24 August, 2020

Being thankful for connections

I’m thinking it is time to post some positive things about my life, without children. So today, I’m just going to talk briefly about connections.

The first is to thank you all. I’ve made friends blogging here, and on my ectopic site. I often talk about it, but I love it when we cross the barrier from only chatting on No Kidding topics, to being involved (however distantly) in each other’s lives. Sharing book or Netflix recommendations or bread recipes (thanks Klara!), dropping a note to a friend, or meeting each other in real life or real time (eg zoom/Skype/facetime), having already known each other for years. I’ve said many times that internet relationships are real, and I’m grateful for them. It’s a gift that I talk about a lot, but I continue to value you all, and feel the need to express that again today.

Moving on though, I find that as we grow older, we aren’t the outliers in the same way. Many of my friends now have children who are adults and have left home. They have so much more time to spend with us. We are all free and easy (elderly relatives excepting) together. An example was this last weekend, when my husband and I went over the hill (some might say we’re already there! Lol) and spent the night at my friend’s house. We had a lovely catch-up, went out for dinner and a movie (socially distanced), and ended the evening chatting around a fire under a big, starry sky. Their kids are grown, and we chatted about them (my husband actually helped out her son when he joined the same industry years ago) but they were not the focus of their world any more.

Over breakfast the next morning, we got talking about the human need to find meaning in life. Unlike some parents, they did not feel that it was their meaning in life to have children. (Even though they were both devoted parents.) We talked about the need to connect with other humans. At times in our lives it might be harder to do that, when we find many of those people we are around are focused on their children, or when we need support in our later years (and I’ll have more to say about that in due course). But in between, it definitely gets easier, the world feels a bit more inclusive, and there is much fun to be had.

If you’re just starting out in this journey, or if you’re surrounded by people having children right now, know that you’ll find your connections, in real life and online. And it gets easier.




17 August, 2020

Monday Miscellany: No Kidding style

I thought today would be a good day for miscellany! Warning: New baby mentioned,

Over the lockdown, I had this moment of inspiration, and was struck with a perfect analogy with the pandemic and being childless or infertile. Such genius! But when I finally sat at the computer, it had vanished, even though the victorious feeling of inspiration had not. I hope one day that it will return. And in the meantime, I have to laugh at my presumption about the sheer brilliance of my too-fleeting idea!

Last week, we managed to get my father-in-law into our rest home of choice. Unfortunately, it was the same day that rest homes throughout New Zealand went into lockdown, so although my husband was at least able to spend time with him there (strictly speaking, against the rules) to settle him in, we are now not allowed to visit him. There’s a lot we still need to get sorted – like transferring his phone number, setting up his in-room device for Zoom calls to his other children, etc. It’s harder when we’re not right there to do it, even though we are only five minutes away. I feel for him, of course. He’s known for 18 months it was coming, but we never thought we wouldn’t be able to visit. Still, at least he is safe and has people around him looking after him. That is, to be honest, a huge relief to us, and I suspect, even for him. We now know we can travel further from home, or even freely drink at night, without being called to check him after a fall, etc. Our stomachs don’t sink in dread every time we get a phone call.

My niece in Australia had a baby just a few days ago. She has PCOS, and was told at about 18 that she might not be able to have children, so I’m delighted for her. After two generations of girls, her son now joins a whole generation of boys! So I have a fourth great-nephew. I did some knitting for him – a fluffy bunny – which is about the first thing I’ve knitted in 25 years! As Infertile Phoenix wrote last week, as time goes by, and as I have (long) passed the stage of wanting a baby, I no longer flinch at the news, and I am free to be happy for my niece, and to love this new member of our family. Sadly for her, because of this pandemic none of her family can be there to help after a necessary C-section. Including me. So she’s feeling isolated. And I feel old, as she was a three-week-old baby herself at my wedding!

As I wrote elsewhere, I’ve decided to let my dye grow out and my grey/silver/white colours (I have many shades of grey on my head) show through. It’s odd, because although I had begun thinking about when I might feel I have to stop colouring, I had not been actively considering doing it until our COVID lockdown in April. But all of a sudden, as I saw the grey coming through, I liked the idea of letting it take over. I feel surprisingly zen about it. I like the feeling of being natural. I feel confident with it. I am going to own it! It reminds me of how I started feeling when I realised that I had accepted the fact I would never have children, and learned to love my No Kidding life. A feeling of freedom, liberation, confidence, and authenticity.


Add caption

11 August, 2020

Ten Ways the Childless Limit their Environmental Impact

Consistently ignored as an idea, having fewer children is the single best way to reduce an individual’s carbon footprint, as a reduction of just one child would save a family an average of 58 tonnes of CO2-equivalent emissions per year. This isn’t a new topic here. But I guess I’m still smarting from some friends' assumption last year that I didn’t care about the environment or the future, rather than the fact that I had a much lower carbon footprint because I didn’t have children. So I thought I’d document some reasons why my footprint is smaller as a result of not having children.

1.   I have never purchased baby wipes or nappies (diapers) or a myriad of other plastics that are necessary baby accoutrements, and I have not sent them to the landfill. 

2.       I don’t have the same food requirements or food waste that I might have if I had children, particularly fussy children. 

3.       I’ve never purchased or made new clothes and shoes for growing children every year, or had to provide school supplies. 

4.       The sheer number of brightly-coloured plastic toys or electronics that I have seen in the houses of friends and family members is mind-boggling. Sure, some of them might be passed on, but the broken, faded, left out in the rain, and simply unloved toys all go to the landfill. 

5.       Housing. We can have smaller houses (yes, I have a three bedroom house, but we thought we were going to have kids when we bought it, and will eventually down-size). We also don’t create a need for new houses. I look at my in-laws – with four children, and now grand-children leaving home, from the demand for one house, they have now produced the need for up to 12 houses to accommodate. As available and affordable housing is a major issue here in New Zealand, it is both an environmental AND social issue. 

6.       Our overall water and energy living requirements are so much lower. We don’t need to run the washing machines or dishwashers as often, we don’t have the same hot water needs to shower a family of four or five, we don’t have so many lights on at night or need to heat (or cool) as many rooms or cook as many meals, or run as many screens/devices as a family with children. 

7.       Our transport footprints are generally so much lower. There’s less of a reason to have multiple cars per family. Two cars is quite common, one to use to drive the kids around, and one to get to-from work. Then the children begin driving, and they often get cars too. We don’t drive kids around transporting them to activities (and have either shared cars or taken buses to work). I remember one of my sisters-in-law commenting that she was driving hours a day delivering children to/from sports. The environmental impact of that is so much higher than my occasional foray out to a park for a walk or to take photographs. We also don’t need to travel at peak time or have as many deadlines (sports games, music/art lessons etc), using more fuel. 

8.       Celebrations (for example, Christmas, birthdays, baptisms, graduations, etc) waste and detritus. Anyone at a family Christmas just needs to look around the room after the present-opening part of the day to think about the waste involved. The gifts themselves, the plastic packaging, the transport miles to both send gifts or to be there in person. 

9.       Air travel for necessary events. Even with the stereotype of a childless couple travelling the world (pandemics not withstanding), my travel footprint is much lower than my friends and family who have children. Whenever family events (weddings, funerals etc) or simple visits to siblings or grandparents require travel, a family is going to double or triple the carbon emissions by bringing their children. And of course they will bring their children. For example, my brother-in-law flew his three children and his wife back to New Zealand for his mother’s funeral service. That’s a perfect reasonable thing to do. They then came back a couple of months later to spend Christmas with his father. Again, a perfectly reasonable and decent thing to do. But that’s a lot of emissions in a short time. Friends travel with their children, both to see the world (as we do) and to visit families who are so often far-flung these days. But they buy four or more plane tickets rather than the two we might purchase. 

10.    Air Travel for leisure. Yes, families with children might travel less often than those of us without, simply because of the expense of transporting four or five or six people over one or two. But in my social group, they don’t seem to hold back. However, because they need to adhere to school holiday dates, they will tend to take shorter holidays more frequently, even if those holidays are simply necessary visits to family/ageing grandparents or great-grandparents. Depending which country you live in, this can be accentuated. (I’m always amazed at the limited annual leave provisions of the US, and the fact that people there might fly to Europe for just a week or ten days.) Whereas we don’t have to travel at peak times, and we can go for longer trips. We’ve always saved up our annual leave, and ensured that when we take a long plane trip (to Asia or Europe), we end up spending longer, making the most out of our long haul carbon miles. Over the last ten years, our trips to Europe and the Middle East would not have been possible with children. We would have had to take multiple shorter trips, as our friends do. Likewise, within New Zealand or Australia, we are much more likely to drive than fly. Or within Europe, we are much more likely to drive or take trains between destinations, rather than fly. But a road-trip with children might not be as easy, or as much fun. (Though that said, flying with children would be no joke either!)

 So even as I try to reduce my emissions, and endeavour to become more conscious, I (and you) can still be a little smug knowing that I have helped limit my impact on the environment and climate change.




03 August, 2020

End of life wishes

Once again, I’m thinking about the issues of ageing without children, almost certainly because my 91-year-old father-in-law is in hospital. In the last year we’ve had to spend a lot of time helping him out. But we’ve been incredibly lucky to have a lot of assistance in the form of free in-home visitation care provided by our public health system. At first he was getting one visit a day, then for almost a full year he had two regular visits every day (morning and afternoon), and in recent weeks, three visits a day, plus a cleaning service every two weeks.

 But it had become clear that he couldn’t cope at home on his own, even with the extensive help my husband has provided him, and so we set about trying to get him into a care home. But of course, life laughed at those plans, and he’s in now hospital, with a sudden cognitive decline, so the place we had arranged for him may not now be the right place. His wish, of course, was that he wanted to die at his home, the house that he built, where he raised his four sons, and has spent his 30 years of retirement. We warned him that it was unlikely to happen, but as usual, it never seemed to register until it became too late. In reality, it just doesn’t work out that way for the majority of people, but few will acknowledge that in advance. I know it’s what we would all like. But dying at home is a wish, not a plan!

But as we know, plans don’t always work out either. Sigh. Once again, it reminds me that we will not have someone to advocate for us in the same way, so I’m thinking about doing some more writing along this topic. Consider this a teaser, and watch this space.