This post is by K.
Up until recently, I identified as childfree by choice. Even though my life circumstances and my personal decision have shifted, I have a lot of warm feelings and a deep understanding of the joys and principles of being childfree. I still contend that I wouldn’t do this on my own, that my relationship with W and his desire to actively parent, and the strength of our relationship are huge pieces of this decision.
Since I’m in my 30’s and this is the era of baby explosion for my generation, I’ve also watched a lot of my friends become parents and witnessed how their lives have changed. There’s a lot of fluffy mommy pieces on the internets about childfree folks vs. parents and, while it’s sometimes funny, it smacks of blatant sexism. Yeah, we need to build affinity with people like ourselves and absolutely, we all deserve respect, but we are battling this BS patriarchy together, whether that is by opting out of kid-having or raising awesome kids. So here’s my revised version of that top ten list. With a queer angle.
My Top 5 Promises to My Queer Childfree Friends
1) I won’t ever ask why you don’t have kids or when you are going to have them.
For queer people, especially, this is a really loaded assumption. For one, even if we want kids, it is not as easy as hopping into bed for many of us. (Of course, that method does work for some queer folks!) Also, some of us grew up in times or places when having kids as a queer or trans* person just was not a thing you could do. Or we have kids from a previous relationship, before we came out, and they are no longer in our life. Compulsory marriage and kid-having is a thing of the heterosexual world. Let’s not conform to that BS in queer communities.
2) I will continue to include you in my life.
Sure, shared experience is helpful. It’s why community is so important. I will probably make some new friends that have the shared experience of child-raising with me, but I will still need and want my close friends who share other experiences and identities with me. I will still be the person who wants to talk about politics and feminisms and theory, about pop culture and reality TV, about work and life issues. I also don’t want to relegate you to some obsolete pod of non-parent-friends and only do baby stuff with my parent friends. I want you in my life, in every way. In fact, I’m going to need childfree people in my life more than ever that keep it queer and keep it real while navigating the very heteronormative world of “mom-ness.” Please come over and talk about non-baby stuff with me and baby stuff, too.
3) I won’t act like my life is way harder than yours.
Because that is some ridiculousness. Don’t get me wrong. I think it’s gonna’ be pretty challenging and there will be days I feel like it’s the hardest thing ever, keeping a kid alive and healthy. But that doesn’t mean that you have it easy or that your problems are not just as hard or hard in a different way. This is not a competition. This is not “the struggle is real” Olympics. Let’s support each other through the hard times, like we always have, OK?
4) I promise not to take it personally if you don’t invite me out.
I’m going to have a live human person who needs me 24/7. For a while, this may make it hard to hang like we used to. However, I know this is about my life, not yours. If you choose not to invite me to things (like bars or late-night hangs or last-minute movies) because it’s damn obvious that I won’t be able to come, I will not take offense. I will take it as a sign of respect that you get that my schedule has changed. If you do still invite me, that is really awesome, too. I’m going to assume best intentions all the way around. Let’s both assume best intentions all around.
5) I will still be there for you, even if my life and priorities have shifted.
My kid is going to be my #1, obviously, but that doesn’t mean you’re not my #2 (OK, my #3 if Waffle is still around, which he probably will be). Will I still be able to dash out of the house to bring you coffee? No, probably not. But it is 2015 and there is chat and texting and Skype and a million ways to connect. I may have more strains on my time and energy, but for my closest, bestest friends, I will always have time for you. I’ll make the time. Just be patient with me if I have to go check on a crying infant halfway through our conversation.
If we are successful in all this, we could have a babe at this time next year. And I imagine it will be absolutely ridiculously more hard than I could ever imagine. I bet it’ll be surprising in a lot of ways. I may fall off the face of the earth for a little while as I figure out how life works with this additional person in it. But I don’t think that means we have to forget about each other. I don’t plan to “close a chapter” on my childfree friends. I don’t plan to graduate into “true womanhood” vis a vis my uterus. Let’s not let the patriarchy tear us down like that, OK?
I found my childfree friends didn’t get it and only invited me to late night things or didn’t talk to me at all. It was pretty alienating. You will figure out how to make plans with friends while still respecting your child. Like a late dinner at a restaurent with a toddler just doesn’t work. Instead you can do carryout at a park or your house and then put them to bed and hang with an adult beverage or dessert. You learn to schedule things around nap time and within the limits of your child. And though you can have the best of intentions, some friendships will fade out.
Thanks for the advice! I’m sure a lot will change. I’m trying the relish the moments of childfree life that I love now, like grocery shopping at 1am and eating on on a whim. But I hope the friends who matter the most will stick around. I think that only works if we both want it to, though. I definitely lost touch with some friends once they had kids, but I don’t ever think it is because of anything other than that we drifted apart. And we tend to seek out people like ourselves, and so it goes. But I don’t think you have to stop hanging with your single friends once you’re a couple or hanging with your childfree friends once you have kids. It just changes what that might look like, as you wrote! Thanks for commenting! – K
Yeh, some people fade out with any big life changes.
🙌🏾 this is too relevant for me. All throughout my 20s I felt child free and yet now my 30s have begun possessing my ovaries and I’m slightly (like 20%) conflicted. So thank you for writing this! It helps to know that there are people out there who are feeling the same way and yet can still be respectful about others choices! Luv your blog and family Kay! 🙂
❤ Izzi! I totally feel you! – K
I love you for writing this. I came to this blog when my partner and I had started the mammoth task of figuring out a way to have children. Recently, we decided to be child-free – or at least to stop looking for biological children at this stage in our lives (and thus probably never). I am still deeply interested in parenting – we may foster, adopt, or just help friends to bring up their kids – and I’m grateful you wrote this.
OMG. I remember meeting you before AS or right around the same time. You wanted to guest blog, right? Sorry I dropped the ball on that! But I’m glad we know each other now! And I think whatever you decide for your future, it’s going to be grand! – K