Once you reach a certain age, or you have been married a certain amount of time, the inevitable question starts being asked: “when are you having kids?!?” For my husband and I, and others are out there, the answer is “never.” Not because we don’t like kids, both of us genuinely enjoy not only our nieces and nephews but also the children of our friends. We often babysit, or play with them at holiday parties, and always have a wonderful time. But neither one of us has ever had The Urge. I understand that many women get The Urge and start feeling broody. But I have never felt that. I knew from the time I was in high school that I didn’t want to have kids, and I babysat and was a nanny for many years. My mother always told me that it would come and I would eventually change my mind. But as I got older, The Urge never came, and I actually felt surer of my decision with every passing year.
There are more and more of us out there choosing not to have children. And while it used to be uncommon, especially among military families, there seem to be a larger number of us each year. We are still usually the minority, especially once we reach a certain age, but we are still there! And to the other childless by choice couples, I say hello! And you know what time of year it is…holiday party season. And that always means having to make conversations with groups of people, and all of them have kids. And the conversation will inevitably lead to their children.
I have no problem with this. I enjoy listening to parents talk about their kids – I think it is beautiful and I love seeing their faces light up with pride whether their kid made honor roll, learned to tie their shoes, or just managed to eat a brownie without most of it going in their hair. I really do love it. The problem comes when I have nothing to add to the conversation. I am luckier than most in that I have childcare experience and therefore usually draw on that to add to the conversation. But for many others that isn’t an option. And it can feel incredibly awkward. It becomes even more awkward if you try to compare something their child has done to something your dog or cat has done. You want a shut down a conversation real quick? Just use the phrase, “oh my goodness, that is just like what Fido did last week!” Even though it can be something incredibly similar and actually be along the same lines – usually not listening, getting incredibly dirty after a bath, or eating something gross – it doesn’t matter. A lot of parents I have met do not like the comparison between their precious Junior and my Fido. (Names have been changed to protect the innocent.)
So here are my top two tips for holiday partygoers:
- If the person you are talking to has kids, ask about them.
- If the person you are talking to has pets, ask about them.
It really is as easy as that. I am very much the type of person who wants everyone to feel involved and especially having stood awkwardly by for thirty-five minutes (yes, I counted) while the conversation was only about children, I know how uncomfortable it can be. And for some reason, society has not allowed us pet owners to just bring them up in conversation with the same ease parents are allocated. So make sure everyone gets the chance to talk at the party. There is always something we are delighted with within our corner of the sky.