What—You Want My Ball, Too?

by Aurora Bordeaux

Recently, a couple at a Rangers baseball game caught a lot of flack after catching a stray ball and not giving it to a sobbing toddler sitting next to them. The Internet is reaming these folks, and while I admit that they do sort of look like jerks in the footage as they ignore the crying kid next to them, I’m still on their side. 100%.

Why do we have to constantly cater to children, always bending over backwards to avoid smashing their tiny feelings? Is it because they’re new to the planet? I understand why parents would need to coddle and cater to their babes—I bend over backwards for my perfect Labradoodle, Bosco—but what makes the world at large responsible for every new person’s constant happiness?

The real world doesn’t work like that when you’re new at something. When you start a new job, move to a new city, or are a freshman in anything, things are hard. You have to work to earn people’s respect, and no one is going to coddle you. In the real world, there is no second baseball just because you cry.

If a 30-year old started sobbing, he would be the target of the world’s jeers, not the other way around. These people seemed to have caught the ball fair in square. Maybe if the kid’s dad didn’t have an armful of child at that particular moment, he would have snagged the ball first.

Worst of all, the kid learned that sobbing on television gets the world to give you exactly what you want. A magical second ball appeared from the dugout, just to appease the tortured babe. The kneejerk part of me goes “aww,” I guess that’s nice, but another part of me wonders what it really teaches kids about crying to get what you want.

The news claims this couple is oblivious, but the anxious look on the woman’s face proves otherwise. I think they knew, and despite the primal draw of giving into the crying child, they managed to keep the foul ball within their clutches. I couldn’t have done it—the pressure was too great. But, whether they’re naughty or nice in real life, I admire their ability to hang on.

Myth: Childless Versus Childfree

by Aurora Bordeaux

As a child, I was fed heavy doses of bible stories. You know, stories like Cain and Able, Noah and the Ark, and weird verbal annotations in between that included tales of Cain’s secret affair with a demon or a crazy angel or something that resulted in an especially tall half-human, half-demon race of people who eventually became aliens. I was also forced to wear ruffle socks to church.

I wish I was fabricating this section of my rearing, but I’m not. Masquerading underneath a supposedly traditional religion and reams of Sunday casserole dishes were boatloads of wacked out stories that might as well have come with black Nikes and a side of Kool-Aide.

In these old school stories, women who weren’t able to have kids were common. They were a permanent fixture of tragedy, always playing the weeping role of the downtrodden despite any other advantages they enjoyed—beauty, wealth, security, men who loved them. If you couldn’t poop out a kid, you were barren, cursed, and object of sorrow and spite. If you could make kids (and make ‘em fast), you were hot stuff, blessed, favored.

For women, procreation was power. Ladies sometimes got into procreation contests to see who could make the most kids the fastest, even naming the children after their victories or losses to permanently illustrate who was the biggest hen in the pecking order.

This is the same sort of culture I was raised in. Women who didn’t have children, the childless, were viewed as less than women who did. Not having children was an agony that brought the whole community together in pity and prayer. Heal her! Bless her! Bring her babies!

Now, fast forward to adulthood and a refined reality that’s 100% free of crazy. Or, is it? I’ve sloughed off the oddities of my upbringing, but even in a progressive community nestled securely in a post-feminist world, I still face the same attitudes when it comes to being an adult female sans enfant.

When people ask me point-blank if I have children and I say no, I’m actually pitied. People frown at me as if I’m one of God’s most forlorn creatures. Many offer condescending consolation comments, including, “aww,” or, my personal favorite, a tender pat on the hand accompanied by, “There’s still time.” They never bother to ask if I’m happy as I am. They just assume that I can’t be.

And that is absolutely retarded.

I’m not “childless.” I’m not missing any parts or less than the sum of a whole. I’m “childfree.” As in, my life is free of children, and by choice. Not barren. Bursting with contentment. Not childless. Childfree. Free!

Aurora Bordeaux: Ex-Auntie

by Aurora Bordeaux

It’s not that I totally hate kids. I used to really love them. As a younger child, I was always that weirdo who liked babysitting and wanted to “hold the baby.”

I grew out of it.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t want to have any kids in my life, or that I’m not supportive of the people I know who have them. I like the auntie role, with its major perks and minor setbacks. As a well rounded, intelligent, emotionally healthy adult, I feel that I have a lot to offer on the auntie front.

But recently, my sister-in-law (SIL) more or less gave me the boot out of her small children’s lives, using a special brand of mother-speak to ask (nay, tell) me not to talk to her kids again.

My SIL’s children are 6 and 2, and to my knowledge, I have never done anything to them except shower them with thoughtful and not-cheap gifts, have them to stay overnight in my home even when they left it a wreck, and basically watch every word I said around them. I didn’t just jump through hoops to try to be a good aunt to these two—I leapt through a series of hoops on fire. For years.

But it’s not enough. It never will be. I’ve essentially been ushered out of the kids’ lives by the elbow, as if I had come to a wedding drunk, never to be forgiven for something that should never have been a crime at all. It all officially kicked off when I said the magic words: “I am not going to have kids.”

My sister-in-law is a churchy type, the all-American housewife who lives to breed. I used to admire and respect her, even though I always had a creeping sense that she didn’t care for me much. More hoop jumping was the cure, I reasoned, believing it all that was necessary to make her flip the switch and like me for real instead of just pretending to.

The signs of her distaste with my existence were subtle, but after I said I didn’t want kids, they became more obvious and I started suspecting that it wasn’t all in my head. She’d tense when I would mention that I love krav, or that I was considering a tattoo. I don’t drink much or do drugs of any kind, but the fact that I enjoy a glass of wine or cocktail now and then made her twitchy. In her politically correct eyes, I’m a tattoo laden (I never even got one), gun toting booze hound.

Her daughter is excessively dramatic, and her son is wildly energetic, two qualities she doesn’t share. When I last played with them, our game evolved into an epic soiree revolving around zombie deer and a monster teddy bear. The kids were directing the play, but I thought the grisly topics of their designs were fun and funny. I don’t think she did. She seemed to want to blame me for the qualities in her kids she didn’t care for, those that didn’t mimic her own.

She doesn’t want her kids to see or know the world, and even though I have a deeply religious background that she doesn’t have a clue about, she probably views me as “the world,” and therefore wants to shield her little perfects from me. She thinks I’m Satan, but one she technically has to tolerate.

At the last visit, she let her oober Christian façade slip for a fraction of a second and finally gave me the sweet peace of concrete proof that I wasn’t making it all up, dicing me up at the kitchen table with a direct, though muttered, comment. I won’t bother repeating it here, because it’s a long story. But the bottom line is that the real message was: “Don’t speak to my kids. Stay away from them. You are not welcome, nor wanted.”

I sat there and smiled politely until I couldn’t choke the tears back, then made a quiet retreat into the woods out back and called Mimo, my ancient grandmother, for reinforcement. Mimo was having a clear day and gave me a verbal chiropractic adjustment of the soul, helping me remember that the bitch didn’t matter. I don’t need her.

If I was a mom, I’d be tickled to have an aunt around who could balance out my parenting qualities with something a little more fun, who would embrace the role wholeheartedly and try her utmost to be a positive adult influence. But this woman doesn’t want anything other than herself and those identical to her in the kids’ lives. She definitely doesn’t want me.

It really hurt my feelings at first, but then I thought, why pine after people who don’t want you? It’s sad, yes, and rejection sucks. But screw it.

My bruised feelings were eased a by a recent visit from a firecracker aunt who never married, nor procreated. I have always liked her, but over a few glasses of fizzy beverage, I suddenly realized that we had a boatload in common. In confidence, she told me that she invited my husband and his siblings to her lake house every summer, but their mother consistently refused. The mother tried to keep the cool aunt away from her kids—here it comes—because she thought the aunt was a bad influence.

This, to me, is outrageous. The aunt is hilarious, fun, honest, and sharp. She has an amazing career and I think of her as a feminist trailblazer with unbelievable experiences to share. How could any mother not want a person like this around her children? Sure, she can be a little rough around the edges, but she has so, so, so much to offer. At least, I was pecking at her heels to take whatever she would give me. When she talked about being rejected as an aunt, her tough veneer broke just enough, and I saw genuine hurt in her eyes even though it happened so long ago.

It’s a hurt I understand well now, but honestly, just knowing that someone else that amazing has felt it as well sucked out a lot of the sting. If she got the boot as an auntie, too, then it turned out that I was in excellent company.

I think my SIL’s kids will miss out by being deprived of my auntie-ship; I know I would have a lot to offer them as they grew up, and heaven knows their vital sides need adults around who understand their natures on a more organic level. But if the mother wants to hang on her high horse and judge, that’s fine by me. I’ll live.

Because I know that I’m a good person, and I know that there’s nothing wrong with being childfree. Unlike her, I don’t require children to be happy. I’m Off Board, Baby.

Contraceptive Roundup: Review of Quarterly Birth Control (LoSeasonique)

by Aurora Bordeaux

Last summer, I made a big decision. I was done with periods.

Think about it. What earthly perk do periods bring us, aside from that heaving relief that we’re not pregnant? I realized that I can pay a pee stick to tell me that. Screw periods! Yeah!

I had tried the quarterly birth control deal back in college, but when a pushy female relative got wind of it, she scared me to death. The nut job literally cornered me and locked me in a bathroom for over an hour, at midnight, with her hand held to her mouth, aghast that I would do such a thing as use the pill to have just four periods a year. The fact that my doctor told me it was okey dokey had no relevance. She tearfully made me swear that I would stop using my birth control pill to segue into quarterly periods.

Yeah. She was a psycho.

But now she’s dead (hooray!), and I’m an adult instead of a college kid, and I can make my own decisions. So I marched myself over to my perky-perky gyno, who handed me a pack of LoSeasonique. I’m in no way trying to plug the brand, but I figured that if I was going to write about my experience with something, I might as well tell you what I’m on.

A few years ago, Seasonique and quarterly period pills like it hit the market with snappy ads featuring sassy women who brought good tidings of great joy, assuring women everywhere that the dream was possible. These commercial women were credible sources, given that they were engaged in their too-cool-for-school careers as they spoke, putting makeup on in actor’s trailers and designing their own wallpaper or whatever.

Speaking of ridiculous period marketing, do you remember when Always emblazoned every pad with the sunshiny phrase, “Have a happy period!” Golly, that pissed me off. My husband would be in the next room, hear a wrapper unfold from the bathroom, and then catch a quiet hiss: “Fuck you.”

“What?” he’d say, having done nothing wrong.

“Nothing,” I’d mutter, crumpling the intrusive paper and wadding it into the trash. Always must have gotten a lot of angry letters about telling women what kind of period to have, because they no longer put the phrase on their pads. Good riddens.

Anyway. Back to birth control. I write now from the perspective of having been on this newfangled pill for almost a year, and my verdict is positive. It wasn’t an easy ride to get used to, but after my body got adjusted over the months, the new schedule felt normal. Fantastic, even. Before, one week out of every four sucked. Now, I never think about those weeks except for four times a year when a blip shows up on the radar.

I bought some pee sticks to soothe my nerves, but only used one when I was first getting started. Now I feel that if I were somehow pregnant, my body would find some other way to tell me and I’d figure it out. But, God and LoSeasonique willing, that’s not going to happen.

The road that paved the way to feminine bliss wasn’t all lined with cherries. There was some intensive spotting that felt like it lasted forever, but it got easier and less major over time. I also ballooned and gained about 15 pounds, a self esteem crushing experience that ultimately led me to get my ass in gear in the new year and shed them, which is empowering and healthy.

Carrying the weight was a major drag, especially since I’ve weighed about the same thing for a decade and wasn’t used to the sudden slosh and sense of being forever swollen. Who was I? What the hell happened? How on earth did I get fat in under three weeks? I was in a tizzy over it then, but now that I’ve peeled the pounds off, I feel fantastic. It was worth it in the end, because it was the push I had long needed to commit to a healthier weight anyway.

All in all, I give the quarterly birth control thing a thumbs up. I’m on a basterdized generic of LoSeasonique, and it still rocks.

Update: I wrote this yesterday, feeling all chipper about the pill. But I had also expected my ho’ of a flow to come a few days ago, and last night finally lost my marbles over it, getting a little drunk off Jim Beam, forking my way to the bottom of a bowl of pasta until I hit bedrock, and whizzing on a stick for the second time in my life. I think I sat on my haunches staring at the garbage can for well over fifteen minutes looking at those blue lines, basically losing my mind.

As of this morning, I am proud to report that I am not pregnant in the traditional sense. But I felt that in all honesty, I had to add my bout of prego-terror insanity to the chronicle of this new birth control. Things aren’t as clockworky when it’s go time, so it can lead to major paranoia when the red gets to rolling five days later than you expect. Still, now that the issue is settled and the fear has been slain, it’s an inconvenience that I’m willing to put up with just four times a year. I just need to buy more whiz sticks.

Things In Common: I Understand and Respect Poop

by Aurora Bordeaux

(Note: Although I enjoy pictures, this post will be devoid of them except one of a fake Bosco. I was honestly too afraid to troll the internet for child poop pictures. I’m sure you understand.)

When people have children, a lot of their lives begin to revolve around poop. Which foods will produce which kinds of poop, when the poop is expected to arrive, and (worst of all) what could be delaying poop. It seems that a chunky portion of the care and feeding of a child has to do with its waste.

Poop is the almighty real-time determinator of how things are going.

This is one thing I think we may have in common. My perfect labradoodle, Bosco, serves as both a dear friend and a pseudo-child. Bosco’s health and well being are paramount to me. However, Bosco has one problem: She can’t talk. That’s why, in order to determine if she’s feeling fine, I have to listen to her poop.

If a dog stops eating, they’re sick. If a dog stops pooping, they’re sick. If a dog’s poop is, well, extra icky, they’re sick. Poop is the barometer by which I judge Bosco’s day to day health.

The difference is that Bosco’s poop comes out a lot less frequently than a child’s. She also takes care of things herself by depositing it in the yard like a lady where I can pick it up later through the safety of a plastic baggie. Unlike a child, Bosco doesn’t scream at me when she poops or try to hold her poop in as a form of power struggle. Bosco also doesn’t have debates with me over ass wiping.

Bosco’s poop, unlike a child’s, is simple. Easy. It doesn’t stink up my home or complicate my entire life.

Bosco’s poop I can handle. A child’s, not so much.

And can I just put my super judgy cap on for a second here, and say what the hell is up with parents who never potty train their kids? I know kids who have lengthy conversations with their parents as their parents are changing their diapers. I’m sorry, but that is really weird and kind of sick. If you can talk to me, you can deal with your own shit. Gross, folks. Gross.

As a teen who had unpaid babysitting duties thrust upon me regularly, I have changed a lot of diapers. I know how to do it, and I know it had to be done or no one else would have dealt with it (sucked for me). This one time, when I was changing a year-old niece’s diaper, she started whimpering, as if me doing the work was a massive inconvenience to her. I looked her dead in the eye, her ankles in my hands, and said, “Listen. I don’t want to do this, either, but we’re both stuck. Deal with it.” She zipped the whines up straightaway, we got it over with, and everything was fine.

Baby poop: Not fun. Young child poop: More not fun. Drunk teenage poop: Super extremely not fun. But Bosco’s poop? Manageable.