Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Adapting to a Childless Life June 24, 2010

I recently read Cheaper By The Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth and Ernestine Gilbreth. If you’ve never read it, I recommend it. Don’t be put off by the awful Steve Martin movie version; the book is a classic. In one of the stories, the family with twelve children goes through a string of household help (not surprisingly) because, quote: “People can’t move from a quiet home to a large family.”

I can imagine the shock of moving from a small quiet family into a household of 14, but what about the other way around?

I’m from a family of three children, but my brothers are 11 and 13 years my senior, so in many ways I’m an only child. I have memories of quiet afternoons at home with my mum, or of just making my own entertainment if there were no neighborhood friends to play with. Even now, I enjoy my peaceful life and like nothing better than a quiet evening at home with a good book. If there’s no one to talk to, I talk to myself. I’m seldom bored or lonely.

But I wonder, if I’d grown up in house with a big family, would I feel the lack of children in my house more deeply? Would I crave the noise and chaos, or would the quiet life I have be a welcome rest?

Do you come from a big family? Do you crave that company or have you adapted quite easily to a quieter life?

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4 Responses to “Adapting to a Childless Life”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    I love the book Cheaper by the Dozen (although i was always a bit irritated that there really were only 11, one died very young; i hate that i tend to be nit-picky that way). Have you read Belles on their Toes, too?

    My family life growing up was, over all, quite unhappy. My mother spaced her children out by 3-1/2 & 5+ years so that she could spend “quality time” with each. The reality was this gave her a lot of freedom to abuse each of us, tho i’m sure that wasn’t her original intent.

    I didn’t have much relationship with my younger sisters & was often irritated by them. Moving into a life where i lived alone & quietly always seemed natural to me. I married young but then divorced.

    When i met my current husband a few years ago, it seemed that while i loved him very much & wanted to be married, i was afraid i might not be able to transition well after living quietly for so long. We have made the transition. I assume had we had children we would have transitioned to that, too.

    But right now we live a very quiet life.

  2. loribeth Says:

    I read Cheaper by the Dozen & Belles on Their Toes when I was a kid — absolutely loved them. There are older movie versions from the 1950s, too, with Myrna Loy & Clifton Webb as the parents, that are much truer to the books.

    I only had one sister, & my dh only had one brother, but we both come from large extended families. Interestingly, both sides of my Mom’s side of the family have large numbers of never married &/or childless/free cousins. It’s never really been discussed, & suppose everyone’s reasons are different, but the fact that I’m not the only one & there are things we talk about those family gatherings besides children makes it a lot easier for me!

  3. lmanterfield Says:

    Clearly I need to add Belles on Their Toes to my reading list. That’s also given me an idea to add a Book Lovers group to the site. I’m always on the lookout for good recommnedations.

  4. Kel Says:

    I grew up in the country, parents, one brother and an uncle. No other extended family. My brother and I were exceptionally close as a result & we didn’t get to interact with other children until around 7.

    My best friend later on was catholic….enormous family. Her world blew my mind, LOL. It was utter chaos to me! I came to love it, fond memories to this day.

    Today, I am a very capable loner, it almost feels like a trait I learned in my youth. I am grateful I do well on my own (like before I got married, etc). I’m very self sufficient, but in a perfect world, I prefer the chaos and the noise of people coming and going.


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