Childless, or child-free?

by Grace aka costofcollege

25 Famous Women on Childlessness

Among the quotes:

“I would have been a terrible mother because I’m basically a very selfish human being. Not that that has stopped most people going off and having children.” — Katharine Hepburn

It should be noted that terminology matters.  “Childless” can imply something is lacking while “child-free” can imply choice.

No Kids for Me, Thanks

Childless people often face discrimination or pity.  Some are happy with their decision, but others feel dissatisfaction or even regret.  Sometimes childlessness is a deliberate choice, and sometimes it’s just what happens.

Most Totebaggers have or plan to have children.  How did you make your decision about this?  Did you always want children, or was that not a priority for you?  Do you have regrets?  What about your childless friends or relatives?  Do you find they are happy about how things turned out?  Would you be disappointed if you never had grandchildren?


215 thoughts on “Childless, or child-free?

  1. My childless (by choice) friends and relatives seem happy. They have a lot more money and free time than I do. They have no child or grandchildren related stress (sleep deprivation!!!) and they look years younger than their actual ages.

    DD has no interest in having children. Not disappointed.

  2. I was never one who ALWAYS wanted children, but at a certain point, I realized I couldn’t image my life without having children. I was in a relationship with a divorced man, with teenage and above children at that time. It was hard, but at that point, I had to say, if you aren’t willing to have children with me, I have to move on. I’m glad we have our kids together as he is a great dad. I also knew I wanted 2, if possible. Two kids has been a good sized family for us, plus starting out at the later ages that we did, I don’t think I could have handled infants/toddlers full-time any later in life.

    I had a childless/free aunt (part choice/part physical ability) and a few childless/free friends. One I know is by choice, one I know is due to health issues, and the others I don’t know as I would never ASK. They do have more free cash flow and more free time. One has expressed some worry about coming from a small and spread out family with infrequent physical visits and what will happen as she ages. Of course that is always unknown, children may not care for you, they may died before you do, or they may have their own issued that prevent them.

    Dealing with eldercare issues or significant health care issues, that you need some one to advocate for you when you cannot do it for yourself. The stories about those dying alone in Japan recently is heartbreaking.

  3. That whole childfree thing has a lot to do with my decision to have kids. Through my mid 30’s, I was certain I wouldn’t have kids. Most of the sibs in both our families did not have kids, so there was a lot of precedent. For some reason, though, in my mid 30’s, I started having second thoughts. Maybe because one sib had died a few years earlier, my other sib wasn’t having kids, and my parents were getting older. I started feeling like my family was going to disappear.

    So, being a big fan of mailing lists even back then, I subscribed to a childfree mailing list, and also to one on adoption (was already thinking of adopting at that point). I also read a lot of the childfree writings out there. And… I was shocked by the negativity and hostility on the childfree sites, which was not present at all on the adoption lists. A lot of difficult stuff was being discussed on the adoption lists, but the people sounded happy. The people on the childfree sites did not sound happy. Lots of stuff about hating their childhoods, hating children (the standard term on these sites for kids was “spawn”, with some worse terms as well),and just general negativity. I know, know, lots of you without kids are going to jump all over me and say that this was just a sample, and I realized that even then – but boy, the difference in tone got to me.

    I also don’t get it when childfree people feel discriminated against. I was childfree until my late 30’s, and a working person, and I never felt that way. I didn’t mind kids on airplanes, I was fine with kids in restaurants, I liked how western European countries integrate kids into daily life more than we do, and I was always interested in the K12 school systems. I was never one of those people who get all gushy over babies, but I wasn’t even that gushy with my babies. I just don’t get the level of hostility towards kids, and their kid-typical behavior, that some people have.

  4. This is an interesting topic. I have friends who are both childless due to medical reasons and child free by choice. The one person with the medical issues is unhappy while the others who chose seem happy.

    I always wanted kids. Then I grew up and feared the person I could become based on my family. I didn’t want kids for the longest. DH did and I realized I could be OK with or without kids. So we struck a deal- I’d try for 2 years and then we’d get dogs. I made this deal before the fertility issues. Once in treatment I told DH we take it one month at a time.

    I feel I can honestly say I’m happier now with kids than without. We spent 9 years as DINKs. I never thought I’d ever say that. I don’t have a ton of disposable income. My house is smaller than ever and bright plastic rules my life. My second home is Babies R Us. I’m pretty sure this is how nature gets us to have more than one. We forget the horrid times.

  5. I always wanted kids. I really enjoy then at multiple stages, and I love being around family. My husband was ambivalent and could have gone either way. My only regret is not having more, but given a number of factors I know I’m whitewashing reality. It would have been very difficult given the labor intensiveness of some of my parenting years, and I’m not sure how many c-sections a body can withstand.

    My child-free friends seem happy with the choice, but a little defensive. I’m sure this is from enduring decades of people asking them when they will have kids. I would never encourage someone to have kids unless they were fully committed to the idea. One of my siblings is child free because he married in his late 40’s. I do think it is a significant disappointment. He would have been a great dad.

    After working on the family budget, we would certainly be much better off financially without kids. I am reminded of the Anna Nicole Smith quote “it’s expensive to be me!”

  6. I think I always wanted kids and assumed I would have them and never imagined anything different. It’s possible that being the youngest contributed a little, because I always wanted a younger sibling.

    The way some of the childfree people feel in that article, about how kids now are so much more work than they were in the 1970s (which I don’t really agree with, anyway), is kind of how I feel about dogs. I always had multiple dogs growing up, and I loved them, but I really don’t want any now. Because I feel like the dog care standards really HAVE changed. With the amount of energy I see people devoting to dog care these days, DW and I say we’d sooner have a fourth child, and at least we’d get an actual human out of the deal.

    **Qualifier – I know of some programs where families volunteer to take care of dogs temporarily while their owners are deployed. I’m open to that in a few years.

  7. I was never a person who always wanted kids. When I met DH I started envisioning having them some time in the distant future. When we started trying I thought it would take six months (I think I had read that was the average time for conception) but I got pregnant right away and didn’t even realize I was pregnant until about 8 weeks along. When I realized I was in fact going to have a child, I had about a week of complete panic, and then calmed down about the whole thing. I’ve obviously liked having kids since we now have three. I don’t have any childless friends but I have two aunts who didn’t have children. With one it seemed like it was her choice and then she got divorced around 40 and I think she started to regret that decision and the other I think couldn’t have kids but she ended up in a second marriage with a man who had two teenagers. Those kids now have kids and I think she’s enjoying being a grandma.

    I think parents and non-parents both probably feel discriminated against at different times. I do roll my eyes a bit at the child free people admonishing people for having kids because they are using more than their share of the earth’s resources.

  8. It was important for me to have kids. DH and I spent 3 years as DINKS–we travelled the world and had a lot of fun. However, that time felt a little aimless.

    We have 2 children. We had considered having 3, but baby related illness with the second one and DH losing his job at that time made us stop at 2. I would be disappointed if I did not have grandchildren. DH feels the exact same way.

  9. What is it with dogs, anyway?? One of my DH’s sisters (one of the childfree ones) got a dog. Before the dog, they were interesting people – they traveled, they had parties, they socialized with us and others all the time. Once the dog arrived, they were unwilling to leave it behind for more than an hour or two. They couldn’t travel because they wouldn’t put it in a kennel. Eventually the dog died, and just this year, they started travelling again.
    The other childfree sib just got a dog, and she is going down that same path. Man, when we had a dog when I was a kid, we just let it out in the fenced yard all the time, same as the cats.

  10. I thought I’d have kids younger than I did. I married pretty young, after us both getting out of grad school and careers launched, and it became time to start thinking about kids, it became clear he didn’t really want them and would not be happy if they were not boys. (Like I can control that!) Clearly, we divorced. Found a man that is a great dad, but that delayed childbearing into my mid to late 30s.

    When all your peers are having kids, it seems that whether you want them or not comes up more often. As you get older and meet new childless/free people, whether this is by choice or not rarely comes up in conversation. My tween/teen DDs have mentioned they aren’t sure they’ll have kids. At this point, they have a lot of time ahead of them and I prefer that to them saying this young – Oh, I want to get married young and have kids right away.

    As this rarely come up, with a few exceptions, I don’t know if the childless/free people we know are by choice or by circumstance. Most seem happy with their situation, a few dote on nieces/nephews.

  11. MM – people replace kids with dogs – they need you to feed, water, walk them. They become human-like. Me? I just love dogs. And we tend to let them run free in our backyard. We still travel and find sitters or kennels if our dog can’t travel with us. But I’ve always had dogs, so the ~5 years I spent without one was lonely – even with DH. I missed that responsibility, the love, and just having another heartbeat around. Oddly, rescuing our old man dog made me realize that I could be a parent and probably like it.

    When this dog passes, I suspect we won’t get another one until we are done with kiddos.

  12. I’m definitely hoping for grandkids (though not any time soon) – seems like the fun parts of parenting without the middle of the night wake-ups :-)

    I’m glad we had kids – but I sometimes think of a comedian I saw who said she would sometimes turn to her kid and think “you could have been a really nice car instead.”

  13. I have a childfree relative in her late 50s who just got a dog for the first time and is treating him like a baby. Serious spoiling. Her husband is considerably older than her, with grown children. Connect the dots.

  14. “Man, when we had a dog when I was a kid, we just let it out in the fenced yard all the time, same as the cats.”

    same here, Mooshi.

    My parents have a Cavalier. He’s a great dog, he’s absolutely perfect with the kids, and his availability to them makes me feel less guilty for not getting them a dog. But man alive! is he high-maintenance at times (or maybe my Mom just makes him out to be that way, similar to what we’d say about many of the parents these childfree people are horrified about).

    One quirky thing about my parents, and it’s very quickly getting more pronounced, is that they have a hard time traveling anywhere that’s not one of their homes for more than about four days. Even with summer vacations and rental houses, they’ve got like a three- or four-day limit. (Even with their own suite, own bathroom. They’ll always pay their share for the whole week, of course.) None of us can really figure it out. And it’s not just because they get sick of loud grandkids, which I could totally understand (though, realistically, the dog is far more of a loud PITA than any child). They had friends invite them on a yachting trip for a week or so, and turned them down. My mom’s comment was “OMG, I’d be jumping overboard after five days.” Yet they’re totally social people, both more outgoing and entertaining than DW or I am. I still could have dismissed that as “well, it’s close quarters and all.” But then they’re talking about a somewhat-obligatory trip to go see my grandmother on the other side of the country, and it’s, again, three days. I asked why, and it’s “Well, get back to work, and [the dog].” So I said, “after you’re retired, for that same trip, wouldn’t you want to go for two weeks and see the Grand Canyon, stay somewhere interesting…?” And my Mom’s answer is “no, not really. We saw the Grand Canyon already [30 years ago!!]. And I would never want to leave the dog for that long.” I don’t get it at all. They’re intellectual, and intellectually curious people. And the dog is just an easy excuse, I’m sure, but he’s still being used as the excuse. Anyway, sorry for the huge tangent.

  15. I always knew I wanted kids. I would have had more, I think, if my doctor wouldn’t have said no to that. I am not a fan of the baby years, but they go by quickly. In my old age, I would love to have 5-6 kids and a bunch of grandkids. My husband wanted at least one child and deferred to me after he was born as to whether we would have additional ones.

    My childfree by choice friends seem happy and rich.

  16. I always knew I wanted kids even though I was not baby/toddler crazy about other people’s kids.

    I agree with Milo, I was the youngest of 3 and always wanted a younger sibling.

    I used to want 3-4 kids, but man, raising one is exhausting! The jury is out whether we are one and done.

  17. we were married young (22 and 25) and were DINKs for close to 7 years before DS came along. I always thought I would have a child shortly after getting married, but I am grateful for the years we had as pre-parents.

  18. “people replace kids with dogs ”

    When our kids got older my H insisted on replacing our one dog with two dogs. He makes no bones about how the dogs replace little kids. But then, everyone in his family is obsessed with dogs, and our kids are also. I’m the odd man out since I don’t really view dogs as people like they do.

  19. I have cared for a number of cousins and there is a gap between my sibling and me. I was essentially an only child for my elementary school years. My parents had a hard time with my sibling as they were done with one kid and here came one more after a big gap. I like having a sibling and I think it would have been quite lonely being an only child. As a result of caring for kids of varying personalities, I was quite aware that it could be a very bumpy ride. DH and I had thought that we would have difficulty having kids and had decided that should that happen, we would adopt and not keep trying to have our own. My actual experience of both pregnancies was just the opposite. I wanted my kids to have close in age siblings, so we had our second child about two years after the first. I didn’t enjoy the baby or toddler stage but now I enjoy my kids a lot. I don’t know any married couples who have chosen to be child free. Some were but not by choice and were overjoyed when they finally had kids after years of trying. I don’t think everyone is cut out to want to be a parent and if it is something you don’t want, don’t feel pressured. My mother felt pressured into having a second child and she had a hard time.

  20. Re: dogs. I had my dog before I had kids (or a husband). I won’t board him because I worry too much about how he would handle it. So, he comes with us or I get a petsitter. He is a perfect gentleman and really was a surrogate child for me. I won’t get another dog while I have kids living with me and I doubt I will ever feel the same way about another dog.

  21. I am like Milo, always wanted kids. We have 3 and I am sad that we don’t have more bc I LOVE babies, but OTOH I am really tired of the constant fighting at the ages we have now and another baby would really tire me out.

    My siblings both have dogs and our kids love them, but I don’t like them – not well enough supervised or controlled around the kids and ALL of our kids have been injured by the dogs (rope burns from the dog line). No dogs for us!

  22. Quick hijack question to DC-area folks – I have to go to Columbia, MD, tomorrow for a funeral. What’s the traffic like on Saturday mornings? Coming from southwest, should I take I-66 and the beltway or go north to I-70?

  23. how kids now are so much more work than they were in the 1970s (which I don’t really agree with, anyway),

    You don’t? vs. the playpen and roaming the neighborhood era?

    If you want to argue that the amount of work per family is the same as they put in X effort but in 1970 that effort was divided among 4 kids per women vs 2 now – that would make sense.

  24. CoC – sent you something for a slow news day.

    I know DW always wanted kids; we just took our sweet time getting there (7 yrs as DINKs before she got pregnant for the first time). Like others we took advantage of the disposable income and freedom to explore the world around us. Can’t say I ALWAYS wanted kids; it just seems like the way it should be.

    We know few people/couples who are childless (excluding the priests at the boys’ HS)…mostly I think because our circle of friends has been built thru our kids and their school/church/other actvities. DW’s one sister decided when she was ~37 that she wanted a kid, having married a guy a couple of years before that with 2 kids from a previous marriage who were then teens. I think she figured if she was going to mom them, she might as well have a kid of her own.

    Grandkids…honestly not for me to say. I am in favor of my kids having kids, but that’s for other people to decide.

  25. We can’t have a dog because DS1 is very allergic. Curiously, we had a cat for the first 6 years of his life, without any problems. After that cat died, his dog allergy appeared. We were afraid to get another cat, but we finally did, and it hasn’t been a problem. DS1 does have a mild cat allergy, but not enough to keep him from playing with and snuggling with the cat frequently. But recently, he went to a much anticipated sleepover birthday party at a home with a dog, and by 8:30pm, he called us saying we had to come get him. He looked terrible when I picked him up, wheezing with horribly swollen eyelids. I always heard that people with pet allergies react more to cats, but he is the opposite

  26. Milo – may just be them getting older. My parents came for Xmas but only for 4 days. DH’s mom came to visit us (from the midwest, and they drove!) for 2 days and then visited his sibling for 2 days. DH’s dad only ever visits us for 2 nights max. (Side note, they have a dog and DH’s stepmom has not had kids of her own, so the series of dogs are kid stand-ins for her to some extent).

    I have 2 friends at work who don’t have kids. One is not yet precluded by age. The other is, and her husband just died a while ago – it has been VERY HARD for her.

  27. SWVA – 66 seems always seems to be a mess. I would avoid that if possible. Otherwise, traffic is usually fine on a Sat morning.

  28. I only know one married couple in my circle of friends who is childless by choice. They got a dog last year. She used to complain about seeing all of the kids pictures on fb , then it was dog pictures every day from her LOL

  29. In my post on having kids, I didn’t mention my DH at all. He was, I think, always more open to the idea of kids than I was. But he was afraid he would be really bad at the dad thing. About the time we were deciding, an old friend of ours, a guy you could never imagine having kids because he was sort of a big kid himself, a cross between Sheldon on Big Bang Theory and PeeWee Herman – well this guy became a dad. My DH said, if J can do it,so can I.

    DH and I met when I was only 21. We had been DINKs for well over 10 years by this point. We had reached the stage where we were no longer enamored of the club scene, were bored with swanky restaurants, and had developed a taste for kid-oriented dog movies. We sort of felt that it was time.

  30. Milo – my husband and son have a 3-4 max on vacation. (That’s why I was stunned when he committed us to a seven day cruise). In a vacation to the Bay Area pre-kids, we actually came home a day early. They both just prefer their own environment, don’t sleep as well when traveling, find days full of navigating the unfamiliar as stressful as it is interesting, etc. My parents have also adopted the 3-day visit thing. My daughter and I are going to Ireland for her college graduation, and are leaving DH/DS at home.

  31. Older parents and travel. I think there is a point where dealing with the “new and unexpected” is challenging and tiring, so more than 3-4 days of it seems daunting. The more stable our environments and routines, the more we are on auto-pilot. Think about changing jobs and having to do a lot of things at once – learn new office layout, people’s names, your new computer set-up, let alone the new work you are doing. As people age, they are OFTEN less able to quickly and easily adapt to the changes that travel to and/or with unfamiliar people brings. Think river cruises (same boat/same lodging/same people) for a week with excursions vs backpacking through Europe, finding a different hostel every night.

    I even saw it in myself when I retired. I was not challenged mentally as much, even though I was doing a lot of volunteer work and dealing with kids. I was doing what I was good at and comfortable with. With my part-time job I am much more (sometimes too much) mentally challenged.

  32. . As people age, they are OFTEN less able to quickly and easily adapt to the changes that travel to and/or with unfamiliar people brings.

    All the research shows, the more you give into it. the faster the slide into dementia.

  33. I used to be a very frequent traveler. I’m now much more of a home body. The travel bug has left me and I’ve seen pretty much everything I’ve wanted to see.

    I do enjoy vacations with the family, but I’m just as happy to stay home. Right now, we take 3-4 vacations a year that are 5-10 days long.

  34. I met DH when I was 22 and #1 child was born when I was 29; DH is 3 yrs older. My college roommate just had her first kid at age 38 (she had been married for 7 yrs but I think they had trouble TTC). I also met a woman who was at her 20th reunion (when we were there for my 15th) with baby triplets. That stroller was like a limo!

  35. Great topic. DH and I were DINKs for 9 years when I finally decided I wanted to try. As others have said, we traveled, went out when we wanted, etc. etc. He’s 10 years older than me and I was in my mid 30’s, so we decided we’d give it x amount of time and see how it went. I’d never really wanted kids until about a year or so before we started trying and it just started to seem like a good idea, like we were missing something and a “tiny little human” (as my friends call DS) might just be it. DH has adult children from a previous marriage, so he’d always said it was up to me.

    Now, my house looks like Rhode’s (why are little people’s toys SOOOO big anyway?) and I wouldn’t change it for the world. The little guy is 1, he’s a handful, in a good way, he runs, loves to snuggle… I’m not sure what I did with all of my free time before he got here, and I’m not sure I care. Occasionally we talk about maybe having a second. DH and I are each the middle child of 3, so an only child seems foreign and lonely to me. But we aren’t getting any younger and the bags under my eyes are only getting bigger.

    As for the dog, we’ve always had one. She goes in the kennel or we get a pet sitter when we want to travel. She’s very special to us and is doing well adjusting to DS (maybe it’s because he feeds her?). I feel bad that she gets less attention now, but DS makes up for that with table scraps, so maybe it’s a wash?

  36. “TV parents are routinely sleep-deprived, harried, anxious, confused, cash-strapped, sexually frustrated or divorced, a far cry from the days of the comfortable and comforting stewards on “Family Ties,” “The Brady Bunch” and “Father Knows Best.”

    the current TV shows are more realistic with the parents being anxious, etc

  37. One thing I learned as the mom of 3, is that while 3 are certainly more work than 1, they aren’t 3 times the work. I think that is because by the time you get to #3, you are more experienced, more efficient, and most importantly, more blase.

  38. I truly wanted to be a father, but my wife wanted children far less than me. We were going along fine and truly enjoying life as a childless couple. That said, we were (I was?) insanely delighted when Junior came along.

    It is only now, and in the deep dark hours of the morning that I have reservations. I will say first and foremost I love my kid more than I can say and that being a parent is the most wonderful thing in my life and will, at least in my mind, always define my life.

    But I truly wonder if I did Junior any favors. He doesn’t have a mom, and thus gets my full-time devotion. Is this fair? I don’t know. I am older than most fathers– old enough to be the father of just about all of Junior’s classmates’ parents. I am too old (and injured) to participate in sports with my kid, I am technology-challenged because I just don’t care. Because he is an only child, I’m all the kid has got. And I plan on dying sometime! I was lucky to have my dad around well into my 50s. My son clearly won’t have me near that long. I won’t really leave him with an extended family; my wife had none, my sisters are near ancient, my son’s cousins are all middle age with children quite a bit older than he is. Plus, they’re from a different country (my son being South Floridian).

    But again, these are things I think about on restless nights and in the doctor’s office. While I lived a fairly full and reasonably rewarding life before Junior came along, I swear I can’t remember it. (You know, “I did WHAT?!!”, “I lived WHERE?!!”, “I made HOW MUCH?!!”)

    So I keep on parenting. Happily. I think.

  39. Interesting topic for me. I’ve never wanted children. When I was younger, i wasn’t a big fan of them and then about five years ago my friends started having them and now I like children. I love playing with them and visiting them but still I think they’re not for me. Part of it is just the sheer physical toll that comes with being pregnant and having a baby. I can’t carry a child for very long without my back and hands starting to hurt and the idea of doing that all the time is honestly more than i can handle. Sometimes I do regret my decision as I actually think I’d be a great mom. I love to nurture and i need to be needed. But I don’t’ think I can handle the physicality that comes with babies. sometimes I think it would work to marry someone with older children but I dunno.

    I’ve gotten lots of horrible comments over the years…about being single and childfree. so i can understand any defensiveness. People say horrible things to those who deviate from the standard. and yes we have a very child and couple centric society so for those of us who don’t have those things, we can feel left out or discriminated against.

    and the dog thing…my sister got a dog about a year ago and don’t even get me started.

  40. The one thing I wanted to do differently from my parents is be more available for my kids. My parents had their busy jobs and social lives and somehow we were expected to fit into it. I envied the parents of my friends who seemed more available to help them out and talk to them day to day. What I experienced was sink or swim, the direct opposite of the snowflake phenomenon.

  41. Because I never expressed a desire to have kids, I shocked family and friends when I had my first child in my late 30s. They saw me as a career woman and interpreted what was simply my lack of interest in having kids as a strong desire never to have children.

    “I’ve gotten lots of horrible comments over the years…about being single and childfree”

    I’ve heard horrible things said in the workplace about childree women. Like the reason they work so hard is to make up for a dismal personal life.

  42. I have a dog and four kids, with history known to all the regulars. Unlike some of you, I have several childless acquaintances, some of whom are child-free, some of whom were unable to have children/didn’t marry. For most, I don’t know why they don’t have children. Right now, if they comment, they mostly comment on how hectic my life is, so I don’t receive any vitriol. One friend, who remained childless because she didn’t think she’d be a good mother, commented that she enjoys my Facebook pictures of our family and that Mr WCE and I are exactly the sort of people who should have four kids. (and a dog- but if it were up to me, we wouldn’t have the dog, even though she’s sweet and pretty well-behaved. And she is not treated like a child.)

    I think my older women engineer friends disproportionately didn’t marry, compared to their age cohorts. And of course, many/most of the women engineers their age who had children left engineering, which leaves a heavy selection bias toward the childless middle aged women I know.

  43. I wanted to have a child, but i was undecided about whether to have more kids. DH didn’t want kids. He was already 40 when we had DD and he thought it was late to start a family. Fast forward all of these years, and he LOVES being a parent. I know his big life regret is that we didn’t meet earlier , and have a chance to have more kids. We will never know whether we would have been able to have a second child because we didn’t try every though a few friends were still having 2nd and 3rd kids.

    I have single and married friends that do not have kids. I think it is because I married later in life so I had a bunch of friends that also married late. Some tried to have kids, but the window was very tiny since they were already in the 40s. I think they have some regrets, but they spend A LOT of time with nieces and nephews.

    I try to never never judge people that have no kids, or 1 kid because I feel like you never really know why someone may be in a certain situation. There was a regular poster OTS that was honest about her infertility, and I could almost feel pain since her posts were so honest. I know several friends that experienced that too, so I believe that the choice is deeply personal and might be out of their control.

  44. About half of our friends have kids now. The militantly childfree keep their distance, in case our progeny are contagious.

    I chose to have children because the childless people I knew over 70 generally weren’t happy with that choice, even if they were extremely wealthy and professionally successful. I have since concluded that I should have spent more time talking to the over 70s with kids :)

    Live and learn!

  45. “I’ve heard horrible things said in the workplace about childree women. Like the reason they work so hard is to make up for a dismal personal life.”

    no one would say this about a man

    16. Is having children on your priority list?
    “I’m not going to answer that question. I’m not mad at you for asking that question, but I’ve said it before: I don’t think people ask men those questions.” —Zooey Deschanel, Marie Claire, September 2013

    this is so sexist, but also partly maybe because men can have children much later in life and aren’t the ones actually carrying a child

  46. My DH has childfree sisters. They always seemed to me to be adamantly childfree, with high powered jobs. Interestingly, both have nonworking husbands who putter around the house. Anyway, I was suprised this year when one of the sisters, who writes as a hobby, put out a piece on a very prominent site detailing that she had always wanted kids and that it was painful for her to now be in her mid 50’s with no kids. Evidently her husband was really against kids. She did end it positively, saying she wanted her husband more than kids. I always thought she would be a terrible mom – she is terrible with kids, very stiff and straightlaced. But who knows, maybe kids would have loosened her up.

  47. My Pilates instructor is child free by choice and says it was hard for them to get certain concessions from their families – having Christmas Day alone and not traveling, for example. Her sense is that couples w/ kids get a quick “Oh, of course,” from the family when they say they want the day to themselves, but couples without kids don’t. I do think you can “blame” a lot of things on kids – Sorry, but we can’t make it because of nap time/dance recital/ tutoring/practice, etc.

    We are a dog family but I employ the same benign neglect strategy with them as I do with the kids. We are terrific at cuddling with both dogs – the MinPin is almost always in someone’s arms and even the lab gets full-body hugs a lot, sleeps on kids’ beds, gets played with, sits on a few designated couches with me. DH runs w/ the lab and we both walk the dogs but we can go ages without doing this if our schedule is right or we are sick or whatever. The Invisible Fence is a savior.

    I confess that on frigid winter days when we don’t feel like taking them for a walk, we tell each other that since they’re rescues, they’re lucky we took them in at all – surely they can’t reasonably expect a walk on top of that? We’re going straight to He88, aren’t we?

    They love the kennel so we have no qualms sending them there. No way would I let a dog interfere with vacations.

  48. Regarding older people and travel. A couple of my role models for how to live life as a senior citizen were both childless and traveled extensively well into their 70s and 80s. Their younger lives were more “adventurous” than those of their peers with children, and it seems they had more money and better health to enjoy their older years. I’m pretty sure they were childless because of infertility, but I may be wrong.

    I’ve noticed that many childless women look younger than mothers the same age, which makes sense simply in terms of time available for self-care.

  49. “no one would say this about a man”
    I am not so sure, especially the older guys who are not in a relationship. There is always a presumption that they never really grew up, and are objects of pity.

  50. “There is always a presumption that they never really grew up, and are objects of pity.”

    Isn’t the presumption that they are gay?

  51. costofcollege-people tell me all the time to get a dog because then i wouldn’t be all alone at home. these comments actually make me feel lonelier than i would if people hadn’t said it! my life is actually pretty great and of course I get lonely but people can be very harsh. I think my biggest problem is being excluded from things. I don’t get invited to things anymore because I’m single and childfree. I’m 33 so all the girls I hung out with in my 20’s have children and the 20 something people I hang out with now are a little too fond of the bar/club scene. as a result not a single invitation for NYE.

  52. I love kids and animals, and we seem to have a household of all of it. Boys, cats, dogs, and occasionally nieces for my girl fix. It would be hard for me to imagine a household without animals and kids. I’m surprised there are so few animal people here.

  53. I think most people do not mean harm with their comments, they just end up putting their foot in their mouth, they don’t realize someone may want children but isn’t able, etc.

  54. “people tell me all the time to get a dog because then i wouldn’t be all alone at home.”

    tell them to STFU

    and cats are way better any way :)

  55. winemama: I’m allergic to cats :)

    but then come all the comments about how i’m heartless because i’m not a pet person. no matter what I do I never win

  56. lagirl, I went through that in my 30s, and you may have to start over a little with friendship – if you’re willing. I was right on track with all of my other friends until I had that big breakup right before I turned 30. I started to accept invitations to brunch, dinner or parties from friends of friends. They were all singletons that were looking for people to do stuff with on weekends etc. It might be more difficult because everything is so spread out in lala land vs Manhattan/Brooklyn, but I bet there are a decent number of people that are still single around your age. The benefit of NY or LA is that a fair number of adults are still single.

  57. I definitely wouldn’t want a dog if I were single (I don’t want one now either) too much responsibility as far as pets go…unless there is one out there I can litter train…

  58. Lagirl, if it’s any comfort I put on my pjs at 7:30 on NYE and only got up at midnight because the neighbor’s fireworks startled the baby so much he fell out of bed.

    Could you host something next year, even if it’s a daytime party so your friends can bring the kids?

    I’m trying to start hosting more, because I realized that in our neighborhood it’s the same three families holding 75% of the parties, and we are only invited if it’s a “parents of class X” or “everyone on the soccer team” type of event. One of my resolutions is to start being the kind of friend I want to have. We will see if it works.

  59. We love animals too! We would have multiple cats if it weren’t for the allergy load. Not sure about dogs since I don’t really want a 4th kid’s worth of work. My DD wants a horse, just like I did at her age.

  60. Lagirl, the only time in my life I ever went “out” for NYE was once when I was in my 20’s, visiting home, and I went with my mother to a party at her friends’ house. When I was a teen, I always babysat. Later on, I never had the kind of friends who socialized on NYE.

  61. I can’t believe I didn’t think of this before, but one of my sisters doesn’t have kids yet. I think I was thinking of people who definitely weren’t having kids. She wants them but they haven’t conceived yet (but have only been married for a year) and she gets a lot of flak from her in-laws about when their grandchild is coming. It’s so insensitive, especially since they are trying and just not having any luck.

    We are not dog people but my kids really really want one. My good mom friend here just caved on the dog and got a puppy and she works full time with a husband who travels a lot. She has a MIL in town who is helping but that is definitely more than I could manage right now. We did NYE with them and they had to host because they couldn’t leave the puppy for very long.

  62. my brother is 37 childless and single, he has much more of a social life than DH and I do, and this is Lou KY, not LA or NYC, like Lauren said, it is the friend group you hang with, friends outgrow each other sometimes or need a break (I mean you might need the break from them, not vice versa). I’m sure there are many others like you single 30’s you could befriend…is it mostly men in your industry (sports)? I think you mentioned before your bestie was a guy in a relationship?

  63. lagirl – if you like lazy-house party nights in on NYE (homemade meals, way too much food, decadent desserts). You are more than welcome at our house. Come as you are, and bring pjs. There’s always a place to crash. I’ve been hosting this party for about 10 years now – the guest list always changes, and people bring whomever and whatever they want. We usually end up playing games, or enjoying company. And drinking.

    I think I’m a weirdo with a kid – I do my best to make my friends of all walks of life welcome. I actually don’t like many faux mom friends. They are all wrapped up in their kids. And I’m not. He’s awesome, but he’s not my whole life.

  64. Sky: I used to host Christmas parties every year and then just stopped because so many RSVP and then don’t come. Based on my FB stalking, my friends with kids hang out with other friends with kids so even if I invited them, they wouldn’t come. I have this whole group of 20 somethings I’ve met through work and sorority activities and we do hang out but they seem to have developed their own clique. One problem with la la land is that there is sooo much to do here that no one thinks of canceling when something more exciting comes along. it’s a process trying to adapt. plus as people get older they move more…i had 3 best friends for the last 10 years. one moved to the bay area with her new husband and is now pregnant, one moved to OC with his new gf, and the other one i’ve decided is no longer my best friend because she’s actually not a nice person.

    wow i’m actually not as pathetic as i make it sound. My life is pretty cool! on NYE i baked 100 cookies and delivered them to all the fire houses in my city. then watched christmas movies and went to sleep at 11

  65. Lagirl – we have a fair number of people at work in your situation. We also have empty nesters.
    Those of us with younger kids are mindful that we shouldn’t go down the kid centric path in every conversation. We give everyone one a chance to talk about their lives outside work whether it is travel, being in a sports league, cooking, pets, being a choir….it is all varied and interesting.

  66. “on NYE i baked 100 cookies and delivered them to all the fire houses in my city. then watched christmas movies and went to sleep at 11”

    Can I be your new best friend? That is one of the most amazing things I’ve read in a long time. It’s so cool that you care that much to hand-deliver cookies to very deserving people. And something I may start doing (if I can steal your awesome idea…)

  67. Rhode- steal away! I’ve really upped my individual philanthropy this past year. I organized a toiletry drive at work for a local women’s shelter. If you have an office where people travel, it would be a great simple project. People just dropped things off at my cube and i sorted and delivered. I hope to continue to do more things in the new years. Basically this is how i’m satisfying my need to be needed.

    winemama- yes lots of men. My company just started a women’s leadership group and i’m on the planning committee and I’ve met a lot of amazing women through there which is great. I don’t get to see my best guy friend as much as I’d like but his gf is very awesome of the fact that i’m his best friend. she’s said before for us to have play dates and she cooked dinner for the three of us one night so him and i could watch football and exchange gifts at their new place.

  68. “no matter what I do I never win”

    If it makes you feel any better (although I can’t see how it would) DW has figured that she doesn’t get invited to certain things either because she works, even if P/T from home, or in some other cases, because other moms want to socialize during school hours but don’t want a 3 yo hanging around, or maybe she just doesn’t have that magnetic of a personality (which could be true for both of us). And then work is fine, but it’s not like you make any friends working from home.

    Point is, you’re not the only one who feels miserable at times ;).

    MBT/Austin –

    my husband and son have a 3-4 max on vacation… They both just prefer their own environment, don’t sleep as well when traveling, find days full of navigating the unfamiliar as stressful as it is interesting

    This is probably a factor.

    I think there is a point where dealing with the “new and unexpected” is challenging and tiring, so more than 3-4 days of it seems daunting. The more stable our environments and routines, the more we are on auto-pilot.

    And this.

  69. I knew by my teenage years that I did not want to have kids. I was clear about this with the few men I dated seriously. My H knew this going into our marriage, but we were so young (23) that he apparently always thought I would change my mind. It was a huge step for me to agree to stop birth control and see what happened, never actively trying to conceive. This was when many of our friends were having kids and I started to worry about being alone in old age, so I succumbed to societal pressure. I really enjoyed our 10 years as DINKs with plenty of money, career success, travel, etc. This is hard to explain – I really do LOVE my DD – but I still don’t like kids or parenting in general. And being a single parent 50% of the time is definitely not what I signed up for. I honestly think that having the child played a part in the breakdown of my marriage. He became much more kid-centric than I wanted to be, and he also had no understanding or sympathy for the physical changes my body went through. So if I had to do it all again…I honestly don’t know. I kind of wish I had not fallen for H and had stayed on my intended path to be an independent, child-free, carefree career woman.

  70. Milo- this sounds petty but sometimes it makes me feel better that I’m not the only one. Therapy helped with this a lot. I’m not the only one this happens to and therefore it doesn’t make me a bad person who doesn’t deserve to be loved. Once i had that realization it helped me realize my best friend since I was 17 wasn’t a nice person. I’d always put up with her ill treatment of me because she was my best friend and you’re supposed to be besties forever and now i realize not so much. The way she treated her now ex-husband during their divorce made me think that i don’t want to be friends with that type of person.

    SWVA mom- I have no doubt you love your kid but its not a bad thing to wish your life had turned out differently. i wish more people talked about these things because our feelings are not bad to have.

  71. I found it hard to make friends when I was single and first moved to NYC. I tried taking some classes and eventually got very involved in the music scene – trad music – lots of jam sessions and trips to festivals. But it wasn’t that great because people in that scene were more interested in the music than in being friends, and if someone more “important” or “serious” came along, you would get dumped in a minute. I had lots of friends before that, from grad school. And now, 20 years later, my good friends are still my old grad school friends for the most part, along with some mom friends who I met on mailing lists and became good friends with IRL (and not just this list!). The music friends and others from my carefree single years simply did not last.

  72. I like honest conversations.

    “Once i had that realization it helped me realize my best friend since I was 17 wasn’t a nice person.”

    I broke up with my best friend after she slept with her uncle while her aunt was out of town, and then she never paid back the $100 she owed me. At that point, I finally figured out she wasn’t a nice person.

    Just a random comment that I hope will evoke a chuckle or two.

  73. “I kind of wish I had not fallen for H and had stayed on my intended path to be an independent, child-free, carefree career woman.”

    But, in a way, all’s well that ends well, right? I mean, you’re there now, save for the child thing, and even she’s halfway out of the nest and increasingly independent. Your life’s not over.

  74. And lagirl, add me to your fan club for baking cookies and delivering them on NYE. That is awesome!

  75. I think most people (everyone?) asks what if? about something in their life that would have sent them on a completely different path

  76. Adoptees are all different in how they react, but in my case I always craved a biological family, so it is no surprise that I had multiple kids at a young age. I always wanted four in theory, and had five including the one who died at the age of three, but after the last baby at 30(!) I was worn out, we were in financial difficulties and my husband was exhibiting signs of being unable to function well. His religious views meant no contraception, so I just had to decide to have my tubes tied on my own. People on the street or encountered casually felt no compunction about chastising me for overbreeding rather than underbreeding, but I was living in a liberal area and looked very young.

    I have a lot of childless friends – the bridge community, in addition to the stereotypical elderly players, includes a lot of people who never marry or who marry quite late, as well as many gay people who were young in an era when it was not expected that they seek a bourgeois domestic life complete with progeny. My non parent friends don’t necessarily have tons of money or those sexy travel filled lives that people imagine the child free to enjoy or pets that they treat as surrogate children or lives filled with dear nieces and nephews. They are just ordinary people who don’t have kids at all income levels and with all sorts of habits and family situations.

    The downside to my life arc is not being able to give my kids more individual attention and benefits when they were young, and of course the unspeakable loss of a child. The upside is being a young empty nester with a long second act, a hands on grandmother while still vigorous, and secure in the knowledge that I will not be abandoned in old age. I personally would be bereft without MY kids and grandkids, and I am glad my foolish youth gave them to me before I realized what it all meant.

  77. Hashtags drive me up the fuck1ng wall! There’s someone on my feed who makes up the most inane hashtags incessantly, every post has several of them. Here are some direct examples from the last two weeks:

    Post about child turning five #growingtoofast #babygirl4 #watchoutmama

    Picture from New Year’s Eve: #jonesfamilyholidays #firepit #vawine #keepthefaith #nyeweekend

    Post about missing her Dad: #jonesfamilyholidays #nyeweekend #missmydad

  78. Yeah, CofC, if it were a bio uncle and $200, I could see your point, but mom-bio and $100? Maybe you acted rashly. ;)


  79. We always had a 2 1/2 week max tolerance for travel, even overseas. Getting the cats changed nothing – a paid cat sitter comes in every day to give one wet feeding in addition to the auto feeder and to clean the litter box. For long absences we find someone else to stop by at least once to give them some extra play and cuddle time. We don’t leave them unattended for more than 3 days/2 nights. One of our cats is has a typical “I grant you my affection once in a while” personality and the other is never out of an available lap. Both are great.

  80. We have a cat. A doctor told me to get a pet or quit my job, which is the strangest prescription I ever got. At the time we were renters and couldn’t have slipped a dog in undetected, hence the cat.

    Much to my surprise, I really like the cat. She’s a lap cat, and is trained to do tricks.

    She’s less than 3 minutes of work per day and keeps my feet warm on the couch.

    And LAGirl, you rock :)

  81. 2 1/2 weeks is about where I start to get tired of being on the move, and the same seems to be true for my husband and kids. (Fortunately, as even that length of time is hard to pry out of our respective offices.) But my horizon is longer if I’m not having to repack my suitcase every day or two.

  82. I’ve often said that if a kid just appeared out of the blue, I would be thrilled. It’s the pregnancy part that sounds so unpleasant. No kids yet, obviously. I’ve always wanted to adopt, but my boyfriend wants at least one biological kid.

    So I am in the same boat as LAgirl, with the different sets of friends at different ages. The set of friends who are my age all have kids. Now even the younger set is starting on that! Yikes.

    I’ve still managed to fill my time despite not having kids though, as hard as that is for some of my parent-friends to imagine!

    LAgirl, do you hike? I’ve met a ton of people through hiking groups out here!

  83. LAgirl, that was great. One DD is a single woman in LA and she still has an active circle of non parent friends, but things change as you age. As she described it when she first saw a picture of Christian McCaffrey she thought to herself, “he’s so cute” rather than “he’s so hot”.

  84. On the topic, I was not the kind of teen girl who gushed over little kids and babies, but I did babysit and worked a little kid summer program one year and “taught” toddler/preschool swimming, and I always assumed that I would have kids someday, in the distant future. Married at 30, first child at 33 (a couple of miscarriages first), that timing was good for getting me to the point where I’d had enough time to be young and single and was ready to settle down.

  85. When I was in law school I had a roving bunch of kid visitors because one 10 year old girl loved my cockatiel (who is still with me now, rather elderly). They could be overwhelming but it was fun to have kids tangentially in my life at a point when I was well out of my own childhood but not close to having my own yet.

  86. When we were kids and imagined we had families, I always said I had 3-4 kids. And I’ve always had it in the back of my head that I’d like 3 kids. Even during the times (and I still get them) that I think I’ll be a horrible parent because of the parent I had, I still saw 3 kids. Now, knowing that I need medical assistance to get pregnant, DH and I joke that we’ll get to three on the next shot.

    Allie – while everyone is different, I was very neutral about being pregnant. I neither loved it, nor hated it (and I have friends who fell in both categories). I had a high risk pregnancy (very easy on me, not so much the kiddo), and at the end, I wasn’t done being pregnant. I wanted more time to enjoy that part of everything, but Baby Rhode had other plans. In all honesty, pregnancy to me was just weird – my body was different, my physiology was different. But it wasn’t horrible. I also read “Girlfriends’ Guide to Pregnancy” which took a very sarcastic and funny look at the whole process. And I’m weird.

    PS – to all you regulars… time flies… DS will be a year old very shortly.

  87. I enjoyed pregnancy for the most part. didn’t have bad morning sickness, but did have a lot of nausea and food aversions the first trimester.

    The worst parts (that I remember) were the leg cramps I would get at night (agony) and the general pains once I was 6 months + (especially that last month)

  88. @winemama, don’t you wish the cabbage patch kid story were true?

    Rhode, I’m glad everyone is safe and healthy!

  89. #blessed is the humble brag of my FB group. So now it is a running joke in my house, and I work it into conversation with my daughter whenever she does things for me. It’s not socially acceptable to drone on about how great you are, but for some reason women think adding that hashtag gives them a pass

  90. A family comes from the heart. I once heard a young girl who was adopted say that she came from her mommy’s heart, not her tummy. @LAgirl, you may have a small bio family, but you’ve shown that your true family is much larger through your philanthropy. The rest of us talk all the time about how we have no time to help and would rather just write a check.

  91. Lemon – yes! In another life, I was a Girl Scout leader, and one girl was adopted. No one knew though (not even the leaders). When it came time to do a presentation on family trees, she had 2 – one with just her (she called it her biological tree – and she told us how she planned to fill it with a husband and babies of her own), and one with her family (her heart tree). I swear there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

    Allie – thank you. And, yes, I wish the cabbage patch story were true. No need for a NICU then, just a greenhouse when we could pick babies when they were big and healthy and “ripe” (not that *ripe* though).

  92. @ SWVA, I have a close friend going through much of what you describe. She has some ambivalence to parenthood (although she is an engaged and loving parent, for sure), and now she is facing a separation and said the same thing to me – single parenthood is NOT what she signed up for. She is also somewhat haunted by the what-ifs. I wish I had wise words.

  93. I only use hashtags if I think I can make them marginally funny. Recently I used #TrophyWifeFail and #StubbyLittleCorgiLegs in regards to a couple of photos of myself. I would never use #blessed or anything pukey like that.

    I come from a long line of horrific mothers (on both sides of the family) and I had no reason to believe I’d be any better than they were. I don’t hate kids (I know how those child-free sites are, and Mooshi’s right, the animosity is startling). I’ll end up old and alone. That’ll suck. Oh well.

  94. Allie, I had friends who seemed to spend the whole pregnancy going on and on about how great they felt on FB #awesomehair #lookatthisglow #superlongnails

    I was definitely not one of those people, but I still did it three times. It’s a finite time, and most of the damage to your body heals, eventually.

    The kids are forever.

    You can view that as inspiring, terrifying, or both :)

  95. LAGirl – if if makes you feel better, it seemed like there was a bigger divide between the Moms & NotMoms in our early 30’s when all the kids were really young. Now that we are 40ish, the divide is so much less pronounced in my longtime group of friends. The baby/toddler/preschool stages are just so overwhelming.

    I think that there is a big difference for women especially between those who are married and childfree by choice, married and struggled with infertility, and on the other side of 35 or 40 and still single – not by choice. I have friends in all groups. The DINKS by choice seem BY FAR the happiest of the three, with the singles coming in second at this stage of life. Infertility seems to be soul crushing and all-consuming. One of my peers at work has been married since her 20’s and no kids by choice. They go on truly fabulous vacations multiple times per year.

    I was ambivalent about kids before I met my DH. Once we got serious, I started really envisioning a life with kids. I also met my DH when I was 27, so I’m not 100% that it was him specifically as much as growing up in general. In a parallel universe, maybe I would have been just as happy without being a mom, but who knows. I do feel a pang of envy when my aforementioned peer goes jetting off to ski in the Swiss Alps in February while I go hang out with the Early Bird Special crowd in a rental condo in Florida. But i would trade it either.

    Do I care about grandkids? I think it would be nice, but I’m not banking on it since I have an only. I’ll be happy if I am blessed with one or more.

  96. RMS: we can be old and alone together!

    I’ll look into a hiking group but my schedule is pretty full….I work, am a sorority adviser, president of my sorority alumnae group and i’ve joined a knitting circle. and i am training for a 10k.

  97. RMS, you could always just hanai whichever Totebag offspring sound most promising to you. If you want moody teens I have some. You might do better to go with the smaller cuter ones though.

  98. “2 1/2 weeks is about where I start to get tired of being on the move”

    When we were young and DINKs, DW and I once took a 23 day trip, which was just about the right length for us at the time. We spent the first few days doing day trips from one hotel, then several days doing the ‘if it’s Tuesday then it must be Rome’ sort of thing, a few days of day trips from the home of a relative, then a long stretch of a different hotel every night.

    By the time we got home, we were exhausted, but had totally enjoyed the trip. I don’t know if we could handle something that long now, although DS definitely could.

    “But my horizon is longer if I’m not having to repack my suitcase every day or two.”

    That’s what I’m banking on as we get older. In the retirement discussion we had here, I mentioned how I’d like to take longer vacations in retirement, but anchored, e.g., rent a home or apartment for a month or two, settle in, and do a bunch of day tripping, or perhaps even overnight jaunts, from that home base. Or settling in at a ski area for a season, or a large part of a season, and getting picky about just skiing on the days when conditions are good.

  99. I sure hope I have grandkids. One of the motivating factors to me in aggressively saving for retirement is the flexibility to spend time with grandchildren.

    I think part of the reason I feel so strongly about grandkids is because of how crazy I am about my nieces. Spending time with them is truly such a joy – and then I get to hand them back to their parents for all the hard work! In my imagination, grandparenting is like this. I guess grand-aunting could be like that, too. (Great-aunting? Perhaps just “being a great aunt”). I have an uncle that never had kids of his own, but he has a close relationship with our kids, and is even traveling with us this coming year – I would totally do that with my nieces and their kids.

  100. RMS, you might also consider what DW’s aunt does. She lives near Stanford, and she often ‘adopts’ kids going to school there, hosting them for T-day dinner and being a sort of home away from home to them.

    Perhaps if any Totebaggers’ kids go to school near you could hanai them.

  101. SWVA – sorry for the spot you are in.

    LaGirl, I love hearing about your life. I’m with Ivy that the divide gets smaller as you get older. Right now I’m in the group of “older” moms in the neighborhood. I don’t really see or interact much with the moms with younger kids very much simply because our schedules don’t match up. I remember seeing moms like myself when my kids were younger and just marveling at their freedom! But as the kids get older it is harder to make new friends. Right now it seems like all the moms are taking their lives back and pursuing things that they had put on the back burner for so many years – so it is quiet – but we can go out on a Tuesday night without a sitter!

    I’m glad I had kids. I am simply loving where they are right now. Loving that we will watch Monty Python and So I Married an Axe Murderer tonight. They are fun and interesting and a lot less work until the times when they are a lot more work or a lot more worry.

    Risley – your PTM hashtag cracked me up!

  102. In the years right after graduating from college, I developed a group of friends composed largely of people I knew from college and other people we met through each other. Some people got married and largely dropped out of that group, while others who got married brought their spouses, and often their kids, into the group.

    A subset of that group moved back home over the years, and I keep in touch with them and get together with them regularly. Interestingly, other than me, they’re all single and child-free. Largely because of being busy with kids’ activities, I miss a lot of the times that group gets together, and I’m looking forward to joining them more when I become an empty nester.

  103. “I’ll end up old and alone. That’ll suck. Oh well.”

    You know, having kids is no guarantee any of them will be physically nearby to wherever we are living in our dotage. I’m across the country from my mom though my sister is only 45 min from her; DW and one sis are far away from their parents; one sister is nearby. Maybe all you need is one. I have little expectation that my kids will end up living here for their careers; I also have little expectation DW & I will choose to spend our golden years here unless at least one kid decides to be here, too.

  104. LA Girl, at approx. 110k a year (assuming some years of service) and generous benefits, can’t firefighters in LA go to the grocery for cookies?

  105. Anon – it’s just nice to feel appreciated, especially when you’re working holidays.

  106. I hope my kids launch successfully as I look forward to being an empty nester. Some days, I feel I have too many people in my house – and it takes an effort to keep them all reasonably happy. It is for this reason that I am not keen to sign up for extensive grandparent duties. It is as if LAgirl and me should swap roles for a month or so, I’d enjoy being by myself.

  107. off topic – just looked up the PSAT score. My kid is a 10th grader, so this iteration does not count towards the natioinal merit stuff. But they did calculate a National Merit Selection Index. Wow, this is way more complicated than in my day. Back in my day, you got a score and something that said you were a semifinalist, commended, or not. So given the selection index, how would I figure out how far away from the cutoff that it is, so he knows if he has a shot or not next year?

  108. MM, people are going crazy trying to figure that out over on College Confidential. The best theory seems to be that for high-score-cutoff states the number will be a little lower, for states in the teens it will be about the same, for the low-cutoff states it will be a little higher than last year. But no agreement, and many different theories, and imperfect info. For those of us for whom it doesn’t count anyway, I’d say the right answer is to just wait till the state cut-offs become known (not till September) and not go crazy, and meanwhile whether this years score would have been close or not he can do the Khan prep over the summer because it’ll be helpful for SAT too.

  109. anon- sure they can. but i thought it’d be a nice thing to do. I don’t have too many people to bake for…my office got a ton of baked goods over the holidays.

    Louise- sure let’s switch!

  110. I found a site with last year’s cutoff. It looks like he was 2 points away. I assume that is close enough to warrant prepping? This is a kid for whom test scores are going to be very important because his high school grades are kind of bleh.

  111. Sure, I’ll hanai any kids who wind up in Denver for college. Or if we move to Santa Cruz (don’t ask) I’ll look after any UCSC students. Unless I’ve decided to spend my golden years surfing and following the endless summer.

  112. Thanks, Rhett @ 3:25. :)

    SWVA, one of my colleagues attempted to have no custody obligations for his kids at all after divorce, arguing that, “You wanted them, I didn’t.” His kids were around the age of yours, and so probably aware of his attitude. He ended up with every other weekend custody and a lecture from a family court judge, I believe. I admire you for putting your daughter first through this, regardless of your own situation. And I’m with Milo that your daughter is becoming more independent and you have every other week to yourself. That seems like a light at the end of the tunnel.

    Gee, I hope I’m not sticking my foot in my mouth.

  113. I didn’t think much about having kids when I was in my twenties, but once I got married (at thirty) it was pretty clear to me (and DH) that we wanted to have kids. We always talked about two kids, since each of us had grown up with one sibling. We now have two kids, and I’m turning forty this year. I would welcome a third for all the right reasons (love babies and stages, want my kids to have more siblings, want house to be crowded with more family as I get older); my husband doesn’t want a third for all the right reasons (we’re getting older, too much chaos, not enough attention for each kid). So we’re at a standstill of sorts, and I’m sadly getting used to the concept that I’ll just live with disappointment at not having more kids. And in the meantime I am thrilled that we have two and am trying to enjoy every minute (which is definitely not easy).

  114. Oops, we cross-posted.

    MM, 2 points below last year’s is definitely close enough! Depending on how the cutoffs for this year shake out, it may turn out he made it for this year too. And really, why wouldn’t he prep anyway? If nothing else it also counts as SAT prep, and reviewing math skills and text analysis skills and writing style/grammar points isn’t a waste of time.

    My son is planning to use Khan to prep for next year. He probably will actually do it since he likes using Khan more than he likes doing homework.

  115. When DH and I married 20 years ago, we were both ambivalent about having kids. We’re still child free, and I have zero desire to change our lifestyle at this point.

    DH’s work means that he rarely gets home before 8pm, so most of the caregiving would have fallen on me. I’ll also be frank and say that after DH’s sibling had a special needs kid, it scared the hell out of me. We settled for a cat of the aloof variety.

  116. Well, I guess I mean how much to focus on prep. He is pretty stressed with the HS workload and trying to get his grades above blah level, and I doubt it will be better next year

  117. Last year’s cutoffs aren’t as useful this year as in the past, since this is the first year with the cutoff based on a max score of 228 rather than 240.

    There’s currently a void in information that the College Board has yet to fill, so a lot of people are trying to fill it with speculation, often informed and not unreasonable. Some estimate this year’s cutoffs by subtracting 12 from last years (12 = 240-228), while others just rescale it, similar to converting Fahrenheit to Celsius.

    There’s also been a lot of speculation that the new format test is easier, and thus the cutoff scores will be higher than many of the guesses based on previous years’ cutoffs.

    But Mooshi, I agree with HM, it doesn’t matter for your son whether or not he hit or beat the cutoff. The key point is that he’s in the ballpark and is a clear NMSF candidate for next year. Thus there is a significant potential benefit to test prep beyond just prepping for the SAT, and it behooves him to do some prep.

    You DS’ score projects well above many of the cutoff guesses, but that’s only if the new format wasn’t a lot easier.

  118. Also, if he preps a lot, he might start stressing over the test, which would be bad. It would totally suck if he did worse next year than this year!

  119. Mooshi, I suggest he rest on his laurels for now, and focus on doing well in his classes. He can do prep during the summer.

    Given how well he did this time, I suggest being very picky about any prep class you and he consider. My guess is that many classes will be focused more on kids who have not done as well and have more upside available. Check out the Khan test prep class first, since it’s free and he can drop it if it turns out not to be good use of his time.

    DS chose to self-study, and there are a lot of options available for that. Although he did well as a soph, he had room to improve, and did.

  120. It’s not bragging if you’re asked directly. So I’m asking directly — anybody have good news about their kid and the NMSF sweepstakes?

  121. BTW Mooshi, when does your DS plan to take the SAT? That should be part of your overall plan of prep for both the SAT and PSAT, especially given that after this month, both will be on the same format.

    My suggestion is that he consider taking it next fall, in October or November. That way he can prep this summer for both the SAT and PSAT, and get them both out of the way so he can focus on his classes. He’ll be a junior, so those grades will be the most important for his college applications.

  122. As Finn said, this year with the changes it’s harder to gauge exactly how close your score is to the cut-off. You won’t find out until later in the year, so it can be stressful to wait it out.

    MM, if you son is prone to test anxiety you are right to be concerned that over-prepping could be bad for him.

    A relatively low-stress, tried-and-true way to prep is to do practice tests. Unfortunately, with the new PSAT format I don’t believe there are many actual CollegeBoard tests to use as practice. But others from some of the prep companies can be used. Your school’s guidance counselor may be able to advise on this.

    Congrats, HFN!

  123. Congrats, HfN!!

    RMS, as mentioned earlier, the cutoff projections this year are much more speculative than in the past.

    That said, he beat the cutoff last year, and did better this year. I am very pleased with and proud of the effort he put in.

    I’m waiting to hear which of his friends project to beat the cutoff. Nearly everyone in his class took the SAT last month, and those results were available over the break, so he knows from that that many of his friends project to be at or above the projected cutoff.

  124. I truly do not know how all of you go through this PSAT/SAT/NMSF stuff without becoming raging alcoholics!

    It took six years off my life to get my kid into a high school.

  125. “A relatively low-stress, tried-and-true way to prep is to do practice tests. ”

    I agree. Another low-stress way to prep is the question of the day, especially if you start early. Note to self: perhaps not to early for DD to start this.

    “Unfortunately, with the new PSAT format I don’t believe there are many actual CollegeBoard tests to use as practice.”

    My guess is that by this summer, the College Board and/or Khan Academy will make some SAT practice tests available. I don’t know about PSAT, but my understanding is that the formats will be similar, so prepping for the SAT will also prep for the PSAT.

    For Mooshi in particular, her DS’ score indicates he doesn’t need much, if any prep, to reach the cutoff, so I think it makes sense for him to focus more on the SAT anyway.

  126. “It took six years off my life to get my kid into a high school.”

    Luckily for me, my kids got into a K-12 school at K, so that saved me those years, and afforded me the emotional bandwidth to instead obsess over things like SAT and PSAT.

    Actually, I don’t think I obsess, I’m just being prudent in trying to maximize my kids’ opportunities.

  127. Of course, DS’s score could go down when he takes it for keeps next year. I think I’ll start worrying and drinking now.

  128. BTW Mooshi, from what you’ve posted, I think your DS is much more likely to have his college options limited by his grades than by his SAT (or ACT) scores, in which case he should prioritize his classes over test prep.

    If he’s feeling stressed, perhaps you can reduce that stress level by pointing out that his PSAT results already project him getting very good SAT scores, which might make him feel better about focusing on classes over test prep. It might also provide him with an incentive to do better in his classes, since his scores suggest that he will be able to get into as good a college as his grades will take him.

  129. As Meme pointed out yesterday, the money is small potatoes, especially now, given that the amount has barely increased in 20+ years. But we need something to talk about, unless everyone wants to hear about Baby WCE’s sleepless nights and potty training. :)

  130. But if Mooshi’s son does well on the tests, it’s much easier to convince colleges that his grades are a reflection of the idiocy of the school and/or specific teachers. Hey, I’d buy it.

  131. “Mooshi, I suggest he rest on his laurels for now”

    That Asian parent that Coc posted would have a fit ! Congrats to all that made the cut off, those that were close, those that tried hard, OK – I’ll give everyone a trophy !

  132. WCE, what are you doing, Asian potty training? (I’m not kidding, there is a method used with babies. I’m too lazy for it.)

  133. Way too lazy to have potty trained infants!

    I didn’t want to have kids as a child. Then in high school a younger sibling was born and I fell in absolute love with her, and I realized I wanted to have kids and that part of the experience. We both agreed on the 3 kids, and had no trouble conceiving, which was just phenomenal luck. I sometimes look at the road not travelled and wonder what could have happened had we waited a bit longer, etc., but generally I’m happy with the choices we’ve made.

    And unrelated to yesterday’s discussion, I got my hair cut today and I feel about 1000% better.

  134. Mooshi: I, too, suggest test prep. It was very helpful for DS. It was expensive ($750) but worth the money IMO. DS does a lot of Kahn Academy for other subjects, but sitting in a testing environment, surrounded by other students, and being forced to take the full test several times was a good thing.

  135. I agree that DS’s grades will be the limiting thing, but he doesn’t really need any more incentive to do well in his classes – he is already really, really stressed about his grades. He typically gets A’s in math and science, but had a B- in AP Global, and subsequently dropped to regular history. He also consistently gets a B- in French – just can’t get that grade up. And in ELA, he officially got a D, yes a D, because he didn’t hand in one assignment. As it turned out, he had done the assignment on time and emailed it, but forgot to hand it in. I sent a letter referencing his 504 plan, and the teacher agreed to change the grade but it hasn’t happened yet. Mostly, his grades suffer from a thousand small cuts – wrong format, points taken off because he misplaces things, etc.

    I think the colleges look at GPA much more than tests these days, because they know kids like my son tend to flame out in their first year. And honestly, I am worried about that too.

  136. “the money is small potatoes, especially now, given that the amount has barely increased in 20+ years.”

    The $2500 scholarships are worth less than they used to be, but the value of many awards given by the schools, which are often tied to the cost of tuition, have risen with, well, the cost of tuition.

    For an idea of how significant it can be:

    Many of these are also non-competitive, i.e., if you’re NMF, list that school on your NM paperwork as your top choice, and get accepted to that school, you automatically get the scholarships.

    For schools with Honors Colleges, NMF also often means automatic acceptance into them.

  137. NMSF–sometime this spring, the state reports will come out. In the past, you could figure out cut offs from this. The reports will show if something unusual happened in a state–like an extraordinary number of high scorers that throws off the past years’ scores and predictions.
    It will be all over College Confidential when it happens.

  138. On the old 1600 scale, test prep (and one year of school) helped me up my score somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 points. (Too long ago to remember exact points!) I was always a good test taker, but the sheer…. randomness? uselessness?… magnitude of what the SAT verbal covered, for example, meant that strategies on guessing and choosing well were really helpful. In school I tended to learn the material. SAT was about playing the game, and the tips helped me more than folks here seem to think they would.

  139. FWIW, comparing to last year’s numbers my son’s score was below the cutoff for our state, but not by too much, so he’s within striking range for next year when he’s a junior. He messed up on math by getting too deep into an early problem and not noticing how much time had passed, as a result leaving some uncompleted. Hopefully he’ll remember that and keep an eye on his watch next year.

  140. One tip I can pass on for the new PSAT and SAT: Make sure to answer every question.

    The College Board made a big deal that the new format no longer penalizes wrong answers, but that’s not really correct. The old format was guessing-agnostic; if you were truly guessing randomly, on a probabalistic basis, whether or not you guessed would not affect your score. They did this, very elegantly IMO, by assessing a penalty for a wrong answer that was exactly equal to the expected value of a random guess had the penalty not been in place.

    So what they’ve done by ‘eliminating the guessing penalty’ is instituted a penalty for not guessing.

    One of the things the CB supposedly was trying to do with the new format was reduce the advantage provided by test prep, but this is one case in which they clearly created an advantage for those who know about this going in over those who don’t, as compared to not having either an advantage or a disadvantage with the old format.

  141. HM, I think i was typing as you were posting, but my 6:27 goes exactly to your DS’ experience.

  142. 16. Is having children on your priority list?
    “I’m not going to answer that question. I’m not mad at you for asking that question, but I’ve said it before: I don’t think people ask men those questions.” —Zooey Deschanel, Marie Claire, September 2013

    Jennifer Garner has commented many times about how nobody asks Ben Affleck how he balances working with being a father.

  143. LAGirl, making friends isn’t any easier when you have kids. Yes, you meet the parents of the other kids, but then it’s very difficult to actually get together outside of the sports and other activities. Here’s a great example: I’m pretty friendly with the dad of one of DD’s softball teammates. When I graduated last spring, I had a party and invited all the families on the team. They couldn’t make it but he said “let’s go out for a beer to celebrate.” This was in May. We finally had the beers in October. It wasn’t for a lack of trying, we just couldn’t coordinate our schedules around all the kid stuff, summer plans, work schedules, etc.

  144. LAGirl, if you’re still around, I’ve thought about you a lot lately and missed you. We have finally scheduled our long-planned trip to southern California and I’m kind of eager.

    But I’m not looking forward to the drive with my children.

  145. My friend is sill waiting for her DD’s scores because the principal sent this to the parents in the HS:

    We have not received the PSAT score reports from The College Board. Our counselors have been contacting The College Board on a daily basis asking for assistance and answers. We have learned that we are one of many schools across the country facing this situation as a result of The College Board’s transition to electronic delivery of score reports.

  146. WCE: I’m here- work crisis. I would love to meet you when you come to socal but feel free to reach out to me with any questions. lagirl02 at gmail

  147. Mooshi, can’t you look at the percentiles for his scores and make an assessment from there? That would seem to give you a pretty good idea.

    Congrats to those whose kids are at/close to the cut! My son was not high enough, but we are actually delighted with his scores. I think the big improvements in his overall anxiety showed up in these scores. His school hadn’t shared them with the students, so I showed them to him last night, and he is much more motivated now for the SAT Math class he has to take at school in addition to regular math class. I think they’re just using Khan Academy, but it will make them all do it for 45 minutes three times a week. A&M has automatic admission for top 10%, which my son is not, and also for top 25% with a 1300 SAT, which he may be able to do. It won’t bring scholarship money, but gives him something to shoot for.

  148. Congratulations to all students who are enjoying success. I am issuing a blanket edict calling forball future good news to be announced here with no possibility of being labelled a bragger.

  149. @ Lemon – on baby potty training. In the home country training babies as soon as they can sit is common. There were no problems with constipation, accidents etc in all the babies/young kids I knew. There was only one bed wetting kid, I knew of. I would strongly argue that the issues that doctor is seeing in young kids is due to lack of fiber in their diet and not drinking an adequate amount of water, not early potty training.

  150. I have a theory about NMF qualifiers based on casual observation. I don’t think most of them do much test prep. They have been “preparing” most of their academic careers for this test, and a bit of test practice is the extent of their actual preparation during the months/year leading up to the test. Maybe this is less true today when almost all students are pressured to do formal test prep, but I doubt it. I’ve never seen any reporting on this.

  151. I was NMF. I don’t think I did any test prep for the PSAT – I don’t even think I realized I was supposed to take it – the school herded us all into a room and told us to take it. But I did do informal test prep for the SAT and ACT, which was very unusual for my time and high school. I worked through a couple of those Barron’s books.

  152. DSS was NMF, and he didn’t do any test prep other than what was offered at his mainstream public high school. I wouldn’t put it past him to have done some practice problems online and not tell anyone, though.

  153. @WCE – the entire department thanks you for bringing that to our attention. And its not a teratoma – they can have teeth like material, but not a jaw, at least not in my experience.

  154. OT, has anyone used a car buying service like Costco or Truecar with a trade in?

    Obviously if we push the price on the new car down using a service, they will try to make it up on the trade in or the financing charges.

    Any tips?

  155. Did y’all watch “Making a Murderer” on Netflix ? I heard lots of buzz, with people watching over the holidays.

  156. We’re in the middle of watching it now, Louise. It’s pretty interesting, if you like true crime and legal stuff. I’m amused to hear the whole world suddenly start sounding a bit like defense attorneys, but I think it’s a good thing to critically examine how our system works. This isn’t that, but if it makes people curious, that is generally a good thing.

  157. MM’s comment about 3 kids not being 3 x the work of one kid has been nagging at me. There definitely is an economy of scale with more kids, but you have no increase in time/attention available. I might have 6 discretionary hours on a given day, not sleeping/commuting/working. When I had 1 kid, direct care occupied 2-3 of those hours (maybe he was sleeping the other hours). With two kids, maybe 4.5 hours were hands on. With 3, 5 hours a day (separate from what a partner or child care provider is doing). That suddenly means that I went from 4 hours of discretionary time with one kid to 1 hour with three kids. I may be able to bathe more than one kid at a time, but one stays up later, one gets up earlier, etc…

  158. Anon, I give it ten years until she writes the next click bait screed, titled “I thought I hated kids, but now I’m desperate for a baby – why doesn’t my health insurance cover unlimited IVF?”

  159. Sky we used Costco to buy our minivan and the dealer did offer a not great price for the trade in but we just went to Carmax and got their estimate for a trade in and the dealer matched that.

  160. I don’t understand why it is so permissible to state that you hate children. It isn’t just here, but all over the place. Look at the comments after any article on the difficulties of flying with kids. The kid haters come out of the woodwork. Childhood is just a stage of life. We all were kids once. Would we be OK with an article titled “I hate elderly people”?

  161. We tried Costco, but they did not cover any dealers in our area for the car we wanted. We got a fairly good deal negotiating directly via e-mail.

  162. I don’t understand why it is so permissible to state that you hate children

    It isn’t. That’s why she chose this topic when her editor asked for a super clickbaity article.

  163. It’s not that shocking of an article considering the source. Salon is almost all angry, bitter women.

  164. Well, again, read the comments section on any newspaper article that mentions flying with kids, or kids in restaurants, or family friendly policies in workplaces, and you will see piles of this kind of thing. Parents are called breeders, kids are called spawn. I doubt most of those commenters would use the same kinds of vitiolic terms if responding to an article on say giving extra time to elderly people in crosswalks,

  165. I doubt most of those commenters would use the same kinds of vitiolic terms if responding to an article on say giving extra time to elderly people in crosswalks,

    I don’t. I’m going with they are equal opportunity misanthropes.

  166. Re – PSAT. I was looking at DD#1 score’s last night, on the college board site. She took the test last year as a freshman and this year as a sophomore. When they convert your score to the 200 point scale, she did 2 points better this year than last. Given projections on our state’s cutoff under the new system she is anywhere from 2 to 18 points below – the various projections for my state are 16 points apart. So, as you say, until the College Board releases the cutoffs, we won’t really know.

    She will be doing some test prep over the summer. She does not freak out about tests, but sometimes the way the question is presented is what fouls her up. Like others, she is likely in striking distance, so putting out the effort is likely worth it. As someone else said, it is the same as SAT prep, so why not.

  167. Sky
    My experience is that assuming you want to get the best price for a car and are willing to do some legwork (not negotiating, but you can do that, too) for the price of the car what you see on truecar etc is the starting (HIGHEST) price for the discussions, since anyone can get that price. Right? And the dealer has to pay a fee to truecar for the referral, so not having to do that saves them some $$.

    As I’ve written here before, first line up your best financing independently from your bank or credit union. And be sure to tell the dealer, since they will always ask, that you’ll discuss financing if you end up buying a car from them.
    Then decide what you want, call a few dealers within the distance you are willing to drive to buy the car, tell them you are offering them the opportunity to give you their best quote for your business and that you’re asking several other dealers for the same. Be clear you’ll buy a car by X date (preferably something like “this week”). Gather the quotes and tell all who are not the lowest what your lowest is and give them one chance to beat it. Total of about 10-15 phone calls and you’ll get a good deal.
    Then, if you want to do a trade in with them, ask them for their number on the trade in. Or you can get a pretty fair number from CarMax if you have one in your area in about 30min and be done easily.
    Financing: now when they ask about that, say you’ll be happy to go with them if they can beat your bank/CU deal. You can even tell them what it is, maybe knocking 1/4 pt off the rate just to be sure you actually get a better deal. Sometimes there are incentives for them that you can leverage into a better rate / lower price if you finance thru them.

    Good Luck! Happy to discuss further if you want; CoC has my contact info.

  168. @WCE – That custody story is horrifying! I am actually liking my custody arrangement because I now have designated dates when I can plan to do whatever I want without having to clear it with someone else. I had social/community service activities every night last week! And it will be really nice in a few more years when she can be home alone for a couple hours if I have an evening meeting or something.

  169. “Look at the comments after any article on the difficulties of flying with kids. ”

    My perception is that many of the negative comments aren’t directed directly at the kids as much as their parents for not controlling their kids better. E.g., the person sitting in front of a kid should not have to tell the kid to not kick his or her seat; the parent should be doing that.

  170. I think there are plenty of people who recline for the duration of the flight and then, if there are kids behind, assume the bumps and jostling that are the natural result of the people in back having such a confined space are actually a kid kicking the seat. I once had a guy screaming at my two year old that he’d been kicking the seat for the whole time — and I was the one who’d been sitting behind him till five minutes previously when I switched temporarily with the two year old. I was even perched in a carseat at the time he turned around. I swear I hadn’t been kicking his seat!

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