BABY OFF BOARD

BABY OFF BOARD -

Things in Common: Coloring

by Aurora Bordeaux

zombie teddy bearRecently, I spent time with my darling little niece and nephew at their house. (Plus my youngest niece crawling under the table who I accidentally stepped on. She didn’t even seem to notice; being the third child is rough.) As a childfree woman, I often get confused and disoriented when playing with children because their games don’t always follow a discernible plot. Plus I got in trouble with my sister-in-law one Thanksgiving for taking the game to new and evidently unsavory heights…

Here’s what happened: The kids and I were playing cars, then it became cop cars, then it became a zombie outbreak that involved green-eyed deer and launching a huge teddy bear down a long flight of stairs multiple times. Problem was, the contaminated bear kept coming back to life, so we had to keep throwing it down the stairs (letting it roam free would have been irresponsible). Leading the game into dark territory may not be my proudest moment as an aunt, but it was lots of fun, and the kids liked the zombie romp so much they still talk about it. I guess Presbyterian households don’t play zombie often and they got a taste of something they liked. Oops.

When I was invited over to help prep for my niece’s birthday party, I was so glad my sister-in-law wasn’t still miffed about the zombie episode that I was ready to be her full fledged birthday party bitch. Harrowing interactions with swarms of children aside, being asked to help plan a birthday party is fantastic because I love arts and crafts. I mean, effing love them. (I recently read the Brick Bible’s Revelations chapter, and it terrified me, so I’m trying to eliminate foul language or at least save it for special occasions. It’s not going well.)

zombie bear

Prep for party decor didn’t take as long as my SIL anticipated, and she seemed open to me hanging out until the kids came home from school. I was cool with that—I like these kids. After we picked them up from the bus stop and they took their shoes and socks off and went through the entire contents of their backpacks, we sat down to color. And that’s when I remembered something I had completely forgotten: I love coloring.

There is something so absolutely zen about washing coats of color over paper, filling in lines that were meant to be there, and ending up with something that, though it is mass produced, is completely yours in every way. I am obsessed with color and doodling is like taking a bath in it. Coloring is all about making choices that don’t have dire consequences while having a chat, listening to a book, or just letting your mind flatline. Meanwhile, you watch an empty image mutate into something lovely.

So as an aunt, I figured enjoying coloring with the kids couldn’t go wrong. And yet, after not too much time and despite my solemn promise to myself that I would be on my best behavior, I appear to have taught the children naughty tricks all over again. I drew a mustache on an evil character in the Disney coloring book, and the children were aghast. How could I so deface the image? Didn’t I know I was just supposed to fill in the blanks?

adult coloring

“It’s okay because Jafar is evil, see?” I said. They chewed on this, and agreed that Jafar was indeed evil. “Watch.” I drew lightning bolt eyebrows, a curly beard, black fingernails, chunky jewelry, and a big clock necklace. That got them giggling.

I got up from the table to help with more party prep, and when I came back, I noticed more of the characters were sporting mustaches, although the kids had drawn them upside-down because they were new to defacement. There were pages and pages and pages of mustaches. Next to a fat facial-haired bear from Robin Hood, one of them had scrawled “I’m a girl” in hot pink.

“Did you write that?” I asked, aghast. Who were these little churchlings turned urchlings?

“Yeah,” their shoulders sloped and they covered their mouths to mask the giggles.

Like I said, I effing love these kids.

adults who love to color

PS, If you want to color along with ‘Ole Bordeaux, here are the coloring themed gifts I gave myself for the holidays. I am having a giggle of a good time working my way through them! I spent eons researching these and am tickled with my choices.

If you have a favorite coloring book and want to share it with fellow adults who love to color, leave a comment! I’m going to be through with these books soon and I’d love recs.

I’m the Only One in the House Who Isn’t “Fixed”

by Aurora Bordeaux

birth control baconOur Labradoodle, Charminator, was spayed recently, making me the only person in our condo who isn’t fixed.

Bosco is fixed. Charminator is fixed. The Hubs is fixed.

I feel a little left out, sure, but not enough to fork over thousands for an invasive surgery that insurance won’t cover. Plus, I still heart my quarterly birth control, nevermind the incredible skin clearing properties. My bacon (adapted from the abbreviation “b-con” that I use in my daily phone alarm) and I are in it for the long haul. Bacon bacon bacon!

The Hubs said I need to start mixing in some shorter posts since the long ones take awhile to put together, so since it’s Thanksgiving this week in the U.S.A. and we are gearing up for some major in-law time, here’s a poem instead of a longer eulogy of three fourths of our family’s reproductive skills. It was supposed to be a haiku, but I decided to give up counting syllables and drink box wine instead.

      Three Out of Four      

      Everybody’s fixed

      except me

      …

      Good enough.

Happy Thanksgiving to all the wide and wonderful world!

Love,

Aurora

Do You Celebrate the Anniversary of Your Sterilization?

by Aurora Bordeaux

disney childfree vacationLately, I’ve been thinking about the approaching first anniversary of the Hubs’s vasectomy. It was a major day in the history of our childfree freedom, but it’s a day I never really thought about celebrating. I mean, isn’t it weird to celebrate a surgery? Yuck!

But then our good friends from our old city, Allie and Billy, told us they were getting a vasectomy, too. We were giddy, not just because we finally had offline friends who were officially childfree like we were, but because we were delighted they had made a huge choice about their future. I felt that it should be celebrated in the same way a pregnancy announcement should be celebrated. I sent them a cutesy baby card, crossing out the “baby” in “congratulations on your baby” and writing “vasectomy” in red permanent marker. Inside, I listed a few of the awesome things they had to look forward to as childfree folk. They loved it.

childfree disney vacations

Instead of a shower gift, I told them once Billy was feeling better, or whenever we saw them next because we moved away, we wanted to take them out to dinner to celebrate.

It makes me so happy to feel like we have a little bro and sis in the unofficial childfree fraternity. And it does feel like a fraternity, because even though we can be candid with Allie and Billy other, our official status is private from the world at large. People online congratulated us when the Hubs was sterilized and that meant the world—it really did and still does—but it’s so cool to be able to do that for someone in offline life. To treat their decision with the same level of celebration we would if they had chosen to have a child. I really think rooting for them made their experience different. Isn’t life better when you have a few cheerleaders?

mickey and minnie childfreeI texted Allie on the day of Billy’s procedure to say “happy baby-free birthday!” and realized that maybe there’s something to that idea. I later spent 45 minutes on the phone with her so she wouldn’t be alone in the waiting room. I have never been more honored to be there for someone, especially since when the Hubs had his procedure done, nobody was there to hold my hand. Yes, the decision to have a procedure causes butterflies, but all said and done, I wanted to help Allie feel like it really was something to celebrate. And it was.

As childfree people, we don’t celebrate kid birthdays, but since I love holidays and celebrations, maybe I should start celebrating the day we became a childfree couple. Or, if not the day of the surgery because it feels a bit morose, just pick a random day and pretend it’s the day we decided, then start some traditions to go along with it. (“How are we celebrating tonight, Brain? The same way we do every night, Pinky–by getting takeout and streaming Netflix.”) Who cares, I just like holidays, and you can’t have too many.

Then again, I have to be honest—celebrating a specific day feels a little superfluous, since every day is seriously a celebration. And I’m not kidding. We love our lives that much.

childfree disney

A personal holiday honoring our non-parenthood makes sense, after all. There’s a Mother’s Day and a Father’s Day, so why not a ChildFreedom Day? (If you have a better idea for the name of this new holiday, please, please leave a comment!)

So, fellow childfree by choice adults, do you celebrate the anniversary of the day you officially joined the childfree club, or the day you medically said c’est la vie to your ability to procreate?

Update: Now that Allie and Billy have gone through their vasectomy, we have all decided to skedattle off to Disney as a Fearsome Foursome next year. We are celebrating milestone wedding anniversaries, milestone birthdays (30 is coming up, Aurora!), and our milestone decisions to be childfree. Now that I think of it, were Mickey and Minnie childfree, too? Mind. Just. Blown.

Childfree Couple Friends: We Got One!

by Aurora Bordeaux

childfree cheersFolks, I am bursting with excitement because today is a special day in the lives of our very best couple friends, Allie and Billy. Today is the day Billy gets snipped.

It’s weird to feel excited that a doctor is going to be rummaging around in your friend’s balls, but that glaring statement aside, I choose to turn a blind eye to the ooey gooey of it and focus on the main fact: We finally have offline childfree friends.

I’ve blogged about our lack of childfree friends before. We just couldn’t find any, and every time we thought we had found someone who chose to be in the same boat, they popped out a baby. We were thrilled for these people in the way we will always be happy when friends get what they want out of life, but facts are facts, and in modern American culture, parents generally dump friends-without-kids in less than a year and a half after their child’s birth date.  Think I’m being harsh? This professional confessional from a parent backs me up.

One beloved couple even went so far as to make it to their 40th birthdays before going baby bananas out of the clear blue sky, pushing their bodies past  the limits of health and wellness for years until they had In Vitro twins. Now that the twins are here, in my mother friend’s own words, she is pretty much drowning. She’s sailing on another course now, and I can visit, but she can’t look back. Her time is spent keeping the kids alive. Mine is evidently spent blogging about it.

how i met your mother childfree

So anyway, after years of making friends who said they didn’t want kids and then had twins, we couldn’t believe it when Allie and Billy broke the news they were making their childfree status official. They said “childless” because they didn’t know they’d just joined an international secret society, but little did they know they were in the best of hands. After all, I, Aurora Bordeaux, am apparently a global voice in the childfree movement. Lucky them! Lucky me!

Oddest of all, these nice folks were our nearby neighbors back in the suburbs. We never would have met if we hadn’t attended one of those lame-o community meetings where people bitch about other people not mowing the lawns, and suddenly, there Allie and Billy were. We instantly bonded over a shared weakness for Indian food and the fact that we didn’t have kids. But most friends always started out that way, then two years later—bam—kids.

Allie and I had more and more in common the more we got to know each other, and I really liked her. We found we could share truthful thoughts the way we just couldn’t seem to with other people. So, gradually, I began to make it more clear that our no-kid status was the real deal. And she, gradually, began to share her conflicts about what she really wanted for the future of her family. She was the second of only two living souls I ever told about the Hub’s vasectomy.

childfree winner

Over the winter and spring, Allie and I spent a lot of time talking about being childfree. The poor gal was at war with herself. Billy had become clear about not wanting children, but Allie was on the fence. It was almost obvious from the outside that she didn’t actually want kids, but the shadow of needing to please others was obscuring her view of her own desires. She was scared of regret, she was scared of letting her parents down, and she was going through the same cycle of self torture I put myself through when I was “trying to decide” but felt obligated to second guess myself.

I didn’t tell Allie what to do, I just advised her to stop thinking about other people—her parents, her family, her husband—and ask herself what she wanted. I made it clear that I would support her whatever she chose, and I meant it. If she could silence the other voices in her mind and make it only about herself, what would she choose?

Four weeks later, the day she and Billy helped us load our moving truck, Allie told me that Billy had made an appointment to get snipped. She was happy. Really, truly happy.

childfree lifestyle

I was overjoyed, but not just because we finally had officially childfree couple friends. It’s because Allie had made a decision and was at peace with herself.

I’d like to wish Allie and Billy a very happy baby-free birthday, even though they don’t know I have this blog. To Allie and Billy: We wish you a quick procedure, a speedy recovery, and a blessed life of childfree bliss. Even though you don’t know the childfree club is out there yet, well, welcome to the club.

Homecoming: The Aftermath

by Aurora Bordeaux

childfree babysittingRemember how I was recently nervous about attending my university homecoming? Well, turns out I had nothing to fear outside the regular introverted terror of cocktail parties. I was all twisted up about what people might think about me since people at our hoity-toity school were always so dang judgy, but the second we hit the tent I realized everyone there was so busy projecting their own images of awesomeness that no one was thinking about us. It was perfect.

We enjoyed connecting with a few quality friends from the old life, since the gathering drew a handful of people we wouldn’t get to see otherwise. Some of our friends have generated some pretty adorable children, and we enjoyed hanging out with them, too. One of my favorite kids, Cori, could be my tiny doppleganger; I had fun wheeling her around for twenty minutes since everyone assumed she was mine and ooo-ed and aww-ed (plus it gave her mother, one of my all time favorite people, a breather).

childfree cosbyGoing back to school reminded me that, even as a student, I was always friends with the oldest people in the room. During Homecoming, former professors were the folks I most wanted to sit down and catch up with. I remembered the dining hall staff and they seemed to remember me. All in all, I only really knew a few fellow students at the reunion shindigs since it wasn’t a big gathering year for my class, and that made it easy to focus on Priority One: Eating our prepaid ticket’s worth.

Seeing the expertly manicured campus was also nice, but after the novelty of returning to an old haunt wore off, I began to feel an itchiness to keep moving forward and never look back. Over the last two years of deciding to become officially childfree, changing my name, and moving to a new city, I have learned the value of forward motion. I want to look back where and when it matters, but I can’t get stuck or let the view of the past morph into one seen via rose colored glasses. Guru Aurora says choose to see the good, stop regretting the bad, learn what you can, and move on.

That’s part of why I think I enjoyed my friends’ kids so much. They are completely new people who take you at face value. They also helped us make brand new memories on campus, two of which I will share with you.

April, Age 2, Apparently Knows Who I Am

college homecoming with children

The Hubs and I spent an entire Saturday morning putting together gifts for the kids, which was harder than I thought because I had to Google “gifts for 2 year olds,” then was horrified by the mostly $80 price tags, then had to Google “CHEAP gifts for 2 year olds.” We ended up with play doh, coloring books, stickers, crayons, and homemade, hand-stamped wrapping paper. Note: Never bother to make special wrapping paper for children. They don’t know how much time it took, and the parents are too tired to notice.

My friend Elise, her sweet husband, and their tiny April make a cute crowd, and I was really happy they’d all found each other. When I handed over the gift to Elise’s little girl, I didn’t get much of a reaction. Then again, April was pretty pooped from long travels to campus. I also had to remind myself that two-year olds aren’t always particularly interested in other people. She mostly just sort of sat there with her mouth open and ignored the Hubs and I, but she liked the stickers.

Later that evening, we bumped into the family again outside Pizza Hut where the Hubs and I were scrounging up a hot meal. We chatted for a bit, and April didn’t make a peep. They moseyed on their way through the increasing cold, and as they strode down the street, April said: “What are Aurora and That Man doing?”

That’s right, folks. She knew my name, but the Hubs just got “That Man.” Aurora for the win!

Introvert in Miniature Screams What We Are All Thinking

pickpocket child

My other friend’s four-year-old, Cori, could just as easily be mine based on our mirror image coloring. She is a funny kid and fascinating creature. Cori was born with an innate power and pseudo radioactive energy that, if harnessed properly, could one day turn her into the President of the United States. I am not kidding.

But, being only four, Cori still struggles with limitations including height, a slim vocabulary, and inability to drive a car. After a long night and longer day of reunion hubbub and touring the campus where Mommy and Daddy met, Cori had about enough. It was nippy out, it was getting dark, there were too many people trying to make a big deal about her, and the picnic dinner was stone cold. When she was on the verge of a meltdown, I asked Cori if she wanted to take a walk and she hopped up and grabbed my hand (she turned out to be the Patient Zero in the nasty cold I caught, oh well). We milled around, made chitchat about Halloween costumes near the fire pit, and touched just about everything in the campus book store (hope all future shoppers use their Purel!).

When we circled back to Mom and Dad, Cori hit another wall. She wanted to go back to the hotel, but Mom and Dad were still busy talking. Cori stood her ground, concentrated power brewing behind her crystalline eyes like Storm in X-Men. Then Cori went ka-boom.

Hands shoved deep in her coat pockets, she did an outrageous jig in all directions, looking for all the world like an erratic baby bird trying to flop home. “I have to go back to the hotel now, I just don’t know which way to go!” she wailed.

Amen, Cori. Amen. We followed her instincts to hit the road and drove all the way home that night rather than crash in the creepy campus hotel again. Given that the mattresses were all covered in plastic and it smelled like a dingy retirement facility, we didn’t want to press our luck sleeping there another night. Can ghosts murder people? You won’t find out from me, I’m too smart to give them the chance.