Wednesday, June 11, 2014

What Parents Really Mean When They Say, "It's Different When They're Your Own"

Sure, it would be different if I had my own kids. Guess what, parents? It would be different in a negative way. If I had my own kids, I wouldn't be able to enjoy kids in small doses and give them back. So yes, parents, it is "different" if the kids are your own. But not in the way you think you meant it.

Even though I enjoy being around children for only short bursts of time, the kids that I work with at my job are a riot. Of course there are the obnoxious and troubled ones, but it has been fun getting to know the students I work with every day. I have been in the presence of kids who are adorable, well-mannered, sweet, clever, quick, intelligent, respectful, and hilarious. There are particular kids at my job that are just a joy to be around.

Does this make me think about my decision to be childfree? Sometimes. But I have always come to the same conclusion: This kid is awesome because he/she is not MY kid. I can work with him/her, have that novelty time around cool kids, and then have my coveted alone time.

Parents say, "But it's different when they're your own!" I am starting to understand this bingo from a different perspective. One that parents may not have meant for me to infer. They mean that you will like your own kids. But in my opinion, this doesn't make any sense. Why would someone who isn't child friendly suddenly come around just because they procreated?

My next thought is this: What does "It's different when they're your own" mean when you enjoy the company of kids at times? To me, this means that having kids would forever be a BAD decision. Why? Because for me, being around kids is fun and enjoyable because it is a novelty. I work with kids during the day, but am childfree. I don't have kids to tend to before or after work. This means that I have no added stress on top of my work responsibilities.

I think that if I had my own kids, I wouldn't be able to appreciate an awesome, cute, funny, well-behaved kid the way I do as a childfree woman. I am not exhausted with being a mother, so I have the extra energy to give these kids the attention they need to succeed. I'd be too tired to laugh at their jokes or invent witty comebacks. I'm not dealing with problems parenting my own children, so I have the mental energy to help the kids I work with.

Maybe there is some truth to the bingo, but not in the way parents want us to think. They pressure us, saying that we'll love our own kids, but I don't believe that simply procreating equals love of children. Sure, parents love their kids, but not every parent SHOULD be a parent. I believe that I enjoy spending time with kids because it is only for short periods of time. And I plan to keep it that way.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Thank You to Good Parents

I have witnessed my fair share of examples of bad parenting. But on the other hand, I have seen and heard about examples of good parenting. Seeing and hearing about people who know how to parent makes me hope that the bad parents are taking notes on how to improve.

1. I wrote about this family in a previous post, but I want to explain this example of good parenting more in depth. I was out to lunch and my party was seated next to a large family. There were three kids in their party: a baby, a toddler around 4 years old, and another child who looked to be about 6 years old. At first I was anticipating that this family was going to be loud, but I couldn't have been more wrong. It was the tables elsewhere, with a mom and one child who stood in the booth, or the child climbing all over the table at another table, who disrupted my lunch.

The large family was so quiet that if they hadn't been right next to me, I wouldn't have known they were there. Everyone in the family sat in their seats the entire meal, none of the children cried (I couldn't even hear the kids talking), and even the baby was perfectly behaved. While I think maybe it could have been that I caught these kids on a good day, but at the same time, I believe that the parents have probably taught these children how to behave in restaurants. The children were quiet and stayed seated the whole meal, not even the baby made a mess of its food, and the adults didn't fuss over the children, either. It was wonderful to see that these types of parents (and children) do in fact exist.

After seeing this awesome family, I looked around at the other tables. I watched the mother eating and looking at her son who was standing in the booth. Did she tell her son to sit down? No. Not once. She ate and watched him stand in the booth for the entire meal. The boy may have been 4 or 5--old enough to know better. There is no excuse for that behavior.

I work in a school, and I tell children to sit down in their desks every day. I do not hesitate to correct their behavior, and neither do the teachers or other staff around me. There is no excuse for a parent not to correct their child's bad manners or behavior. If there is a family with three kids under the age of 7 in a restaurant, and all the kids know how to sit in their seats and remain quiet, then parents with one or two young children should be able to manage this as well.

2. Most of us have probably witnessed children having tantrums in public. For me, I believe that it is aggravating having to listen to a child's screams while I am out shopping. And after what I have seen from some great parents out there, it is my belief that most kids can be taught not to have tantrums in public places. I believe that it is also common courtesy for parents to deal with their child's behavior and not disrupt everyone else's shopping experience. I have two specific examples of awesome parenting and common courtesy:

The first example took place at an old job I had. I worked behind a desk and assisted customers. One day, this mother came in, and she had two young children with her. While I was assisting her, the two children became disruptive. They started playing near the glass display case, and when the mother immediately stopped them, one of the children began crying.

The mother apologized to me, which I thought was respectful and courteous of her. She paid as quickly as possible, and removed her children from the building, even though the children did not want to leave, so that they did not disrupt other patrons. While some parents seem to let their children run rampant and cause a scene, this mother apologized to me for the way her children were behaving (and honestly they weren't too much of a problem) and removed her children from the situation quickly. Through the window I could see that outside, the mother was talking to her children, probably telling them that their behavior was inappropriate and explaining why they were leaving. I can't imagine how stressful that type of situation would be as a parent, but the mother handled it perfectly.

The second example is a story a mother told me about her own children. A co-worker was talking about how frustrating it is to shop while other parents with obnoxious children are around. This woman is a mother, so I was glad to hear that not only the childfree find kids throwing public tantrums annoying. My co-worker was saying that she sees parents making a huge scene by yelling at their children and making the situation worse.

She said, "As a parent, I understand how hard it is to shop while my child is having a tantrum, but I also know that I am not going to ruin other people's shopping experience. I have left my shopping cart at the front of the store and told the employee that I was sorry and I'd be right back." This mother would actually leave the store if her child was having a tantrum while out shopping, even if she had a cart full of stuff. Not only is this mother showing her child that he cannot have public tantrums, but she is also being courteous to other shoppers.

Hearing this mother's story makes me believe that mothers who let their children have tantrums and disrupt everyone in stores or restaurants are selfish. There are mothers out there who leave a full cart of stuff they want to buy in a store because they don't want to disrupt other shoppers. That is awesome parenting and respectful to everyone else. Sure, for this mother, it is inconvenient to leave a full cart and take her child out of the store, but she was not thinking of herself. She was thinking of her child and other shoppers who would be annoyed by a screaming child.

I want to thank the awesome parents out there who give me a little bit of faith that not every parent feels entitled, allows their children to misbehave, or thinks they and their children run the world. I appreciate you, and I hope that other parents look to you as a positive example.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Childfree: The Best of Both Worlds

One day at work, a little girl told me, "I wish you were my mom." I have never heard a child say this to me, and I was surprised and took it as a compliment. I thought to myself, "I'm glad I am NOT a mom," but I thought it was interesting that I made a positive impact in this girl's day.

This made me realize: As a childfree woman, I have the best of both worlds. I am appreciated by awesome kids, and I get to have those cute, happy, Hallmark moments every day. I teach children concepts I hope they remember. But at the end of the day, I have my amazing childfree life.

I've heard the phrase, "But it's different when they're your own!" In my opinion, I don't need to have my own kids to appreciate the company of a funny or smart kid. I'm around kids that I think are pretty awesome every day, but that doesn't make me feel like I need to have my own. Being around well behaved kids makes me appreciate what I have.

In the future, if I feel like I need a life that involves children, I will continue a career that involves them. Why would I need to sacrifice my identity, body, time, and money to a child when I can work with kids and remain childfree? To me, it makes perfect sense that having children wouldn't be the right move for me to make.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Selfish Parents

As I've said in previous posts, I work in a school. When I started my job, I didn't realize how many heartbreaking situations I would be faced with, but every day I become more proud of my decision to not travel down the Motherhood path. Sure, I have a huge list of pet peeves concerning parents, but those are nothing compared to the most selfish parents of all: the parents who run away from parenting.

All my life I've heard mothers praised for birthing and raising their children. In the media, mothers are advertised as saints, raising beautiful, perfect little future leaders of the world (supposedly). I see through this silly propoganda and know that these companies are trying to make viewers believe that mothering is the best and most important job in the world.

In reality, some mothers are so stressed that they abandon their kids. While I know I never want the stressful, suffocating, and lifelong job of being a mom, I believe that if a woman makes a decision to have a child, she should deal with her life choice. It was not the child's decision to be born, so why should an innocent child suffer because his or her mother can't deal with her life?

At the school in which I work, I have learned that this happens in my small town which used to appear to be filled with normal "happy" families. In one situation, a first grader and his sister, who was in kindergarten, were abandoned by both their parents. Luckily, the children had other family members to stay with, but the whereabouts of the parents was unknown. I can't imagine how difficult being a parent must be, but for a parent to abandon their child is disgustingly selfish.

In another situation, I walked into a classroom where kids were making Mother's Day cards. Two girls were crying, and I assumed that it was because of the negative relationships they had with their mothers. One of those girls was writing a letter to her mother and asked her mother never to leave her again. It literally broke my heart.

There are parents shaming the childfree, while there are enough children suffering on this planet as it is. In my hometown there are heartbroken children who cry at the idea of making Mother's Day cards because their moms have run away.

These situations make me all the more childfree. If some people find parenting so horrific that they run away, why would I want to even think that having children would be a walk in the park? Obviously it's not rainbows and unicorns like advertisers want us to think if parents are abandoning their kids every day. It's the "hardest and most important job in the world," but some people are quitting.

Kids Out of Control at Restaurants

When I dine out at restaurants, obnoxious kids is at the top of my list of pet peeves. I understand that some children may not know better, but the frustration is that parents allow their children to do whatever they want--even if they are disrupting the entire restaurant. I did not go out to listen to children screaming and misbehaving nearby.

One day I went out to eat with some of my family, and we were seated near another family on one side, and a couple other parties with kids. I watched in horror as one mother watched her maybe four-year-old son STAND in his seat the ENTIRE time they were in the restaurant. She just ate her food, not once telling him to sit down. Another mother let her child climb on the nearby window ledge, not once scolding her. I could not believe my eyes. All I could think was, "Are you freaking kidding me?" These parents each had one child to control, and they were defeated.

The largest party at the restaurant nearby consisted of three kids and four or five adults. One child was maybe a year old, another roughly two or three, and another child appeared to be maybe six or seven. The entire time, I barely heard a peep out of this family, who was at the next table over. All three of the children sat the whole meal, made almost zero noise, and ate without making a mess. Even the baby was calm.

In my humble opinion, if a family with three kids can go out to a restaurant and make sure their children behave, so can other families. I found it ironic that the family with the most kids were the quietest ones in the whole restaurant. I bet that if they had misbehaved, they would have heard the word "No." When I saw the boy standing in the booth, the mom did NOTHING. Is it going to damage little Johnny's self esteem if his mother tells him to sit down? If a child is old enough to walk and stand, he or she is old enough to sit down in a restaurant (if the parents feel the need to bring their offspring out to restaurants in the first place).

Watching the family with the three perfectly-behaved kids restored a bit of my faith in humanity. For all the awful parents out there, it's nice to know that some people teach their children to behave before bringing them out in public. Honestly, if this family can go to a restaurant with three kids who all remain sitting in their seats and not make a sound, I think it's possible for all parents. Props to the awesome parents out there who make sure their kids don't ruin everyone else's dinner.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Founder of Mother's Day Wasn't a Mother!

Today, I am a childfree young woman on Mother's Day. While I love my mom, and think she is the best, and I appreciate all the kick ass moms out there, I am reminded of my childfree stance on this day. For me, this day will always be about celebrating my mom and other great motherly figures in my life.

I opened up my internet this morning, and the first thing I saw on my home page was a headline: "The Founder of Mother's Day Hated What the Holiday Became." Intrigued, I read the article, written by Emily Cohn. In the article, Cohn writes that the woman who founded Mother's Day in 1908, Anna Jarvis, wasn't a mother.

Reading that tidbit of information was shocking and exciting. The woman who invented the holiday was childfree!

The article went on to say that Jarvis had not intended for Mother's Day to be a commercialized holiday. During her time, she wanted a day celebrating women because most of the holidays were in honor of men. To me, it sounds like Jarvis was a 1900's feminist, which makes her even cooler. Jarvis saw the holiday she created spread worldwide and become something she despised.

Jarvis said that Mother's Day should not be about buying flowers or cards. She said that no one is too busy to write their mom a letter instead of buying something that took no time.

Jarvis created a day that was meant to honor mothers and make them feel special. But as time went on, the department stores wanted to cash in on mothers. According to Cohn's article, we spend $20 billion on Mother's Day. I'm sure Jarvis would be campaigning against this is she were alive.

Today, I am celebrating my mom, and part of me is celebrating all of the childfree heroes who are motherly figures without having children.

Happy Non-Mom Day!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Kids Say the Darndest Things: A Childfree Perspective

Even though I am childfree, I enjoy being around cute, well-behaved, clever kids from time to time. In my job, kids can be frustrating, but there are times where they tug at my heartstrings. It makes me think about my childfree stance, and I wonder: Does this mean I'll change my mind and have kids someday? But then I realize that no, I don't have to procreate to have these experiences. I have the awesome life of working with kids, having those cute moments that pull at your heartstrings, without having to sacrifice any of my free time.

One child told me, "I wish you were my mom." I was taken aback by this, because I've never heard this before, and it was quite random. But I took it as a compliment, because it must have meant that I made a positive impact on the child's day. At the same time, it made me feel sad for the child's own mother. Does the mother neglect her child? Is she a "bad mom"? Then, I also wondered, "Does this mean that I'm good with kids, and do in fact have that elusive maternal instinct?"

Another child told me, "When I grow up, I want to be a teacher." While I'm not a teacher, I work in a school, and the girl went on to say she wanted to do what I do when she grew up. It was straight out of a Hallmark card commercial or something. As a childfree person, all I could think was, "Are these kids out here trying to convince me to have kids?? They're pulling out all the stops!" But the thing about kids is that they're genuine. When kids say things like this, at that moment in time, they usually mean what they say.

I also feel happy when kids say they're going to miss me over long vacations. I feel good that I'm making a positive impact on them, knowing that some of these students come from rough home lives. It makes me feel even more certain about my childfree stance. I don't need to have kids, because I'm already helping children who need a positive role model in their lives. Why have kids when there are so many children out there who need help? To me, it would be selfish to have kids because every day, I see children who are neglected at home, abused, or whose parents have ran away. If you want to make a difference in the world, help the children who are already here.