Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday: Sleep Deprivation November 17, 2010

Not having kids, I thought I’d dodged the whole sleep deprivation thing. I love my sleep, so I dreaded the thought of being woken up several times during the night to tend to someone else’s needs, and then sleeping in a half-dozing state, with one ear open to make sure that the other person was still breathing.

But then I got married. And my husband has decided to become an insomniac–a vocal insomniac. So after an hour or so of his tossing and turning, I am finally going to sleep, only to be woken up at 3 a.m. and told that he can’t sleep (as if it wasn’t evident to me) and that his heart is racing. He then reads to try to fall back to sleep; I snap on a sleep mask, stick my head under the covers, and try to stop worrying that if I go to sleep he will have a heart attack and I won’t know until it’s too late.

So this morning I am tired and consequently whiny. Luckily for me, it’s Whiny Wednesday and I can complain about it to you. Feel free to gripe right back at me.

 

Other People’s Blogs and Facebook November 16, 2010

Last night I sat down to write a bunch of posts to keep on hand as the holidays open up next week and attempt to gobble me whole. I figured if I can get ten or so pieces drafted, I can pull from them if I find myself falling behind.

Instead, I ended up hanging out on everyone else’s blogs. Ah well.

The good news is that I found this hilarious post on Julie’s blog A Little Pregnant (not a blog I would ordinarily hang out on, but you start on one person’s blog and before you know it you’re back at the old infertility blogs again.)

Please, take a moment and check out her imaginary Facebook page. It’s brilliant. I think we’ve all had experience with these sorts of “friends.”

And Facebook is a hot topic on the forums right now.

I’ve recently noticed that fewer and fewer of my favorite people are posting on Facebook anymore. Perhaps they’re out having interesting lives instead.

 

The Great Childless/Childfree Search November 15, 2010

On Friday’s post, Kathryn added a comment with this article about childless women. According to a recent Pew Research Center report, among U.S. women in the 40-44 age range, close to 1-in-5 is childless (and I suspect these statistics are similar across other age groups and in other developed countries.)

Kathryn’s question was: Where are all these women?

It’s an excellent question and I know that most of us have been in situations where we’ve felt as if we’re the only childless person in a room full of mothers armed with photos and stories. But apparently, if there are 10 women in a room, statistics suggest that we should be able to find at least other woman like us. Imagine how many childless/childfree women go to the grocery store every day, or to the airport, or to a big football game!

So I’m throwing out a challenge this week. Find the other childless/childfree woman in the room! Tune up your non-mom radar, pay attention to the tell-tale signs, and sniff out your tribe. I want each and every one of you to find one new childless/childfree woman this week. You don’t have to talk to her about it, you don’t have to tell her about yourself, you just have to find her and make some contact, even if it’s just to ask where she got her shoes.

Post your successes here. We have all found one another, so now it’s time to find the rest of us out there. Good luck and happy hunting.

 

The Other Scarlet Letter November 12, 2010

As a writer, less than 50% of my time is spent writing and the rest is spent marketing. It’s one of the many ways in which the profession has changed over the years. As part of my marketing campaign, my email signature includes links to my two most recently published articles (one about dealing with infertility, the other about being a family of two) , a link to this web site, and a note that my new book (a memoir) will be coming out soon! All of these things point blatantly to the fact that I am childless and infertile.

 

Recently I was in a room of ten people, some of whom I knew but most of whom I’d never met before. I had spoken to them all via email and included my signature. It dawned on me that every single person in the room knew these very intimate details of my life. Believe it not, despite airing my life here on this blog, I am a very private person, and I had a sudden moment of panic and discomfort knowing that everyone knew this information about me. I may as well have pinned a scarlet “I” to my dress.

 

Later, one of the men I’ve known for a number of years told me he’d read my articles and didn’t realize that my husband and I had dealt with infertility. He and his wife are childless, too. Another woman who I’d never met before also came up to me after the meeting and mentioned that she too was childless-not-by-choice.

 

Finding kindred spirits in those two people more than made up for the others knowing all my secrets. I am not proud of being infertile, but I am no longer ashamed of it either.

 

Caring For Aging Parents November 11, 2010

Living so far away from my mother (6,000 miles) I spend a fair amount of time worrying about what’s going to happen to her when she gets old.

 

My mother is 78 (I’m sure she won’t mind me telling you) but she still rides her bike, runs, dances, and practices Tai Chi. But I can see her slowing down and I know she’s not going to live forever.

 

My brothers and I have discussed this. We acknowledge that minor emergencies and issues will continue to fall to my middle brother, who lives the closest to my mum—about 8 miles. My older brother will most likely take care of anything that needs organizing, should my mum need more long-term care. As for me, I live too far away to do much at all. But I don’t want to regret not being there when my mother needed me, so Jose and I have discussed the possibility of me spending large chunks of time with my mother as she ages. My work will allow me to do that, as will my very understanding husband, and of course, I don’t have children to take care of, so I have that flexibility.

 

I’m fortunate to have brothers who don’t squabble about who will take care of our mother, but I have friends who don’t have that relationship, and it seems that the responsibility often falls to one sibling, and quite often it’s the one who doesn’t have children.

 

I’m wondering… do you feel that your childless/childfree status will enable you to be there as your parents age, or does it just mean that your family will expect you to carry the load because you have “no other responsibilities?”

 

Whiny Wednesday: Speak Up! November 10, 2010

Filed under: Current Affairs,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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It’s Whiny Wednesday and regular contributor Kathleen Guthrie offered this thought to get us all in the griping mood:

According to an online report, only 37% of registered voters in my county voted in the recent election. That means 63% couldn’t be bothered. Sixty-three percent. Don’t get me started on the citizens who haven’t registered. It makes me want to slap someone.

I know it’s a pain. My fiancé and I spent three hours reading through candidates’ statements, reviewing endorsements, trying to make sense of which propositions did what and which propositions canceled out others; we debated the merits of each item on the ballot, and occasionally agreed to disagree. It was a mind-numbing, headache-inducing, frequently discouraging experience. But we did it, because it’s important, and we rushed through our Tuesday morning routine so we could cast our ballots before the anticipated rush to the polls.

Now that the results are in, I’m hearing a lot of whining about the outcome. And a lot of the people who are doing the whining are the ones who couldn’t even manage to send in an absentee ballot.

To the 63% I say, You have given up the right to speak, write, blog, protest, or scream any opinion about any aspect of our government until you do your part and vote. Got a problem with that? Then address it by using your voice—and your vote—in the next election cycle.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on eHow.com.

What’s got you all fired up today?

 

Missing My Re-Education November 9, 2010

Last night my husband asked me, “What’s coal tar?”

I didn’t know exactly, so I did what I usually do, which is to piece together the bits of information I do know about coal and tar and try to fudge an answer. As is also common (and one of the things I love about my husband) this turned into a discussion about how coal and oil are formed and if all living things are carbon based. But it still didn’t answer the original question about coal tar.

I decided that I’d look it up when we got home, but something else came up and I got busy and so I never did get my answer, and neither did my husband. It occurred to me that if I had children, I’d have found an answer. I’d have done the research until I could give them a good explanation. So I wonder, am I missing an education because I don’t have kids? Or am I just missing my re-education?

I used to know about a lot of things. I could identify birds, knew the names of all the dinosaurs, and knew which color paints to mix to make the colors I didn’t have. I knew how to French knit, do a cat’s cradle, and build a model theatre out of cereal boxes. I also learned most of the periodic table and could list all the kings and queens of England in historical order. And I used to know the difference between how coal and oil are formed. But now I just can’t exactly remember. If I had kids, I’d have to learn all that stuff again and I’d be glad to.

I realize that this isn’t life-saving information I’m missing, but it would be nice to be able to pop out in conversation that Edward VI was Henry VIII’s son and heir, and that coal tar is a by-product of converting coal into coke.

 

The Mother-Daughter Bond November 8, 2010

Last week my mum went home to England after spending six weeks with us. It’s always a bittersweet departure. While she’s here, my life is disrupted, work doesn’t get done, my daily routine is all off, and I never seem to see much of my husband. By the time she leaves I’m ready to get my life back, but I’m never glad to see her go. I know it’s going to be at least six months before I see her again and I know that if she ever really needed me (or vice versa) we are 24 hours away from one another. I often worry that one day that will be too far. But I’ve chosen my life and she accepts it, and we both know that even though we only see one another twice a year, over the course of a year she actually spends more hours with me than with either of my brothers. Somehow the arrangement works out for us.

I live by the beach, (so naturally, I seldom actually go to the beach) and over the course of her visits we’ve developed a tradition of going to the beach on her last day here. It’s always a glorious day, even if the weather has been mediocre for the rest of her trip. We walk down to the beach, get an ice cream, put our feet in the ocean for a while, and then lay on the sand in the sun.

This time we dozed for a while and at one point I woke up and looked at my mum asleep beside me. I was overcome by just how much I loved her.  It’s such a deep, binding love, different to the way I love my husband, or my friends. She is my mother. I am a part of her and because of that we will always be inseparable. It was an almost primal feeling.

And then of course, the other feeling struck me. I realized that no one will ever feel that way about me, and likewise I will never know what it feels like to love my own child.

It was a fleeting thought, not one to linger and bring me down, but I daresay it’s a thought I will have again, probably the next time I say goodbye to my mum.

 

Sharing Childhood Memories November 5, 2010

Today is an important holiday in my culture-of-origin. In the U.K. it’s Guy Fawkes’ Night or, as it’s more commonly known, Bonfire Night. It’s a cross between the 4th of July, Halloween, and Thanksgiving, when we Brits–in order to show our gratitude for our Government not being blown to smithereens by a bunch of 17th century ne’er-do-gooders–light bonfires, set off fireworks, stuff our faces with roast chestnuts, parkin, and bonfire toffee, and then burn effigies of the traitors. It’s all very barbaric, but it was still always my second favorite holiday, after Christmas.

Now that I live 6,000 miles away from my hometown, I miss Bonfire Night. On my list of fondest childhood memories, Bonfire Night ranks pretty near the top. And it makes me sad sometimes (this year, apparently) that I have no one to pass along these memories and traditions to. I’ll never get the chance to tell stories of my favorite Bonfire Nights to my children or make Bonfire Toffee that they’ll remember 30 or 40 years later.

I’m sure part of my melancholy comes from knowing my own childhood is gone, but sharing days like this with my own children is one of the things I’m sad I’ll never get to do.



 

My Family Car Stickers November 4, 2010

I don’t know if these are popular where you are, but in my neighborhood, they’re everywhere. They used to annoy me. I begrudged the smug little families competing against one another for the glory of biggest, most interesting, or cutest family. Isn’t it enough that you have a family without having to parade them around as well?

Anyway, I’m over it now. When I take off my Baby Grinch hat, I have to admit that these stickers are pretty cute. What’s more, according to the company website, they’re only $2.99 a figure, which means that since my goldfish passed away last month, I can get my entire family—Jose, me, and the cat—for under $10!

Now that’s something to be smug about.