Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Life Without Baby Takes a Holiday August 13, 2011

Filed under: Childless Not By Choice,Fun Stuff,Uncategorized — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Well, let’s face it, I’ve been whining for long enough about needing some time off, so I’m finally taking it.

I’m leaving next week for an extended visit to England to see my family. Mr. Fab is coming along too, and we plan to get some serious rest and recuperation.

Ordinarily, I would have taken my laptop and kept blogging while I was gone, or at least backlogged a month worth’s of posts before I left. In light of my need to regroup, I’ve decided instead to just take some time away. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s a good idea.

So, I will be gone until early September. I hope you’ll snoop around some older posts or head over to the main LWB site and get your own conversations going. Knowing me, I’m sure I’ll check in at some point to throw in my two cents.

But for now, be well, and I’ll look forward to returning reignited and ready to go in September.

 

Childless by marriage and a man’s point-of-view August 12, 2011

I recently stumbled upon the Childless by Marriage blog. Author, Sue Lick, married a man who already had children and didn’t want more. She understands that she made a choice and is largely happy with her decision, but is still coming to terms with being childfree, and the hole that has left.

I know that some of you fall into this category, so I thought I’d share her blog here.

Last week, she posted about childlessness from the man’s perspective and included a link to Him+17, a blog written by a man who married a woman 17 years his senior and was unable to have children. The author of that blog responded to Sue’s post and I found his comments insightful. He says:

“The struggle, I find, is understanding the various shades of my reactions to childlessness. Likely, this is an ongoing, never-ending effort. There’s the honest grief that I’d have loved to bring forth a child with my wife, watch the baby grow, and then enjoy (I would hope) a subsequent friendship with the adult who I helped make. There’s also the part of me that just feels plain left out in a societal, cultural way. At family events, with friends who have children, I’m partly the odd one out.”

Ah, yes, I’m all too familiar with those reactions, but here’s what he went on to say:

“Of course, everyone feels left out in some way: the family that only had daughters or only sons, the man or woman who never married. Perhaps people with kids sometimes look at my wife and I and think, ‘We could have had a life as free as theirs.’”

Although I know that thought offers little comfort, this does go back to a comment loribeth made on this blog a while ago. She said, “Everyone has holes in their lives; mine just happens to be child-shaped.” I think about that comment often.

Him+17 goes on to say:

“I’m missing something; I’m not sure exactly what. I’ve tried to fill that gap by spending time with young people, by being a mentor through teaching and as a volunteer with Big Brothers. It helps, but truly, I’ll never understand on the most fundamental level what it means to love one’s own child. As I age, as I learn to live with the reality, this reality remains a grief, sometimes sharper, sometimes less so. I suspect it will never fade and never become something to which I grow accustomed.”

Sadly, I think he’s right. From my own perspective, I have come-to-terms with the fact that I’ll never have children; I can even write a short list of reasons why my life is better without children, but I don’t think that hole in my gut will ever close up. It’s a part of who I am now, like the scar on my knee that I don’t think about most of the time, but is always there and makes one knee different from the other. My experience has changed me and, no matter how well I move on with my life, I’ll always be a little bit sadder and my sense of humor will always be a little less sharp because of it.

 

What kind of mother would I have been? August 11, 2011

I read this article recently by Dr. Ellen Walker about how a new puppy made her realize how much time and energy goes into parenting. Dr. Walker is childfree-by-choice and considers her new puppy the “closest thing to being a mom I’ll ever come.”

One of her commenters added, “If you can’t care for a pet, never have kids.”

I think there’s something to that.

I am an utterly besotted cat-mom. Felicity, my calico rescue, has nudged her mischievous way into my heart and I’m not afraid to admit here that I love her. Would the love I feel for her compare to what I would have felt for a child? I couldn’t say, but I’m guessing not. I’ll never know. What I do know though, is that I might not have been the kind of parent I’d hoped to be.

It’s the whole discipline thing. On paper I’m adamant about well-behaved children, good manners, and not being pushed around by a two-foot-tall tyrant. And yet I’m completely at the mercy of a ten-pound furry tyrant. She misbehaves, does things I know she knows she’s not supposed to do, looks at me out of the corner of her eye while she scratches my couch, climbs onto the dining room table to eat my flowers, sleeps on my clothes, shreds my notes, the list goes on and on. And do I discipline her? No, not really.

Maybe it’s because I know she’s just a cat and not a child who is trying to push the boundaries of independence by pushing my buttons, but it does make me wonder what kind of mother I really would have been.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Open floor August 10, 2011

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

It’s Whiny Wednesday and the floor is wide open. Now’s your chance to have a good whine about whatever is on your mind today.

 

Whine on!

 

You’re such a mom August 9, 2011

Last week I was grumbling to a friend about how much time I spend looking for my glasses. Seriously, it’s ridiculous. I can never find them and without them, I can’t see clearly enough to find them. I have a list of places I look first – desk, nightstand, purse, bathroom – but it’s not uncommon for me to find them on the stove, on top of the trashcan, on the floor, or in the bed.

 

“You need to have a place you always put them,” suggested my friend.

 

I’ve heard the exact thing from my mother for decades, but clearly it hasn’t done me a bit of good. I take my glasses off when I don’t need them and I put them wherever I am at the time.

 

I rolled my eyes at my friend. “You’re such a mom,” I told her.

 

Driving home later that day, I reran the conversation in my head and I cringed at the emphasis I’d put on the word mom. I’d used a disparaging tone, suggesting that my friend’s tendency to want to help was something negative.

 

I thought about the discussions we’ve had here about offhand comments people have made to us that have been so hurtful, and I realized I’d just done the same thing. What if my friend, with a daughter just graduated from high school and preparing to move out into the world, was feeling the pangs of her future empty nest and having a crisis of confidence now that her motherhood services were no longer needed? What if her daughter had said the same thing recently and she’d been stung? What if my offhand comment had really hurt?

 

We can’t censor everything we say on the off-chance we inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings, or there would be no room for humor in the world, but this incident reminded me that everyone brings their own filters to a conversation and what might be an offhand remark for one person could be hurtful to another.

 

The same rules apply to us, the other way round. Because of our filters regarding childlessness, infertility, or our choice to be childfree, what feels like a hurtful barb could just be intended as a meaningless throwaway comment. If we can’t censor the world, then maybe we just need to adjust our filters.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Pot August 8, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

Down the street and around the corner from my home is a medical marijuana dispensary—one of two in our neighborhood. I am 100% in support of pot being used to ease the side effects of chemotherapy and other excruciating conditions, but I get really irritated when carloads of 20-something guys swing by on Thursday afternoons for their weekend party supplies.

 

I’m reminded of why I never tried it. Twenty or so years ago, I read something that said when you smoked marijuana, elements from the drug could settle into your fat cells. Specifically in women, it could lie dormant in your eggs and eventually result in birth defects in your future children. That was enough for me. I politely declined to join my friends when joints got passed around, and frankly, felt a little smug about my decision to be drug-free. In the end, it would pay off with happy, healthy children, right?

 

Fast-forward and I’m now at the time in my life when it’s clear I won’t be having kids. And, you know what, I’m a little pissed. All those years I spent exercising, eating right, not drinking, not smoking, not doing drugs so that my body would support a pregnancy—all for squat!

 

So I think it’s time I start making up for my unnecessary sacrifices. I’m too afraid of jail to experiment with illegal substances (much to the relief of my fiancé, who is in law enforcement), but I am thinking a gluttonous feast of sushi, Lemon Drop martinis, and chocolate, chocolate, chocolate is in order.

 

 

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She believes “Life is what happens when you’ve made other plans.”

 

Healing Through Creativity Workshops August 6, 2011

This fall I will once again be partnering with my good friend, Shannon Calder to host a weekend of Healing Through Creativity Workshops. This time we’re offering two days of seminars with an option to join one or both days.

 

On Saturday, we will be offering Honoring Grief, Loss, and Transition with Word and Image. This is Shannon’s area of expertise and she’ll be teaching a series of creative exercises to work through issues of loss and grief, as well as gathering tools to use going forward. Shannon is a wonderful teacher who has a perfect combination of gentle empathy and no nonsense. This workshop will be very hands on and suitable if you’re still trying to come to terms with being childfree and are wrestling with issues of loss.

 

Sunday’s workshop will be Finding Your Identity After Infertility, a subject that is very dear to my heart right now. In this workshop we’ll again be using creative techniques and writing exercises to uncover who we really are and discover who we’re going to be now that motherhood is no longer on the cards. I’m very excited about this.

 

So, the workshops will be run here in Los Angeles on the weekend of November 12 and 13. All the information is available on the website.

 

We’re running a wahoo, super-duper half-price early bird special right now. If you sign up before August 31, registration is only $99 for one day or $175 for the full weekend.

 

Please check out the website for all the info and I hope to get the chance to meet some of you here in L.A.

 

Nieces and nephews August 5, 2011

I have just booked my flight to go home to England to see my family. I am counting down the days. I am long overdue for some time off, but more than that, I want to see my nieces and nephews.

I’ve been writing on this blog lately about the role we can play in the lives of other people’s children and how valuable that can be for us and them. The problem is that I’ve lived away from my family for 20 years. I have a niece and a nephew already out in the workforce, three more in college and another three growing up way too fast. My circle of influence over them, or even my participation in their lives at all, feels so insignificant.

Now I don’t have children of my own, I wish that I could have played a bigger role in their lives. But that’s all water under the bridge, as they say, so all I can do now is make an effort to spend some time with them, which is exactly what I plan to do. Soon.

 

Everything happens for a reason August 4, 2011

I read this article in the New York Times this week. It’s the story of a neuroscientist whose daughter was born with Down Syndrome. Dr. Costa did what any of us would have done facing a diagnosis of a loved one; he threw himself into research. The difference is he is now close to finding an effective treatment for Down Syndrome.

In a quote pulled from the article, Dr. Costa said, “Things happen for a reason…” implying that he would have not moved into this field of research at all had he not had a personal reason.

Now the whole “things happen for a reason” thing usually rubs me the wrong way. It’s right up there with “it’s all in God’s plan.” My own personal belief system doesn’t go along with the idea that my life has been mapped out for me, and that being unable to have children is all part of some grand scheme for me to do something else instead. Just as I don’t believe that Dr. Costa’s daughter was born with Down Syndrome so that he could be the one to find a cure.

However…

My life is different because I don’t have children. Opportunities will come along and I’ll be able to take them because I don’t have the responsibility of parenthood. And, while it’s unlikely that I’ll be the one to find a cure for infertility because of my own diagnosis, I do believe that, like Dr. Costa, I will someday look back on my life and see that something good happened to me because I was infertile.

Just don’t know what that is yet, but I’m looking.

 

 

P.S. On a personal note, my friend Sarah is a vocal Down Syndrome advocate for her beautiful three-year-old son, Gideon. She’s currently promoting a fundraising drive for Down Syndrome Research and Treatment. Information here, if you’re interested.

 

Pay it forward for Annabelle August 3, 2011

I know it’s Whiny Wednesday today, but sometimes something crosses your radar that puts your life into perspective.

Rebecca Abreu is celebrating what would have been the 1st birthday of her daughter today. Annabelle Angel was stillborn at 31 weeks on August 3rd last year.

Rebecca has created the Pay it Forward Project in honor of Annabelle and asks that today you help celebrate by committing a random act of kindness.

Rebecca says: “Something that I have learned this year is the enthusiasm and optimism felt when paying it forward. I have sent out care packages to many bereaved parents and with each care package sent out, each word of support shared through our pages, a beautiful light erupts in my soul and for that brief moment I feel unbroken. I feel like each of us truly have the power to change someone’s life for the better.”

Here are some “random act of kindness” suggestions:

  • Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through
  • Buy a meal for the homeless
  • Clean up graffiti
  • Pick up trash
  • Play music for the elderly
  • Water dry plants at a cemetery
  • Let someone cut in line in front of you
  • Smile to everyone on the street
  • Return a shopping cart
  • Write and mail a letter to someone who made a difference in your life!

Rebecca is collecting a scrapbook of acts. For more information, visit the Pay It Forward Project website or Facebook page.