False Assumption: “No Kids? Lots of Free Time”

I am growing more and more annoyed with some members of my large, extended family, who tell me, “you don’t have any kids, so you don’t know what it’s like to be busy what with scheduling play dates, soccer practice, and car pools to school.” I’ve also heard, “since you are in a ‘two-guy’ relationship, you’ve got so much help doing all the work around the house that you must have a lot of free time.”

Nothing is further from the truth; however, …

…anything I say comes across as being defensive and sometimes angry.

So yeah, I’m not chasing kids to-and-fro. I am not one who believes in over-scheduling a child’s life. I remember back when I grew up (before automobiles, television, computers, mobile phones, and this-here interwebby thingamajig — my pet dinosaur was ‘my ride’), if we had an after-school activity, we would get ourselves there and back home again without depending on Mom (or Dad) to give us a ride. (Note: since I do not have children, I really don’t retort to my family and say, “back when I was a kid…” though sometimes I am tempted. Today’s society is just as safe or unsafe as it was when I was a kid.)

When I was in a school too far to walk to, I took the school bus. I lived close enough to elementary school that I walked a whole eight blocks to and from school each day — even in the rain. Yep, we wore raincoats, waterproof boots, and used an umbrella.

After school, our parents (or adult caregivers — my grandparents) actually expected us to make our own fun… “go out and play” was frequently heard in our house, and the homes of all of my friends. No sitting inside playing videogames or surfing the web on a tablet. We’d go out and hike, play ball, or go exploring. Even in cold, snowy winter.

As long as we were home by suppertime, we were on our own with little supervision other than the “group watch” of any adult. If you even thought about doing something wrong or going somewhere that you’re not supposed to go, another adult would call your parents and rat you out. This was especially true in small-town rural Oklahoma where everyone was a quidnunc.

But I digress from the main topic. Yes, many people make assumptions that childless gay men have all the free time in the world to sit around in the coffee shop, sip lattes, and text their friends on their sillyphones while admiring their newly-leased luxury sedan in the Starsucks parking lot. This is almost-to-the-letter what I was accused of doing by some clueless cousins.

While my spouse and I do not have children and childcare does not fill our days, my days are nutsy-busy otherwise.

Besides working more than full-time in a demanding job, I do many other things that more than amply fill my time. I will not be defensive and list those activities — most regular readers of this blog know — but let’s just say that what bothers me most is some people having a false assumption that if you don’t have children, you have lots of free time.

Compound that with stereotypes held by some people about gay men, or same-sex couples — all we do is prance around and spend our money on frivolity, expensive toys (like luxury automobiles), and useless junk (like the latest espresso machine). Seriously — a cousin just asked me “which, if not all, of those upgrades do you have?”

Arrrggghhh!

Oh well… some of us live busy and productive lives where we contribute time and talents to our community in service to others, and live within our means by not spending money we don’t have or have not budgeted for. That’s not to say that we don’t spend, invest, or donate — we do. We just budget for it. Wow, what a concept.

Well, enough of this rant. I have lovely old ladies to look after, two handyman home repairs to do for a couple seniors, healthcare caregiving to continue to provide for my spouse, community meetings to attend and participate as “emeritus old sage,” and more.

Life is short: to those who make assumptions — just remember what “ass-u-me” means.