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Jun. 18th, 2011 @ 09:11 pm good, bad and ugly
Hi folks,

I've posted here a couple times before but it's been so long I should probably classify myself as a long-time lurker, first-time poster. I should also explain that while by my own definition I'm childfree, some consider me a fence sitter. Specifically, I wanted kids when I was younger, but as time passed and it didn't happen, I decided to combat the bitterness by embracing all the good things that come with non-parenthood (and, in my case, non-spousehood).

So it's been an interesting day for CF me. First, I went to a birthday party for a friend's child's first birthday. The little girl was born six weeks early (after a rough pregnancy) with multiple medical problems, but she's come through them all with flying colors; such a little trouper. Today's celebration was as much about thanking God — we are all Catholics — as it was the kid's birthday. I don't have to be a parent to agree with those sentiments.

But I was the only person at the party who didn't come as half a couple with kids in tow. The. Only. One. While I appreciate my friends including me in the celebration, it was more than a little depressing. I sometimes fight to remember all the good things that come with being childfree, and I'm already the kind of person who's ill at ease in large groups. What the heck was I supposed to do in a large group of people with whom I had almost nothing in common?

I think my friend's wife took pity on me when she handed me her camera. And I appreciate it, but it still wasn't super comfortable, ya know?

That was the bad. The good was when I was at a local Michael's later this afternoon picking up some supplies for a project (don't look at me like that, their stuff is cheap). A line of thunderstorms came through and, of course, I was all the way in the back of the store when the lights went out. The emergency lighting came on, but it was plenty dark there in the back.

Yet I didn't hear a single piercing kid scream. I heard several parents call their children and the children apparently went right to them as we started working toward the front of the store where there was emergency lighting. As we emerged, I saw three or four parents with relatively well-behaved kids in tow. The one time a kid broke away, it was due to a stumble from honestly not seeing anything, and Mom simply caught him and put him back on his feet.

Now, I know there are parents out there who can keep their kids under control, but what are the odds that all kids stay under control in a situation that was a little bit scary even for the adults? I didn't even see any tears or crying. I will admit I was impressed.

That, of course, means that when I got home I got treated to piercing screams. My downstairs neighbor's four-year-old granddaughter is staying with her "for the summer." I haven't been comfortable asking but I've gotten a strong impression that there is a reason the kid isn't with her parents. One of the indicators is that the child throws loud fits on a regular basis...she's even done it in the parking lot. They look more like acting-out kind of fits as opposed to spoiled-kid kind of fits.

I'll credit my neighbor who makes it clear to the kid that the behavior is not okay and the parking-lot incident resulted in an immediate trip back inside with an apology to me. (I brushed it off; my poor neighbor had enough to worry about.) And the fits have been decreasing, but it still is happening a couple times a week. While I brushed off the apology out of politeness and sympathy, having to listen to two hours of screaming does get old.... <sigh>

I mostly just posted here to vent, I think, so thanks if you read the teal deer above. But I am curious; how do you handle it when your acquaintances through church are primarily married with kids, and when they really are trying to be good parents? You don't want to cut them out of your life just for being parents, but at the same time, it's so hard to relate and can get so uncomfortable. Any suggestions?
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Date:June 19th, 2011 06:39 am (UTC)
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It sounds shallow, but you'll either deal with it or you won't. I'm going on 10 years of marriage. I got married at 20 and knew from the beginning I didn't want kids. Everyone told me "You'll change your mind" and "It's different when they're yours". All this on top of hearing "You're so young to be married" made for a lot of stress.

EVERYONE I know within visiting distance has kids. Friends and co-workers. Yet, I don't get uncomfortable. Yes, the kids can get in the way during talking or whatever, but that's it. You can sometimes catch me telling my dad "There's no one to go hang out with on a Saturday night. Everyone has little kids to take care of tonight." But I say it as more of a petty annoyance.

It sounds like your friends may see you more as "childless" instead of "childfree".....? That won't help at all. Good luck.
Date:June 19th, 2011 11:39 pm (UTC)
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Hooray for well-behaved kids. I've taken to doing my grocery shopping no earlier than 8PM in an effort to avoid the worst of the obnoxious children (and the parents who let them be that way in public).

Best of luck with the neighbor's kid, it sounds like she may well be around longer than the summer.