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A Childfree Life

A Childfree Life

Four childfree resources

October 15, 2015

When I was considering being childfree, I didn’t even know that it was such a thing. Sounds stupid, but I actually didn’t know that people could consider NOT having a baby. Everything I saw was about babies. Facebook at one stage was even showing me IVF advertising. My stomach was twisted at the idea, I would gasp aloud when people would tell me they were pregnant. I could not fathom why, in their prime my friends were all having babies. This had nothing to do with them by the way. It had everything to do with me. Because I was uncomfortable with the idea. For me. And I had no idea who to talk to about it. I had no idea that I had the right to say my choice was valid. And okay! 

I had not considered my reasons for thinking why I should, or had to have children. It was something I thought I automatically had to do as part of my time in this world. Why did I think I had to do this? Shouldn’t I be excited about it if this something I really wanted? It was only after extensive googling, reading and self-reflection on the topic I realised hey, there are a lot of us who are not sure about having kids. (In fact, one in four of us are not having them.) Furthermore, you can have a happy, full and rich life without them. And now I sit, somewhere contented in the middle with my decision. I’m pretty sure that children are not for me, but while I say that, who knows what could happen in three years. But you know what? It doesn’t matter.

Because whether you have ten kids, or one, or no kids, or 18 cats, or a ferret, it is none of anyone else’s business.

If you are happy, fulfilled and living your purpose then that’s what all of us want, right?

Let’s all support us to make the right choice. For us. Not you. 

If you want to have a baby, you can search anywhere you like for information. If you are thinking about not having one, you have to look a little harder for support. Here are some resources I wish I had from the get go.

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  1. Laura Carroll, Families of Two and The Baby Matrix. Two great books that break down the assumptions about parenting, you’ll get lonely when your old, you’re never fulfilled, you will regret it. All the research suggests otherwise. The Baby Matrix takes this a little further, and talks about pronatalism, and parenting as an assumption rather than a choice. A great discussion for parents and non parents a like.Selfish,Shallow,andSelfAbsorbed[1]-3684
  2. Meghan Daum, Selfish, Shallow and Self-Absorbed Sixteen writers on the decision not to have kids. A lovely series of essays from writers who have not had children, for various reasons. Some tried. Some didn’t meet someone. Some were having such a good time with life they just forgot. Some decided to dedicate their lives to their art. I love that there are so many reasons and choices. Unclassified-Woman-Podcast-Cover-580-x-391-580x391
  3. Michelle Marie McGrath, Unclassified Women, Podcast series. I am loving this series by Michelle, a life coach who helps women discover their potential, because I think it is a testament to women, not just the childfree ones! Michelle interviews women who are childfree by circumstance or choice. So many of them are artists, writers and creators. So many interesting discussions about how women do not fit the ‘mould’ are often criticised no matter what they do. Oh the things people say!40900262b4aee47f0a197fa33d596811
  4. We’re (not) having a baby. Fabulous website, which is the brainchild of Amy and Lance Blackstone who have been happily married for 20 years.  They share all kinds of childfree stories.

Ashleigh XXX

 

A Childfree Life

The Baby Decision

May 5, 2015

I spent so much time deliberating at the start of this blogging journey about the decision to (or not to) have a baby. A few people have asked me about it quite recently so I feel I should update on the situation. I was rather anxious about it 14 months ago. I was thinking about it all the time. I felt I had to decide right away. I saw people ‘settling’ down having families and felt a massive panic. Although it was something I had never really pictured for myself, (nor had The Ginger Hunk and I discussed it at all), I started to feel like it was time.

I did all the right things, got the job, bought an apartment and told my sister to keep her baby stuff.

Yet when the ‘time’ ensued, a feeling of panic would set in. High anxiety panic. Alarm bells and a firm NO. 

I couldn’t talk about it much because then came the stories from friends. The ones who were not sure about having kids and then they had them and it all worked out. The accidental pregnancy that worked out for the best. Then the guilt when I heard of those I knew who desperately want to have kids and can’t get pregnant. (Who knows if my plumbing even works by the way?) I watched friends in their mid thirties meet men and get pregnant straight away.

I wondered what that feeling was, the wanting, the yearning to be a mum.

I just didn’t have it. 

I googled high and low for the answer to come. I asked everyone I knew, why they chose to have kids. HOW did they make this decision? Some people said they just knew they wanted kids, like I ‘knew’ I wanted to marry The Ginger Hunk. Other people said they didn’t know and it just happened. I read books about over population and couples that were happily childfree. I followed childfree blogs and Elizabeth Gilbert.

Looking. Waiting. Wanting an answer. 

The answer didn’t need to come from anywhere but me.

We talked and talked and talked. (The Ginger Hunk is as ambivalent as me by the way.)

We talked about the next thing, our hopes and dreams and how a little person would fit into that life. We talked about if we had really thought of ourselves as parents in the past. Neither of us had. If we really wanted to spend Saturdays at sport for the next ten years? Neither of us did. We talked about what would happen if suddenly one of us got hit by the ‘urge’ and it was too late for me to conceive.

We talked about all the disadvantaged kids that need foster homes and how we could contribute.

We talked about how we feel like we are ‘enough’ for each other and that nothing is missing in this moment.

So for now, the decision we made is no decision. We just live our until one of us get hits with the urge, and then we agree to talk some more. If the urge never comes then so be it. If fate or time makes the final decision for us, then so be it.

Being an organised and planned person I have never been at peace with the feeling of indecision like I am now.

In this moment I will remain fulfilled being Aunty Ash, making cakes, having sleepovers, and sniffing my niece and nephews soft skin to get my fix.

Then I will happily hand them back.

 

 

A Childfree Life, Travel & Wanderlust

The Travel Bug

May 3, 2015

I have always had the travel bug. Once done with university, I felt it in my blood that I wanted to get out there and see the world. I had been to Thailand on a girls trip but it just didn’t feel like enough. I wanted to wander the streets with no place to be. And more importantly, no one to negotiate with about the plan for the day. Off I went once my degree was done, backpacking around South East Asia for three months. It holds a special place in my heart and I have returned several times. I would love to live there one day and while it’s on my list of ‘things’ to do in my life time, I have reconciled with myself that it doesn’t have to be right now.  Soon after that I scooted off to London, where a working holiday kept me there for four years.

A certain love affair brought me back to the sunny shores of Australia.

But as this quote reminds us, we are never quite the same after seeing the world.

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.” – Mary Anne Radmacher

With every trip, my hunger for travel grows. Fortunately (and unfortunately, which ever way you look at it)  I have married someone who is just as much a dreamer as I. With every trip I suggest, he thinks they all sound awesome. It is kind of nice, but a little bit worrying with both our heads in the clouds. As he said to me over dinner the other night “some people want a house, kids and a wine cellar to make them happy, that is just not us.”

(No judging from me here if that’s what makes you happy by the way.)

Traditionally, we take a long holiday every year in February or March (out of school holidays – another childfree perk). We have been to Thailand three times, snowboarding in New Zealand. We travelled to Europe and Mexico for our honeymoon. This year it is the Philippines and Bali; next stop in 2015 is India for a paragliding festival.

How can we afford to travel so much?

Firstly, we pick cheap countries that are serviced by budget airlines. We book far in advance, (usually twelve months for the big trips). Skyscanner and TripAdvisor are my best friends. We don’t stay in posh hotels or do so as a treat at the end of a trip. Secondly, we don’t have a house and a huge mortgage. We don’t have any kids. We don’t party anymore or spend up on food and booze. I take some annual leave at half pay.

It’s not just me who has caught the travel bug; Oxford Economics predicts that the travel industry will have sustained growth over the next ten years of 5.4 per cent per year. The world is becoming smaller. People are opting for family holidays overseas for better value for money and to seek new experiences.

Experiences I would like to have in my lifetime include; 

– volunteer work in Asia with my Dad

– live in Thailand for a while

– do a whole ski season, somewhere, someday (and learn to snowboard properly)

– learn to teach yoga (or just go somewhere to do yoga for a month, because let’s face it, I suck.)

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– travel South America, ALL OF IT

– drive from Darwin to Broome in a campervan

– see the big cats in Africa

– dance at Burning Man

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* Image credit A Taste for Art

– run the wine tasting marathon in France; Marathon du medoc (a marathon with wine and superheroes!)

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– visit all the cat cafe’s in japan. (Meow.)

 

What about you? 

Travel bug or homebody? 

Anywhere on your bucket list? Anywhere awesome I must go?

Stay with me as I blog from the Philippines this month…..

Happy Sunday!  

A Childfree Life, Musings of sorts, Relationships

The Other Women

March 24, 2015

Cathy told us when she was gone and we saw a rainbow it was her saying hello. I said hello to her this morning.

Cathy was my mum’s best friend, my sister’s official godmother and my ‘adopted’ godmother. She met my parents when they were just married and mum was trying to study at home. Cathy’s husband was playing music loudly in the apartment underneath. Dad went down to tell them to turn it off and an unlikely friendship formed.

Cathy died suddenly a few years ago, but this is not the point of my story.

The point of this story is to tell you about the other women in my life.

The childfree women, who helped shape me.

Now for a bit of back story.

My parents were only children. My grandparents died when I was very young. My sister was five years older than me and while we have a beautiful friendship now, it was not always like this. We fought like cats and dogs. I was the annoying younger sister.

Was I lonely? Did I feel anything was missing?

No. I was surrounded by so many people who I trusted.

Those that had the most impact on me were the childfree.

Cathy became like an Aunt. We would drive around in her red sports car with the music up loud and the windows all the way down. She would take me for hot chocolates, to the ballet and had an obsession with strictly ballroom.

I thought she was uber cool in a way that my own mum could never be.

I knew she had my back.

I knew (god forbid) that if anything that happened to my parents that she and her husband would look after me.

Then there was Bev.

Bev was a hippy from Byron Bay, and the daughter of my Dad’s boss. She was a free spirit who wore cheese cloth and anklets that made a jingly noise when she walked. She did the book keeping, and many an hour I would sit and chat while she worked and waited for Dad. She taught me that I didn’t need a man to be happy, that women didn’t need to shave their arm pits, and could sleep naked if they really wanted. (I learnt this part by accident when she was babysitting me.)

She was her own woman with her own plans and her own rules.

I caught up with her on the mid north coast in my twenties and the connection between us was very much alive.

Last but not least, there is dear Sue, my year six teacher. We have been writing to each other since 1993. (Sporadically about once a year.)

Recently I received my first typed letter from Sue and she let me know that she has moved into a village type arrangement.

She has always been on her own and I don’t quite know why. It’s something I have never asked (and probably never will).

I haven’t seen her in person since 1993.

She survived cancer. She told us what it was like to lose all your hair.  She taught me about the important of exercise and following your dreams. I remember thinking how wonderful it was that someone who had CANCER ran the City to Surf EVERY year and how HARD that must have been.

*I secretly dream about meeting her again one day and being featured in the Good Weekend.

A part of me wants to keep things as they are.

I am still slightly scared of Sue and want to impress her in a way that every 11 year old wants to impress their teacher.

Each year a letter from Sue is still a reminder to be my best me. 

I hope they never stop.

Did you have other women around in your life growing up?

 Do you surround your children with other strong men and women?

 What role did they play?  

A Childfree Life, Cat Lady, Daily Life

The Awakening

January 24, 2015

Hats off to you all you ladies with small humans. I DO NOT KNOW HOW YOU DO IT.

You are my heroes.

Lack of sleep, being woken 827 times a night for who knows what. Yet you are selfless,  tending to your small humans needs without (excuse my language here) LOSING YOUR SHIT, or dosing them up with something so YOU JUST GET THAT EXTRA TWENTY MINUTES SLEEP, or locking them in another room, or a car or whatever.

I do not know how you get dressed, smile at people in the supermarket and go to work with the lack of sleep that must be experienced, without killing yourself or others. I am like a maniac without eight hours sleep. A MANIAC.  At the very least, a very cranky person.

This is a disclaimer. I do not have a baby. I do not at this time in my life, have a desire to have a baby.

I have one very princess like cat and a Ginger Hunk who snores and that is enough for me.

I am aware that the cat is not a baby. She may be MY baby. But she is a self cleaning, self eating, killer of flies, mess with your minds, (may kill you when you are sleeping) type baby. She is not helpless, like the human baby, who needs constant love, nuturing and attention to survive.

(I am sure if let loose, Sasha could happily live on the wildlife in the park next door for a week or so, until the rain returned her home.)

But something is up with my cat in the last week, that has made me appreciate sleep oh so much… and appreciate what you mummas must go through.

Sasha has found her meow.  A LOUD LOUD meow.  And she starts sharing the joy of her found ability to make new noise at 4am in the morning.

It starts with the photo to the left, with the meow. Then to the middle, physical waking up tactics include launching off the bedside table onto me.

Then she either bongo drums the blinds, the basket, or runs across our heads. (We call it ‘the head run’.)

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I have tried. turning on the air con, letting her out on the balcony, feeding her biccies, the water spray.

She doesn’t WANT anything. Except for me to wake up.

I even locked the door the other night, which resulted in her body slamming herself against the door, howling, until we got up.

And once I am up and getting ready for work? What does she do?

This.

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THIS CAT IS PLAYING GAMES WITH MY MIND.

So. Mothers and fathers of humans, animals and dogs… what do I do with my new found annoying fur baby?

 

Water spray?  Shut the door? Ignore??? Controlled meowing?

 

Help me! Any advice welcome!

 

 

 

 

 

A Childfree Life, Musings of sorts

Why no baby? Go and ask him.

September 28, 2014

“We are just not ready yet”. I say quietly to my friend’s mother at the supermarket check in.

“Maybe next year”.  I whisper to boss in the lunch room.

“We might try after our next holiday”. I say to my husband’s best friend’s wife’s cousin’s dog, who is sitting next to me at a dinner party.

I feel the constant pressure to defend myself for my childless state. Part of it is because I am struggling with indecision, and part of it comes from people asking me all the time. I feel that I have to make an excuse, rather than saying that I am not sure that motherhood is my purpose.

If I had something meaningful to say like I was writing a book, starting an orphanage or saving some kind of animal from extinction this would make me feel better rather than saying “I am just not sure”.  Lately I have been saying out loud to people that I am not sure, and this seems to be going okay. (Like at a wedding last night when a stranger saw me playing with a baby and I said it was not mine. She told me that it suited me and asked “no little ones yet?” No thank you. And yes it does. I like playing with babies, for one hour at a time.)

I ask my husband, who is five years older than me if he feels this pressure to defend our choice.

He said he feels nothing. So I dig a little further.

Do people ask him when we are at parties why we haven’t had children?

“Nope” said the husband. Rarely.

It takes two humans to decide to have a baby the last time I checked.

I know many a men who have told me on the quiet that they would have waited for longer.

I don’t know any men who have been asked if they knew that fatherhood was for them from a complete stranger.

I know it’s something I have never discussed with my male friends.

But it’s okay to ask us? Because we are women.

Are women the only decision makers in this picture? Are we the only ones that feel the guilt about our choices?

We say we are not sure but have to prove that we are still ‘caring’ by being  aunties, volunteer workers, artists and authors. Then if you have only one child you have to say that you will have baby friends, cousins, pets – an armed proof plan that your child will not grow up isolated. Do men get asked these things as well?

There has been a lot of articles on the internet of late, talking more about being childfree as a lifestyle choice, rather than being childless. More posts about  women feeling ambivalent about motherhood, and exploring the idea that it might not be for everyone. This is awesome and all sorts of lifestyle choices should be promoted in my opinion.

But something irks me about all these articles and that is the lack of perspectives from men.

Where are they?

Why isn’t George Clooney asked to stand up and say why he hasn’t settled down and explain why he has not had a baby. God knows he probably has enough money to raise an African village.

Yet Cameron Diaz, Helen Mirren and Jennifer Aniston, are always in the tabloids talking about motherhood, saying that their art fulfills them, and that they love children albeit have not had the desire to have one.

I am not making this decision alone, and nor do I want to. So why do I feel like I am left solely to justify it?

Next time you want to ask me about why I haven’t had a baby, pause for a moment, then go ask my husband for the answer.