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(Content Warning: It’s about abortion. Please read only if you’re comfortable doing so.)
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If there’s one great secret wonder of being a spinster, it’s this:
You can do whatever you want, whenever you want. And I’m not just talking about sex on the kitchen floor.
Most of my friends talk about what they would do if they had a child, or if they had a girl, or if they had a game room, of if they had a wedding. You know how it goes.
“Oh! If I had a little girl, I could buy her that.”
“When I get pregnant, I have so many ideas for a nursery.”
“My dream wedding board has 300 pins… one day I’ll be able to make them all happen.”
Ladies (and gentlemen), you can wait if you want to, but you don’t have to. That’s right, folks. Open up that Pinterest board and get to work.
What’s that? But you have no baby or soon-to-be husband? My dear friend, you’ve bought into one of the silliest myths of our human culture. Here is the truth:
You don’t need the excuses you’ve been waiting for. You have been laboring under the delusion that you need to
just to decorate the spare bedroom in a Where The Wild Things Are theme. These beliefs are false, and the truth shall surely set you free.
Go. Go and re-make your bedroom in a Where The Wild Things Are theme. I know you saw that nursery online and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I give you permission to give that bedroom to yourself. You deserve it. If it’s the bedroom you wish you’d had as a kid, give it to yourself now. Because here’s another secret truth: Your one-day kid might not love what you love. And you can only force them to wear the clothes you pick out and sleep in the room you designed for so long. Murphy’s law clearly states that any woman who spends years longing for a baby girl so she can buy her pretty dresses, will undoubtedly give birth to a tom boy who would rather have her teeth cleaned than put on a skirt. So just give what you love to yourself. You are allowed.
But what about my dream wedding? you say. Are you telling me to rent a venue, buy a gown, do the decorations, invitations, and walk down the aisle by myself?
Not exactly, but close. I know how it is. You love that Enchanted Forest wedding theme. There are so many great ideas you have for it. The decor, the food, the lighting It’s going to be amazing.
But here are a couple things to consider.
Abandon your visions of dancing through the day with your heart full of love, surrounded by your dearest friends, saying your loving goodbyes to girlhood and joyfully stepping into holy matrimony. The reality? Your maid of honor bought brandy sniffers instead of champagne flutes, and for no explicable reason you’recramping, and even though you thought it would be sweet that your bff has to help you pee due to your wedding dress, it’s really just awkward and annoying. None of this would really be that bad except that it’s yourwedding day, and you’ve waited years, and you only get one, so everything really needs to go absolutely perfectly.
Want to take the pressure off? Have a birthday party.
I am as serious as a Sunday morning sermon. You’re a grown up! You can finally plan your own birthday parties (or any parties). Pop that Enchanted Forest theme onto your birthday and actually enjoy it. There is no rule that states adult birthday parties have to be boring and alcohol-saturated.
And there’s no need to settle on just one. Do something different every year. Your guests will have much more fun, and you can still get presents. Hell, give yourself a gift registry at Kohl’s.
Spinsters, you can do this. Buy yourself pretty dresses, and wear them wherever the hell you want. Or, if you don’t like the attention of wearing a frilly dress to Home Depot, go have Tea in a fancy restaurant.
Let go of your excuses, and don’t pin your dreams on someone else. It’s not fair to them or you.
Now go. Go and enjoy.
(And hey, post your ideas and comments on the forum or in the comments below.)
Thanks to Gratisography for providing the stock photography for this article.
This belief is really almost too foolish to be allowed, despite its widespread acceptance. But it still hurts, when we believe it, and far worse than that, it sometimes leads people who shouldn’t have kids to have them. As though it would make them a better person.
Wonky Logic Example #1
Not having children is selfish, so having children is unselfish.
The idea that parents are unselfish for having kids is about as false and nonsensical as it gets. Some parents are very, genuinely, selfless people, but popping out or adopting a baby doesn’t make them so.
If we look at this realistically, people sometimes have very selfish reasons for having children. Reasons like, “I want to be a mom,” or “I just love kids,” are fine and good, if you can—and do—take care of them. The selfishness of having kids for your own sake is cancelled out by the selflessness of actually providing for them. Then of course there are the more obviously selfish reasons, such as “It’ll help my marriage,” or, of course, “He’ll marry me/stop cheating on me if I get pregnant.” I don’t think I need to elaborate on these.
Wonky Logic Example #2
People who don’t want children are selfish by not having children.
Once, in my church-going days, I listened to a pastor’s sermon on birth control. I had, and still have, great respect for this pastor, but I also disagree with him more often than not. At the end of his sermon, which included many lines from the Bible on childbirth and child-rearing, and culminating in the summation that children are sometimes a blessing (Proverbs 17:6) and sometimes not (Luke 23:29), he said “It’s alright to use contraceptives, as long as you don’t do so for selfish reasons.”
A reasonable statement, but his idea of “selfish reasons” is not my own.
If a couple or an individual doesn’t want the “bother” of having a child, that’s exactly the sort of person who shouldn’t have a child. That’s not selfishness, that’s responsibility. That’s having enough foresight and insight to see that having a baby isn’t all about the attention, cute little baby clothes, and sweet-smelling baby. It’s acknowledging that being a parent is a vocation, a full-time, lifetime, till-death-do-us-part commitment, and saying, honestly, “I’m not up to that.”
The person who acknowledges that they don’t want children, and doesn’t then cave to social pressure and have one anyway, should be praised. Praise the conscious non-parent 1.5x as much as you condemn the non-parent who had kids anyway.
Wonky Logic Example #3
People who don’t want children are selfish for not spending time/money with kids they don’t have.
At the end of the day, I think this is simply a misapplication of lifestyles.
For a parent to regularly leave their child so they can go clubbing, globe-trotting, or vacationing, is probably selfish behavior. For a parent to buy new clothes and electronics, while never providing for the needs of their child, is selfish.
But childfree people do not have children. So remove the child from the equation.
For a single woman to go clubbing and globe-trotting or clubbing is not selfish. For a single woman to buy new clothes and electronics is not selfish. They are neglecting no one. “Well if they had a child” is not a valid argument, because, obviously, they don’t.
Lastly, and sadly, I suspect that people who hold others to their own lifestyle standards are, at heart, unhappy with their own choices. Have you ever heard a childfree globe-trotter say, “Well, I guess it must be nice to be able to stay home and play with your kid all day. I can’t afford to be that selfish. Those photos of Machu Picchu aren’t going to take themselves”? No. And if someone did say that, you’d probably say, “No one told you to go to Machu Picchu.”
And you would be exactly right.
Lots of families have one. You may have had one growing up. That one, childless aunt who always gives the best presents. Or how about the bachelor uncle who, in contrast to the other grown ups, paid attention to what you were saying and listened to your side in a dispute.
My childfree friends, you can be that person. It’s actually pretty easy.
Step 1: Pay attention. This is the most important step in being The Cool Aunt. It means you know what your niece/nephew is interest in and what’s going on in their lives. Parents tend to have, for better or worse, pretty fixed ideas regarding their child’s likes and dislikes, as well as the motives for their actions. You, on the other hand, claim no control over your niece/nephew, and no responsibility, so you can listen without ego or bias.
Step 2: Apply the resulting knowledge toward gift-giving. Here, it’s really about quality over price or price. Don’t compete with their parent for greatest number of gifts, and don’t buy them that expensive electronic device they’ve been dropping hints about. That’s in the parent/grandparent sphere.
Instead, look for something unusual that caters to their interests. Maybe your niece has a peculiar interest in furniture. Buy her an interior design drawing book. Or your little cousin has a real fascination with the planets. Buy him the original Cosmos series on DVD.
This is what makes you the cool aunt. You know them and encourage their interests, even the ones that seem strange for a child, and especially the ones their parent thinks are silly.