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Family

Childless people over 50 are honestly reflecting on whether they made the right decision

Spoiler alert: They’re totally fine with it.

childless couples, kid-free life, regrets of seniors
via Pexels

Childless people over 50 discuss their decision.

People who decide not to have children are often unfairly judged by those who chose a different life path. People with children can be especially judgmental to women who’ve decided to opt out of motherhood.

“You will regret it!” is one of the most common phrases lobbed at those who choose to remain childless. Why do people think they’ll have such awful regrets? Because they often say they’ll wind up “lonely and sad” when they’re older.

They also say that life without children is without purpose and that when the childless get older they’ll have no one to take care of them. One of the most patronizing critiques thrown at childless women is that they will never “feel complete” unless they have a child.

However, a lot of these critiques say more about the person doling them out than the person who decides to remain childless. Maybe, just maybe, their life is fulfilling enough without having to reproduce. Maybe, just maybe, they can have a life full of purpose without caring for any offspring.

Maybe the question should be: What’s lacking in your life that you need a child to feel complete?


Studies show that some people regret being childless when they get older, but they’re in the minority. An Australian researcher found that a quarter of child-free women came to regret the decision once they were past child-bearing age and began contemplating old age alone.

People revealed the reasons they’ve decided to be childless in an article by The Upshot. The top answers were the desire for more leisure time, the need to find a partner and the inability to afford child care. A big reason that many women decide not to have children is that motherhood feels like more of a choice these days, instead of a foregone conclusion as it was in previous decades.

Reddit user u/ADreamyNightOwl asked a “serious” question about being childless to the AskReddit subforum and received a lot of honest answers. They asked “People over 50 that chose to be childfree, do you regret your decision? Why or why not?”

The people who responded are overwhelmingly happy with their decision not to have children. A surprising number said they felt positive about their decision because they thought they’d be a lousy parent. Others said they were happy to have been able to enjoy more free time than their friends and family members who had kids.

Here are some of the best responses to the Askreddit question.

1. Never had any desire.

"I explain it to people like this - you know that feeling you get where you just can't wait to teach your kid how to play baseball? or whatever it is you want to share with them? I don't have that. Its basically a lack of parental instinct. Having children was never something I aspired to. My SO is the same way.

"Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against children. And I get really angry at people who harm them or mistreat them. I just never wanted my own." — IBeTrippin

2. No desire. No regrets.

"Nope. It was never something I wanted. No regrets." — BornaCrone

3. Mixed feelings.

"I have mixed feelings. I don't care much for children and I think it would have been disastrous for us to have them. I was also able to retire at 52. Pretty sure that wouldn't have happened with kids. So yeah, absolutely the right decision.
But I love my family and I do wonder what it would be like to have my own, to teach my child the things I know and not to be without someone who cares about me at the time of my death.

"But again, absolutely the right decision and at 55 I'm very happy NOT to have them. This is reinforced every time I'm exposed to other people's kids." — ProfessorOzone

4. They never visit.

"My wife worked at a nursing home for years. Imagine seeing for years that over 95% of old people never have family visit. Till they die and people want a piece of the pie. This when I learned that the whole 'well who is gonna visit you or take care of you when you're older' line is complete bullshit. We decided to not have kids ever after that. Made great friends and saw the world. No regrets." — joevilla1369

5. It wasn't an option.

"I don't necessarily regret not having them, but I regret the fact that I wasn't in a healthy enough relationship where I felt I COULD have children. I regret not being stronger to leave the abuse earlier, if I had been stronger, I think maybe I could have had the choice at least. So yeah... I have regrets." — MaerakiStudioMe

6. Grandkids are cooler.

"No. I knew what I was getting into when I agreed to marry my husband. He had two sons from his first marriage and a vasectomy. He was worried because I was so young (comparatively, he's 10 years older). I did think it over seriously and concluded that a life with him compared to a life without him but (perhaps!) with a baby I didn't even have yet was what I wanted. It worked out for us, we've been together for 26 years. As a bonus I have 9 grandchildren. All the fun without the work of the raising!" — Zublor

7. I'd be a bad parent.


"Not one bit. I have never believed that I would be a good parent. I have a short temper, and while I don't think I would have been physically abusive, my words and tone of voice would be harsh in a very similar way to my own father. I wasn't happy growing up with that kind parent and I wouldn't want to subject any child to that kind of parenting."
— Videoman7189

8. I'd rather be the cool aunt and uncle.

"No and I found a partner who feels the same. We are the cool aunt and uncle." — laudinum

9. Loneliness is underrated.


"54 yrs.old. I've lived the past 30 years alone. Presently my dog and I are chillin' in a nice hotel on a spur of the moment vacation. I'd maybe be a grandfather by now?! I can't imagine what it would be like to have family. I picture a life lived more "normally" sometimes. All sunshine and roses, white picket fence, etc. but I realize real life isn't like that. No I don't regret being childfree or wifefree for that matter. My life can be boring at times but then I look back at all the drama that comes with relationships and think I've dodged a bullet. I spent 20 years trying to find a wife to start a family. Then I realized the clock had run out, so fuck it, all the money I'd saved for my future family would be spent on myself. Hmmmmm...what do I want to buy myself for Christmas?" — Hermits_Truth

10. No diaper changes and no regrets.

"Nope. I never had the urge to change diapers or lose sleep, free time and most of my earnings. Other people's kids are great. Mostly because they are other people's. When people ask 'Who will take care of you when you're old' I tell them that when I'm 75 I will adopt a 40-year-old." — fwubglubbel

11. Zero desire.

"I’m 55 (F) and never wanted children. I just don’t much like them, and 20+ years of motherhood sounded (and still sounds) like a prison sentence. Maternal af when it comes to cats and dogs, but small humans? No chance.

"And I’m very happy to be childless. Cannot imagine my life any other way." — GrowlKitty

12. D.I.N.K.

"Dual income no kids = great lifestyle!" — EggOntheRun

13. Some regrets

"Over 50 and child free. My only regret is that my wife would have been a great mother, and sometimes I feel like I deprived her of that, even though we both agreed we didn’t want kids. Sometimes I wonder if I pushed her into that decision. She works with the elderly every day and sees a lot of lonely folks so it gets to her sometimes. I was always afraid I’d screw up the parenting thing, so I was never really interested in the idea. I’m a loner by nature though." — Johnny-Virgil


This article originally appeared on 02.08.22

Science

A juice company dumped orange peels in a national park. Here's what it looks like now.

12,000 tons of food waste and 21 years later, this forest looks totally different.


In 1997, ecologists Daniel Janzen and Winnie Hallwachs approached an orange juice company in Costa Rica with an off-the-wall idea.

In exchange for donating a portion of unspoiled, forested land to the Área de Conservación Guanacaste — a nature preserve in the country's northwest — the park would allow the company to dump its discarded orange peels and pulp, free of charge, in a heavily grazed, largely deforested area nearby.

One year later, one thousand trucks poured into the national park, offloading over 12,000 metric tons of sticky, mealy, orange compost onto the worn-out plot.



The site was left untouched and largely unexamined for over a decade. A sign was placed to ensure future researchers could locate and study it.

16 years later, Janzen dispatched graduate student Timothy Treuer to look for the site where the food waste was dumped.

Treuer initially set out to locate the large placard that marked the plot — and failed.

The first deposit of orange peels in 1996.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"It's a huge sign, bright yellow lettering. We should have been able to see it," Treuer says. After wandering around for half an hour with no luck, he consulted Janzen, who gave him more detailed instructions on how to find the plot.

When he returned a week later and confirmed he was in the right place, Treuer was floored. Compared to the adjacent barren former pastureland, the site of the food waste deposit was "like night and day."

The site of the orange peel deposit (L) and adjacent pastureland (R).

Photo by Leland Werden.

"It was just hard to believe that the only difference between the two areas was a bunch of orange peels. They look like completely different ecosystems," he explains.

The area was so thick with vegetation he still could not find the sign.

Treuer and a team of researchers from Princeton University studied the site over the course of the following three years.

The results, published in the journal "Restoration Ecology," highlight just how completely the discarded fruit parts assisted the area's turnaround.

The ecologists measured various qualities of the site against an area of former pastureland immediately across the access road used to dump the orange peels two decades prior. Compared to the adjacent plot, which was dominated by a single species of tree, the site of the orange peel deposit featured two dozen species of vegetation, most thriving.

Lab technician Erik Schilling explores the newly overgrown orange peel plot.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

In addition to greater biodiversity, richer soil, and a better-developed canopy, researchers discovered a tayra (a dog-sized weasel) and a giant fig tree three feet in diameter, on the plot.

"You could have had 20 people climbing in that tree at once and it would have supported the weight no problem," says Jon Choi, co-author of the paper, who conducted much of the soil analysis. "That thing was massive."

Recent evidence suggests that secondary tropical forests — those that grow after the original inhabitants are torn down — are essential to helping slow climate change.

In a 2016 study published in Nature, researchers found that such forests absorb and store atmospheric carbon at roughly 11 times the rate of old-growth forests.

Treuer believes better management of discarded produce — like orange peels — could be key to helping these forests regrow.

In many parts of the world, rates of deforestation are increasing dramatically, sapping local soil of much-needed nutrients and, with them, the ability of ecosystems to restore themselves.

Meanwhile, much of the world is awash in nutrient-rich food waste. In the United States, up to half of all produce in the United States is discarded. Most currently ends up in landfills.

The site after a deposit of orange peels in 1998.

Photo by Dan Janzen.

"We don't want companies to go out there will-nilly just dumping their waste all over the place, but if it's scientifically driven and restorationists are involved in addition to companies, this is something I think has really high potential," Treuer says.

The next step, he believes, is to examine whether other ecosystems — dry forests, cloud forests, tropical savannas — react the same way to similar deposits.

Two years after his initial survey, Treuer returned to once again try to locate the sign marking the site.

Since his first scouting mission in 2013, Treuer had visited the plot more than 15 times. Choi had visited more than 50. Neither had spotted the original sign.

In 2015, when Treuer, with the help of the paper's senior author, David Wilcove, and Princeton Professor Rob Pringle, finally found it under a thicket of vines, the scope of the area's transformation became truly clear.

The sign after clearing away the vines.

Photo by Tim Treuer.

"It's a big honking sign," Choi emphasizes.

19 years of waiting with crossed fingers had buried it, thanks to two scientists, a flash of inspiration, and the rind of an unassuming fruit.


This article originally appeared on 08.23.17

Canva

Important summer tips.

In 2008, a young boy named Johnny Jackson went swimming and accidentally swallowed some water.

He had a short coughing fit, toweled off, and then went home. No big deal.

Or so his parents thought.


A few hours later, after going down for a nap, Johnny passed away.

In 2014, a toddler named Ronin came frighteningly close to the same fate. He slipped briefly into a pool before being pulled to safety by his mother. Ronin was shaken up but seemed fine.

Later that night, he lay stretched out in an ambulance as it screamed toward the hospital, where he arrived just in time.

Stories like these have resulted in an outburst of news coverage around what's being referred to as "dry drowning." But that's a bit of a misnomer.

Since we're entering the season of pool parties and beach trips, here are a few things you really need to know about what actually happened to Ronin and Johnny.

First, there is a difference between dry drowning and delayed drowning.

With dry drowning, water never enters the victim's lungs. Rather, it causes the vocal chords to spasm and shuts off airways without actually filling the lungs with water. Otherwise, it looks a lot like normal drowning because it occurs in real time and causes asphyxiation.

Delayed drowning, sometimes called secondary drowning, is a bit different. In cases like Ronin and Johnny's, water gets into the lungs in small amounts — not enough to disable breathing right away. Instead, it sits there and inhibits the lungs' ability to oxygenate blood. From there, the victim starts to have more and more trouble breathing over the course of several hours.

Second, drowning doesn't look the way it does in the movies.

Whether you're dealing with normal, dry, or delayed drowning, don't expect a dramatic scene full of thrashing, coughing, and yelling.

According to Dr. Anna Mendenhall of the Children's Physicians Medical Group, 9 out of 10 children who drown do so even though they were being supervised by a parent because it's so easy to miss the signs.

Here's what you need to look for, even hours after you've left the pool or beach:

  • Difficulty breathing, coughing, chest pain, or throwing up. Look for rapid and shallow breaths, nostril flaring, or a pronounced gap in the ribs when breathing. These are all signs a child is working too hard to get oxygen.
  • Extreme tiredness. Big-time fatigue can be a sign that the brain isn't getting enough oxygen.
  • Any odd change in behavior. Kids in the beginning stages of delayed drowning may be really cranky, argumentative, or combative.
  • Odd physical changes. Look out for blue lips or pale skin.

Most likely these symptoms will go away over time. But if they don't or they get worse, you might want to call your pediatrician on the way to the emergency room.

And the best way to watch for drowning in the moment? Get in the pool with your kids and stay within an arm's reach. It's the only way to make sure you don't miss anything.

Third, don't panic. Delayed and dry drownings combined make up only 1% to 2% of all drowning incidents.

There's no getting around it. This is really scary stuff, especially to a parent.

I have a 2-month-old daughter, and my first reaction to all of this is to literally never let her near a swimming pool. Ever.

But as scary as they are, these unusual cases are just that — unusual.

It's a really good idea teach your kids about basic water safety and get them comfortable in the pool with swim lessons at an early age (experts say 4 or 5 is a good age to start). But I'll say it again:

The single best thing you can do to protect a child from drowning — wet, dry, or otherwise — is to get in the pool with them.

As long as you're prepared, pools can be great for fun things like throwing your children! Photo from Thinkstock.

At least until they're old enough to be embarrassed by your presence.


This article originally appeared on 07.02.15

Michael B. Jordan speaking at the 2017 San Diego Comic Con International, for "Black Panther", at the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego, California.

As long as humans have endeavored to do anything great, there have been those who have tried to take them down. These are the opposite of the creators in life: the bullies, haters and naysayers who only want to bring people down to their level.

But when you have a dream and desire, its easy to tune out the voices of negativity. "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better,” Theodore Roosevelt once said. “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena."

Some folks use the naysayers as fuel to push them to work even harder. Basketball legend Michael Jordan was infamous for letting his thirst for revenge drive him to even greater heights on the court.


Another Michael Jordan, "Black Panther" star, Michael B. Jordan, came face to face with someone who doubted that he could reach his dreams, and he wasn’t shy about letting her know that he remembered. What's Upworthy about the encounter is that he did so with class and confidence.

In 2023, Jordan was on the red carpet for the premiere of "Creed III," a film he starred in and directed. He was interviewed by “The Morning Hustle” radio show host Lore’l, who had recently admitted on the “Undressing Room” podcast that she used to make fun of him in school.

“You know what’s so crazy? I went to school with Michael B. Jordan at a point in life,” Lore’l said. “And to be honest with you, we teased him all the damn time because his name was Michael Jordan. Let’s start there, and he was no Michael Jordan.”

“He also would come to school with a headshot,” she added. “We lived in Newark. That’s the hood. We would make fun of him like, ‘What you gonna do with your stupid headshot?’ And now look at him!”

In addition, her co-host, Eva Marcille, referred to Jordan as “corny.”

Jordan had no problem discussing their past on the red carpet. “We go way back, all the way back to Chad Science [Academy] in Newark,” Lore’l told the actor. Oh yeah, I was the corny kid, right?” Jordan responded with a smirk.

“No, you did not hear me say that! I said we used to make fun of the name,” Lore’l said.

“I heard it,” Jordan said. “I heard it. It’s all good. What’s up?” he responded. “But yeah, [you are] obviously killing things out here…you’re not corny anymore,” Lore’l clarified.

After the exchange went viral, Lore’l admitted that she teased Jordan in school, but they were only classmates for one year.

“So the narrative that I bullied him all throughout high school—this was 7th grade. We were like 12 years old, and everyone made fun of each other,” Lore’l said. “That was school, you know. That was one year. And, again, I’ve never bullied him. That just sounds so outrageous to me.”

Jordan later shared some advice on how to deal with bullies.

"Just stay focused, just stay locked in,” he told a reporter from Complex. “You know, just follow your heart, try to block out the noise and distractions as much as possible and run your race. Don't compare yourself to anybody else. Just keep going."

via Imgur

"Why does it sound like you're leaving?"

In every relationship we'll ever have, there's going to be a final conversation. Before the digital age, these interactions were usually face-to-face or over the telephone and could only be recorded in our memories. But now, just about every relationship leaves a paper trail of text messages, social media interactions, and voice messages. Sometimes the final communication is a heated breakup, and other times, it's a casual interaction shortly before a person's death.

Now, there's a blog that collects these haunting final messages. The Last Message Received contains submissions of the last messages people received from ex-friends or ex-significant others as well as from deceased friends and relatives. Here are some of the blog's most haunting posts.

"My good friend's dad died around Thanksgiving. Two weeks later he drank himself to death."


"This is the last text I got from my mom before she died of Stage IV brain cancer at the age of 53. It left her completely paralyzed on the left side of her body, hence the typos in the texts. What she was saying was, 'You're missing music therapy.' Almost as good as Good Friday church giggles.' A few years prior to this, we went to the Good Friday service at our church. The choir was absolutely horrendous and couldn't sing whatsoever. She and I sat there, in the most serious, somber church service of all, laughing hysterically, unable to stop for the life of us. She sent me this text while she was in hospice and I was at school."

"This happened a few months back. He was my best friend and my boyfriend of 7 years. He stuck with me when I fell pregnant at 16 after I was raped. He became an actual dad to my son. He was my everything. A few months before this message, things started to change, we drifted apart and he was telling my 5 year old son to lie to me about his whereabouts. One night he beat me, I ended up in hospital for a few days. He begged for forgiveness, I stayed. It happened again a few days later, he was at work when I text him. I took my son and left. This is the last text I received from him. I heard last week that he's just been sent to prison for crimes involving violence and drugs. I hope he gets the help he needs."

"My dad died 6 weeks later flying the plane in this picture."

"The last text he sent me. The next day I got a call from his daughter that he was still very much with his wife and I wasn't the only one he was cheating on her with."

"She had sent me a message earlier asking me not to contact her anymore. I woke up to one last message. We'd dated for 3.5 years and when I came out as trans, the relationship fell apart. I still think about and miss her every day."


"I sent this to my grandpa on thanksgiving. Two days later he unexpectedly had a heart attack and passed. He was my favorite person in the world and nothing has been the same since. I refuse to delete this message."

"I would have fallen in love with her if distance and timing hadn't gotten in the way. I'm ignoring her because I need to let her move on."

This article originally appeared on 05.25.19


Image from Pixabay.

Under the sea...

True
The Wilderness Society


You're probably familiar with the literary classic "Moby-Dick."

But in case you're not, here's the gist: Moby Dick is the name of a huge albino sperm whale.

(Get your mind outta the gutter.)


There's this dude named Captain Ahab who really really hates the whale, and he goes absolutely bonkers in his quest to hunt and kill it, and then everything is awful and we all die unsatisfied with our shared sad existence and — oops, spoilers!


OK, technically, the narrator Ishmael survives. So it's actually a happy ending (kind of)!

whales, Moby Dick, poaching endangered species

Illustration from an early edition of Moby-Dick

Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Basically, it's a famous book about revenge and obsession that was published back in 1851, and it's really, really long.

It's chock-full of beautiful passages and dense symbolism and deep thematic resonance and all those good things that earned it a top spot in the musty canon of important literature.

There's also a lot of mundane descriptions about the whaling trade as well (like, a lot). That's because it came out back when commercial whaling was still a thing we did.

conservation, ocean water conservation

A non-albino mother and baby sperm whale.

Photo by Gabriel Barathieu/Wikipedia.

In fact, humans used to hunt more than 50,000 whales each year to use for oil, meat, baleen, and oil. (Yes, I wrote oil twice.) Then, in 1946, the International Whaling Commission stepped in and said "Hey, wait a minute, guys. There's only a few handful of these majestic creatures left in the entire world, so maybe we should try to not kill them anymore?"

And even then, commercial whaling was still legal in some parts of the world until as recently as 1986.

International Whaling Commission, harpoons

Tail in the water.

Whale's tail pale ale GIF via GoPro/YouTube

And yet by some miracle, there are whales who were born before "Moby-Dick" was published that are still alive today.

What are the odds of that? Honestly it's hard to calculate since we can't exactly swim up to a bowhead and say, "Hey, how old are you?" and expect a response. (Also that's a rude question — jeez.)

Thanks to some thoughtful collaboration between researchers and traditional Inupiat whalers (who are still allowed to hunt for survival), scientists have used amino acids in the eyes of whales and harpoon fragments lodged in their carcasses to determine the age of these enormous animals — and they found at least three bowhead whales who were living prior to 1850.

Granted those are bowheads, not sperm whales like the fictional Moby Dick, (and none of them are albino, I think), but still. Pretty amazing, huh?

whale blubber, blue whales, extinction

This bowhead is presumably in adolescence, given its apparent underwater moping.

GIF via National Geographic.

This is a particularly remarkable feat considering that the entire species was dwindling near extinction.

Barring these few centenarian leviathans, most of the whales still kickin' it today are between 20 and 70 years old. That's because most whale populations were reduced to 10% or less of their numbers between the 18th and 20th centuries, thanks to a few over-eager hunters (and by a few, I mean all of them).

Today, sperm whales are considered one of the most populous species of massive marine mammals; bowheads, on the other hand, are still in trouble, despite a 20% increase in population since the mid-1980s. Makes those few elderly bowheads that much more impressive, huh?

population, Arctic, Great Australian Blight

Southern Right Whales hangin' with a paddleboarder in the Great Australian Bight.

GIF via Jaimen Hudson.

Unfortunately, just as things are looking up, these wonderful whales are in trouble once again.

We might not need to worry our real-life Captain Ahabs anymore, but our big aquatic buddies are still being threatened by industrialization — namely, from oil drilling in the Arctic and the Great Australian Bight.

In the off-chance that companies like Shell and BP manage not to spill millions of gallons of harmful crude oil into the water, the act of drilling alone is likely to maim or kill millions of animals, and the supposedly-safer sonic blasting will blow out their eardrums or worse.

This influx of industrialization also affects their migratory patterns — threatening not only the humans who depend on them, but also the entire marine ecosystem.

And I mean, c'mon — who would want to hurt this adorable face?

social responsibility, nature, extinction

BOOP.

Image from Pixabay.

Whales might be large and long-living. But they still need our help to survive.

If you want another whale to make it to his two-hundred-and-eleventy-first birthday (which you should because I hear they throw great parties), then sign this petition to protect the waters from Big Oil and other industrial threats.

I guarantee Moby Dick will appreciate it.


This article originally appeared on 11.04.15