• Mon, Dec 16 - 4:00 pm ET

5 Reasons Being Childfree Over The Holidays Kinda Sucks

83091529Leave it to a childfree person to immediately break Mommyish tradition. I’m not going to go all-out and say that being childfree just plain sucks during the holidays, because frankly, I find my cat to be enough of a drag on my selfish, hedonistic, irresponsible lifestyle. In fact, I am so committed to the Cult of Me that I could only come up with 5 reasons, rather than 10, for why being a one-woman operation ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

But five there are, and for all the mothers and mothers-to-be grimacing at the prospect of facing the Winter Holiday Blowout without copious amounts of alcohol, here are some reminders as to how being a mom gives you a few distinct advantages:

1. Sure, you can drink, but do you really want to?

Maybe my reluctance stems from growing up in a big Jewish family, where gatherings are brought to you by Manischewitz and Sam Adams’ He’Brew. Still, I’ve been to a fair number of Gentile-organized events where having enough to pickle the masses necessitated adult beverages that came out of a box or a keg. If you’re a beer and wine snob like me, you may have turned your nose up at these offerings, thus prompting the inevitable squeals of, “OH EM GEE R U PREGGERZ?!?”

2. You get to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

 

Pregnant women and mothers of babies and young children have enough going on and deserve to spend as much time off their feet as possible. But someone’s got to pick up the slack as far as food prep and dishwashing go, and since there are those pesky child labor and elder abuse laws, those tasks are getting designated to the young, able-bodied, usually female lollygaggers, because guys have a football game to watch or something and you’ll need to play at being Martha Stewart anyway because OF COURSE you’ll have a family of your own one day!

3. You’re a captive audience.

 

When Great-Uncle Billy plops down next to you and starts telling you in detail all about his recent colonoscopy, you’re done for. New mothers can smile politely and excuse themselves with, “Oh, the baby’s hungry!” Mothers of mobile children can always run off with, “Oops, Junior’s putting a peanut-butter sandwich in the Xbox again!” And pregnant women can wince, stand up while keeping their legs as crossed as possible, and say, “Sorry, Uncle Billy! Nature calls!” while scooting in the direction of the bathroom.

But you and your pelvic muscles untarnished by carrying and evacuating a watermelon-sized human being can squeeze your legs tighter and plaster on a smile, because now Great-Uncle Billy’s pulling out his iPhone and hollering for one of his grandkids to come over so he can show you the photographic proof.

4. You’re the go-to babysitter.

Whether there’s an ulterior motive of getting you to realize your too-long-buried natural desires to be a mother or because Junior really did put a peanut-butter sandwich in the Xbox and someone’s got to prevent the other kids from starting World Wars III-VI while Mom extracts it, if you made the mistake of taking a breather from the kitchen or Great-Uncle Billy, you’re going to have a copy of The Cat in the Hat thrust into your hands while multiple balls of Christmas-cookie-fueled comets whiz in orbit around you. And whether you actually do like children or are less-than-neutral on them, you’re going to be sorely tempted to shout, “The Cat in the Hat goes psycho and kills the kids before committing suicide, okay?!” after the 58th reading.

5. The questions.

 

If you arrive unaccompanied, you get a chorus of, “Are you seeing someone (wink wink)?” If you arrive accompanied by a special friend but no 10-carat diamond ring (because we all know the engagement isn’t real without one!), you get a chorus of, “When are you two lovebirds getting married?” If you arrive accompanied by both significant other and more-significant glittery rock, you get a veritable crescendo of, “When are you gonna have a baby?” If your answer to that last one is, “Never!” you get the not-always-unspoken, “When are you going to change your mind?”

It never ends, but at least there’s always Manischewitz.

This is a reader submission. 

(Image: Getty Images)

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  • Rachel Sea

    Ditto being childless, and pretending to be childfree, because the questions are less invasive. Meanwhile: crying on the inside.

    • EX

      People are so insensitive. There’s little that I can think of that hurts more than being asked “when are you going to have a baaaaaby!?!” When you’re recovering from a miscarriage or having difficulty getting pregnant. Best of luck to you.

    • Beanie

      You’re totally not alone on this one. Hugs for staying strong through the holidays!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I cannot even imagine. I wish you all the best with everything, including the irritating relatives who likely won’t let up no matter what you tell them.

  • Tinyfaeri

    Bringing a flask will solve most of this. I’m a little disappointed, though. I’m not exempt from any of these after having kids, except the babysitting one, but then again I’ve never even thought of asking my child-free friends (or friends with kids, for that matter) to babysit my kid.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      To be fair, the youngest person in my family is 25, so I’ve yet to be approached about the babysitting one myself. I have heard horror stories from other childfree friends who have spent whole holidays wishing they could punch various children’s book authors so hard they’d be digesting their own teeth, though.

    • Tinyfaeri

      Freaky. I guess I never realized that was a thing. Still, a flask makes almost anything better, right?

  • Amber Starr

    Last year, when I was childless, I was under the impression (after being told by my gyn-oncologist and a fertility specialist) that I was unable to have kids of my own. It was REALLY hard for me to be around my cousins who had babies of their own. I would never admit it at the time, but I was jealous to the point of being bitter. I was angry and sad that I wasn’t able to have one of my own (especially as the ONLY girl on that side of the family). Thankfully, it turned out that I WAS able to get pregnant, but I will never forget how terrible I felt over the holidays prior to this year. So, yeah, being childless did suck for me. And BIG HUGS to everyone going through fertility problems (or loss of a pregnancy, baby, or child) this holiday season.

    • coffeeandshoes

      If I may attempt to borrow some of your getting pregnant while having fertility problems mojo, that’d be awesome. :) I am starting the rounds of lady testing this week after my husband has done his tests and we will soon (I hope) know more about why nothing is happening for us and what can be done. And as you did, my husband and I are starting to become a bit tired (in a jealous way!) of the number of friends and co-workers who are pregnant right now.

      And before I forget to say, congrats on your success!! :)

    • Amber Starr

      Aw, thank you! And I wish you the very best. Please just remember one thing: As hard as it may be, don’t give up hope until you are 150% sure. Don’t let it break you and don’t stress yourself out TOO much. I know how hard it is to be around others that may be pregnant or have kids, but the best advice I can give is to NOT keep it inside. Talk to someone when you’re hurting. I kept my feelings to myself for so long and it just made it hurt even worse.

      Sending you lots of hugs and good luck! <3

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I’m glad everything finally worked out, though it sucks that it took so long! This list was mostly me indulging in a helping of White Whine, so I can’t even imagine how awful it must be to be around other people’s kids when you do want one of your own.

    • Amber Starr

      It was rough. It was harder to be around my cousins pregnant wives though. I was sure that that was something that I would never feel…. But all ended well for me and my little family. It also showed me that you should never assume that someone who has no kids is that was by choice… I would NEVER ask someone why they don’t have kids or when they plan on breeding. It could be a very painful topic for them.

  • Andrea

    Yeah these are funny, but I don’t think you really mean it. I think you are loving your fabulous child free status and really scraped the bottom of the barrel to come up with them. And for that, I thank you!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      Maaaaaaaybeeeeee… ;)

    • Andrea

      I KNEW IT!!!

  • StealthGent

    This is why I have flasks. 5 ounces of vodka in my pocket, 5 ounces of rum in his, 8 of 180 proof moonshine in the car.

    ” Have Baaaaaybbeeeeees!” No, I’m a boy now, go away! Help!

    We blame a really tight schedule for needing to bail at random. Needing to go “see dad’s side of the family” means “Go drive to some random parking lot and snark,” so long as we see dad eventually. I still have to help clean and cook because ” You’re still a girl to us.” right until someone’s brakes start hemorrhaging in the lot or a car won’t start, then I’m one of the guys.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      Aw man, I only have dad’s side of the family left! :/ My relatives know it, too, so unless I acquire a significant other (and I’m hard-pressed to find anyone more significant to me than myself), I’d be stuck blurting out that I was going to a random parking lot to get drunk and snark into my flask.

      On another note, I think you’ve got a lot of material for a Reasons Being Around StealthGent’s Family During the Holidays Totally Sucks list. At least my family knows enough to use the correct gender pronouns.

    • moonie27

      “and I’m hard pressed to find anyone more significant to me than myself”

      It’s a pickle, isn’t it?

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      It’s a pickle I ain’t even touching! Why mess with perfection? :p

    • moonie27

      I’m led to believe that touching the pickle is actually one of the benefits of a SO…

      Though it’s certainly not limited to having a SO. :)

    • EX

      “I still have to help clean and cook because ‘you’re still a girl to us’” makes me cry inside for so many different reasons.

  • libraryofbird

    This is why I’ll be half blitzed on champagne while I hold my grad-niece.

  • educationist

    Huh, I thought wanting to have children to share the holiday with but actually being infertile, and therefore unable to do so, might end up on the list. I suppose that it’s just those of us childless-not-by-choice think of.

    • Gangle

      To be fair, the list is for child-free, which usually means ‘don’t have kids, don’t want kids’. Childless-not-by-choice would probably be a list all on its own. I am sorry about your struggles :( CNBC sucks hard. ((hugs))

    • educationist

      I realize that, but suppose I miss the posts that used to appear on mommyish for those of us is in the -less camp. The Unbearable column on living with infertility was a favorite, and it seems that since it ended, mommyish mostly left that topic behind.

    • Gangle

      I completely agree with you. I think it would be great to have another column on living with infertility here. I too enjoyed the unbearable column, and as someone who has struggled for years and tried multiple treatments, I completely understand where you are coming from. It is one of the hardest, loneliest battles I have had to face.

    • Guest

      …and thanks.

    • JLH1986

      We are struggling to conceive. And in my internet searches I’ve discovered: Childfree= a choice not to have children; Childless=no kids, though the desire (and attempts to have a child) are there. I appreciate both because the childfree posts make me laugh (like this one) and remind me that I shouldn’t assume every person wants kids and childless make me cry and realize we aren’t the only ones struggling. Good vibes your way.

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      To further complicate matters, there’s debate within the childfree community as to whether the childfree label extends to people who are dead-set about not having kids right now but feel pretty confident that they want to in a few years and/or people who don’t want kids now (again) but are kinda on the fence about future plans, or whether it’s strictly for people who don’t want kids EVER, now please stop asking when I’ll change my mind because I won’t. But yes, we generally agree on childless = wants kids, outside factors preventing this.

      Thank you for enjoying this, and best of luck to you and your partner!

    • educationist

      Sending good vibes back at you. Trouble conceiving can feel brutal sometimes.
      It’s been a little more than two years of living with dual infertility as a reality, and most of the time I feel like I’m able to have normal reactions to all things baby– and to articles like this — occasionally my ovaries get the better of me.

  • meteor_echo

    All those things are easy to deal with.

    1) Oh hell yes, I can and WILL drink. Vodka, here I come, and no fucks will be given!

    2) No, you don’t. Make it clear to everyone who tries to exploit you as kitchen force. and afterwards, order several pizzas – the size of a truck wheel, greasy and with all kinds of toppings. IMO it’s a much better contribution than hunching over the kitchen table for hours.

    3) Telling people that you’re on your period and need to change your tampon unless they want their expensive upholstery ruined does wonders when someone is burdening you with a story you don’t want. If someone’s harassing you with details of their colonoscopy, you can afford being blunt. Bonus points if you manage to gross the person in question right the fuck out :)

    4) I make it perfectly clear that I’m the go-to babysitter if someone wants to dispose of their kids forever. Nobody has harassed me with babysitting for years, for which I’m fuckfully thankful.

    5) Hoo boy. If anyone asked me about the occupational status of my uterus, they’d either get “Never”, or “The exact moment when this planet runs out of people who ask invasive questions.” I don’t go easy on people who think I owe them a freshly-baked bun out of the oven.

    Don’t let your family run you over, and have a nice fucking holiday there, okay? :)
    http://i.imgur.com/P81MTba.gif

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      I need the green outfit!

      1. Maybe I should pre-game! Right now, most gatherings are BYO non-shitty B.

      2. I actually managed to stay out of the kitchen for two of the past three years due to a broken wrist in 2011 and a stress fracture this past Thanksgiving, but I usually remind whoever’s cooking that I have managed to burn water in the past and tend to be kind of klutzy, so do they really want me ruining those fancy china plates?

      3. OMG YES WHY DIDN’T I THINK OF THAT?!?

      4. I actually have not had this one come up yet, but I have similarly childfree friends whose family members have started reproducing who have provided me with plenty of horror stories to make me dread the day my own relatives get similar ideas. I do think a pointed reminder that I’ve never been alone with anyone under the age of 7, EVER, with a crazed look in my eyes should do the trick, though.

      5. I am adding the line about invasive-question-askers to my arsenal.

      Stay strong yourself!

  • darras

    NOTHING is more annoying than the age old “OH EM GEE R U PREGGERZ?!” response to anything. It used to make me twitch like crazy whenever I heard it. Hell, who am I kidding? It still DOES make me twitch! Such a rude and insensitive thing to say… It always made me wonder why people don’t consider that maybe that person doesn’t want babies, or can’t have babies, or might have just lost a pregnancy.. Minefield! I always go with the logic that when a friend is ready to tell me that she is pregnant – she will tell me when she is good and ready to (and she will usually do it when I am not properly listening which ends up in a semi awkward moment where she thinks I’m being a bit harsh and I have no idea what she just said – more than once, ladies. More than once!).

  • FF4life

    Sharing holidays is just as bad. My oldest will be at my Ex’s from Christmas Eve until noon Christmas Day. Everyone always asks where she is even though it’s been long enough at this that everyone should know that if she isn’t there she’s with him. Not having her home is hard enough.

  • suresh kumawat

    hmmm… mast

  • Lynn

    “Well we had the first night of unprotected sex to start trying and I found some unsavory craigslist emails on H’s phone that very night. We had our first couples therapy appointment two weeks before Christmas. So sorry ,Grandma I can’t give you a clear answer on when we are going to have a baby.”

    Can not wait to answer the baby question this holiday!

    • NotTakenNotAvailable

      My default crass answer to the baby question post-breakup has been, “Whenever God decides to knock up another Jewish girl and gets less picky about the state of her hymen.” But I think I might alter it to say, “Whenever someone finally responds to my Craigslist post.” Thanks for the material!

  • AJS

    I find the holidays a little uncomfortable, as I’m Childfree and an atheist ‘stuck’ going to his parents’ for Christmas. It’s also tricky as a celiac trying to navigate their dinner table without ill consequences. Frankly, I’d rather invite a few friends over for homemade Chinese food, and lounge on the couch afterwards with a drink, watching my ferret scurry around.
    Thanks for the article, and happy holidays to everyone, whatever you celebrate!