Please Leave My Stuff Alone! Get Your Grubby Little Hands Off That!

“How many times do I have to tell you. Don’t touch my stuff!”

Guess what I’m referring to? Yes, you got it, children playing with your STUFF! Or playing with stuff that could hurt them or potentially hurt someone else. Things like hot water, plastic bags, pens and pencils, any sharp object, food, wet food, greasy food, dried food, any food, wrappers, heavy things, things small enough for them to swallow, things too big for them to swallow but they try to anyway, string, your dentures, your underwear, your lipstick, magic markers, crayons, paint, fire, forks, that box, that branch, that toy, that salami, that propane gas tank. PLEASE don’t let me go on because I could form a list so long that it would rival the list of things on a greedy child’s wishlist to Santa Claus. In a nutshell, kids like playing with things that you don’t want them to be playing with. It starts as soon as they come out of the womb and sometimes continues through college.

My thought is, that in order to stop this type of behavior you’d have to have nothing but yourselves in your home. No furniture, because little Tommy will chew on the upholstery. No food because little Amy will get into the fridge and smear the food on the wall or smash it on the floor. No clothing because little Angel will get his little Angel feet tripped up in your scarf and possibly fall on his sweet little Angel face. No-thing would have to exist in the house except naked people. And even if it was just you naked, with the naked child with no clothes on to chew or get tangle up in, even then the child could easily start playing with your hair or your nipples or your ears in a way that could hurt you. And that wouldn’t be fun either.

Whether you have children or not, we’ve all witnessed the scenario of the contents of a house upside down and inside out with stuff tossed everywhere – the aftermath of kids needing to get into and play with stuff. I personally would go insane if I had to live in an environment like that, all disrupted, chaotic and disheveled. I commend parents who are able to tolerate this because I certainly could not.

Hence, SWaNK.

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A SWaNK Take on the Declaration of Independence

Happy Independence Day to all SWaNKs and SWaNK supporters in the U.S.A. This is a day for us to celebrate not just our country’s independence, but our own independence as well. Here’s to being independent.

Today is July 4th, a day that most Americans are out at parades and festivals, picnicking in parks, barbequing, watching fireworks, hanging out with friends and family and celebrating the day that marks the signing of the Declaration of Independence which officially declared the separation of the country from the Kingdom of Great Britain back in 1776. For some people, it’s merely a day to celebrate a day off of work and for other’s it’s a party.

I wondered this morning what it would be like to write up a Declaration of Independence for women around the world and thought that perhaps I would give it a try by starting with a quick edit of the other Declaration of Independence and then add a few items here and there. Here are some excerpts and additions from the SWaNK Evolution Declaration of Independence.

Excerpt #1:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men HUMANS are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights INCLUDING THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE WHAT WE DO WITH OUR BODIES, that among these are Life, CHOICE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness WITH OR WITHOUT BEING MARRIED OR HAVING CHILDREN.

Excerpt #2:

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress OUR DRESSES AND PUT ON SOME PANTS in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury (STOP THE ABUSE). A Prince (WHO ARE THEY CALLING A PRINCE?) whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Excerpt #3: 

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British ANYONE WHO BELIEVES WOMEN ARE NOT EQUAL TO MEN brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. BEAUTY, BRAINS, INNER WISDOM, COMPASSION, ABILITY TO NURTURE, CAPABILITIES, AND ENDLESS OTHER QUALITIES THAT ARE BENEFICIAL TO HUMANKIND.

Additions: 

The Rights of All Humankind:

– To have the freedom to choose marriage or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to choose parenthood or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to choose a career or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to choose to cook or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to choose to clean or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to wear pants (or panties for that matter) or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to speak our minds or not without being judged by others

– To have the freedom to be 100% WHO WE ARE without being judged by others

Happy Independence Day EVERYONE!

“Goo Goo Gaga” and “I Don’t Know”

A transcription of a recent conversation I had with a 3-year-old:

CQ: “Hi little one, how are you?”

Little One: No attempted words, just a screech.

CQ: “What are you going to do today?”

Little One: “I want that one! I want that!”

CQ: “So? What are you going to do today?”

Little One: “Better go ween and some the pear.”

CQ: “Oh, really? That’s nice.”

____________________________________________________

A transcription of a recent conversation I had with an 11-year-old:

CQ: “So, now that school is over, what are you planning to do this summer?”

11-year-old: “I don’t know.”

CQ: “Do you have any activities planned like softball?”

11-year-old: “No, I don’t want to play this summer.”

CQ: “Why not?”

11-year-old: “I don’t know.”

CQ: “Oh, OK.”

Hey, What About Us Non-Mothers? How About a “Day” for Us?

Today is Mother’s Day in Canada and the United States. Other countries around the world celebrate it too, but not necessarily on the same day. It is a worldwide celebration of motherhood, mothering and all-things-and-people “mother”. So where does that leave SWaNKs on this day? Well, even though SWaNKs have mothers (if they didn’t they wouldn’t be alive), they themselves are not mothers, which means that nobody is celebrating them. If their mothers are alive and well, they can choose to celebrate their mothers by taking them to a play or out for dinner at their favorite restaurant or on a trip or whatever the gift or celebration may be, or celebrate them in their own way if they have mother’s who are deceased to honor them, but there is no celebration for those of us who have chosen or found ourselves to be childless and not mothers.

On a day like today when “everyone and their mothers” – literally – seemed to be out and about heading to nice restaurants for brunch with flowers and gifts in hand for mom and grandma, I sat on a bench people-watching and observing this phenomena and wondered, “Hhhhhmmmm, I think there should be a day that is officially dedicated to the celebration of SWaNKs!” I mean, we have just as much to offer and just as much love to give and deserve to be celebrated as much as the women who pushed babies out of her uteruses or adopted a child, right? I say, “heck ya!”

So now the question is, when shall it be? Perhaps SWaNK Day is the day before Mother’s Day so we can have our say first and steal the show away from moms. We would be the cause of all the flowers being sold out at the floral shops and all the chocolates hoarded from Godiva before people have a chance to buy them for their mothers? How does that sounds? That’s what I thought. Not very nice. Or how about the week after so our loved ones can take advantage of the discounted Mother’s Day merchandise at retail stores when they go out to buy us flowers and gifts? Well? Not good either. Because then we’d be getting the leftovers. Or should it be on a day that is politically or spiritually significant to single women who don’t have kids and if so, what day would that be? Oprah’s birthday? I don’t think so, but getting closer.

Well, regardless of what day it ends up being, I see a day when millions of SWaNKs are being honored and celebrated for who they are and who they’ve chosen to be. Celebrated on that same day every year by millions of their supporters and admirers and even a day when Hallmark creates a card with “Happy SWaNK Day” on it!

It’s Tax Day and Singles Are Being Ripped Off Across the Good Ole U.S of A.

Today, April 15, is “Tax Day” in the United States and this year it is also the day that several dozen “singles bloggers” are participating in a blogfest to help get the word out about the discrimination that takes place against singles regarding taxes for the unmarried. I am honored to be invited to be a participant in this blogfest, but I have to admit a couple of things first.

#1 . I had no idea of what a blogfest was. Well, it’s pretty easy to guess what one is, but I had never been asked to participate in one before. And…

#2 . I’ve been too busy and happy being single that I’ve been completely oblivious to over 1,000 U.S. income tax laws that apparently discriminate against single people.

So, in conclusion, I’ve had my head up my butt AND I’ve been ripped off all of my life, for being single!

But instead of reacting with anger (not about having my head up my butt), mistrust and frustration, my mind quickly jumped into a different set of thoughts.

An article, “The High Price of Being Single in America” in The Atlantic, is the basis of the blogfest. To give you some idea of the contents of the article, here is a quote. “…more than 1,000 laws provide overt legal or financial benefits to married couples. Marital privileging marginalizes the 50 percent of Americans who are single. The U.S. government is the main perpetrator, but private companies follow its lead. Thus marital privilege pervades nearly every facet of our lives. Insurance policies—ranging from health, to life, to home, to car—cost more, on average, for unmarried people compared to those who are married. It is not a federal crime for landlords to discriminate against potential renters based on their marital status. And so on.”

Now, the first thing that entered my mind after reading the article was that I wondered just how many people out there are aware of these laws and actually get married for the tax breaks and money savings? Over 1,000 laws? Even a handful would make any thrifty person take marriage into consideration over remaining single. I mean, there are enough people who “marry for money” so why not “marry for savings” too? Couples move in together to save on expenses, so why not take it one step further and get married to save even more.

The second thing that entered my head was, “If this is the case, no wonder there are so many unhappy married couples out there”. The thought of marrying for financial reasons and not for love would already put divorce high on the list of probable things likely to happen to a couple who placed their individual or mutual financial interests above true, heartfelt love.

So, now I have to wonder just how many marriages are consciously or even subconsciously disguised as loving relationships when the basis of them may be about money and savings. I’m aware that many people “marry for money” or for practical reasons rather than emotional, but adding the tax breaks into the equation just makes me wonder even more. I’m not saying that all or most marriages are for financial reasons, but I’m sure that many of them are.

This leads to some other questions that are bouncing off the corners of my head. Yes I have a square head.

1. Do some (straight) alpha men take into consideration the tax breaks that they would get, and therefore save money and have more disposable income, when they decide to take on a wife? Is it a factor in deciding whether to get married or not? Is she a tax break? Are the kids a tax break and a benefit in that way too? Could marriage be just an unromantic activity that allows for more time on the golf course and more financial freedom?

2. Is the government just plain old-fashioned, holding the same traditional views of many churches and conservatives? Does government mimic the beliefs of those who hold onto the notion that all adult humans should be married, procreate, live in a house with a white picket fence in the suburbs, where the wife stays at home and cooks, cleans, and raises the children while the husband goes to work, brings home the paycheck and comes home to a nice home-cooked meal with his family? Is this the type of behavior that the laws are designed to reward?

3. Did some religions just have it wrong all of these centuries by promoting the idea that marriage is the answer to human happiness? And did the government just follow along like a sheep and jump on the bandwagon along with insurance companies and the like? Or is marrying for financial and practical reasons just better and healthier for human beings than marrying for love? That is an age-old question.

4. Does anyone ever do things for love and never money? And if they did, would they be happier?

I believe that I am totally off topic now, but that’s where my thoughts have led me at this moment in time on Tax Day regarding how singles are treated by the government when it comes to taxes. It seems to me that the government is rewarding and promoting those who choose to marry or remain married. But why? I guess that’s the big question.

It’s unjust for any type of discrimination to take place anywhere. I believe in and advocate for fairness and equality. So, if indeed, I am being discriminated against by the government because I am single, which, according to the article I am, then it’s certainly time for a change.

Happy Tax Day everyone!

What Could Be Worse Than Nails Digging Into A Chalk Board?

Hundreds of screaming and screeching kids in a schoolyard, that’s what!

And you thought the title of this article was a joke with a punchline that would follow, didn’t you? Well, this is serious. I don’t even have PMS right now and all I could think of was, “SOMEBODY PLEASE SHUT THEM UP NOW! GET ME OUT OF HERE!” Don’t get me wrong, I actually like kids in general, but when there are hundreds of them in a fenced-in area on a warm, sunny day and they have been cooped up in classrooms all morning and have then been released into the schoolyard for their recess break and you’re about fifteen feet away from them with nowhere else to escape to and they are all screaming and yelling and screeching at one another at the top of their lungs, then that is an exception.

I was at the laundromat today doing three loads of laundry. I love this establishment because it is clean, modern, efficient, calming and lovely. They play classical music in the background to add to the calm and the sound of the machines humming is almost Zen-like. When I do my laundry there I bring my laptop, so I can work and be productive while my clothes are gently spinning away and being refreshed. It’s like a day at the spa for both me and my clothes.

But today, it was HELL DAY at the laundro-spa because recess for the kiddies started just after I loaded up my three loads and little did I know that there was even a school right next door hidden behind the bushes. I couldn’t think straight and the quivers running up and down my spine were on hyper-mode, worse than they would be if someone were digging their nails into a chalk board. It felt like millions of fire ants were crawling rampantly all over my body. And after about 10 minutes, I almost lost my marbles. But, I forged through the pain and eventually recess ended and so did my agitation. My emotional agitation, that is, not the spinning and churning of my clothes.

The moral of the story? I’m not really sure. I think I just needed to vent! Thanks for listening.

A Long Way From Being Dragged By The Hair Into The Cave.

Today’s modern woman, and in particular SWaNKs, tend to be more educated than they were ten, twenty and most certainly a hundred years ago. The culture around women has evolved in ways unimaginable by the burly caveman who dragged his female counterpart by the hair into the cave for some procreating.

Even “Women’s Lib” is a term that sounds almost archaic now and feminism has taken on many other layers that go much deeper than women just having a voice in the home, workplace and in politics.

Independent, educated, career-minded women are blending in more and more as part of mainstream society, yet we really are not part of the majority. At least not yet. We walk around unnoticed in a sea of people out there in the world. At first glance one would not know whether a woman is single or whether she has children or not, unless her children are with her. However, even if she is seen with children one would not know if they were her children or not. It requires a bit of conversation to determine whether or not a woman is actually single and without children of her own. So, in that sense, we are seamlessly blending in with the “crowd”. We slither around mainstream society until people find us out by asking us those telling questions that eventually bring the truth out about our singleness and childlessness. There is nothing external that gives us away. We are all shapes and a sizes. We are all of different races, cultures and religious backgrounds. Nobody will ever know unless they ask.

But what happens when people do find out that we are single and have no kids especially when we are “older” women? What is swirling around in the heads of the curious. And curious they are. There is no doubt in my mind that questions arise in the minds of those who have been trained to believe that in order to live a full life one must get married and have children.

But, I must say that living in an urban environment like the San Francisco Bay Area, that there seems to be a lot more understanding of career-women, many of whom have chosen to be single, childfree and focused on their careers. I, for one, have enjoyed giving “birth” to so many other things that don’t require diaper changing and constant worry about how well it is doing in school, like creating my artwork, creating entrepreneurial ventures and producing a new event and even creating this seedling of a social movement. The process around creating something and nurturing something doesn’t necessarily have to include a uterus.

I am thankful that women have forged their way in industrialized societies over the centuries and look forward to the day when we can all truly be proud to be SWaNKs and confident that when others learn that we are single and without children that we are not being judged or silently criticized. My hope is that one day all lifestyles can be celebrated.

What? Me…Selfish?

How often is it suggested that SWaNKs are selfish people? My guess would be – often. I believe that those who have chosen not to have children are frequently thought of as selfish human beings for not doing so. But, selfish people exist in all of society whether they are single, married, with children or without. So why are childless people the target of such ignorant, broad labeling? Is it jealousy over the amount of freedom that we have and that others so desire? Is it because we made a choice that others felt wasn’t a choice for them?

I can think of many different and selfish reasons why people DO have children. Here are some of them.

Because I want to have grandchildren one day.

Because it would be fun or interesting to see what the child would look like when our gene pools are mixed.

Because I want to play house – for real.

Because having a child would mean that our family name would live on.

Because it would make my life more meaningful.

Because it would make me feel wanted and needed.

Because I want to have a little version of myself around.

Because someone will need to take over the family business.

Because I want to be loved unconditionally by someone.

Now, who are we calling selfish?

I have an aunt who is a SWaNK. She is one of the most thoughtful, giving and self-LESS human beings that I have ever known. Yet, I imagine that she is also looked upon as being selfish for not having kids. I know of many other childless men and women who are thoughtful and giving people and who care for other humans as much as they care for themselves. And because they have chosen not to have kids, they too are labeled as selfish.

Are we seen as selfish because we put our own needs and desires before those of an unborn child? Perhaps we’ve put more thought into the consequences of bringing a child into the world who might not receive the love or dedication that they deserve because we are aware of our own limitations and lack the commitment and interest that is required to be a good parent. In this case, we’re actually doing an unborn child a favor by recognizing that we would not be able to nurture them the way that they need to be. Personally, I know deep down inside that I make a great auntie or “big sister” to children, but that I could never be a great parent because I lack the passion for it that I feel is necessary to do it well, as well as the financial means to raise a child.

So, doesn’t it make more sense to leave the parenting role up to those who embrace it, love it, are interested in it and are able to rise to the challenge? Not everyone is good at mechanics or cooking or creating art, so who how can it be expected that every woman will be a good mother and every man will be a good father. I’m sure every single one of you knows someone who is a horrible mother or horrible father. It might even be your own. Some people just have no business having children. So, it’s better to recognize your capabilities as a parent before having a child because an unwanted or unloved child is a tragedy for them and so many other people involved in that child’s life. And that brings us to the subject of adoption, which is a whole other subject. Thank goodness for those who adopt.

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