You don’t want kids!? But…

Every time I say, “I don’t think I want to have children”, I tend to brace myself for the response and reaction I’m going to get. The responses are more times than not less than desirable. The statement is usually met with negativity, judgement, or the instinctive reaction of trying to convince me differently.

Over the course of my long-term relationship with Michael, I have compiled a list of the most common responses I hear – we call them ‘but-responses’ – and they generally sound something like this:

1. But, having children makes your life fulfilling!

Firstly, saying something like this makes it seem as though a woman who chooses not to reproduce leads a life that is lacking something…well, really, that’s exactly what you’re saying. Yes, the choice is non-traditional; however, it should be accepted that it is a choice and not a requirement to create life – something I think should be explained to more women. I do not need to give birth to know that I have an incredible life and on top of that, I am going to experience so many different opportunities that some who choose children as their adventure might never get to experience.

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2. But, you’ll change your mind one day, trust me.

Well, trust me then. I’ve felt this way for the better part of my adulthood and for as long as I can remember to be honest. I have never had the burning desire to make mini-me versions of Toni and I feel more strongly about this choice now, with where I am as a person, the life I forsee myself living, than I ever have. It seems to get stronger the more birthdays I see, the more Michael and I grow together as a team, and our blended-family grows more in love. It’s not necessarily my mind that I’ve made up, so much as listening to the silent pull in my heart.

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3. But, what will you do when you’re older?

This one irks me a bit…and then makes me wonder if that is really a reason people have children – as a retirement/old age plan. I have a hard time with this one usually, and I have to really force my filter to stay in place and be kinder than I would like to be. I usually point out that there is no guarantee that your children will be there for you in your old age as it is all in how you get along and treat each other that matters – not just that you’re family.

4. But, you would make such a great mom!

Thank you! And not to toot my own horn, but that’s what makes me such a kick ass step-mama and auntie. I’m a mama bear for anyone I love, and it seems to come pretty naturally. I also love being an influential person to the children in my life, but not having it rest completely on my shoulders. You know, that whole “it takes a village” mentality? I’m one of the villagers that will always be there as a support for my babies from other mamas. I love being that person for my sister’s babies, my step-babies, and my friends’ babies – the person who shows up for them all the time as a teacher, mentor, guide and friend.

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5. But, it’s what’s natural!

So is nudity, but it’s illegal. In all seriousness though, just stop judging what you don’t know. Statistics prove that even if I did want kids, there are still a ton of chances that I might not be able to conceive, carry to term, survive the birth, and have a fully healthy baby, etc. etc. the list can go on and on. Determining what is right for my body and my life is what is natural to me. Let’s all remember too: at the end of the day, I’m the only person who has to live with and answer for my choices.

I know many women who are choosing not to have children of their own, each armed with their own reasoning, each reason as personal as the next. Please try to remember to support each other in our right to choose our own path for this life – what is right for you is not what us right for everyone. So next time you hear a woman express her choice not to have children of her own,  instead of one of the above cringeworthy but-responses, celebrate her choice, thank her for being true to herself and maybe ask “why?” without judgement – the answer just might surprise you.

~ Toni

I was LIED to!

I have a bone to pick with Walt Disney – he has set me up for failure! Ever since I was a young girl he has spewed lies and set unrealistic goals for my life. Well, Walt, I have had it up to the top of the tower in my non-existent castle!

First there was Cinderella, who taught me that when I get older and am too busy to plan my outfit for a night out, there’s not a fret! The mice and birds who live in my attic and sub-basement will be happy to whip something up. I can spend more time at work and cleaning my house now because of all the free time I will have not having to make my own clothes!

My reality? I live in an older house, and am no stranger to mice. I do not live in a land far far away. I live in the real world where mice eat through your electrical wires, shit everywhere and are a general nuisance. There are entire sections in hardware stores dedicated to the riddance of these creatures. Cinderella would be mortified! Not once have I come home to a mouse-made couture dress delicately created with the knick knacks and rags around my house. Instead I come home from work after a long day and where are my clothes? On the ground where I left them. Now I have to struggle to figure out the perfect outfit for the ball.

Then, there is Snow White, who lived with 7 men and made it look like heaven, a party with music and dancing every night, and yes she cleaned the house, but before she came along they were getting by just fine. Now I know not all men are grody, but in my experience I would never want to live with 7 of them, dwarfs or not!  Could you imagine the smell? The grocery bill? THE ARGUMENT OVER THE TV REMOTE?  I am shuddering just thinking about it!  Snow White, either you are a goddess who has managed to tame 7 men, or you are one sweep away from a nervous breakdown! Either way, you did not prepare me properly to live with ONE boy by myself let alone 7. (I love you Cody.)

Rapunzel and Ariel may have told me the biggest lie…about MY HAIR! Let’s start with Rapunzel who let her hair grow out to unimaginable lengths, with no product, no trims, just au natural! ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!? Apparently, in this land far far away, there is no such thing as humidity or split ends or GREY HAIR! I get up an hour earlier than I technically have to just to make sure my hair is tamed enough that when I walk into work I am not asked to put a bag over my head. Straighteners, products, curling irons, hair spray – nothing? Really Rapunzel? You are really going to tell me that you sat up in that tower of yours and just let it grow and grow?  Her poor neck is all I can keep thinking! Every time I watch that movie with my nieces and nephew, my mind races: She had to have at least a chiropractor on call? How is she not a hunchback?

AND then there is Ariel! With her graceful rise from the water during her big musical number. For years girls around the world have been immersing their heads in water and trying to find the perfect flip technique. If you are sitting here reading this, pretending like you have never done this before you are LYING to yourself. This past summer I spent a good 20 minutes attempting to get the perfect flip, each time suffocating myself with my soaking strands of hair. Finally, after one flip too many, my neck advised me quickly that I am not suited for the hair-flipping life. I have since then removed Beyoncé from dream jobs. I have learned my lesson…the hard way.

Yeah, right.

I live my life every day knowing that I met Cody the good old fashion way. That he didn’t come into my tower and kiss me as fate brought our lives together. I have to work to get my hair the way I want it. Small critters will not make me a new wardrobe, and frankly my singing voice does not entice birds to join in with me; instead, I am sure, it scares them as it scares my two dogs.

I may have been fooled, but you have a chance to spread the word so that other little girls don’t grow up with high expectations like I did. It’s been a tough road, but I am doing just fine taking it one day at a time.

~ Jacqui

Thankful is as thankful does

I’m definitely a Christmas person – the lights, the sounds, the smells, the music, the family, the gifts, the love, the snow – LOVE it all – but Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart.

There are very few moments in our regular day-to-day where we get to stop and really think about all that we have and then express explicit gratitude for it. Really, our days are (at least for me) tackled at a get-up-don’t-stop-keep-going-’til-you-drop pace, where there’s little time for rest, let alone reflection and then the expression of thankfulness.

But this season, this time when the trees turn and the air cools and the layers of clothing start piling up, is anointed with this beautiful gift of making time to be thankful. 

In our home, the home that Ben and I have been building together for over 8 years, thankfulness has sometimes been really hard to grasp. There was our first year of marriage, where Ben was unemployed and I had the worst job ever (went home in tears every night) and we lived in our crappy first apartment and had no money. Instead of wallowing, we forced ourselves to come up with one thing each to be thankful for every day the week leading up to Thanksgiving. Those fourteen things lit up our tiny one-bedroom like nobody’s business.

There was the year that we lost our baby, our Charlie. The year where nothing seemed to lift us. The year that sucked huge hairy balls of crap. The one where counting the blessings we had here, and not in heaven, was damn near impossible.

And then there have been years where blessings have overflowed, where the number of things to be thankful for was sky-high and singing in church choirs about praising God and going to the apple orchard and making pie and getting together as a family seemed like things we could do forever. Those are the times where Thanksgiving feels like it shouldn’t be just a season, but a year-round, daily activity.

This year, like every other, has its own marks of sorrow, its own trials, its own triumphs, its own heaps of blessings. It’s a year where we’re finally settling into our family of five. It’s a year where we are working hard on our marriage, harder than we’ve ever had to work before. It’s a year where we’re making big changes (another blog post for another time!) and hoping like hell (praying like maniacs!) that we’re making the right changes. It’s a year where my list of what to be thankful for feels more thoughtful than it ever has.

So, in my pause of reflection, here’s what I’m thankful for most this year:

1. Ben – Father of our children, lover of my heart, fighter for our family, breadwinner monetarily, strongman in all things, I’m thankful that he’s the one I’m walking this path with.

He's a handsome devil...and sometimes just a devil...

He’s a handsome devil…and sometimes just a devil…

2. The babies – No one makes me crazier, loves me more, lets me love them more, teaches me more, forces me to grow more, and makes me sit in awe more than the three nutters I call mine.

Crazy in love

Crazy in love

3. My sisters – No, this isn’t a plug for the blog, but seriously? My sisters? Without them, I don’t know what I’d do. And this year, I feel like I’m calling on all of the favours for all of the things. I’m asking for nannying help, I’m leaning for babysitting, I’m demanding workout buddies, I’m talking their ears off, I’m handing over babies for them to hold while I let my arms rest – all of the things.

Maybe we should take another one...where we're not wet...

Maybe we should take another one…where we’re not wet…

 

Who else would push your kids and their kid and all of your kids' baggage up the biggest hill and STILL love you?

Who else would push your kids and their kid and all of your kids’ baggage up the biggest hill and STILL love you?

4. My moms – Who else can say, “Not only do I talk to my mom every day, but I love my mother-in-law like a second mother”? Not many people that I know. Lucky doesn’t even begin to cover the love I get from my mothers.

My mom loving my babies...and ME

My mom loving my babies…and ME

She lets me wake her up at stupid o'clock and STILL loves me!

She lets me wake her up at stupid o’clock and STILL loves me!

5. Soul-friends – The moms at school pick-up/drop-off, the moms at bible study, the women who listen to me rant and rave and brag and are nothing but supportive, even though I probably come off as a complete nut.

Any time women come together with a collective intention, it's a powerful thing. Whether it's sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens. - Phylicia Rashad

“Any time women come together with a collective intention, it’s a powerful thing. Whether it’s sitting down making a quilt, in a kitchen preparing a meal, in a club reading the same book, or around the table playing cards, or planning a birthday party, when women come together with a collective intention, magic happens.” – Phylicia Rashad

6. Time – For finding myself, for running, for learning, for thinking, for everything – I feel like I’ve stolen more time for myself than I ever have and the proof is in the distance I can run (12.84 KM!), the fitness I have, the peace that I feel, and the depression I’m actively keeping at bay.

Me, the road, my breath, my thoughts, my meditation, my time

Me, the road, my breath, my thoughts, my meditation, my time

7. God’s love – I know that everything that I’ve listed here, everything that I’m thankful for every day, everything that I am, and where I am and where I’m going is all because of Him. THANK YOU.

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This year has not been our easiest, our most blessed, or our hardest, most awful. But this year, like all the rest, the thankfulness is found in what we have and where we are right now, not in what we don’t have or where we didn’t make it.

To you and yours, a happiest and most grateful of Thanksgiving seasons. I hope it’s filled with love, light, and turkey. (Mmmm, turkey).

~ Julia

Guest post – Blessed

To celebrate our 50th post, we asked our mom to write a guest blog. Thank you so much for reading with us this far! We can’t wait for the next 50. And to our Mommita – we LOVE you!

As I anxiously await each new submission to the blog, I realized something: I crave connection with my babies every day. Even as they live their lives, I still want and need to be a part of their lives. After all, I am a mom and will always be. Oh, I have added a few titles to my repertoire, Grammie being my most favorite of new additions next to girlfriend. Before this blog there were days when I had no connection with them either by phone, chat, email, text or Facebook updates. Those days I felt almost empty; something was missing. You see, my greatest accomplishment and joy are my four babies. Just thinking about them makes me cry with joy and pride. When my girls asked me to write for the blog, I responded, “You know I am going to cry,” to which Julia and Toni immediately responded, “I know,” and, true to form, I did.

I love being their mom and always have. I never doubted that I would be proud of each of them, that I would be there for them, that I would do whatever was needed to help them, guide them or rescue them. As I see what lives in their hearts, I see the girls I know, love and adore. I am blessed!

The ladies, back in the day

The ladies, back in the day (L to R: Toni, Mom, Andreah, Jacqui, Julia)

My girls, each in their own way, were my strength as I ventured to take the most challenging of steps in my life to be me again, a woman, a single woman. They were my cheering section, along with their men and the many friends, Dianne and Paula to just name a few, and family. With each step I took, from renovating the house in preparation to sell, to moving to a new town, they were there. It was hard for me to find the courage I needed. I was scared – let’s face it, I had been a part of a couple for 28 years. I had never done this before, be just me. But I am absolutely sure that it was even harder for my girls to see me venture out, dating (we call it shopping for shoes), harder for them to start a new life without the two parents they loved not be in one place.

Oh, what had I done? How have I failed them? What kind of example am I to end my marriage? This was all I could think as I watched each of them struggle to find the balance in all this. It broke my heart to see the impact on each. When I expressed this to Julia so many moons ago, she said something to me that has stuck: you have shown us that it is okay to say enough, it is okay to say this is not good for me and move on. I hear my OH so wise daughter each time I make a change in my life.

Don’t get me wrong – if I had to do it all over again I would not change a thing about our life as a family. I loved my life, loved being his wife, rallied in the title that will be mine forever- Mommy, Mom, Mommita – joyful in what was “our family” no matter how flawed it was, it was ours. Through all the trials and joys, that is where we grew, where the bond as women began. Without all those experiences we would not be who we are today – strong, independent and dependent, loving, giving and, yes, emotional women.

A wise man once said to me that if you put God in your life and seek His favour first, all things are possible. He was right. Through many prayers, I found an amazing man who I loved and lost. I was lead to an amazing job that I did not apply for but got that I love and still have today. The many of the lessons in my life have shown me that it is okay to be just me, that no matter what society says I should have done, I did my very best. I am not perfect, but that is okay too. Over time and putting God first in my morning prayers and pleadings through the tough moments, I have found a new love that makes me joyful and filled with laughter. With that love comes new joy and even more family to love. I wake up every morning in love with my man, in love with our families, so happy to be me. I am blessed as only God can bless me, with a life that is worth living with no regrets!

~ Christine (a.k.a. Mom)

If you’d like to write a guest post and join in the Weather Vane Sisterhood fun, email us at weathervanesisterhood at gmail dot com. We’d love to have you!

Where have all the sisters gone?

I consider myself exceptionally lucky to be a part of this sisterhood.

These sisters of mine are my cheerleaders when I am down, my voice of reason when I am ridiculous, my sounding board when I need to vent, my support system when I struggle, my teachers, my inspiration, my mirrors, my reminder where we came from and where we are going – the ultimate touchstone. I am so lucky in fact, it makes me sad for anyone that has a stressed or estranged relationship with their sister(s), or anyone that wasn’t blessed with a double-X chromosome-carrying sibling.

My biological sisterhood

My biological sisterhood

While the sisters I speak of are blood, I am also exceptionally lucky to have found myself surrounded by a group of women that I consider a part of my sisterhood – my beautiful, supportive, uplifting and inspiring girlfriends. Personally, I am selective of who I let in, and even more selective of who I let stay in my life and for good reason – sadly, women can be each other’s worst enemy, biggest critics and more often than we would like to admit, the first to freely pass judgement on each other.

That being said, lately I have noticed a newer trend among women that I could do without – a constant stream of stories of women ganging up on each other, using their social media soapboxes to bash, bully and verbally maim other women.

While I am all for women having a voice, I often wonder – where did the focus of our universal sisterhood go? As women, should we not be lifting each other up, praising and promoting our strengths? When did it become okay for us to attack one another and so publicly? While I am not suggesting that we need to always agree with each other, or even see things from another’s side, I am suggesting that this catty, degrading behaviour is outright appalling and needs to stop.

Thanks to our technologically-driven, addicted-to-social-media society, you don’t have to go far to find a woman with a voice, some worth hearing, some not so much. I may not always agree with the message, post, tweet, status, opinion, article, or even the chosen delivery of the message, but I am not about to allow it to turn me into the very kind of woman that I disassociate myself with on purpose. Call it self-preservation, selective socializing, whatever you like – I cannot stand when women attack other women because they disagree with them. What happened to the art of disagreeing with grace? Were you not raised with the rule, “if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all”? Have we really become so desensitized to the effect that our words can have that we cannot remove the catty from our reactions?

It is my strong belief that deep down, the women who bandwagon to negatively dismantle another sister are severely struggling with their own insecurities and need help coming to terms with them.

What makes the woman who flaunts her hard work on her physique and asks a blunt and honest question a “fat-shaming bully” a la Maria Kang? Shouldn’t we be applauding her for reaching her goals, working hard and calling out those that want to be more fit, more healthy and more active to diminish their own excuses?

'No excuse fit-mom' Maria Kang's Facebook that caused a HUGE uproar among women

‘No excuse fit-mom’ Maria Kang’s Facebook photo caused a HUGE uproar among women

What makes the opinionated female journalist a ‘bitch’ for having a different viewpoint of an issue that you might not have considered before she shed some light on it? Why is the attractive woman, with curves dripping in sex appeal, so threatening that she is labeled a ‘slut’ by other women? What makes the career-driven, successful female CEO who chose her career over raising a family a cold, heartless, selfish, shell of a woman? In turn, what makes the woman who gives up her own dreams or goals to selflessly raise a family an anti-feminist?

All of these negative reactions stem from personal insecurities and they need to stop dictating how we deal with one another. We look RIDICULOUS. Is this really what the feminists who pioneered and fought for equality envisioned when they gave us a voice? I think not.

So, the next time you open your mouth, or fly to your keyboard to craft a hostile or rude response to something a fellow sister has bravely let out into the world, please stop to think of the damage you may be doing to our universal sisterhood with your hasty actions and consider this:

Girls tear each other down. Women build each other up.

~Toni