An Accidentally (Or Not?) Childfree Bucket List

5 years ago

Drew and I went to San Francisco last weekend to visit our friends Ben and Caroline, and I was struck by a pretty powerful observation on the way up. We’d decided to drive, because we’re crazy and don’t mind an insanely long road trip, and it gives us time to have nice long chats. And probably half of all those chats are prompted by one of us saying,

“Wouldn’t it be cool if someday we…”

This trip was no exception. By the time we hit the Bay Bridge, we determined that it would be pretty awesome if we could:

  • Own an RV with a hot tub on top (is this even street-legal?)
  • Chip in with our nine collective siblings and siblings-in-law for a family lakehouse
  • Round up all our friends for a week-long City Slickers-esque cattle drive as soon as someone proves themselves badass enough to light a match on their jawline stubble
  • Eat a hot dog in every MLB stadium (that was Drew’s)

Aside from each of these being wildly unrealistic, they share one other thing in common:

None of these plans have anything to do with kids.

In fact, many of them would be rather difficult to achieve with babies in tow. And come to think of it…neither of us has EVER ended a “Wouldn’t it be cool if” statement with anything even remotely child-related. We’ve never pontificated on the joys of setting up a Slip ‘N Slide in our (fictitious) backyard, or getting whacked by a rogue piñata bat at our future kid’s birthday party. Probably the closest we’ve come is saying it would be funny if Drew someday coached one of our friends’ kids’ Little League teams because he could freely criticize poor batting skills without being accused of nepotism.

Believe it or not, it’s taken several years of these chats for me to notice this very distinct missing element. And of course, it sent me directly into “What does it all mean?!” mode.

What DOES it all mean?

We got into town and asked our friends this very question over a pretty tasty meal of fried chicken and IPA’s at the BlueJay Cafe. Caroline thought it made perfect sense. Since we don’t spend any time around kids, they’re not really on our radar and thus probably wouldn’t be popping into our heads unprovoked. She didn’t interpret it as a sign that we didn’t want them.

On some level, this makes sense. But it doesn’t explain why everyone I talk to who wants kids seem to get all twinkly-eyed over the idea of ballet lessons or Mickey Mouse ears for the whole family at Disneyland. They’ve thought these things through, they very much look forward to them. And I can understand that – there’s not much I do in life without carefully planning and then spending a significant amount of time looking forward to the things I’m excited about. So…why haven’t I been looking forward to the great things in life that come from having kids?

A Very Telling Bucket List

When we got back home, I remembered that Drew and I made a collective bucket list a while back on a different road trip. I dug it out and read through it. There were 102 items, ranging from finding someone’s lost dog to attending a NASCAR race (?) to eating something out of a hotel fridge with total disregard for the price…but not a single one referenced anything to do with having children in our lives.

I can’t help noticing that when I look towards the future, I see a lot of things. But kids never seem to make an appearance there without being forced. Is this evidence? Or just youth (says the person who’s 31 and not really so youthful anymore)?

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