Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Advice for “30 and Childless” February 17, 2011

I came across this question on Yahoo Answers recently: “How rare is it to be childless at 30 years old?”

In my world, it’s not rare at all. Thinking back to when I was 30, very few of my friends had children. When I was 30, I wasn’t ready to have children, never mind the fact that I hadn’t found anyone responsible enough to have them with! So, my answer to this woman is, “Don’t worry about. Just live your life!”

And yet…

When I was 30 I had no idea that my fertility was already in decline, and I hadn’t yet seen the freefall that happens on the fertility rate chart when a woman hits 35. Given my own experience with trying to conceive in my 30’s, it makes me want to offer this woman some of my hard-earned wisdom.

But what would I tell her? Don’t wait too long? If you think you might want children someday, consider freezing your eggs now? Think about your long-term goals and priorities? Find a man and hurry up?

Blach! Of course not! When I was 30 I would have rolled my eyes at this advice, too – probably did, in fact. And who am I to tell this woman that life isn’t as straight-forward as it’s cracked up to be? Who am I to tell her she needs to hurry up and take on the responsibility of being a parent?

I was happy being childless when I was 30. I was unhappy being childless from 34 to 40, and now I’m looking at 41, I’m still childless, but you know what? I’m happy again. It’s called life and you can plan it until you’re blue in the face, but sometimes it just happens how it happens, and you find your way. So I won’t offer her any advice (especially as she didn’t ask for it) and I’ll just trust she’ll find her own way.

How about you? What would you tell this woman?

 

Whiny Wednesday February 16, 2011

Filed under: Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am

It’s Whiny Wednesday.

Thank goodness, because I’ve been waiting since Moody Monday to get this off my chest.

It’s cold and rainy here. I’ve been fighting a cold all week. And I moved 400 miles to be able to spend more time with my husband, only to have him spend much of the last two weeks (including Valentine’s Day) back where I used to live.

That’s my whine this week; what’s yours?

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Money February 15, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

Wisegeek.com estimates the average family will spend $11,000 each year to raise a child from birth to high school graduation. Bankrate.com breaks out annual expenditures that include child care, a bigger car, a bigger home, plus $600 a year for education (a figure I know is laughable considering the costs of private schools in San Francisco). After taxes, not including the costs of a college education, Bankrate’s grand total is $190,528.

This is a ginormous amount of money.

$190,528 equals 19 cycling tours around Tuscany for me and my fiancé or 1,524 dinners at our favorite French bistro or 15,877 visits to the corner coffee shop for mochas and croissants.

Now I know $190,528 is not going to drop out of the heavens and into my bank account, but if I had kids, I would “find” that money. Wouldn’t you? I would work an extra job, streamline my holiday shopping list, cut back on nonessentials, become more diligent about investing. And this got me thinking about what I’m doing—or not doing—with my childfree money.

Instead of funding participation in the soccer league, I could be learning how to sail. Instead of supporting an 8th grade class trip to Washington DC over spring break, I could be planning my own off-season visit to the Smithsonian. Instead of covering room, board, tuition, and pizza, I could return to college for an advanced degree in art history or learn how to play the ukulele, make sushi, and become fluent in Italian.

Kind of fun to think about the possibilities, isn’t it?

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is learning to embrace her childfree status.

 

Love February 14, 2011

Filed under: Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: ,

Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope that love is in the air for you today.

By way of celebration, I thought I’d share a list of some of the things I love.

I love:

1.     Jose

2.     Felicity, my cat

3.     My mum

4.     My brothers and their families

5.     My amazing friends

6.     My garden

7.     Fresh picked vegetables

8.     The first spring bulbs

9.     Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Chocolate

10.  Cask Ale

11.  Small knitted things

12.  Clean sheets

13.  Chicken Tikka Masala

14.  Storybook Mountain Zinfandel

15.  Lavender

16.  Walks in the countryside

17.  Thunderstorms

18.  The Atlantic Ocean

19.  Laughter

20.  Fast internet service

21.  “Hello”

22.  Leonardo diCaprio

23.  Salty French Fries

24.  A good book

25.  Furry slippers

Please share some of your.

 

Friends in High Places, Low Places, Cold Places, and Warm Places February 12, 2011

The worst thing about moving 400 miles to the northern part of my state is leaving all my LA friends behind. Through my husband’s job, I know three people up here, plus one good friend who is an hour’s drive away, so I’m working on making new friends.

Jose was traveling last week, so I spent much of the time alone, and frankly I was feeling a bit sorry for myself.

Then, on Monday, I received a copy of Lori’s new book in the mail. I read a couple of chapters and it made me laugh. On Tuesday I spoke of the phone with Lily, who was snowed under in Indiana. I’ve never met her, but we’ve become phone friends over the months.  Later in the week, I chatted by email to Monica and Sonja, and made plans to have coffee with Kathleen. I also finalized lunch plans with Pamela, something we’ve been trying to accomplish for months now.

I share one thing in common with all these women, and that is that we are childless, but beyond that I’ve discovered we have so much more in common and that these women have become my friends.

I know that many of us feel, or have felt, isolated in our childlessness, and that the web has enabled us to find our tribe. But beyond that commonality are the possibilities for friendships, and I encourage you to find those opportunities.

On the main members page, I’ve recently added a chat feature; the forums are always buzzing; and you can send messages to other members or say hello on their walls.  There are plenty of ways to make connections and hopefully to make some new friends.

Report in on friends you’ve made through this or other sites.

 

How Are You Celebrating Valentine’s Day? February 11, 2011

Filed under: Family and Friends,Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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How are you celebrating Valentine’s Day this year? Do you celebrate, or is it just another day you can’t get a seat in your favorite restaurant?

I had vowed to not be a holiday poop this year, but a friend moved their dinner party to this Saturday and mucked up my initial plans of a big Valentine’s get-together at our house. Now my dearly beloved is traveling on Monday, so my Plan B has taken a dive too.

Undeterred, I am planning to celebrate on Tuesday. I’d love to hear what you’re up to so I can steal all your best ideas and impress my lovey with my ingenuity. 🙂

 

Going to the Silence February 10, 2011

Pamela posted this Huffington Post article yesterday and I saw it circulating around Facebook, so I’m sure many of you have seen it.

I thought it was a very intelligent and insightful piece and I was so glad the author was talking about infertility as a disease and how it’s something that needs to be talked about and better understood.

Of course, many of the comments just served to prove the author’s point that infertility is misunderstood, that it’s about so much more than selfish reproduction of oneself, and that the mental health aspects are hugely underestimated. If you decide to read the comments, be warned that they are not kind.

I read the article and I read as many of the comments as I could bear, and then I shrank down in my chair and reached for the mouse to close the article. I was upset, but I didn’t have the strength to add to the discussion. I didn’t want to get involved. I just wanted the whole thing to go away and leave me alone.

I’ve been feeling this way all week, which is why my posts have been creeping in mid-morning, instead of at 6:00 a.m. sharp. Because this week, I’m one of those women mentioned in the article who doesn’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to announce my infertility to the world; I don’t want to have to defend myself against people who would rather say something spiteful than engage their brains and think beyond their own little worlds for just a minute. I don’t want to speak up.

Taped to my computer screen is a quote by Amy Goodman. It says, “Go to where the silence is and say something.” It’s the mantra I use to remind myself to push the writing envelope and dare to say something that hasn’t been said before. I try to do that when I write, but it’s uncomfortable and painful, and just plain easier to not do it.

But the quote applies to my infertility too. It’s painful and uncomfortable to talk about it, and it’s so much easier to stay quiet and say nothing. But there is a silence out there and it’s damaging. As long as we stay quiet, the stigma, the misunderstanding, and the hurtful comments will prevail.

I didn’t want to, but I left a comment on the Huffington Post article and I’m reposting the article here. It’s not much, but it’s my way of going to where the silence is and speaking up until we are heard.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Facebook (again) February 9, 2011

Filed under: Children,Family and Friends — Life Without Baby @ 7:10 am
Tags: , ,

Last night I didn’t feel like writing a post for this morning. The weather turned chilly again (and no, my east coast friends, I am not whining that it was only 60 degrees yesterday, merely commenting) so I lit a fire and pulled my chair up to it. I got out my laptop and thought about writing, but quickly drifted onto Facebook, which spiraled into a connect-the-dots search of all the names and faces I thought I’d forgotten.

 

For all its pitfalls (endless baby photos, gushing stories of kids’ antics) I find Facebook fascinating. It’s the ultimate voyeuristic thrill. I get to peer into the lives of people I once knew, without having to actually reignite whatever relationship might once have existed. And yes, as the dorky kid in high school, I get a certain satisfaction from seeing that some of the prettiest, coolest, most popular kids never amounted to much after all, and that the people I find most interesting now are some of the ones who had the toughest time in school. My nerdy friend, who never had a girlfriend, became an award-winning documentary filmmaker and travels the world with his beautiful partner; my friend from preschool who turned Goth, became a brilliant artist; and the weirdest kid in school became a theatre actor and someone I’d enjoy being friends with now. Life is a funny old thing and you can’t predict which way it’s going to go.

 

The one thing that does give me the willies on Facebook, is seeing some of those former classmates with kids. The guy with the cruel streak, the pot head, the former heart throb destined for fame and fortune – all grinning from the entrance of Disney World with their wives and numerous offspring. These are people who weren’t responsible enough to take care of a pencil, let alone another human being. But there they are, being parents.

 

And I’m also surprised at the number of people I knew in school who don’t have kids and I can’t help but wonder why. Was it by choice or do we have more in common now than we ever did back then.

 

So, it’s more of a Reflective Wednesday for me, but as that doesn’t have the same ring to it as Whiny Wednesday, I’m opening the floor to you.

 

Well-Behaved Women February 8, 2011

I’ve been going through a bit of a renaissance recently. I’ve dropped a few pounds and been exercising fairly regularly, things are going well in general, and I’ve found myself with a new shot of self-confidence.

This has resulted in my buying a pair of kick-ass red boots, chopping off my hair into a funky little bob, and adding rocket red streaks to the front. I’ve also been digging around in the back of my closet (and the Goodwill bag I recently filled) and experimenting with putting together some old favorite clothes in new ways – interesting tops over summer dresses over leggings, with the aforementioned funky boots. I’m having fun and enjoying letting the new me out in public.

After seeing the Expressing Motherhood show, it occurred to me how different this experience would be if I had children, in particular teenage daughters. Imagine: “Mom! (shriek!) You’re not going out in THAT are you?!” or, “Oh, Mother, what HAVE you done to your hair?” or that old chestnut, “Mom, don’t you think you’re a bit OLD to dress that way?”

Oh, the humiliation, not just for the teenage daughter, but for me, for being pointed out as mutton dressed as lamb, or for just being an embarrassment. Because moms are expected to behave a certain way, to dress a certain way, to be respectable and good role models for their daughters. (I realize that many aren’t and several come to mind, but being good is what they’re supposed to do.)

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has a wonderful quote that has made its way into popular culture lately. She said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” I’m not exactly planning on making it into the history books for my misbehaving, but I’m enjoying the freedom of having no one to embarrass but myself.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About “Cheroes” February 7, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

I’ve long been seeking a role model (a hero), a female mentor who can advise me in life and business (a shero), an experienced guide who can help me make the most of my childfree existence in our mommy-centric society (a “chero,” if you will). I have not yet found someone with whom I can meet for weekly pep talks over tea and scones, but in the world at large, I am finding more and more cheroes who inspire me.

Julie Taymor is one such woman. Most people know her as the creative genius behind the Broadway spectacular The Lion King. This year, a new generation will get to know her as the producer, cowriter, and director of the new musical Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, with music by U2’s Bono and the Edge. In a career that has spanned 25 years, she’s picked up Tony Awards, an Emmy, an Oscar nomination, and legions of accolades and critical acclaim for her work in theater, film, and opera.

And this was possible because she wasn’t busy picking up toys, picking up kids from school, or picking clumps of stewed peas out of her hair. In a recent interview with Oprah Winfrey, she states it quite simply:

Julie: We didn’t have children…We sort of tried…It didn’t happen, and probably it’s okay.

Oprah: Yes. Because you wouldn’t be able to do all this with the intensity that you’re doing it with.

Julie: No. I wouldn’t.

“Probably it’s okay.” I love that. I can live with that right now. While I’m not yet firmly “okay” with my childfree status, I’m starting to imagine the possibilities. And the next time some well-meaning stay-at-home mom asks, “But, what will you do if you don’t have kids?” I think I’ll tell her about my chero.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with her decision to be childfree.