Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Life Without Baby Handbook May 31, 2010

Reader Lynne posted a comment recently about responding, or rather being unable to adequately respond, to a colleague’s pregnancy announcement. Her story got me thinking that what we need is a Handbook that we can refer to in sticky situations, and let’s face it, there’s never a shortage of those.

The idea is that we can all chip in with our best responses to situations and questions we’ve all faced and I’ll compile the answers, maybe on a new Handbook page. This shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but you never know, your witty response to someone’s thoughtless question might just save someone else.

So, let’s kick off with Lynne’s conundrum:

A colleague announces that she’s pregnant with twins. How do you respond?

Answers below, please.

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When Will the Childless Find a True Champion? May 29, 2010

In her wonderful blog The Road Less Traveled this week, Loribeth posted a great piece about former First Lady, Laura Bush and her new memoir, Spoken from the Heart. In the book, Mrs. Bush reveals her own battle with infertility as well as her mother’s pregnancy losses and how those affected the whole family. Loribeth included a very insightful excerpt from the book, which I now share here.

“The English language lacks the words ‘to mourn an absence.’ For the loss of a parent, grandparent, spouse, child or friend we have all manner of words and phrases, some helpful, some not. Still, we are conditioned to say something, even if it is only ‘I am sorry for your loss.’ But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent, ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?”

It’s a beautiful quote and a sentiment I share.

I am always pleased when well-known figures step up and admit to infertility, just as I am equally infuriated when glowing celebs parade their miracle offspring and deny any dealings with the “sordid” world of fertility treatments. But, I wonder: when are we going to get a true champion? What will it take to make infertility a suitable subject for polite company, and who is going to use their fame and power to stand up for the childless and help lift that taboo? I guess, sisters, we’re just going to have to do it ourselves.

 

Would you have kids? May 28, 2010

Filed under: Childfree by Choice,Polls,Uncategorized — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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At some point in our lives, given a certain set of circumstances, we have all decided not to have children. The question is: If you had your life over again and you had the opportunity to have children, would you?

Post your response and leave a comment too if you have something more to add.

 

Mothers who don’t like children May 27, 2010

One of my mother’s friends is the kind of woman you can talk to about anything. She’s frank, honest, non-judgmental, and has a wicked sense of humor. We got talking today about adoption and the experiences (ok, the horror stories) we’d seen with friends. She said to me, “I don’t think I would have adopted if I’d been unable to have children; I don’t like children that much.” She has raised two great children and is a grandmother now, but she never had felt any strong desire for motherhood; it was just something she thought she was supposed to do.

My mother’s friend, like my mother, is of a generation where women got married and raised children, then thought about a life for themselves after the children had left. But even today, a lot of people follow that expected path and don’t give any serious thought to something that ought to be the biggest decision of their lives. High school children are educated about teen pregnancy by having the responsibility of carrying an egg or a doll around for a week, but I wonder how much is discussed about the decision to have children or not, the fact that there is an alternative.

For those of us who didn’t just fall into motherhood, we have been given a valuable opportunity to step out of the well-worn groove, assess our own lives, and decide if motherhood is something we really want.

 

Whiny Wednesday May 26, 2010

Recently a friend told me that her colleague had once justified not pulling her weight at work by saying, “Well, you don’t have children, so it’s no problem for you to work late.”

Why is it that for some people no children=no life outside the workplace? Have you been in a situation where a colleague has used his or her children to justify preferential treatment? Or have you worked in a place where parents are expected to always put their work before their family. What are your thoughts?

 

Can you spot a childfree woman? May 25, 2010

Filed under: The Childfree Life: Issues and Attitudes,Uncategorized — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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I recently got the chance to meet a friend of my aunt’s, who I’d heard plenty about. This woman would not fall into the category of physically attractive, with her purple puffy eyes and facial hair that would rival either of my brothers. But she was a feisty old bird. She held my attention in a conversation and I could see the gumption and grit in her personality, despite her old and slowed down body. I’d heard she was a force to be reckoned with, and I’d also heard her described as an old busybody. I could see where she could be a complete pain in the rear, but I also really enjoyed the short interaction we had. She was interesting.

I also knew instinctively that this was a woman who had never married and never had children. How? Was it the hardness about her that hadn’t been softened by nurturing for little ones? No. I’d seen that hardness in other mothers. Was it that independent spirit that was still strong from never having to consider the needs of anyone else? Possibly, although I have an 65-year-old uncle who is a bachelor and he has none of this woman’s drive. So, what was it?

Have you had the experience of instinctively knowing that someone doesn’t have children. What was it that alerted you? Do you even know? And if so, is it just we childless women that can instinctively pick out our own kind, or do we stand out in a crowd?

Food for thought. What do you think?

 

Not Exactly Lonely May 24, 2010

 

My young nephew has no qualms about asking the most personal questions, and he’s so earnest and compassionate that usually I can’t help but give him an honest response. He’s asked why I don’t have any children, and also what happened to my first husband. I’ve told him the truth in both cases and he’s appreciated that, as far as I can tell.

Recently he asked, “Don’t you and Jose get lonely without any children.”

“No,” I told him. “We have lots of friends, and we have Felicity, our cat, plus we have lots of nieces and nephews.”

Somehow though, this response didn’t seem to satisfy him. Perhaps because it doesn’t satisfy me either. Do I get lonely because I don’t have children? Not really. Most of the time I wish I had more time alone with my own thoughts, rather than less, but do I feel a sense of loneliness sometimes, even when I’m around other people? I do. Sometimes.

Sometimes I feel that the connections I have with others are more tenuous than they would be with a child. My brothers have their own children and, while we’re still close, our connections have weakened as the bond with their children has grown. Somewhere inside me is a tiny empty hole that nothing can fill. Most of the time I’m not even aware of it, it’s so small. But every now and then I’ll experience a melancholy sensation that feels like loneliness and feels as if it could only be filled with children.