Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Pardon My Dust June 18, 2010

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Three months ago I had one of those “wouldn’t-it-be-neat” ideas, as in “wouldn’t it be neat to have a place where people like me (childless) could gather to talk about the issues that we deal with?” So, I opened a WordPress account, posted a Mission Statement and kept posting every day until people like you started posting back.

I’ve been overwhelmed by the response and that my hunch that I wasn’t alone in this mess was right, but I’ve been on a steep learning curve as far as being an adept blogger and website administrator. It’s definitely a work-in-progress and I learn something new almost every day.

So, to that end I’ve recently updated the post categories that you’ll see over on the right. I suspect these will also remain in flux as the site evolves, but for now I am in the process of recategorizing all 80 posts, trying to put it all into some kind of order.

Next month the Ning platform that the main Life Without Baby site runs on will be implementing changes of their own, which will undoubtedly send me scurrying to fix and adjust the site.

At the end of the day, though, this site is for you, the readers, and I really do appreciate your input. If you see room for improvement (or should that be when you see it) please don’t hesitate to speak up. If there’s a topic you want discussed or an area that’s not being covered, let me know and if you see things that could be done better as far as the site function, tell me and I’ll do my best to make it work.

In the meantime, thanks for your continued support and patience while I work this whole thing out.

 

Thanks, But It’s Not For Us June 17, 2010

I’m still here. (See yesterday’s post.) I survived the fertility book and here’s my review:

It looks like a very thorough book that gives good details about all the factors of infertility, the tests needed, and the vast array of up-to-the-minute treatments available. It even offers some commonsense tips to hanging onto one’s sanity during fertility treatments and what options are available when pregnancy is no longer an option.

I think it’s fair to say that this book is not for us. If you know someone setting out on the road to conception, pass along the information, otherwise I strongly recommend keeping that particular door firmly closed.

 

Cracking open that door again June 16, 2010

About a month ago a very nice gentleman contacted me and asked if I would review his new book on this blog. The book’s title was A Baby at Last! and was co-authored by this man and two fertility doctors. I politely explained that I didn’t think our audiences were the same group of people, but he replied that the book also contained a section about moving on without children. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll take a look.”

The book has been burning a hole through my office floor ever since. I haven’t even taken it out of the envelope. There are three reasons for this:

  1. The author is a friend of a friend, or at least an acquaintance of a friend, and I feel obligated to write something positive about his book.
  2. There’s no way on this green earth I can recommend a fertility book to the women who I know read this site. It goes against everything we’re attempting to do here.
  3. And here the rest of the truth comes out: It hasn’t been long since my shelf-full of fertility books went into a Goodwill bag and out of my house forever. The very last thing I want to do is crack open that door again. What if, in turning to the chapter on moving on, I inadvertently spot some new idea, something I’ve never seen before, a solution that just might work for me? What if it triggers a tailspin and undoes all the positive progress I’ve been making?

But, according to the Press Release, the book is out today, and a promise is a promise, so tonight I’m going to crack it open and find out what the authors have to say about moving on. With luck, I’ll have some great advice to pass along, but if there’s no post tomorrow, you’ll know why.

Wish me luck.

 

Best thing about being childless: Children June 15, 2010

One of the best things about not having children of my own is the time I get to spend with other children in my life. Without the constant pull of parenting duties, I can take time to talk to my niece about some of the numerous issues that go along with being a teenager. When she “Facebooks” me with a problem, she becomes my number one priority and I can take the time to help her through it. When a friend’s daughter asks if I will write a story for her, or another niece asks if I’ll knit a sweater for her new teddy bear, or a nephew asks if I’ll take him—just him–out for a walk, I can tell them that I will, without having to consider if I’m neglecting my own children.

These relationships are a gift I find I’m glad to accept—an opportunity to form bonds that I wouldn’t have had if I’d had kids of my own. I know they’re not the same as a mother-child bond, but for those children in my life, I also know that our relationship is special and valuable to them in a different way. It’s a voluntary relationship, one entered into freely, and something a mother-child is not. Mothers and children don’t get to choose one another and if they don’t get along, they’re stuck. I get to choose the relationships I form with other children and they get to choose to have me in their lives, too. It’s a beautiful and fortunate thing.

 

What have you done for you lately? June 14, 2010

On my street, Sunday mornings bring a steady parade of dad’s with their offspring. I imagine the mom’s tucked under fluffy down comforters, sipping freshly squeezed orange juice and enjoying a couple of hours with a good book and a bottle of nail polish.

Granted, this is an image from my fantasy of motherhood, but it reminds me that mothers (at least the lucky ones) sometimes get special credit in the form of a Sunday morning in bed, an afternoon at the spa, or even a whole day once a year devoted to them.

So, as non-mom’s I ask you: what have you done for you lately? If you haven’t treated yourself for a while, maybe this should be the week. I’ve booked an afternoon off for a massage and facial this week. What are you going to do for yourself?

 

Finding Peace June 12, 2010

After last week’s slump, I’ve been on the lookout for inspiration and uplifting posts, and I’m happy to report that I’m finding them. This particular one is from Christina Katz’s writing newsletter, but if you substitute “motherhood” for “writing, publishing, and self-publishing,” I think this post says so much about what we’re all trying to do here, which is to find a comfortable spot for ourselves in the world. She says:

Walking a few miles with our two dogs is always a great way to clear my head and get clear about the future I am envisioning.

I think there is a huge temptation right now to follow the crowd, to imitate what others are doing, and to just generally agree with the online opinionati.

But there is another choice.

You can read up on what people are saying right now about writing, publishing, self-publishing, and the world in general, and then you can run what you have read through the filter of your own instincts.

I don’t think individual instincts have ever been more important than they are right now.

The more confusing the times; the more important it is to follow your gut.

And if you go against the grain temporarily, don’t sweat it. The rest may come around eventually. And if they don’t, but you are on the right track, then who cares?

This last section especially spoke to me:

Other people’s choices and paths are not any of our business. And we have absolutely nothing to gain by blindly following the self-appointed leaders of the day.

But we have absolutely everything to gain when we commit to following our inner vision and then do just that.

It’s hard to tune out the siren song of motherhood sometimes, but we need to find ways to follow our own path and find our own peace.

As an aside, but worth mentioning, I discovered Christina Katz a number of years ago, when I bought her book Writer Mama: How to Raise Your Writing Career Along Side Your Kids. Oh the irony! But even though her book is geared towards Writer Mamas, I found her advice applied to Writer Non-Mamas, too. Maybe we’re not so different after all.

 

Menopause and Childlessness June 11, 2010

If you haven’t visited the Forum lately (or ever) you’ve missed some great discussions amongst members. I’m learning so much from other people’s experiences and I’m also really touched to see strangers rally behind one another and be so supportive.

Sometimes topics of conversation come up and I have absolutely nothing to contribute. For example, Carollynn posted this comment on the “How have you come to terms with being childless” discussion:

Replying to another entry, I wrote something about my response revealing my age, which made me reflect on the fact that I’m in menopause… Yet eager to tune in to a web site about choosing to be childless. Does it seem to anyone else that there’s a disconnect here? That maybe I’m not so okay about it if a year after “the change” I’m still looking at this? Has anyone else reached this milestone who’s writing? Maybe in fact it is the transition that has me thinking about it and being involved.

This is a fascinating line of thinking and I’d be very interested to hear from anyone who’s in or has been in that position, to know if this transition into menopause changed the way you felt about being childless.

 

Not a Childless Couple June 10, 2010

This week I decided it would be a good idea to join a local social network for childfree people. I’m not really sure why I thought it would be a good idea, as I already struggle to find time to spend with the friends I have, but childlessness is at the forefront of my thoughts right now, and so finding others like me just seemed like a good idea, even if only for research purposes.

I found a nationwide group with a chapter that meets regularly in my area, and set about finding out more. The FAQ’s explained that anyone who had never parented was welcome to join. Childless individuals (me) whose spouses had children (my husband) could join, but the spouse could not. He or she could, however, come along as a guest.

I didn’t have chance to assess how I felt about this line of exclusion, because another one of those awful revelations swept up and clobbered me in the head.

My husband and I are not a childless couple.

I realize this should have been obvious to me, but it wasn’t. My husband has adult children from his first marriage and because I’ve never known them as children, I don’t think of them as children, and I’ve certainly never parented them.

This realization left me feeling very alone. My husband is my teammate; he’s the person I turn to first when I need help. We’re a good team and we’ve weathered all kinds of things together. Being childless is one of them. Except that now it isn’t!

I know that this changes nothing in my relationship with my husband. He is no less supportive and it doesn’t take away from his own struggles, but it struck me that our losses are different. I lost something I’ve never had; it was the loss of the chance of an experience. He lost something he’s already known, but something he wanted for me. It’s a subtle difference, but enough to knock me off kilter for a couple of days.

Are there other childless stepparents out there? Does your spouse feel differently about your childlessness?

 

The Next Family: Two’s a Family June 8, 2010

By: Lisa J. Manterfield My husband and I were at a major crossroads in our lives and in our relationship. Behind us were five years of trying to start

via Two’s a Family.

 

Seeing the World Through Childless Glasses

I saw this Cathy cartoon in this morning’s LA Times and at first it made me laugh with the intended joke, as well as the gentle dig at support groups. But then I whipped out my childless glasses and took another look. As Cathy would say, “Ack!”

I’m looking at the expression on Cathy’s face and wondering what’s going on in her mind. If you follow Cathy at all, you’ll know that she too is childless, although it’s never really mentioned, and it’s not clear (at least to me) if this is a choice or a circumstance for her. Either way, she discovers that she has even less in common with her newfound friend, and that she’s more alone than she thought she was.

Yes, it’s a cartoon, yes, I know I’m reading far too much into it, but childlessness is a filter I bring along with me in life now and, whether I like it or not, it tints everything I see.