn't fathom one more trip, who taught them how to read Metro maps.

Now that my kids are teenagers, these aunts are the same cool folks who my kids can talk to about real life -- dating, college, politics. (They still take the kids out for contraband ice cream.) These cool aunts alos take them camping or offer a place to crash if they want to go to NYC for a day or two.

As a parent, I consider cool aunts a blessing from above! You offer a perspective that sometimes a parent (no matter how well-meaning) just can't convey. We have a friend in particular who gets one of my sons to open up in ways that are stunning to us as parents -- he spills to her (in our presence) about things we would NEVER learn otherwise. And it's no that he's hiding things from us -- she just has a way of getting him to open up that is different and refreshing.

In conclusion: You Rock! I hope you get as much from the relationship as the kids do.

Posted by: Derwood Mom | January 10, 2007 6:50 PM

On "dying alone":
We all "die alone," ultimately, don't we?

Posted by: Diane, Baltimore | January 10, 2007 6:52 PM

Derwood Mom - I certainly do get as much if not more from all my "nieces and nephews" as they do. One friend in particular (who just got divorced) has asked the boys to promise that if (haha - when) I get old they will take care of me. They both agreed without hesitation. She and the boys stayed with me for a week while she found her own place. Needless to say we did lots of talking during that week.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 6:55 PM

I wonder how someone should answer that type of question "do you regret not having children" as no one ever asks if someone "regrets having children". Or course reporters never ask this type of "regret" and "children" question to men (actors or otherwise). Having children, just like getting married or going to children doesn't make the person, the person makes the person.

Posted by: Sam | January 10, 2007 6:59 PM

nc lawyer:

I just can't resist this. Go unc....

he he he...

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 7:03 PM

dotted - pink margarita yet?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 7:06 PM

'No one ever denied this either. But again, for most of us, if we are to have any lasting impact 50 years after our deaths, it will be through surviving family members.'

Yes, a lasting impact on the environment, depletion of resources, etc. And who's to say that your child will have any significant positive impact? Finally, WHO CARES if you have any lasting impact, anyway? I never understood that rationale."

Posted by: pATRICK to TO pATRICK | January 10, 2007 7:16 PM

I didn't make it through all the comments but Leslie, I thought you hit this one out of the park. Great post.

Posted by: Shandra | January 10, 2007 7:39 PM

Can I paint the inside of my cave pink?

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 7:56 PM

What I find so interesting about this topic is that no one talks about the women who don't have children (by choice or just circumstance) who do NOT have great careers, world travel, etc. They have just regular workaday lives that are no more or less glamorous than the rest of us who happen to be mothers.

Some of these child free people are our sisters (one is mine), co-workers (also one). They happen to be great friends and relatives, but it has nothing to do with their status as parents.

But I do find it interesting that many women, myself included, sometimes subtly blame our children for not experiencing everything we could in life.

Some of it's true, some not. (I also credit my children with giving me amazing experiences I would have never had without being their mother).

Helen Mirren has had an extraordinary life. But I would bet that if she had chosen children, she would have had an extraordinary life anyway.

Posted by: Kate | January 10, 2007 8:00 PM

Fred, you can't paint your cave pink but maybe Freida will let you paint the laundry room pink.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 8:11 PM

I love PINK! I used to joke that I was applying for a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support my performance art, which was the wearing of pink. At one time I had a pink hard hat, which I would wear when working on Habitat houses. So one day I was stopping for lunch while working on a HfH project. I brought my lunch in a pink lunchbag. I was wearing pink clothes, and a pink hardhat. One of the guys said I would not be able to keep up a macho image if I used and wore so much pink! I never could figure out why he thought I was trying to project a macho image in the first place.

Later, I wore an all pink outfit on a plane trip to a job interview, wanting to make a good impression when I got off the plane that evening. I had a suit for the first day of interviews, and a nice conservative blue dress for the second day, but figured that for simply getting off the plane, I could wear my revered pink. As it turns out, my luggage did not arrive when and where I did, so I spent the first day of interviews in my beloved pink outfit. Then I changed into the dress for dinner that night (far more comfortable than the suit), and wore the suit the second day. I got the job (maybe my confidence was boosted by the pink).

Posted by: single mother by choice | January 10, 2007 8:11 PM

We should all just wear what makes us feel good. It makes me wonder why some of the women I work with only wear black and brown. Are they sad all the time or just lazy?

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 8:13 PM

I find they work well since I spill coffee on myself regularly. Pink is not so forgiving to the klutzes.

Posted by: black and brown | January 10, 2007 8:28 PM

The laundry room is white as decreed by Fredia. We did have a pink bathroom but that went with Katrina.

Posted by: Fred | January 10, 2007 8:28 PM

Unless you are drinking pepto bismol or a pink lady.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 8:29 PM

Fred, probably a blessing in disguise. Pink bathrooms are so 50s. Around here there are lots of 40s and 50s houses with the requisite pink tiled walls, sinks and toilets and gray or black and white tiled floors.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 8:31 PM

"It makes me wonder why some of the women I work with only wear black and brown. Are they sad all the time or just lazy?"

It's flattering and looks sharp. I wear the occasional pink or blue, but most days you'll find me in red, gray, or black.

Posted by: Mona | January 10, 2007 8:50 PM

It may be flattering on you but it makes them look dowdy - maybe because they don't add any color at all - black pants, black shirt, black shoes. Now a nice pair of black jeans or slacks with a colorful shirt (like you said, red) is awesome.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | January 10, 2007 9:22 PM

Mona, black and brown are my staples. I am lazy AND cheap--it's easy to spruce that wardrobe up! And I love pink. And blue.
And Disney World, which really is the happiest place on earth! No bugs. If I could go every year I would go. It isn't all rides. I think I love it more than my kids do!

Apropos to a poster far up the chain, two acquaintances of mine have 6 children--one in college and the rest all under the age of 12. They are fabulous parents, but not only that, they are both tenured professors at the same university. And neither has ever taken more than the normal m/paternity leave. Before anyone points out that they have summers off, it just ain't true! The way they make it work so well is that they both give 110%. Wish mine did.

Posted by: jane | January 10, 2007 9:48 PM

dotted,

you're one of my favorite tarheel fans, although I admit it's a short list and could get shorter by the end of the night:>)

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 10:06 PM

Fred,

re the pink house idea, to each his own, but if you're going to do it, please purchase all your furnishings in October from one of the many vendors who donate a percentage of the purchase to organizations conducting breast cancer research. If one is going to live in pepto purgatory, one might as well do good at the same time. We can all only eat so much yogurt.

in the alternative, I hear foamgnome recommends sage green for your living room.

Posted by: NC lawyer | January 10, 2007 10:11 PM

just a few more posts and we can break 500! Anyone from other locations care to share elementary, jr high and high school start times? I'm going to compile them and send them to the 'sleep in fairfax' people tomorrow morning.
Good Night!

Posted by: experienced mom | January 10, 2007 10:17 PM

I believe today's column did so well because it spoke of essential truths with brutal honesty and compassion. In order to score points, writers too often pit groups against one another. Not so here. There is no 'us vs. them' in this column. Good work.

Posted by: dotted | January 10, 2007 10:52 PM

>

Why would you want to tell a non-parent that? If someone told me that, I would be insulted. Let's say the childless person in question was not childless by choice... your saying it would then be not only insulting but cruel. And you wouldn't ever really know whether the person was childless by choice or not. It seems to me the only possible goals of your saying this to anyone is to either (a) change their mind about having kids; (b) make them feel inferior to you; (c) blather on about your own life. (a) is presumptuous, since you don't know their reasons; (b) is obnoxious; (c) is self-absorbed. Nobody really cares about how wonderful your life (or mine) is. I don't know many non-parents who think friends and neighbors are like children. Do you think non-parents are just stupid?

>

I don't think that's true at all. Some working moms claim that THEY THEMSELVES would miss out on something they really enjoyed if they didn't have a career. Some SAHMs feel THEY THEMSELVES are missing out on a career they used to have.

Posted by: m | January 10, 2007 10:59 PM

This should be 500!

Posted by: First Comment | January 10, 2007 11:17 PM

For those who avoid pink, do you let your daughters wear dresses?

My daughters were bald babies who didn't have hair until they were 2. If they weren't in pink or dresses, they were mistaken for boys.

Posted by: late post | January 10, 2007 11:30 PM

I love pink and wear it a lot.

I also love Disney World. Have fun, Single Mom!

Also feminist.

Free country!

Posted by: Leslie | January 11, 2007 8:11 AM

"the freedom to have sex wherever"

Matt,

You missed the all-important word in that sentence--WHEREVER!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 8:38 AM

"O.k. - then how do you tell a non-parent that you think they're missing out on something priceless, and that good friends and neighbors simply are not the same as children? It's no insult to tell people that you think they're missing out on something wonderful".

If you were polite, you wouldn't say a WORD about it. It's NOT your business!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 8:52 AM

"It's not just a color. It's culturally associated with stereotypically feminine things. . . . I'd prefer my daughter not to wear it, because I don't want her influenced by cultural associations she's too young to understand yet."


And by doing so, you're perpetuating them in a backhanded sort of way.

Do you really want her to grow up being guided by that sort of stereotype?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 9:16 AM

Mona, I am with you on the confusion about peanut allergies - don't remember any kids dying from it when I was a kid (all of ten years ago!) When and why did it become so serious? And I don't want to argue w/ the person who said "a small price to pay" but I have to confess I eat a lot of pb&j and find it annoying that I am not supposed to send it in my kid's lunch ...

I can not believe this would bother you. Kids die from this stuff. If it was your kid, you would care.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 9:20 AM

"Why would you want to tell a non-parent that? If someone told me that, I would be insulted. Let's say the childless person in question was not childless by choice... your saying it would then be not only insulting but cruel. And you wouldn't ever really know whether the person was childless by choice or not. It seems to me the only possible goals of your saying this to anyone is to either (a) change their mind about having kids; (b) make them feel inferior to you; (c) blather on about your own life. (a) is presumptuous, since you don't know their reasons; (b) is obnoxious; (c) is self-absorbed. Nobody really cares about how wonderful your life (or mine) is. I don't know many non-parents who think friends and neighbors are like children. Do you think non-parents are just stupid?"

You should always test your arguments before using them, to see if they would sting you if turned around.

Why would anyone ever want to tell a stay-at-home-mom about what she's missing out on by not working? Aren't "the only possible goals" to either (a) change their mind about staying home; (b) make them feel inferior to you; (c) blather on about your own life. "(a) is presumptuous, since you don't know their reasons; (b) is obnoxious; (c) is self-absorbed. Nobody really cares about how wonderful your life (or mine) is." Do you think stay-at-home-moms are just stupid?

Why would anyone ever want to tell a working mom about what she's missing out on by working? Aren't "the only possible goals" to either (a) change their mind about working; (b) make them feel inferior to you; (c) blather on about your own life. "(a) is presumptuous, since you don't know their reasons; (b) is obnoxious; (c) is self-absorbed. Nobody really cares about how wonderful your life (or mine) is." Do you think working moms are just stupid?"


Why would anyone ever want to tell a parent mom about what she's missing out on by having kids? Aren't "the only possible goals" to either (a) change their mind about having kids; (b) make them feel inferior to you; (c) blather on about your own life. "(a) is presumptuous, since you don't know their reasons; (b) is obnoxious; (c) is self-absorbed. Nobody really cares about how wonderful your life (or mine) is." Do you think parents are just stupid?"


If we listened to you, we'd all have to stop talking about our lives, and why we think the choices we have made are good ones.

Because, after all, working moms / stay-at-home moms / non-parents / single moms / feminists / non-feminists:

"If you were polite, you wouldn't say a WORD about it. It's NOT your business!"

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 9:23 AM

"However, I am compelled to ask: you DO know that such statements directed at one firmly in the "no kids" camp are a waste of time?"

Yes, of course. Just like all the things statements directed an stay-at-home moms are a waste of time - do we really think singing the praises of a career is going to make them all change their minds? And all the statements directed at working moms are a waste of time - do we really think that telling them about the joys of being home with our kids will change their minds? Of cours not.


"So, it just seems like a pointless conversation to have - if I listed all the advantages I see in not having kids to a parent...I would expect to see their eyes glaze over in due time."

I agree entirely. That makes it pretty typical for this blog (and for most of the rest of the blogosphere as well).

Posted by: Demos | January 11, 2007 9:30 AM

It can be a diverting way to waste time, though. Speaking of which, I have work to do . . .

Posted by: Demos | January 11, 2007 9:31 AM

I can imagine much bigger issues in life than having my healthy, happy infant daughter mistaken for a healthy, happy infant son.

but the answer to your, presumably, fashion question is, God made a wonderful rainbow of colors and I employ them all in addition to floral and other pastel prints. When she was an infant I dressed her in dresses, overalls, swing tops and leggings and any number of other outfits. I never felt as though I was limited to a single color or clothing style and we selected many mint green and pale yellow outfits as well as purple, red, blue, cranberry and white.

One has only to look at Euro clothing to see how narrow the U.S. palate has become for girls under 10. Feminine girl clothing is available in primary colors, dark colors, light colors, whatever. Until she turned 5, our daughter's clothing was purchased pre-loved off of ebay both as a money-saver and to avoid the pink, pink, and only pink options available locally.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 10:10 AM

In my opinion, the freedom to drop everything and do exactly what you feel like doing when you feel like doing it is highly overrated. To me, it means that no one is counting on you, and that you are truly not needed anywhere. And I don't think this is the case for Mirren or any other person who has made a huge commitment to anything, from a career to a family. Whether she likes to believe it or not, Mirren has sacrifed a lot for her career. For example, she will not, in her old age, have chidlren or grandkids who visit her. Obviously, it is worth it to her, and she is happy with her choice, but she does not in fact have it all. She has a career, money, and she is admired for her work. But that is not everything. And that's fine for her. But it wouldn't be fine for me.

Years ago, I read a biography of Georgia O'Keefe, and I was struck not only by her genius and commitment to her art, but also by her incredible selfishness. O'Keefe did not have children either, which is probably a good thing, since she was willing to sacrifice anything and everything for the sake of painting. She was married to the famous photographer, Alfred Stieglitz, who was a very good and supportive husband to her. In fact, he is the person who helped her get established as an artist in New York when she first started out. When he was old and close to death, Georgia preferred to spend her time in New Mexico painting rather than stay with him in New York. She just could not bear being away from her art, and decided instead to leave her old and infirm husband alone in his dying days, because her art was more impotant. In fact, one of her paintings is of two stones which she named her heart, because it is so hard. So I guess O'Keefe was also free. And she did contribute wonderful art to the world. Perhaps it was worth it to her. In my opinion, it's a awful waste, and her priorities just make me feel very sad.

I spent yesterday at home doubled over in cramps because my miscarriage process is still working itself out. Then I was up various times during the night because my son has a bad cold. These are the consequences of having a child and wanting another one. Despite the bumps in the road, I would go through all of this and more, all over again, with no regrets. My family is what makes my life wonderful.

Then again, I am not hugely talented at something like art or drama or science, etc., so I don't have to make the choices that such hugely talented people make. Maybe that is why my family seems like such an obvious priority.

Posted by: Emily | January 11, 2007 10:24 AM

Is anyone else unable to view today's blog?

Posted by: confused | January 11, 2007 10:27 AM

"One has only to look at Euro clothing to see how narrow the U.S. palate has become for girls under 10."

Or women in the deep South. I'm living in the D.C. area, and every time I go back home I struck by how much more colorful the clothes are. People here look so dull all the time. It's almost as if we have this uniform, or are afraid to wear anything different.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 10:35 AM

So a lot of parents feel the need to tell non-parents about the wonders and joys that they're missing out on by not having kids. How they themselves had no idea how wonderful the whole parenting thing could be until they had kids of their own. I think anyone, parent or non-parent, can recognize and appreciate those statements. But are we bad people for still being completely uninterested in experiencing it for ourselves? I may find great joy in doing something like skiing or cliff diving, but I don't expect everyone else to experience it for themselves if they aren't interested.

What is it about parenting and having kids that makes people think that everyone else has to experience as well? If someone tells me they don't want to go cliff diving to check out how great it is, I say 'ok' and move on. Not everyone is into the same things! Parenting is no exception from that!

Posted by: VB | January 11, 2007 11:10 AM

'My daughters were bald babies who didn't have hair until they were 2. If they weren't in pink or dresses, they were mistaken for boys.'

'I can imagine much bigger issues in life than having my healthy, happy infant daughter mistaken for a healthy, happy infant son.'

I didn't say that it was a big issue. I just wanted to state that, for many perople, pink and dresses are identifiers that the child is female. It is not a social commentary wrapped around feminism and oppression. And I don't consider children over one to be infants - they are toddlers.

Obviously, I didn't dress them in pink or dresses all the time. How else would I have known that people thought they were boys?

Posted by: late post | January 11, 2007 11:41 AM

XTina, so sorry we bore you with our 10,000 stories. I can certainly remember being annoyed and disgusted with my "we're pregnant" acquaintances and their endless prattle about almost nothing but their children, potential or actual...but try to understand - there's nothing more utterly overwhelming in most people's life experience.

It's interesting that few men are weighing in here. I know many women who have decided not to have children and are very comfortable with that. However, I also know many men in their 40s/50s who probably never really made a decision either way, and are now desperate to have children. Since our society no longer pressures men to form families as it once did (in the 50s, a man with no wife and family was automatically "you know, funny," or a "momma's boy" or otherwise "not quite right"), young men can put off thinking about it for a long time. Would love to hear more from the menfolk.

Posted by: Jill in Denver | January 11, 2007 12:18 PM

'We are far more important than this rock we sit on. Having said that does not let us abuse God's Creation but keep in mind that your children are the most valuable resources of the earth.'

I suppose therein lies a fundamental difference upon which we would never agree. My perspective is that people are part of the earth, but do not own it, nor are we the most important part of it. Perhaps, due to our advanced intellect, we are the most successful in the 'survival of the species,' I will give you that. Living near large areas of national wilderness, I feel there is so much more to earth than human-contrived struggles to leave 'legacies.' We leave behind a lot of trash, concrete, and the effects of global warming. I would hardly say that human children are the most valuable resources on earth. Sure, all life on Earth strives to procreate and perpetuate its own species, but humans have made progress against disease, found ways to reproduce in the face of infertility, and made life much easier for ourselves through modern technology--all of which has made our species flourish in numbers. Our species (our global population overall--which is increasing- despite variances in the birth rate across meaningless geopolitical boundaries) is hardly in any threat of extinction. Humans have the ability to choose or *not* to choose to reproduce, despite our natural urges to do so, unlike other animals. I choose not to reproduce, and for me, that is a FREEDOM against convention which so many people follow often without question. Rather, instead of worry over 'leaving a legacy,' I choose to do what good I may during my time here on earth, and, like the wilderness usage mantra, wish to 'leave no trace,' (or at least as little as I can while here on earth). It's not that I don't feel myself important, but rather that I see myself as a tiny piece of a much larger part of our planet, which I care for more than whether I 'leave a legacy.' At one point in the past humans didn't exist on earth, and I see no tragedy in the thought that we might not exist on earth in the future. Choosing not to have kids is not so much a desire for freedom from responsibility so much as it is simply a freedom from the cycle of human egotistical struggles and dominance of the earth. Hardly Nazi-like or equating humans to a cancerous growth. For me, it's simply seeing our small part in the much greater scheme of things beyond the realm of human.

Posted by: In Wyoming | January 11, 2007 12:29 PM

Emily, I don't know what bio you read of Georgio O'Keeffe, but it clearly wasn't one of the critically lauded ones nor have you made a true study of her life.

O'Keeffe did want to have children, but Stieglitz didn't want to, so they remained childless and she wasn't that happy about it. He also had affairs, and that's why they lived apart as he grew older. She loved New Mexico, he loved New York. She was not so "selfishly" dedicated to her art that she somehow refused to have children. Please read a bio that tells her story correctly.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 2:19 PM

"I choose not to reproduce, and for me, that is a FREEDOM against convention which so many people follow often without question."

That's cool. Are you so sure that you're not reacting against convention, rather than truly ignoring and going your own way? You sound as if it's important to you to make some sort of stand with your life - that's a bit different from being truly free.

"At one point in the past humans didn't exist on earth, and I see no tragedy in the thought that we might not exist on earth in the future."

Sorry - I gotta root for the home team, so to speak. And honestly, it's probably just as well (and not all that surprising) that you're not having kids - indifference to procreation is not a survival trait for the species. Thanks for doing your part to strengthen the gene pool.

"For me, it's simply seeing our small part in the much greater scheme of things beyond the realm of human."

Again, we are just part of the natural order. Any one individual may choose not to have children for a variety of reasons - or simply not be able to have children. But I have to challenge your apparant indifference to the survival of humanity. We are only part of the universe - but an important part. I cannot be indifferent to the prospect of losing that piece.

Besides, how would you react if I were to say, "Tigers (or penguins, or elephants, or whatever your species of choice might be), who cares about tigers? At one point in the past tigers didn't exist in the earth, and I feel no great tragedy in the prospect of their loss?"

You say that humans are not the most important part of the earth.

I say that we are certainly not the least important part of it.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 2:26 PM

I amazes me how many people think that I'm so important that the species won't survive if I personally choose not to have children!

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 2:29 PM

"It's interesting that few men are weighing in here. "

I'm not sure what to say. I'm in my late 40's and have two children. One is in college, the other in high school. My wife stayed home with them, and loved it (and no, I didn't ask her to - it was her choice). We could afford it because I've been blessed with a good job, and becuase we bought less house than we otherwise could, and made some other lifestyle compromises.

My kids are more important than my job. At my funeral, I would much rather the preacher be able to say that I was a good father and husband (and talk about my kids and grandkids) than that I was a successful professional.

I was 28 before our first child was born. My wife wanted to wait for a few years after we first got married, because she wasn't sure she had the patience to deal with the "terrible two's." I thought she was crazy - I wanted to make sure we were still reasonably young when we had to deal with teenagers.

She now admits the wisdom of my point of view. Teenagers are much more challenging than toddlers (for one thing, you can't just pick them up and put them in the crib when they have a hissy fit).

Anyway - both of us have gotten tired, frustrated, angry and totally baffled with our kids.

Neither of us have ever regretted having them.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 11, 2007 2:37 PM

Mother Theresa doesn't have children, and yet she's left a pretty good legacy.

Jesus didn't have children, as far as we know, and I think he left a decent legacy for humankind.

For all of you who argue that extolling the virtues of parenting is just like arguing for or against "working" mothers or career women or whatever, are you serious? You can't mean to imply that giving birth is the same as choosing whether or not to work. Work is a personal choice, but there aren't many things that actually prevent a person from working, and if someone is not working for one of those reasons, it's not your business.

There are many private reasons a woman or man might choose not to procreate. Don't be so ridiculous as to think you have a right to know, and YES!, it is RUDE to push your views of the fabulous joys of parenting on someone whose reasons for not being a parent you don't know. Unless you are very close friends, it's not even your business to ask why they don't want to have children. People who ask and get rebuffed and don't back off are just boorish.

Posted by: MRC | January 11, 2007 2:42 PM

Sorry, Mother Theresa "didn't" have children. I know she's no longer with us.

Posted by: MRC | January 11, 2007 2:44 PM

And once again, I have never regretted NOT having children. Nope, I'm not some "career" person, just someone who enjoys living my life and the experiences it brings me. As someone wrote above, there ARE people out here who didn't decide not to have children because they wanted to be a CEO or be famous or climb Everest. Some of us want other things in our lives that 24/7 parenthood. If you can't handle that and can't imagine your life without your children, then clearly you made the right choice for YOU, but you don't have any sway on whether my choice was right for ME.

Posted by: Caro | January 11, 2007 2:53 PM

And once again, I have never regretted NOT having children. Nope, I'm not some "career" person, just someone who enjoys living my life and the experiences it brings me. As someone wrote above, there ARE people out here who didn't decide not to have children because they wanted to be a CEO or be famous or climb Everest. Some of us want other things in our lives than 24/7 parenthood. If you can't handle that and can't imagine your life without your children, then clearly you made the right choice for YOU, but you don't have any sway on whether my choice was right for ME.

Posted by: Caro | January 11, 2007 2:54 PM

Heck yeah, Mother Theresa and Jesus left wonderful legacies. We all happily concede the point (unless we have some atheists who want to inveigh against Christianity)?

"For all of you who argue that extolling the virtues of parenting is just like arguing for or against "working" mothers or career women or whatever, are you serious?"

Yes we are. Pay attention to the comments on the board. "[E]xtolling the virtues" of working makes many stay at home moms feel bad. "[E]xtolling the virtues" of staying home makes many working moms feel bad.

Maybe they shouldn't be so thin-skinned - but there you have it.

There are many private reasons that a woman might choose to work, or choose not to work. "Don't be so ridiculous as to think you have a right to know."

It is rude to say "you, yes you . . . hey, I'm talking to you . . . YOU need to have a child." But it's equally rude to say "you, yes you . . . YOU should work instead of staying home (or stay home instead of working)."

But to talk about ("extol," even) the advantages of any of these is not rude. That's not prying into your personal affairs in any way, shape or form.

Unless you're willing to say that we should all shut the heck up about the advantages of working/not working/etc.

Posted by: Demos | January 11, 2007 2:55 PM

Older Dad, why do you automatically think that a person is either dedicated to work or dedicated to raising children? I don't particularly want either to be my goal in life; I'm doing other things.

And by the way, if everyone says "I'd rather be known as a good parent than a successful professional", why do we so often put down women and men who give much more to raising their children than to developing their careers?

Posted by: Anonymous | January 11, 2007 2:58 PM

"why do you automatically think that a person is either dedicated to work or dedicated to raising children?"

I never said that. All I did was tell you that, for me, family is much more important than work - and this is becoming increasignly true the older I get.

"why do we so often put down women and men who give much more to raising their children than to developing their careers?"

I don't. I think its a serious mistake for anyone, man or woman, focus on their careers to the neglect of their families. I've lost jobs and been passed over for promotions before - it's no fun, but I'd take that any day over losing my wife or one of my children.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 11, 2007 3:03 PM

"Unless you're willing to say that we should all shut the heck up about the advantages of working/not working/etc."

Would that be such a bad thing?

Older Dad, you're joking, aren't you? I mean, 28 is not an "older" dad! Mine was 53 when I was born, and I was his first. He was a great dad, very youthful and also patient and wise, and I really liked that he was older and had so much perspective on historic events in the early part of the 20th century.

Posted by: CarterB. | January 11, 2007 3:04 PM

"Older Dad, you're joking, aren't you? I mean, 28 is not an "older" dad!"

Of course not - at 28, I was merely a child!

20 years and several surgeries later, I'm seriously feeling my age.

Of course, my Dad says that turning 40, 50 and even 60 didn't bother him a bit - but when I turned 40, that made him feel really old!

I get that - when my son turns 40 (if I'm still alive), that's gonna be a really weird feeling for me.

Posted by: Older Dad | January 11, 2007 3:07 PM

I don't have children and yet family is still much more important to me than work. Family doesn't mean just your children.

Posted by: MRC | January 11, 2007 3:07 PM

"I don't have children and yet family is still much more important to me than work."

That's good.

"Family doesn't mean just your children."

No one ever said that it did.

Posted by: Demos | January 11, 2007 4:11 PM

"'Unless you're willing to say that we should all shut the heck up about the advantages of working/not working/etc.' Would that be such a bad thing?"

O.k., you got me there. No, it would not.

Posted by: Demos | January 11, 2007 4:14 PM

Better late than never, but I can only offer this: I practiced law for 12 years before I had a child, and have managed to juggle both for a number of years before realizing I can actually cut back on the hours and enjoy my family. At the end of my life I doubt my clients will give a you-know-what about all the wonderful things I accomplished for them: clients have notoriously short memories. Has it all been interesting and exciting for me? Sure, but at some point it stops being about ME ME ME and MY exciting life. At the end of my life my relationship with my offspring will depend on me, and will be a direct reflection of whether I can put my own needs in second (actually, third) place. So: having my own exciting life and my own career is very gratifying. But raising my child is my life's work. Everything else pales in importance.

Posted by: MomWorksToo | January 11, 2007 7:15 PM

ALP,

Give us some reasons!

*************

I'm assuming that was a request for what I feel are the advantages of not having kids? If it is:

1. The ability to change jobs, careers and living location in a much simpler, faster way. These days, you have to be really flexible, IMHO, if you are a skilled worker (defined as college educated, but not in a "profession"). I've been able to read the writing on the wall and jump ship quickly in the past. NOW, I'm quite sure this is done, and done every day by parents. I, for one, like a simple life with simple logistics. I can't get my head around the details that would be involved in having to factor in kids, and getting them on board with, say, eating brocolli and oatmeal for two weeks straight due to financial contraints (true story from a time I was between jobs). I don't mind putting myself through that, but would have a hard time doing it to my kid.

2. I have a great work ethic, but am really not ambitious enough to chase after a higher paying job (and the stress that would come with it) that would allow me to raise a child in the middle-class manner that I was raised in (very middle class - not hurting for anything, but not extravagant either). I DO NOT do well with constant financial stress - I lived that way when I worked in the human services field, and had enough of that! My income is PERFECT for a single person (defined as no debt and able to save $ for short/long term purposes), and I really don't have the ambition to make more.

3. Being a very high strung person, I have always craved peace and quiet in my home space, and from what I hear...you kiss that goodbye once you have kids. My reaction to noisy, chotic enviroments is actually physical - I feel sick to my stomach. I'm not really compatable with noise and chaos - NOT a great quality in a mom, I would think.

4. I'm more introverted/lone wolf than most women, so I balk at anything that forces me to ENGAGE with groups of people, and be more social than I care to be. So if I had a kid, I would DREAD the whole playdate thing, PTA meetings..all those responsibilites of childrearing that involve working with groups and socializing. Not that I can't socialize, or have no skills - I just find it way too unpleasant and draining.

5. I hate, HATE the feeling of constantly running around like a chicken with my head cut off (remember, I'm high strung - once I'm wound up, takes forever to wind down). I'd most likely be working full time (given a choice, I'd stay home until the kid was in school) and raising the kid...and living in a constant state of stress. I like FOCUS - I never feel like I'm doing anything well when I'm spread terribly thin.

So, not having kids has many advantages for someone with my temprament and personality. Yes, I know, all kinds of people have kids...but these are what I feel are the advantages FOR ME.

Posted by: ALP | January 11, 2007 8:00 PM

Having kids gives you a purpose in life. All the rest of your life may turn to crap, but you can look on your kids and say I was a link in the great chain of being. You don't have to like them (or your parents) all the time, but does one link in a chain like rubbing up against the links on either side?

Posted by: Tomcat | January 12, 2007 12:59 PM

Leslie -- thank you for having the courage to write what you wrote. I feel SO much the same way (even right down to the frustration of having one's clean and carefully folded laundry knocked to the floor and left there by two rambunctious children who have been told endless times not to jump on the furniture and certainly not to jump on the clean laundry!) I love, love, love my children but, of course, there are regrets. I guess if I had never had any grand dreams, there would be nothing to regret. Of if I had not loved my children enough to sacrifice those dreams, there would be nothing to regret. But given that I dreamed and I loved -- well, of course there are moments -- particularly on those mornings when the children WAKE UP already quarreling with each other -- when I wish for a moment that I had made other choices. My husband chastises me sometimes for admitting things like that -- he worries that others will judge me some kind of monster for that sort of admission -- so it was so tremendously refreshing to read your musings on this subject.

I did want to say that while I agree that having children gives one a purpose in life, so do a lot of other things. (For some extreme examples, look at Paul Farmer and Mother Theresa. Paul Farmer has, and Mother Theresa had, saintly purposes in life that had nothing to do with having children.) Children can enrich your life - or not, depending, in large part, on your temperament and your circumstances - including your socioeconomic circumstances. I dearly wish these discussions would not always devolve into a debate by some working parents and some stay-at-home parents about whether raising children is the highest possible calling in life.

Posted by: Anonymous | January 12, 2007 2:08 PM

I read a Web site that played devil's advocate: I agreed with two reasons to have kids and five reasons not to. I never knew how precious time was until I started my career: hitherto, I thought money was paramount. Let's face it, things like time, sleep, and freedom are good, and if you still want to mentor a child (or if you are a teacher) you have considerable latitude over how much and how long you spend with him or her. I like my career, Web design, and my residence in north Alexandria. In this 9/11 day and age, I often think of the Londoners in WW II who resisted Hitler and everything he could drop on them. But many London children were sent into the countryside to be safe from the Luftwaffe. I keep a cat, but I think if I actually had kids, I might seriously rethink living only a few miles (suitcase nuke range?) from the Washington Monument.

Posted by: Christopher Marsh, Alexandria | January 12, 2007 3:31 PM

I am a 31 year old childfree woman who is dedicated to her career (filmmaker/actress). I enjoy the life I am able to lead with a certain degree of reckless abandon (aka "the freedom") and I do not regret for one second the choice I've made to not have kids. It is nice to see childfree women like Helen Mirren (a brilliant actress) and others who have happily taken the non-motherhood road with no regrets.
Motherhood has simply never been a desire/goal of mine and I make no apologies for that. I just live my life each day and do my best to pursue the goals in life that I do have.

Posted by: Happily Without Kids | January 12, 2007 5:15 PM

For some of us, our "life's work" is just not raising a child. Perhaps my life's work is growing into myself. ALP's above reasons for not having children are basically the same as mine. I love my life. If I'm missing something huge by not having children, well, I'm 47 and I haven't noticed I'm missing anything yet. I have plenty of family members and friends with kids and I enjoy kids of all ages, especially teenagers [shock]! I just don't want to have or raise my own.

Posted by: T.G. | January 14, 2007 7:48 PM

Ms Mirren was asked about regretting or not regretting not having children. She was not espousing the child-free life for everyone. It is unfair to denounce her because of her opinion as much as it is unfair to denounce her profession as an actress.
Being childfree worked for her because it enabled her to do what she wanted to do in life. Anyone who would argue with that is just plain jealous.
And regarding the myth that people who do not have children use their freedom only to pleasures themselves; what about people like Oprah Winfrey who is taking care of many kids who are not hers? My pediatrician never had kids but she took care of the health of other people's children. Many of my teachers did not have kids but educated children. Mother Theresa never had kids, neither did Annie Oakley, Amelia Erhardt,Simone de Beauvoir, writer
Gloria Steinem, feminist activist/writer
Helen Keller, author Annie Sullivan, H. Keller's teacher, Jessye Norman, opera singer,George Washington (step-father but none of his own)Frida Kahlo, Mexican painter, Immanuel Kant, philosopher Lawrence of Arabia, William Lyon MacKenzie King, Canadian Prime Minister, Joan of Arc
Florence Nightingale, Susan B. Anthony, nineteenth-century suffragist,Lorena Hickok, AP political reporter
Harriet Tubman, underground Railroad
Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, first female physician in the US, Carrie Chapman Catt, US suffrage leader, M. Carey Thomas, President of Bryn Mawr College
Ella Fitzgerald, jazz vocalist, Emily Dickinson, poet, Jeanette Rankin, first female US Representative Margaret Bourke-White, photographer,Julia Child, French cook Ayn Rand, philosopher/author
Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, computer pioneer, Billy Jean King, tennis player
Marian Anderson, opera singer,and last but by no means least; Jesus Christ.
The list goes on but the point is all these
people chose not to have children for many reasons other than maintaining their freedom or gaining wealth. They made a decision that was theirs and theirs alone and just like Helen Mirren, it was their life to direct.

Posted by: Minerva Harrison | January 20, 2007 11:18 PM

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