I'm an aunty! It's awesome. I've wanted to be an aunty for as long as I can remember. What I have never wanted to be is a mother.

Don't get me wrong; I like babies generally - especially when they're at that larval stage where they just lie cutely in the crook of your arm like a kitten and make those faces they make until they finally gain control over their facial muscles. I'm not hugely into kids' chat - I lack patience - but I do like dancing and singing and have no shame, so we can connect on that level. 

Also, I'm not easily shocked and I think it's easier for teenagers to bring up certain things that worry them with adults who are not their parents and I want to be there for that too. So I reckon I'll be a pretty good aunty.

But people won't believe me.

So often when I hold a baby I get "you look so maternal," "you're so good with babies - doesn't it make you want one of your own?" Uh, no. I like living in a house but I don't want my own one. I like playing with cats but if I got one I'd feel guilty that it was killing birds and besides, what business does a woman who's moved house 31 times have getting one? And guess what? I like babies. They're warm and cuddly and they came out of people I love! I'll change a nappy. I'll bottle-feed. I'll get puked on, no sweat. BUT I DON'T WANT MY OWN ONE.

It probably seems like I protest too much but I kind of feel like I'm forced to defend my ability to know my own mind. Nobody tells me "actually, I'm pretty sure you'll end up living in Thailand because you've been there so many times" when I say I love being back in New Zealand.

And it's not even a question of things like money and time, or the actual pregnancy and birth, the responsibility of raising children or the myriad other things that don't appeal to me about motherhood. It's just simply that while I am cis female, I'm not gendered in a way that causes me to feel maternal. I never have been. I never will be. I'm 32! I'm pretty sure if I had a biological clock it would have kicked in by now.

Being asked why I don't want kids out of genuine curiosity is fine for me, even though I think the world might be better if more people asked themselves "why DO I want kids?" or "do I really want kids or does it just seem like the thing to do?" - given the number of children who are abused, mistreated and generally seem unwanted. And the people that say it's selfish not to have any children are clearly insane. What could be more selfish than having a child you don't want? It's not as if there aren't enough humans in the world. Oddly, I've also had defensive reactions when I answer the kids question in the negative, as if by answering the question they just asked me, I am advocating against them having children. 

It's hard not to project your own feelings onto other people - I'm sure I do it all the time - I assume that if someone does something, they are feeling the same way I would feel if I did the same thing even though I know it ain't necessarily so. Which is probably also why seeing me coo at grublets causes people to think that I've changed my mind but I don't want to have to hold back on showing love to babies in case people get the wrong idea and I think it's a shame that there's not more room in our culture for the childfree who nevertheless want to be involved in childrearing. Frankly, I can only see positives - what could be bad about another adult who is there to help? Extra love, extra hands. It's all good. Just don't imagine it means I'm trying before I buy - I'm not.

AuthorSaya Hashimoto

Hand-pulled Chinese noodles are the bomb. X'ian Food Bar showed me the way and I still think theirs are better (more toothsome), but they have a menu that is so limited that my constantly novelty-seeking food heart could not long remain satisfied.

Fishkopf and I dithered long over the extensive list of hand-pulled noodle soups, stir-fried noodles, rice, vegetable and meat dishes - the proprietors come from a minority group of Muslim Chinese so you won't find pork but there's plenty of beef and lamb to be had - and were leaned over by a delightful gaggle of girls perusing the odd assortment of drinks in the fridge behind us and settled on the large cleaver beef noodle soup (spicy with fork tender braised beef - order it), cleaver lamb noodle soup (delightfully lemony) and stir-fried potato, capsicum and eggplant. The latter was a bit of a revelation; I like potatoes fine, but if I could never eat them again I wouldn't waste much time crying. These though...They reminded me a bit of daigaku-imo, with a chewy, sweet exterior and a floury interior. I'd order again. Except there are so many other things to try - if I was with anyone who knew me less well, I'd have apologised profusely for my inability to focus on a conversation since I spent most of my time perving at other diners' food.  Next time I'll go back with a crowd.

AuthorSaya Hashimoto

On two separate occasions recently, straight male friends, one of whom is a muso (ie: broke) and the other of whom is a public servant (presumably not rich, but not poverty stricken either) mentioned that when they start seeing a girl, they pay for everything in an effort to be gentlemanly and then resent it afterward. 

That struck me as somewhat insane - I mean, they know they are sowing the seeds for later dissension and it isn't because they are forced to - when I questioned further, they said generally the women they were dating offered to go Dutch or to pay next time but they didn't accept. I think it's simple-minded to equate equality and fairness but it's not like these were relationships where there was some other exchange happening (one person raising children while the other works for money, for example), it was just two similarly placed people, dating.

But then I realised women often do things they don't want to because they feel they ought to as well; A.'s family often tease her for being a martyr and putting everyone else's needs first and the number of times I saw my nana take it upon herself to feed the entire extended family when the grim set of her lips belied the fact she felt put upon is legion.

There's a word for doing things you ought in Japanese: giri.  It's similar to, but not the same as duty. I always hated the idea; it seems so awful to have someone do something for you just because they're duty-bound to rather than by choice.

Despite the fact that men and women are not psychologically dissimilar - that is: "variability within each sex and overlap between the sexes in psychological traits, even those traditionally associated with one or the other, is so extensive that the authors conclude it would be inaccurate to use personality types, attitudes, and psychological indicators as a vehicle for sorting men and women" among cis-gendered people, differences in the kinds of actions giri causes us to perform are strongly dictated by gender: women tend to feel they ought to look after people emotionally while men tend to feel they ought to pay for things.

Like anything, I think if one is fully aware of the mechanisms and mores underlying their behaviour and choose it nevertheless, there isn't a problem. Not taking on responsibilities one enjoys just to avoid aligning with what is traditional is shooting oneself in the foot. It's important to examine our motivations though, to make sure we're doing them because we want to - not because we feel we ought to. 



AuthorSaya Hashimoto

Thirteenth feels momentous, although probably only because three is my favourite number. And also, you know, Friday the thirteenth and witches.  A collection of things loosely related to mental state today:

A photo essay about living with anxiety disorders and one person's take on why there's been such an increase in the developed world over the last few decades. Which might explain why these cuddle pillows have found a market. These glowing portholes seem quite soothing too.

Finding out how many more times you will see your parents before they're gone might increase anxiety for some people, and decrease it, for others. As might knowing this.

Do you cry in public? 

Try this at home! 

Drugs for the body that also affect the mind. 

And nostalgia is good for the soul, apparently. 

AuthorSaya Hashimoto

While I think Al Brown's Depot is totally overhyped (I hate going to a small plates place and finding it impossible to make a selection that includes vegetables that aren't doused in mayonnaise or fried), his new place, The Fed, had me entirely charmed.

Much has been made of the attention to aesthetic detail (adorably 50s style decor and wait staff uniforms) but the food is also spot-on, with a little bit of edge so that's it's not just a carbon copy of the American original. Case in point: Jamesy had "chopped liver" with pickle juice jelly. Um, awesome. The peanut butter and chocolate milkshake I had was small but perfectly formed and though I was kind of gagging for a little more, I probably just don't know what's good for me - a larger one might have been cloying. Despite the fact that the entire point of the date was to eat a piece of New York cheesecake, the icing on the lone remaining chelsea bun looked so thick and gleaming that I couldn't resist and I'm glad I didn't. So often chelsea buns are a dry disappointment but this was like a soft kiss with someone who's just eaten a spoonful of icing...What? That doesn't sound good to you?

They have all the Jewish deli classics like bagels and lox, reubens as well as bottomless coffee and the potentially challenging items on the menu are made more approachable - the chopped liver was actually liver pate, for example, not largeish chunks of liver mixed with goose fat and gribenes as is traditional.

There are so many things on the menu I want to try, including cocktails - martini their way involves sausage which sounds terrifying and amazing in equal parts. I'll definitely be back.

The Federal Delicatessen is at 86 Federal Street, Auckland Central and is open 7am until late every day. This is their website and their number is 09-363-7184; you don't need to book but it's not ideal for groups of more than 10.