Happy Birthday Eve to Me

Today is the last day of my 30s. Tomorrow I will be 40 and I guess I will need to finally admit to myself that I am middle-aged. Naturally, a major birthday like this has me looking back over my life and analyzing where I am versus where I thought I’d be — there is quite a lot of distance between those two points, I can tell you. I never thought I’d be divorced or working for less money than my first job out of college. I never thought I’d be living in a mobile home or in a small town in Pennsylvania, for that matter. But there is one thing that I’ve managed to accomplish: I don’t have children.

I will be 40 years old tomorrow and I don’t have kids. In fact, I have never even been pregnant. I knew at an early age that it just wasn’t something I wanted and I couldn’t see the point of creating a human being without having those inner stirrings that wanted one in my life. For years, I had this general conversation with people:

Them: “So, how many kids do you have?”

Me: “None.”

Them: “Don’t worry, you have time.”

Me: “I don’t plan on having any.”

Them: “Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

These were perfect strangers! How do they know? What if I’m a serial killer? Or a cannibal? Or someone that likes to dress up as a robot and put on street performances all in the name of art? Why do people assume that everyone should have a drive to procreate? I do not need to replace myself on this planet, I do not need to fill a quota or check off a box of generic accomplishments. I have never, not once in my life, held a baby and thought “I wish I had one.” Hell, I’ve never held a baby and thought “I could take him/her home.” That utter lack of maternal desire tells me that I’ve made the right decision.

I had someone ask me “But how do you know unless you try?” My response was “I could say the same thing to you about face tattoos.” That shut them up pretty quickly. I’ve also used sky diving, Jell-O wrestling and golden showers as examples, because I like to cater to my audience.

That being said, just because I don’t want my own doesn’t mean that I don’t have the capacity to love someone else’s child. I recognize that those are two different things. My stepmother has made a world of difference in my life and I didn’t meet her until I was nearly 30. She didn’t raise me, but she has played a role in who I have become as an adult. While the roles may change throughout our lives, you’re never too old to parent or be parented. The Handsome Hermit does not have children either, I’m lucky in that respect. I was surprised to find someone else that agreed with my thoughts about parenthood, and my decision against it. It made me feel less crazy — until I got to know him better and realized that was the MOST normal thing about him!

Times have changed, though. Now that I am older I don’t have strangers tell me that I will change my mind or that I would feel differently about children once I had my own (which I am sure is true, but WHAT IF?). Instead, when people find out I don’t have kids, they give me this look that says “she must not be able to have any, poor thing.” I’ve actually had some little old ladies ask me if I was “barren”! How is that an appropriate question? And what if that was true? Wouldn’t that be a terrible thing to have to discuss? And will I have to hear about their bowel movements in return? Quid pro quo can be a bitch.

Recently, I was at a cook out and met a lady holding her adorable 10 month old daughter. We introduced ourselves and explained how we each knew the host/hostess and then there was a little lull. She looked at me sweetly and said “Do you have kids?” and when I said no, her face fell. She just assumed we had nothing in common and would not be able to keep up any sort of polite banter. I wanted to point out that she is more than a parent, she is a woman and a teacher and a person all on her own but I didn’t know her well enough to start that particular lecture. Her children are the most important part of her life, as they should be, but they are not what makes HER. Eventually I discovered that she also had a dog, so we had a lovely chat about our pets for awhile, although I could tell she was struggling. I have one less label than she did, but that seemed to be the only that counted for her.

All of this used to bother me, and at times it can still get under my skin, but for the most part I’ve come to terms with it. I am made to feel like a second class citizen because I don’t have children, I can’t swap diaper stories or talk about day care drama. But when this happens, I’ve learned to politely smile and nod my head or to wander over to where the men are talking. I’d rather talk about horsepower than potty training any day!

July 2016

Obviously, I was all over the map in the month of July when it came to reading preferences:

The Murder House by James Patterson

Ripper by Isabel Allende

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson

The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

All the Stars in the Heavens by Adriana Trigiani

The 100 by Kass Morgan

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald

After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman

Dark Shimmer by Donna Jo Napoli

Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz

The Wedding Bees: A Novel of Honey, Love and Manners by Sarah-Kate Lynch

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

The 500 by Matthew Quirk

Revived by Cat Patrick

The Lake House by Kate Morton

 

June 2016

I listen to audio books while sitting at my desk at work or driving in my car. I recently discovered that I enjoy listening to books that I never would have liked to read. Mystery, present day crime drama, even some horror. This opens up a whole bunch of books that I heretofore had ignored!

Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow

Timeless by Gail Carriger

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Finders Keepers by Stephen King

666 Park Avenue by Gabriella Pierce

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

The Tragedy Paper by Elizabeth LaBan

The Accidental Empress by Allison Pataki

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

Private by James Patterson

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng

 

 

May 2016

Sometimes I feel bad for the amount of time an author has to spend laboring over their creation and then I plow through it in record time.

Him Her Him Again the End of Him by Patricia Marx

Soulless by Gail Carriger

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

We Are Called to Rise by Laura McBride

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson

The Abortionist’s Daughter by Elisabeth Hyde

One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

Disclaimer by Renee Knight

Changeless by Gail Carriger

Blameless by Gail Carriger

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant

Heartless by Gail Carriger

 

April 2016

April seemed to be a month consisting of a lot of series — either beginning or ending them.

The 57 Lives of Alex Wayfare by M.G. Buehrlen

Symbiont by Mira Grant

Chimera by Mira Grant

The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan

Yes Please by Amy Poehler

Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

Where There’s Smoke by Jodi Picoult

Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz

March 2016

March was a pretty light reading month for me:

Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

Scowler by Daniel Kraus

Lucky Us by Amy Bloom

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest by Stieg Larsson

Rotters by Daniel Krauss

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A Banquet of Consequences by Elizabeth George

February 2016

According to my Book Book, here are the books I finished in February:

In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

The Burning Air by Erin Kelley

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins

NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

The Kings and Queens of Roam by Daniel Wallace

Bliss House by Laura Benedict