Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    On Being the Childless Friend

    Photo by Yvonne. Baby by Heather Spohr.Would you like to know why I don't have children? Because kids are work. There are plenty of other reasons such as preparedness and that I can barely get myself up and out of the door each morning, let alone another human being. Then there's the whole permanent nature of children and, oh yeah, they are people. People with needs and feelings which leads me back to, that looks like work! I'd rather just sit here and watch this terrible movie that I have seen 900 times and drink this wine. Enjoy dealing with another person's bodily fluids!

    Somewhere along the line I wound up with a life full of friends who have children. Many had these children prior to my entry into their lives others had a kid and then had another after I came into the picture. At any rate, I have gotten used to having my conversation interrupted. I shrug because hey, kids. I don't have any but from what I understand, taping their mouths shut is not an option.

    You would think that with my very, very, VERY, single status I would see people with children and run for the hills which cannot be further from the truth. Here's a fun fact my life without kids: Just because I might not have any doesn't mean that I hate every child I will ever meet. In fact, I really enjoy children. They are - for the most part - fun, hilarious, precocious, unpredictable. Children are all of the above and more but I don't have them. This doesn't make me more or less it simply is.

    Somehow, even without having children, I have managed to grasp the concept of life and that people will follow their own paths. I have never felt the need to begrudge another for their experiences or life choices and by the grace of God, I am surrounded by people who live the same. There's gossip and judgment and major side-eyeing at times but the general rule I follow for myself and I hope that others in my life follow as well is this; you do you.

    Every once in awhile a post will pop up just to remind those of us without kids how nfulfilled our lives are. Childless people cannot possibly understand the concept of love (or any human emotion). We have never really been tired. We don't know what busy really is, etc. etc. Today I came across a post on Huffington Post about the inability for those with children to have friends who do not have children simply because the latter group has no understanding of the havoc wreaked upon the lives of those who choose to procreate.

    Crap like this makes me so annoyed. More annoyed than it should since it's a post on a blog from a woman I have little to no interest in. Not only that but I often take the click bait and the writer reels me into their bullshit of an argument. I always feel the need to defend my relationships with my friends ("MY friends aren't assholes, your's probably are if they are anything like you", is what I told myself today) and to validate my life without children. All because of a sickness called, I Saw This on the Internet.  

    The true story of being the childless friend is that it is like any other relationship between two people: It requires work. I do not feel as if these relationships are extra hard. Friendship can be difficult but if it is something which is important to me then I will put in the effort to ensure its success. Why is this so difficult to grasp? That two people, in different phases of life can, in fact, learn from one another? Why must it always be all or nothing, hyperbolic bullshit about how HARD everything is? It's life. Life is difficult. Having children is difficult. We're all just going through the motions and each day, trying not to fuck things up for ourselves or for future generations. When one says that their time and/or life has more value than mine simply because I do not have children it makes me irate. Yes, it also makes me think of that person as an asshole. As my friend Em said, you were probably an asshole before you had kids and now you're just an asshole with children. And THAT is why your friends (both with and without children) don't hang out with you.


    Another Story About my Mother

    (Originally posted at TueNight.com)

    "A daughter is a mother’s gender partner, her closest ally in the family confederacy, an extension of her self. And mothers are their daughters’ role model, their biological and emotional road map, the arbiter of all their relationships." ~Victoria Secunda

    Four days prior to Christmas, I was the idiot running around Target with a cart full of decorations to put up around my home because apparently I need to invest in a calendar to tell me that a major holiday is fast approaching and perhaps I should think about, you know, participating in someway.


    This past holiday season was the first in which I had to take the lead. There was no mother around to purchase a tree and make sure the cat didn't try to use it as a jungle gym. She wasn't there to put out the photos my younger brother and I had taken with Santa or to tell me which ornaments should go where. I don't know about your mother but my mother always just made the spirit of Christmas and all that encompasses it happen. Like, one day I would come home and BOOM! JOY TO THE WORLD with an animatronic singing Santa and holly and gluten free sugar cookies. Not having Mom at Christmas is simply one moment of many where her presence was missed, often times painfully.

    The true miracle of it all was the way in which she was able to make magic while ensuring that my brother and I went to school, showered, ate and didn't murder each other on Jesus' birthday. And then she, like, went to work and took care of herself at some point

    It's the simple, selfless act of others — in particular when it comes to parents — that go unnoticed. After my mother's retirement in July, she opted not to retreat to a beach town but instead to New York City to pursue her longtime goal of getting her Master's in Journalism. A goal she had long put on hold because of the needs of her children. There was also her 20-plus year career at a teachers’ union where I was fortunate to work with her for six years.  She always had my back in the office and in the world of politics having someone to trust implicitly is a blessing.

    For 30 years she was just there whenever I needed her. I have not begrudged her for chasing her dreams, especially after a majority of her life has been spent taking care of others. But without her here an Albany ripped a hole in my heart as the dynamics of our relationship have changed. I miss her badly not just in the office, but the ability to call her everyday and receive a response back.

    Now I text on a Tuesday morning and receive a response late that evening with my mother lamenting about how much work she has to do or the all-nighter she just pulled. I find myself giving her advice about social media platforms and blogging. Her first several weeks at Columbia involved me painstakingly teaching her how to add HTML links to her documents. Then there was that day where she wanted the history of Twitter in 38 seconds and I was like, NO. I JUST CANNOT. NO.

    “I taught you!”, she said to my frustrated self. “I helped you with your homework!”

    It’s true, she did. But the dynamics had only just changed and I am far better at taking help than giving it.

    The role reversal we have discovered over the past nine months has been a growing experience for us both. I have yet to write about it and even this isn’t the entire story because right now it seems too personal and not only my story to tell.

    I hate how cliché it is to say that I am beaming with pride for a woman who at one point found herself at the end of her marriage with two young children. I am sure that in that moment of losing what she thought would be the rest of her life, she wanted to give up. I sure as hell would have. But she never did. She harnessed what I am sure was one of the most painful moments of her life and instead of curling up in the fetal position, she  kept moving.

    The biggest lesson here is not that I can be without my mommy or that it’s interesting to be the teacher instead of the student; the lesson here is what every parent wants to give their child is the ability to see that it will and can get better.  They say that motherhood is an endless loop of walking with your heart outside of your body and a burden of needing to know that the person (or people) you love most in this world are OK — even when they’re not physically with you. I have witnessed my mother go above and beyond, ensuring her children are happy while doing something for herself. Of course I think my mother is the definition of beauty and all other wonderful adjectives but also of the word ‘hustle’. She is everything I could ever hope to be.

    So, back to Christmas. When Mom arrived home from New York City, she was welcomed back with a tree and a colorful wreath on the door. Her favorite foods were in the fridge including the Diet Dr. Pepper I had to go to four stores to find. She immediately went into mother mode and wanted to know about the dishes in the sink and I admonished her for being an ungrateful teenager who didn’t appreciate my efforts to make Christmas perfect.

    “Making Christmas special is work! Appreciate ME!”, I said, exhausted. “Can’t you see what I did for you!”

    I yelled as I dragged a tree from the driveway into my living room.

    She laughed. “Yes, yes I can”, she said.

    Christmas morning I found presents under the tree — presents that were more than adequate for an adult who should have a family of her own by now. And, just like every year before, my mother carefully picked out everything, not because I had asked but because she knew what I wanted and needed down to the Bikram yoga towel. Despite it all, she continues to be the mother who knows just what to do and say.“

    “Thankful” does not begin to cover how I feel about her right now. Fortunate beyond measure. Blessed. And, most importantly, loved.


    This is 30

    "There came a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." ~Anaïs Nin

    (Read this post while enjoying my 30th birthday playlist. I think it speaks truth to adulthood and memories and that you’re never too old to dance around your living room.)

    This past October, with very little fanfare, I turned 30. I wish I could say that I entered into 30 gracefully, head held high, ready to take on this new decade. Instead I went in kicking and screaming and grabbing onto 29 for dear life. There was a relentless feeling of all of the things I *should* have done by getting to this point in life often based on what was ‘average’ by societal norms as opposed to the life I have had the pleasure of living. That “pleasure of living” line? That’s totally something a 30 year old would say because I turned 30 and suddenly I was all, would you like some life advice? I have plenty to spare. 30 makes you wise.

    I suppose I can blame much of my anxiety on the aspirational nature of sharing on Facebook. There were and continue to be all of these friends with their engagement photo shoots, creative baby announcements and weddings plucked straight from Pinterest. Of course I cannot help but compare myself to others though relatively speaking, I am successful. Relative success did not and has not stopped me from thinking that despite the things I have done, there are many, MANY more things that I’d still like to do. Plans started to form and I have since accepted and been open to the idea of change.

    Anyway, despite my internal grumblings about 30 a party was held. A small gathering of friends near and far who are very dear to me who came together for a full bar, delicious cheeses and cured meats. Surprisingly there are no photos, which I have heard is the sign of a good time. It was exactly what I wanted: togetherness. Laughter. Introducing friends who attended my 5th birthday party to my yoga teacher to other bloggers to my coworkers all while the perfect soundtrack led us into midnight. Midnight on my actual birthday where I was treated to a rousing rendition of Happy Birthday. Even Peg was there. I spent the following day watching Mob Wives and eating leftover spinach and artichoke dip. I could not have asked for a better day.

    Now that I am six months into my 30’s I can tell you that it’s fine. I don’t feel any different physically but - and this might sound crazy - I am more in tune with myself, my wants and, my needs. The struggle that kept me up at nights leading to 30 because why didn’t I have a house/husband/baby? That struggle was not real. So, here’s what I’ve learned:  

    1. Just because everyone has a baby/husband/house does not mean that I want a baby/husband/house. I do not want a house. Not at all.

    2. It is entirely possible for your baby making parts to freak out when you see a newborn.

    3. Men still suck but I feel like I’m on the cusp of finding a good one. There are currently no prospects but if you know of one, you know where to find me.

    4. Say I love you and mean it.

    5. It’s OK to go against the grain.

    6. Never go anywhere without red lipstick.

    7. Gray/Black/Navy business suits? No thank you. Bring on the fantastic brightly colored dress with the pockets.

    8. Enjoy karaoke. Enjoy it so much that you find a song to make your own. (Lauryn Hill’s ‘Killing Me Softly’). Rock it out.

    9. It’s OK to discuss mental illness. Encourage it. Put a name and a face to the struggle of millions.

    10. Don’t always expect the worst but do expect the unexpected.

    11. Loyalty is a funny thing both in act and in perception.

    12. It’s OK to cry and then cry again.

    13. Make time for yourself.

    14. Parents are human beings. Amazing, wonderful, generous, thoughtful human beings.

    15. How do you get a bikini body? Put a bikini on it.

    16. Don’t react first and think later. Think first, react later.

    17. You don’t have to like everyone and not everyone is going to like you.

    18. Watch C-SPAN during the day. Watch Marriage Bootcamp: Bridezillas by night.

    19. Know what you want. Think about how to get there.

    20. Patience really is a virtue.

    21. Time really does move faster as we age.

    22. Perspective is a wonderful thing but remember that it’s all relative.

    23. Don’t be afraid to flirt.

    24. It’s best to observe without speaking. It’s better than speaking without observing.

    25. Never regret doing the right thing.

    26. Saying goodbye will always ache but channel that energy into making those who have left proud.

    27. Take wisdom, advice and guidance from others. Even if it’s not used right away store it and don’t be afraid to share when the time is right.

    28. Even at my worst I am loved.

    29. It will always be easier to let go and let God.

    30. 30 is not the end of anything. It’s another beginning.

    and 31. Everything is better with your friends but don’t be afraid to spend a few moments alone.


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