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.

Childfree Fantasy Comeback: Homecoming Edition

by Aurora Bordeaux

childfree movieWell, peeps, it’s that time of year again. The time when green leaves turn colorful and crispy and our alma maters flair their siren signals to draw all graduates back in an effort to siphon more money out of our retirement savings. It’s Homecoming!

Approaching return to my higher education institution of choice has certainly cooked up some reflective thoughts. For example, what do I wear? Should I bother with eyeliner or not? How will my ten-years-later physique and wrinkle ratio compare to my former cohorts’? Will my ex boyfriends be there, and will I trounce them in the happiness category? (Answers: Cowboy boots, screw eyeliner, probably a little better based on my skin care regimen and mixed martial arts, yes, and yes.)

Those are shallow questions, I know, but I’m just being honest. You have to be honest on the Internet. It’s, like, a rule or something.

childfree moviesAnother bizarre element to the happy-happy reunion is a previously unconsidered elephant in the room, the ever constant marker on the Game of Life: Which couples have children and which couples don’t. I even caught myself saying something silly to the Hubs as I was brushing my teeth the other night: “Remember Bransen? I’m so surprised she hasn’t had kids yet. (Spit.) She’s been married for years. I figured she’d have a zillion by now.” Well, Aurora, you’ve been married nearly a decade. And aren’t you always pissed when people assume you should have had kids by now?

It’s not that I dislike or disrespect Bransen for not procreating, and it’s not that I’m judging her. I’m just literally surprised because she is a teacher (probably a good one) and obsessed over kids even as a student. She was fixated on all things child and I guess I just imagine her as a mom. Then again, who am I to imagine who would be a parent and who wouldn’t? I was so embarassed. But it’s the Internet, so I have to tell the truth.

grosse pointe blank breathing

I wonder if now, in addition to income, hair retention, and overall hotness and “success,” reunions will have the added measuring stick of who totes a toddler and who doesn’t. Will people wonder if the Hubs and I, who are firmly but silently childfree by choice, are either 1. having conception issues (please, God, don’t let anyone assume this and give us advice), or 2. selfish. Maybe culture has evolved considerably since reunions were created and people aren’t as judgy wudgy as they used to be, but I doubt it.

I keep thinking about one of my all time favorite movies, Grosse Point Blank, where golden-boy-turned-professional-killer John Cusack is mystically called back to his town of origin. “Ten years, man” is a long time, and a lot can change. None of my former cohorts know anything about who I am today, my love of martial arts and general weaponry, my choice to defect from the supposed natural order by declaring myself childfree, even about this hit childfree blog. These people no longer even know my name. How am I supposed to go back there and act “normal”? I’m not that girl anymore.

I’m sure I’m overthinking Homecoming. But I figured, while I’m overthinking it, I might as well make a blog out of it. I’m cool with myself. I’m thrilled with my life. I’m excited to see the wonderful people I am about to reconnect with. Everyone else can go be ugly somewhere else. (To put all this into context, I went to a high end but highfalutin college, so expecting coldness from some isn’t exactly unreasonable. We have a longstanding rep for bitchiness.)

While overcoming introverted heart palpitations at the thought of the mass interaction I am about to face, I imagined conversations and the way they’d play out. I don’t know if this is a common introvert activity, but I often imagine chats to kind of rehearse. It’s a way to get all (or most) of my stupid out in a safe space where no one else can hear me.

So, since it’s the Internet and all, I’ll play one for you.

best childfree movies

Mean Girl: “So, when are you two thinking of having children of your own?

Aurora: “I don’t know. When was your last bowel movement?”

Mean Girl: (Speechless.)

Aurora: “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought we were asking invasive, inappropriate questions.”

And then Tina Fey and Amy Poehler leap out of the bushes, clapping slowly, and everyone starts clapping all at once and Tina and Amy hoist me onto their shoulders and spin me around like it’s a Jewish wedding. Then we all dance with ourselves to Jimmy Eat World and eat brownies and never, ever get fat. Oh, and we’re in a white tent and there are Christmas lights strung across the ceiling. And it’s awesome.

Even if weird things happen and some moments are just as awkward as being a student often was, it will be awesome. I’m armed with a highly evolved sense of backbone, an outstanding Hubs, and two righteous Labradoodles. How could any Homecoming, even if it’s at the Ground Zero of the place where I started becoming the best version of myself, not be fantastic.

PS, Bransen? Just found out she’s pregnant.