Dating Eligibility Flowchart

I crafted the flowchart below recently in considering my dating deal breakers. It’s funny because in the geeky inner workings of my brain, I actually thought out the hierarchy just like a flow chart with the more significant questions on the top to weed out immediately what characteristics I know won’t work with me. I distributed it jokingly among my friends just to test the waters and some of the more experienced among them found it quite a wise and practical thing for me to do. The way I look at it is, you should have a clear idea what you’re looking for before you head out into the wilderness of the dating world. This way you can avoid making costly mistakes (like I may have done in the past). A little re-evaluation time is good.

Potential Dating Flowchart for the 30+ Year Old

Now… If only I can figure out a way to distribute to this to all the eligible bachelors between the ages of 35-45 in the Northeast Ohio area….

True, there’s always room for spontaneity. But I think asking these questions upfront saves a lot of time.


I can’t stop thinking about my weight. I know, if you’re a male reader, you’re tired of hearing women talk about this sort of thing. But what I’m talking about is going beyond the occasional comment by your female companion of, “I can’t eat that, it will make me feel fat.”

In the last several days, I’ve entertained the following thoughts:

Bulimia–How glorious it would be if I had the balls to just go into a bathroom stall after lunch each day and puke it all up. I know this sounds disgusting and I realize the implications of how serious of a health problem bulimia is. Regardless, my obsessive mind can’t help but contemplate the utter relief I would feel if I could just purge everything out of my system. Starving myself is out of the question because I just can’t think when I’m hungry. I have thought about eating paper instead of food and drinking more water.

Laxatives–Along the same lines of bulimia, my mind just flows with happy thoughts of instantly purging my body of all the crappy food I’ve eaten so that I could start over clean. I know that it wouldn’t get rid of the fat I already have, but it doesn’t matter. The psychological side effect–the feeling of relief–is what I crave.

Drugs–I heard of a drug on the radio that does not let your body absorb fat. It has the unwanted side effect of making you leak an oily substance from your nether region. Sickeningly enough, I think this is a fair trade off to lose weight.

Liposuction–If I could afford it, I’d totally go with this quick fix. Then, I would look so good, I know I could stop myself from eating crappy food.

I know that I’m hyperventilating needlessly. I mean, I have a pretty healthy lifestyle with this close to 3,000 miles of riding. The problem, though, is that I probably don’t always eat as I should. In the past, I’ve been much, much better at regulating the food I ate. Two years ago, when I lived in Colorado, I never ate breakfast (just a granola bar or fruit with coffee); I ate a very light lunch (sometimes just popcorn); and I ate an equally light dinner (usually soup or a potato with veggies).

When I moved back from Colorado, I kept this habit up pretty well, only allowing myself to pig out once a week–on Fridays, when my friends used to get together to watch science-fiction. I’d eat two pieces of pizza and have a few beers. The rest of the weekend, I’d go back to my fasting. I exercised 4-5 days a week at this great gym down at the end of the street. I got myself into this great habit of waking up before work and exercising. On Wednesdays, I’d skip the morning routine for yoga in the evenings. It was going so perfectly and never once did I obsess about my weight. I felt good.

Then, I started dating my ex, Ted, and I just lost my routine. I haven’t been able to get back into this routine since we were together. Not only did my time with him bring about a looser eating routine, but he was a smoker so I started smoking again. We were just not good for each other in any way whatsoever (except that I fell for him hard, but that’s another story).

It has nothing to do with him that I haven’t had this strict eating or exercise routine. I think he just caused me to fall off the routine and I haven’t been able to find my way back on again. Yeah, I quit smoking again (hopefully for good!) and I’m back to cycling (which I’d lost in the time I was with him).

Part of the reason I fell off the routine probably has to do with the fact that I moved into my house in Stow, leaving that great gym behind in a city way on the other side of Cleveland, in Willowick. I just haven’t been able to find a gym I like as much, nor one as cheap (my membership fees at the one in Willowick were only $275/year). I just don’t feel like paying $40/month for a gym membership that I only need to use four or five months of the year.

It’s not like I’m a sloth. Nearly 100 miles/week of riding is certainly aerobic. I just must be eating too much bad food to net zero weight loss. I know I’ve lost weight since the beginning of the cycling season, but I’m still heavier than I was when I lived in Colorado. It’s so frustrating because I’m throwing out clothes that used to fit me nicely.

Every day, I grab that fat around around my ribs and belly–give it a big huge squeeze. I start to panic that it was bigger than the last time I grabbed it and I’m just going to keep gaining weight. I think the thing I fear the most–after death, that is–is being fat. I can’t stop thinking about it. It makes me grumpy all day. I don’t even notice other people who are overweight, but I exhaust myself thinking about how overweight I am. I look in the mirror and all I see is this giant linebacker of a girl. I wish I could get my whole body to be as fat free as my legs.

It’s even harder to lose weight when you’re dating someone. Guys just don’t seem to care at all about diets or will power. Boyfriends always want me to bend those rules, eat a little ice cream here and a little cookie there. But they don’t seem to understand that I just don’t have their metabolism. And I feel like rules are being broken all the time. At some point, I gotta practice a little will power. Every day could have an excuse or an event in which to bend the rules.

On my own diet, I try to limit how much meat I eat a day. But every time I am in a relationship, I gain weight because the men I’m with want to eat meat with every meal. Or they have a blatant disregard for how bad pasta is to just eat for no reason. It seems like every man I date just eats whatever he has a hankering for each meal. If I did that, I’d be three tons by now. I want to bring my own food when we get together for meals, despite how rude that looks. If I were married, I would hope my husband would let me eat my own food. Is it too weird for both members of a family to make their own meal? Why must everyone eat the same thing just because they are under the same roof? I wouldn’t expect anyone else to eat my weird meals if they don’t need to, and they shouldn’t expect me to eat their carefree, fat-filled foods.

It drives me crazy. I was the heaviest I’ve ever been when I was married because my husband was a good cook. I don’t even think it’s cute to call it “happy fat.” It made me miserable back then too. The only rectifying thing about that situation was that my husband also gained weight. We both needed to get into an exercise routine.

Today was a bad, bad day. Lots of celebrations going on in my office because my company’s contractors finally finished the building we’re in and had erected the sign (now visible from I-77 before Miller Road). So they had cake, cookies, and a bunch of delicious pastries to celebrate. I ate one little doughnut hole type thing with cream in the middle and chocolate on top. Then, I proceeded to eat my low fat Yoplait yogurt (banana cream pie). The yogurt didn’t stop me from going for one of the frosted cookies. Fortunately, I split half of it with my coworker.

We had our quarterly meeting at the end of the day, followed by a catered buffet. I tried to eat light. I had some stuffed chicken, some noodle substance with mushrooms and steak, and a few garlic potatoes. I cleaned my plate like a starving child. I wish I wouldn’t do that.

Needless to say, I came home from work and forced myself to go for a run (since it was already dark and I didn’t want to start riding in the dark). The whole time, I could hear the food sloshing around in my stomach, feel it shifting from side to side. I felt so heavy. Again, I longed for the courage to just puke it all up. I’d had my fun with it–I’d tasted it. Now it needed to go before it started to digest. “A moment on the lips, a life time on the hips.”

I’m starting to hate people who have will power. My dad lost a ton of weight a few years ago and he has not gained it back. He runs every day and eats like a squirrel. I wish I could do what he does. I know he has a sugar tooth similar to mine, yet at family events where there’s food, he takes a tiny, minuscule piece of his favorite desert, and that’s that. I know I weigh more than my dad and it pisses me off. He must think his daughter is a real porker. (He used to make jokes when I was a teenager about how I ate too much, suggesting that guys would never like a fat girl so I should watch what I eat.)

I used to envy a cousin who was anorexic. When I was her age, I thought she looked really good in the worst moments of her illness (fortunately, I look back at these pictures now and realize she waas too thin). But some part of me was always envious of her because she could follow through with not eating, like I wanted to do.

I know it sounds incredibly vain of me to obsess so much about my weight, but I can’t help it. I don’t judge anyone else nearly as roughly as I judge myself. In fact, most of my time is spent glaring jealously at girls skinnier than me and damning them for their better will power or genetics. The sad thing is, I watched this show about anorexic girls who couldn’t stop themselves and I understood their narcosis because their obsession with food sounded so much like my own. I’ve always called myself the lazy anorexic/bulimic because I obsess like one, but never have the diligence to follow through. Thank God, right?

I’m also starting to feel like events where there is food are designed specifically to make me fall off my internal diet wagon. These events are everywhere and I can’t avoid them. It seems multiple times a week, I’m invited to some event that involves food, and usually in the evening when I could be riding my bike instead, but now I’m at an event, eating badly, and not exercising. I wish we could just do whatever business we need to conduct in these activities without having food along side of it. I think that just as sick as I am about my weight, our society is just as sick in its requirement to involve food in all of our rituals or gatherings. I can see how people on necessity diets–such as those for diabetes or high blood pressure–must struggle with handling social obligations. It’s like being an alcoholic in a bar–all the temptation to slide is there and the people around you are indulging and you’re salivating as you crave what you cannot have. I feel like that every day.

I think I would stop obsessing if I could get myself back on a good exercise regiment. If my older clothes started fitting me again. Some of my friends have suggest that now that I’m older my metabolism has changed and I might never be as thin as I once was. I don’t know. Maybe I need a personal trainer or something. I’d be totally happy if I was 130 lbs like I was back in Colorado (even though back then I was trying desperately to get to 125 lbs). Maybe I do have an eating disorder that I just don’t follow through with. I could probably always look in the mirror and see more fat no matter how much weight I lost and I’d always want to push it just five more pounds. I’ll still have the urge to do cardio every day as if in payback for lapses in my strict regiment of a diet.

I try to tell myself that right now, to the world, I look okay. I don’t look extremely thin, but I don’t look fat either. So I should just try to maintain this weight and not work so hard at fighting this lifelong battle to remove these fat rolls that never go–just get smaller from time to time when I’ve managed to diet enough and exercise better. I’m trying to love my body for what it is. But it’s just so hard.

Baby birthday pool

Okay, folks, I’ve just corresponded via email with my favorite female cousin, often affectionately thought of as my chosen sister, and it seems she’s in the home stretch of her pregnancy. The doctor told her lil’ Grayson Martin, her son-in-womb, may be born any time from now until her due date of Septemember 10 (?). Or later, if his arrival in the world is anything like mine.

Therefore, I feel it is necessary to begin taking bets on when this baby will be born! I’ve already got my money on August 28th, as that is, as previously mentioned, my wedding anniversary. I would rather have some other memorable event on that day to help me look past the sadness and remind me that, though I often seem to think so, everything is not all about me.

So that’s my guess. You can take a stab at this game. No money required; the boon is the ultimate respect and knowledge that you guessed the right date of birth for a baby whose mother most of you probably don’t even know!

I mistakingly thought my relationship to this child would be a second cousin. Upon further research, I’ve learned that Grayson will actually be my “first cousin once removed.” That hardly sounds affectionate. Can he just call me “aunt”? ;)

By the way, does anyone else find creepy the theory that every human on the planet may be 15th cousins to each other? (Though this sentence was not cited so the author of this wikipedia article could just be bull-shitting us all with his/her own agenda.)

I found the chart below dizzying. Trying to figure out your relation to other members of your extended family is one of those things where you just might say, “Hey, we’re related. Let’s dispense with this title business.”

In Shakespeare plays, anyone related to you who wasn’t your brother or sister was simply called “cousin.” Maybe we should just go back to using that terminology.

The build-a-bear experience

Not many people are aware of the fact that I can, in fact, sew. I don’t do it very often, for I don’t have the time, patience, or passion normally. I have several clothing patterns selected for clothes I’d love to make myself, but I still haven’t gotten around to it. Once, I tried to make my ex-boyfriend a kilt, but we broke up before I finished it. I did start and complete two huge (like 2 feet long) pillow dog stuffed animals for my godson and his brother several years ago. That was a great project–the kids slept with those things for a long time. But I never really got that ambitious again.

With all these baby showers on the horizon, I’ve intended over and over again to make these small stuffed animals for which I have a pattern. I’ve always had a soft spot for stuffed animals; I still have a teddy bear my Grandma H gave my mom at the baby shower when she was pregnant with me. I still sleep with that teddy bear, occasionally, when I’m lonely. Even if I don’t sleep with it, it’s usually by my bedside, on the nightstand or in my bed. I’ve taken it on trips with me so that I wouldn’t get homesick. I know it sounds stupid for a 33 year old woman to find comfort in a tattered old teddy bear from her youth, but I can’t help it–I really do find comfort in that old thing. It has a music box that plays a lullaby. Whenever I’m feel especially down, there’s something comforting in that tune rolling from the tummy of my teddy bear. It reminds me of being a kid, of feeling lonely and confused, and finding solace in something as simple as a lifeless stuffed animal bear. To me, though, the teddy bear is not lifeless–he has a soul of his own that speaks in a language only I can hear. It’s going to be all right, Mars Girl, he says, Do not fear.

For this reason, it always seems to me that I have this urge to give new babies a teddy bear protector. I can never find the right stuffed animal in stores. There’s no stuffed animal quite like my teddy bear. None of them feel right when I hug them. I have wanted to sew my own for these future children, but, again, I just don’t have the time to sit around sewing. Plus, I am still a novice and I need my mom’s help to start these projects. We’re both busy.

So yesterday, I did the next best thing: I went to the Build-A-Bear Workshop. There’s one at the Summit Mall, and I’ve always wanted to walk into one. Mostly, I’ve wanted to make a bear for myself. There’s so many beautiful options–all different kinds of animals and clothing and sounds to add to it. I’ve had to restrain myself from going in. You don’t need any more stuffed animals, I try to tell myself.

Well, now with two baby showers this weekend, I had the perfect excuse. I went in and carefully selected the bears I wanted to give Arianna (my friend Debbie’s daughter-to-be) and Grayson (my cousin Angy’s son-to-be). For Grayson, I tried to selected this beautiful fuzzy black bear because it looked like a “boy’s bear” to me. For Arianna, I selected a less fuzzy, but soft and matted brown bear. It just seemed right.

Before stuffing the bears, the Build-A-Bear specialist has you select a heart for the bear from a basket of sewn fabric hearts. She then proceeds to lead you through this ritual in which you rub the heart on various areas of your body to give the bear certain attributes, such as your tummy so the bear never goes hungry. The ritual ends with closing your eyes and making a wish on the heart, and then kissing the heart to seal the creation with love. I wished for happiness and long life–something every kid needs and something I always wish on people anyway.

The heart is then placed inside the bear. You then step on the lever to initiate the stuffing from the big “stuffing blowing” machine and the Build-A-Bear specialist fluffs the bear out in all the right places to make a lovable, hugable bear. I was really touched by the gesture of the heart inside the bear–what a sweet touch and something I would never have thought of doing for my own homemade stuffed animals.

I also had a music box that plays a lullaby (not the same one as my teddy bear plays) put inside of the bears. I don’t think these music boxes are as sturdy as the one in my teddy bear. I think the one in mine is one of those real ones that have the rolling metal tubes with the music indented on them that, when hit by a little metal tab, plays the tune. There’s a knob on the back of my teddy bear that you have to wind so that the music plays. The ones used in the bears I made were electronic–you simply press a button on them. I don’t expect the music box to last 33 years, as mine has, which is actually the only thing I’m disappointed about in this experience. I’m not sure if “real” music boxes are still anywhere anymore.

After the bear is stuffed and sewn shut, you can select clothes for the bear. I just selected simple “It’s a Boy!” and “It’s a Girl!” t-shirts. Kids lose the clothing anyway. My teddy bear came with a bow that I lost decades ago and replaced with a red bandanna sometime during the teenage years because the bear’s neck had an awkward indentation from years of having the bow.

The real pressure in this experience came with the birth certificates that you get to create for the bears. I hadn’t realized that I would have to come up with a name for the bears and the pressure–as a writer who feels names are very significant–was crushing. So, without much thought, I used the names that came to me first (perhaps it was the bears themselves telling me what their names were, like the characters to my stories often do)–Joey for Grayson’s bear and Lila for Arianna’s bear. In retrospect, I realized that I should have given each kid’s middle name for the name of their respective bears–Martin and Marjorie–but I suppose the names I gave them will work out just fine. The kids will probably rename them anyway. Though, I could have used a prompt for my bear–he never had a name, I just called him Teddy my whole life. Most of the time, I just refer to him as “my teddy bear.” And he’s always seemed to me a boy bear.

The last step to this entire process, for me, was to hug each of the bears when I got them home. I couldn’t resist as I looked at them. They were exactly the right fit–soft, plushy, and filled with enough stuffing to make them “feel” right when you held them. Finally, I’d found a stuffed animal that suited my high standards for lovability to a child.

I know it’s kind of a commercial cop-out for me to have used Build-A-Bear instead of my own homemade stuffed animals. Still, I think the fact that I personally picked out the stuffed animal and placed a little heart that I kissed within them gives me “it’s the thought that counts” points. After all, the real reason I’m giving the gift is because my bear has given me years of happiness. I don’t expect these kids to hang onto their bears as long. Maybe it won’t even be their favorite toy. But, hey, if they get even a little pleasure out of the bear for a little while in their lives, then the gift has served its purpose. I have no delusions of grandeur here–Aunt Mars Girl is not the one to bring a child The Gift that is out-loved by all others. I just thought that I could connect with my friends by giving them something that is symbolic of my own warmer feelings of childhood. It’s more thoughtful than buying something off the registry, which I absolutely hate doing for friends. I want to give them something more meaningful than the items they specifically asked for. Call me an old crank, but I just think the spirit of gift-giving–in any situation–is finding that one thing the person needs or desires without ever having to ask for it. The Gift of the Magi has always been one of my favorite stories as it symbolizes a true understanding between two people and their desire to give their loved one the best gift, even if it means sacrificing something important to them. I usually don’t go that far in my gift-giving efforts, but I still strive to provide something special.

I got an $8 off coupon for Build-A-Bear in August with my purchase yesterday. I’ve got my eye on this limited edition purple bear they have there (I want to call her Vivian for some reason). I think I want to go back and make another bear for myself. Not, of course, to replace my beloved Teddy. No, maybe it’s time to give Teddy a friend. My stuffed animal harbor seal, Sandy, which I got at Sea Lion’s Cove in Oregon when my husband I were there on vacation in 2000, sits on my living room couch watching TV. So he’s not much company at all.

Yeah, I know. I’m very silly. But, you know, at this age, if you can hang onto anything that reminds you of your youth, you should go for it. Like I said, I still have a soft spot for stuffed animals. I don’t have a ton of them, but the ones I do keep around are special to me. The good thing about stuffed animals is they never die.

Seriously, I love ya’ll but this has got to stop….

If you are planning on getting married or having a baby in the next year, and you’re my girlfriend or relative or acquaintance in some shape or form, could you do me the very great favor of forgetting my address when you’re making out the invitations to your shower? I just received my third shower invitation in a week, and one of them wasn’t even for a person living in this state, but, of course, Ms. Manners dictates that if you are invited to a shower, you’re supposed to provide a present or monetary supplication even if you can’t attend. Seriously, gals, I’m going broke with all your major life changes!!

I’ve already attended two baby showers in the last few months. I’ve held and admired two babies. I went to one baptism party. I threw one wedding shower (for one of the gals now having a baby shower because she went and did everything all at once). I was invited to one wedding that I couldn’t make due to TOSRV (which, of course, means I had to send another gift). I attended two weddings last year and one bachelorette party. In 2006, I attended three bridal showers and three weddings. For you men folk who don’t understand how the feminine world of marriage goes, I, as a female, am obligated to buy two gifts for every wedding–one for the bridal shower and one for the wedding itself. I won’t even mention how many bridal dresses I’ve had to buy over the last ten years of my life (I’m apparently very popular as a close friend). It wasn’t 27 dresses like that recent movie with Katherine Heigl, but give me ten more years and it will be awfully close! (At least I can say that I’ve never attended more than one wedding in one day as a bridesmaid.)

This is getting a bit crazy. Now all my cousins are starting to get married, so the spiral is doomed to never end. All I can do is promise you all that I will not be hurt if you don’t invite me. I’ve got other things to do with my time and money. I promise sincerely that I will never ask you to attend any future bridal showers, baby showers, or weddings I may throw. I didn’t have a bridal shower when I got married because I believe they are a scam to sucker your girlfriends out of one more gift (and they are!). I had a bachelorette party because, hey, that’s just drinking and carousing with your best buddies–just a regular girls’ night out (I didn’t do the strip club thing). You can spend as much or as little as you desire.

I don’t care what people say–I will NOT have a baby shower if I ever decide to have kids. I don’t need the charity of my friends to procure the proper baby equipment. If I decide to have kids, I expect I will be in the financial situation where I can afford to buy all their accompanying kitch. Besides, the whole girlie event of a shower–baby or bridal–just makes me want to gag. If you haven’t noticed, I’m not too girlie. I enjoy riding my bike with the guys. I like to drink beer. Sometimes I belch loud and uninhibitedly. I’m most comfortable in a pair of shorts, sandals, and a tank top. I like to get my hands dirty and sweat. The color pink makes me want to smack people around. I’m feminine, yes, in my own way; a girlie girl, I am not.

Occasionally, I like chick flicks. But, I swear, that’s it.

If I have kids, we can get together after the child (Aurora if it is a girl and Martin if it is a boy) is born. We can have a bonfire and I’ll pass the baby around for all to ogle. We can celebrate the excitement of motherhood or creation or whatever is so glamorous about children in a nice, informal way that doesn’t require you providing anything more than a dish for potluck. Bring the guys, too, for they are part of the whole creation event. Sure couldn’t have children without their help. I promise it won’t be a hen party!

If I ever am blessed enough to find a man I feel compelled to marry, attendance to the wedding will not be obligatory. Maybe it will be a destination wedding in Vegas (on the Enterprise bridge at the Hilton!) or a small ceremony in a vineyard. Either way, no presents will be required, just the presence of my most cherished friends. It won’t even be that big of a deal. Maybe dinner would be small and informal. I would still buy a nice dress, but I wouldn’t spend more than $100. (The dress from my first wedding hangs in my closet. It was $600. I wore it once.)

I might have another bachelorette party. It just wouldn’t be one of those crazy things those young girls are having these days. I would have something small and relaxed, representing the pace of my life in my thirties (or forties–it may be a long time before I’m ever married again). Maybe we’d go to an Indians game or sit at a wine bar. Peace and quiet and not a lot of money–these are my vows for my thirty-something life. The party girl I was still likes to party, but at a slower pace these days.

Man. I really want to buy two CDs (The Church’s Heyday and The Wailin’ Jennys’ Firecracker), but now I feel broke with two baby showers and one bridal shower in my future. Ugh. I’m getting waaaaaaaay to old for this stuff.

I forgot to mention that I officially retired from bridesmaiding as of Angy’s wedding. If you really want me as a bridesmaid in your wedding, you must submit a petition including a 10-page essay as to why you feel I should bless your marriage with my devoted witness. Trust me, you need more than my cherished witness to bless your marriage. I’m not sure I provide very good luck. My odds are good; of the nine or so weddings I’ve attended as a bridesmaid, only three have ended in divorce. Never fear–two of these people already have someone better in their lives. Still, do you really think your luck is helped by a woman who lost her husband within twenty months of her marriage? Not hardly! You’re better off to pick a woman married much longer than I have ever known!

I might consider being a godparent again. Though, knowing my amorphous non-specific beliefs, probably most people would avoid that one like a plague (my best friend made me a godmother with the caveat, “I’d rather have an atheist being my child’s spiritual guide than the kind of guidance others close to me would provide.” It was really touching, especially since I knew immediately who one of these “others” she was referring to was.)

Though, being a godmother means more money out the door…. and that commitment is more of a lifelong obligation… Though, I suppose I don’t mind so much. Even if I don’t really feel a big influence of said child’s life.

It’s raining babies… hallelujah?

An epidemic is stirring in the thirty-something crowd in which I have socialized my entire life: babies. One of these alien creatures are set to burst forth chaotically (and with much pain) into the world from five of my girlfriends and/or family members. Amidst all the baby shower invitations, I struggle to understand this human urge to procreate. I have not had this urge since I was too young and too stupid to understand what being a parent was all about, back in the days when my younger cousins clung to me like I was some sort of sweet goddess of fun and play-time. I used to love the attention and I adored my younger cousins. Everyone thought I’d grow up to have a bunch of kids. I used to say I wanted eight, just like Grandma H (I idolized my grandma a bit and wanted to do things she had done).

But then I became a teenager and the reality of what parenthood entailed hit me full-force. Pregnancy meant unfulfilled desires and dreams, a sudden end to freedom and childhood. Since that time, I’ve feared pregnancy like the plague. While I am sure this is the right message for a teenager to have had, I clung to it tightly even when I was married. I didn’t even really feel the urge to procreate with the man I’ve loved above all others.

I’ve recently discovered that I identify with Miranda on Sex and the City. She’s the tomboy lawyer who pretty much hates everything cute–babies, weddings, stereotypical femininity. Maybe my views are not as strong as hers, but often while watching this show in re-run, I feel like, “Wow! I’m so there!” In exaggerating her toughness a bit, the writers of this show seemed to imply to its largely female audience that it’s okay to be uncomfortable by all of the traditional female gender roles.

Unfortunately, she too had a baby. On accident from a one-night stand with her ex (for shame! this is my nightmare!). She was going to have an abortion, but when she was getting prepped for the procedure, she decided she couldn’t go through with it. Which I suppose implies that even tough girls have a maternal instinct (though I’ve tried to reject any implication that I have one for years). I guess I can’t blame the writers for this move entirely. Though I’ve said for years that I would get an abortion if I ever got pregnant, I’m not sure how easy it would be for me go through with it if I actually got pregnant. I guess that’s why I’m so pedantic about taking my birth control pill. I don’t want to ever have to make the choice.

Pregnancy for me has always been a gripping fear. Even when I was married. Yeah, we talked about having kids, which I suppose is just something you do when you’re part of a couple. I know my husband wanted to have kids, but the thought always made bile rise at the back of my throat. He would have liked to have started right away; I bought myself some time by saying that I was not even going to think about kids until I was thirty. I wanted to live out the rest of my twenties child-free because in my mind the twenties were supposed to be carefree and fun. Of course, in my case, the latter half of my twenties turned out to be a trip through depression and grief, so they weren’t nearly as fun as I imagined they’d be.

The day I turned thirty, I remembered this deal I’d made with Mike. I guess I thought I’d feel a lot older at thirty than I did. I still didn’t feel this biological “urge” to have children. Some point out I might have felt differently if Mike had lived and we had those four years of marriage together. I don’t know, though. Even when Mike and I talked speculatively about children, I always felt a little bit of panic. I’m glad now that we didn’t have any kids because it would have been excruciatingly hard to have raised them–even one child–after his death. Most days, I could barely keep myself alive.

The only convincing thing for me about having kids with him was that Mike wanted to be a stay-at-home dad, allowing me to continue working as the “bread-winner” of the family. I knew I just didn’t want to be bothered with the day-to-day care and insanity of motherhood. I also have this fear of having to rely completely on the financial support of someone else. I don’t want to give up financial independence, as it provides something for my husband to hang over my head. All too often, I’ve heard couples with kids arguing where the husband shouted, “I’m the one bringing in the money!”

Reliance is not easy for me. I’ve learned that only I can rely on myself always. That’s the mantra that pulls me through some of the toughest struggles in my life, especially when I feel friends have abandoned me or are unable to help. Actually, this is probably the truest statement of life. You can’t expect anyone to rescue you or save you–you have to heal yourself and support yourself.

My husband used to make me try to do trust falls with him. They do these exercises at summer camps sometimes to promote teamwork. In a trust fall, you cross your arms in front of yourself (so that you can’t use them to grab at things) and you lean back until you reach the point where you lose control over your balance and gravity takes over. Your partner, standing behind you, is supposed to be there to catch you. The point of the exercise is that you trust your partner enough that you are able to let yourself fall, risking potential injury, without attempting to right yourself. I was never able to do it. Not even with Mike. Which also explains why I was never able to rappel with him. I couldn’t even trust my life to him when he was on belay. I don’t believe in, nor do I have the ability to, put my life in someone else’s hands. They can’t possibly love me and cherish my life as I do.

I guess that makes me a control freak, which also makes for bad parenting. I know too well of the tendencies within me that want to make everyone do everything my way. The biggest problem I had growing up as someone else’s child was dealing with this same sort of control being–or I felt it was–exerted on me. I always tried to, albeit secretly, find ways to buck the system just to buck the system (ie, why I began smoking). I want to think that if I had kids I would take a very freeing philosophy with them. I would allow my child develop into what he/she wanted to be and I wouldn’t apply strict rules. It’s just a lot of work to raise a child. I also don’t think I could ever tell a child not to do something I’ve done. I’d feel like a hypocrite. I hate people who say one thing but do another. I would hate myself for doing these things. I just don’t know how realistic it is for me to actually raise a child in the “freeing” philosophy I imagine or to not occasionally be a hypocrite.

I’m also convinced that the sure way to kill a really great marriage is to have kids. After you have kids, the romance is gone–the spontaneity, the ability to travel at whim, the care for one another, the great sex. It seems like your entire world gets centered around the kids and their doings, and you ultimately lose your attention to your spouse. I can’t think of anything as more unromantic than a soccer mom, carting all her kids to soccer games in her matching sweat-pant outfit, screaming on the sidelines like a lunatic for her little Johnny or Julie whom she thinks is the best kid on the whole team even though there are fifteen other equally as competent kids. If I woke up and found myself in that life, I’d want to die. Something of it reminds me too much of those days when I was a kid on the soccer fields, dreaming of a life outside of Brunswick, kicking down the walls and getting out. I would feel trapped.

Along the same lines, I remember this one day I was driving the Best Friend and her kids somewhere. We had to stop to return a video at a store just down the street from her house. Her kids were in the back seat–quite young, probably 2 and 3 years old–and they were both crying at the top of their lungs. She ran into the store to return the video, leaving me alone for just a minute with these howling banshees. It was the longest minute of my life. Now, mind you, I love her kids. I’ve always prided myself in my relationship with them, even though at some point in my life I was extremely upset that she was having kids because our relationship with each other would forever change. I forced myself to act excited about both their births, even though a little piece of me was mourning that our childhood together was over. However, that day in the car, as I sat there watching rain pelt my windshield and the window wipers’ losing battle to swipe it all away, I prayed that the birth control pill would never fail me. I thought, Life can’t be any worse than this moment.

I feel like a horrible person for these thoughts. I know a lot of people really enjoy parenthood. I do enjoy being around kids on some level (though, eventually, I get bored with them because I seem to enjoy adult conversation more). I think I feel a huge disconnect with them that I didn’t have when I was a kid, all those years ago, arranging my little cousins into groups that performed Christmas plays in front of the aunts, uncles, and Grandma H. Somewhere along the path of my life, I forgot how to be with kids, how to speak their language, how to understand them. Probably when I actually stopped being a kid myself.

It’s okay, though. I don’t really care about the disconnect so much. It only seems to come up when people point out to me that they’re surprised that I don’t want kids because they remember all too well how I was with the little cousins. I think you can’t really judge how I was with little cousins; after all, they always say you don’t love any kids like you love your own. Maybe simply because I was related to the kids it was easier to like them, and easier for me to lead them. As it turns out, I was horrible with other people’s kids. I failed miserably in my first real field experience as an Elementary Education major in college. I think that experience was the last nail in the coffin that sealed my fate forever with my opinion of children. I learned that not all kids just naturally like me or are inclined to follow me, as was implied by the relatives’ excited chattering about my so-called talents with kids.

It’s not just my bad experiences as a would-be teacher that make me not want to have any children, nor is it all about my fears of being a controlling mother. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve looked at my life and I’ve enjoyed the freedoms I have. I like that I can go anywhere I want to go, whenever I want to go, at moment’s notice. I like thinking big thoughts and reading books and having time to blog like this. I like that I can get up in the morning and lazily read or watch TV before doing anything else without having to attend to the needs of dependent beings (other than my cats). I enjoy volunteering, using my talents to help other people and other organizations I care about. I feel no strong urge to procreate. I feel that if I never had kids, at the end of my life, I’d feel just as fulfilled as those who did decide to have kids. We all have our own paths to fulfillment. While those who have kids can’t understand how I would feel just as fulfilled, I don’t understand how those who have kids can feel fulfilled with what to me feels like a death sentence. (And I’m not saying that kids are a death sentence to everyone; I’m saying they would be for me.)

I have to admit that it makes me a little sad as I watch each one of my friends chose the family life, but only for the selfish reasons stated above, which have more to do with me than it does to them. I would always expect my friends to do whatever it is that makes them happy. When I see them happy, I am happy. Without trying too sound too much like a martyr, I have chosen the path that fewer people take and it is a lonelier one. I just want people to know that I’m happy with the way I am, with the path I have chosen. I am sure, eventually, I will be able to find a group of people to hang out with who have chosen similar paths, or whose children are grown.

I know everything is not as bad as I think. I know my friends will still find time to hang out with me amidst their chaotic family lives. Nothing will be the same anymore, and as you know, I fear change. I always make it through all right. It’s just hard to remember that as you are standing at the top of the roller coaster’s hill, looking down at the dropping track below–the hill always looks steeper and scarier from the top.

I aspire to be a cool aunt. Right now, my ten year-old godson seems to think I’m cool: he’s been telling me that he’s from the “other” side of Mars (is he the Mars Godson?). My best friend’s kids always seem excited to see me, even though I always think they’ll forget who I am now that they live in Florida. So I must have some influence on children. I like having an ancillary role. I don’t have to place any discipline or worry about how to raise them into good people or pay for their college education. I feel maybe I can be somewhat of an influence on their lives, if only as someone interesting who occasionally takes them out somewhere fun. I don’t know. That’s all I aspire to be–someone’s cool aunt. Even if it is a child to whom I’m not an aunt by blood (such as Best Friend’s kids). Cool Aunt Mars Girl. I like that.