Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday: Taking Liberties January 18, 2012

Recently, my friend calling me, fuming.

She’d been “volunteered” to co-host a baby shower for a woman she knows. Note that I didn’t say a “for a friend.” This woman is the wife of her partner’s colleague. Their relationship is such that she’s only heard about the pregnancy through the grapevine, and not even from the woman herself.

The kicker? The other two “volunteer” co-hosts are both women who don’t have children.

Maybe my friend should be flattered that her organizational skills are so valued, but she doesn’t feel that way. She feels it’s assumed she has time to put together a party because she doesn’t have kids (even though she’s a busy business owner.)

I’m wondering if that person is also thinking that these married, childless women are going to be paid back some time soon with showers of their own. I can’t speak for the other two women, but that’s not the case with my friend, and organizing a celebration for someone else’s baby is not something she’s currently glad to do.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. You can whine on behalf of a put-upon friend if you’d like, or feel free to whine for yourself.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Set-ups January 17, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I had more than my share of bad dates during my single years, but one stands out from the crowd of mis-matches: He huffed ’n’ puffed during the flat, 10-minute walk to dinner (I was training for a half marathon), he complained about the food at the restaurant I’d recommended (Who doesn’t like Italian?), and he griped that all the women in California were snobby b*tches (Um, hello?).

As soon as I got home, I called my friend and asked why she’d set us up. “You’re both single,” she said.

After a couple of deep breaths, I gently suggested that she raise her standards. Perhaps in the future she should find out if I had anything in common with the random, eligible bachelor of her choosing before handing out my phone number.

Sadly, I was reminded of this during a recent ladies’ lunch. I was seated next to a woman I hadn’t met before and launched into standard getting-to-know-you questions—job, hometown, connection to the hostess. She was nice enough, but it was soon clear we had little in common…except we were both childfree, the only childfree women at the table.

I looked up from my seat as the other women laughed over toddler antics, compared poopy diaper horror stories, discussed the pros/cons of various baby carriers, and exchanged knowing glances about the challenges of sleepless nights with newborns. In all fairness to the host, I don’t believe she placed us childfree women together on purpose; it was more that the mothers were drawn to each other. But that didn’t make it any easier to bear.

I certainly understand the need for mothers, especially new mothers, to get out and socialize and to be able to get information and support in their new roles. Had I known what I was walking into, though, maybe I would have bowed out of the lunch. Maybe I could have risen above it and made another stab at finding common ground with my seat mate, but I felt so downtrodden, so invisible, that I just couldn’t muster the courage to make the extra effort. I also didn’t want to talk about being childfree; I’m mostly over it.

What I had looked forward to that day was getting out and talking with women about all sorts of issues, things we could all relate to. Maybe moving forward I should only accept invitations to after-work drinks. I’m thinking not a lot of new mommies will make it out for that, and I’ll be in more amiable company.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She still looks for the good in people.

 

Out With the Old January 16, 2012

I write a regular blog called The Plan B Life for PsychologyToday.com. Although the theme of the blog dealing with life when Plan A doesn’t work out, I’ve always got my own Plan A Life – the one that included children – in my mind when I write.

This week’s post was Out With the Old, about the importance of rituals in marking the end of Plan A and preparing to embark on Plan B. I know I’ve talked about this topic before on this blog, but for me, it was the key to starting along the path to coming to terms with a life without children.

If you’re struggling to get forward motion right now, a little symbolic ritual can go a long way. First, you need to acknowledge what it is you need to let go. It could be as big as the dream of motherhood, or it could be bitterness towards a family member or coworker who you feel flaunts her fertility, or it could be facing a fear and taking the next step forward.

Whatever your sticking point, acknowledge it first, then decide to let it go. Find a ritual or something symbolic that means something to you, and try it. It might be a prayer, or lighting a candle, or some kind of cleansing ceremony. Whatever you choose, you’ll be amazed at how freeing and how positive a simple ritual can be.

If you try this, (or if you’ve done something like this in the past) please report in on how it went.

 

Fabulous Friday January 13, 2012

Earlier this week, Rerah commented how great it would be to have a “Fabulous Friday,” where we can list all of the positive things we do or want to do, or are able to do because we don’t have children. I think this would be an excellent way for us all to keep our eyes on the future and what it might hold for us, even as we’re dealing with the past.

Kathleen mentioned that she is planning a cycling trip to France this year and is gathering information on things to do.

My plans for this year also include travel. Mr. Fab and I once created a Bucket List of places we wanted to visit. We made a start on checking things off, but life happened, we got busy and distracted, and our last few trips have been places that are quick and easy to book and don’t require much planning.

So, this year, I’m dusting off my Bucket List, making time to do some research and planning, and then we’re going…somewhere. I’ll report back later.

So what do you have planned, or what would you like to have planned? Could you use some encouragement? Let us know here, so we can keep one another buoyed up and maybe offer advice and support, if needed.

 

Your Next 15,000 Days January 12, 2012

I was recently introduced to Klara, a blogger in Slovenia, and her new blog The Next 15,000 Days. Her title caught my attention immediately, and I had to know what it meant. Here’s what she writes about her choice of title:

“Just a few days before Christmas we will celebrate 3,000 days since our wedding day. Our first 3,000 days were mainly sad. Of course, there were also lots of great things. The greatest was that I realized I married the love of my life; all the pain brought us even closer together. If we are lucky, another 15,000 days are waiting for us. So, we decided to start living a new, happy life. We lost, already, enough days being sad. We just don’t want to lose another day.”

I love this attitude. It’s the same notion Mr. Fab and I had when we decided to start figuring out how to be a family of two. We drew a line in the sand and said, “This is where we start living our lives again. But it’s not always easy to do.

You can’t just decide to not be sad anymore. Sadness and grief are much more complicated and sneaky than that. They tend to hide in unexpected places and leap out on you when you think you’re safe. Family gatherings, pregnancy announcements, and closets where you kept baby clothes you planned to use are all places to be on the look out for a grief ambush.

But you can decide, as Klara says, to “start living a new happy life.” It takes work, and it might not always go as planned, but deciding is half the battle.

So, how do you plan to live your next 15,000 days?

 

Whiny Wednesday January 11, 2012

Filed under: Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 7:32 am
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I have a half-whine today. I want to whine about this, but I know I shouldn’t, and I feel guilty and awful about even considering a whine, so I’ll sneak out my whine quickly and then cover it over with counter-whines as quickly as I can.

Every year my mum comes to visit for 5-6 weeks. She goes home in one week’s time…and I’m ready to get my life back.

Please understand, I love my mum. She is an almost perfect houseguest, she’s easy going, keeps her opinions largely to herself, and is a breeze to get along with. She’s active, we share common interests, and we even like the much of the same food.

She’ll be 80 this year and, even though she’s in excellent health, she lost her twin sister recently, and it made me painfully aware of how valuable our time is together. I’m lucky that she’s in good enough shape to be able to fly 6000 miles alone to visit, and I appreciate that my work affords me time to spend with her. I’m lucky. I know I’m lucky, so I’m just squeaking out a tiny whine.

But I’m ready to have my life back. I’m ready to spend time alone with my husband again, to lounge in bed on a Sunday morning, and to go for long walks and talk. I’m ready to throw myself back into work and hunch over my computer for the coming months. I have big plans for this year, and I’m ready to get them started.

And I think my mum’s ready to go home too, back to her garden, her friends, and her busy social life. Her gentleman friend’s phone calls are coming more frequently, and although he would never admit it, he’s probably missing her too.

So, it’s been a great visit, but it’s time for us all to get back to normal.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. Even though mine was just a half-whine today, feel free to let your full whines out, as needed.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Meeting You January 10, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Mark your calendars for Saturday, February 11, 2012—the first-ever LWB Meet-Up!

We’ve bandied this about for a while and now it’s going to happen! The San Francisco Group members (look under “Groups” on the Main page of the LifeWithoutBaby site) are going to meet in San Francisco for a casual lunch, a get-to-know-you gathering. If you live in Northern California, sign on with our group and come join us.

This isn’t just for gals in my neighborhood. If you haven’t already, join one of the other regional groups and suggest a meeting place. If your area isn’t represented, start a group (under the Groups column, there’s a place to “+ Add a Group”). If none of this is practical for you, then call or e-mail a childfree friend and ask her out for lunch. You don’t have to tell her what inspired the invitation; think of it as a worthy excuse to catch up with a good friend. (And if it’s just you, then take yourself out for a really nice lunch and we’ll be with you in spirit!)

In my mind, this isn’t a time to get together to bitch about being childless (feel free to do that on tomorrow’s Whiny Wednesday) or to pull out our hankies and share our sorrowful tales (feel free to do that any and every day on LWB, a safe place where you can pour your heart out to a compassionate and sympathetic community). Let’s focus on the positive, break bread together, and simply enjoy being in the company of other great women…who happen to be childfree…just like me.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She loves discussing books and movies, and gathering suggestions for “must-sees” for her upcoming trip to France.

 

Walk a Mile in my Shoes January 9, 2012

I never thought I’d be sitting here defending the Duggars, but here I am.

I realize this is old news, but I keep thinking about the photo that circulated of their miscarried baby. When I first heard about it, I rolled my eyes. That’s my standard response to any news I hear about them. But then I though about it more, and you know what? I get it.

People who’ve never dealt with infertility, loss of a child, or even loss of a dream of motherhood, don’t understand that you never know how you’re going to react to a situation until you’re standing there.

You think you’d never use extreme fertility treatments…until someone tells you it’s the only option left to you. You think you’re a level headed person, who would never become obsessed with motherhood…until you’ve tried month after month after month and no one can tell you why you can’t get pregnant. And you think you’d never take a photo of a miscarried or stillborn baby…until it happens to your child.

There are people who think I’m crazy for the way I became obsessed about having a baby. There are people who say, “why don’t you just adopt?” to anyone who can’t have children of their own. And there are people who are appalled and condemn a woman who treats a miscarried child as if that child had lived.

To those people I say, “Walk a mile in those shoes.” Because you don’t know how you’ll react until it happens to you.

 

500 Posts…and Going Strong January 6, 2012

Thanks to the new and improved WordPress software, I received a heads up at the beginning of this week that today would mark my 500th post on this blog.

500! That’s a lot of words.

So, I’d just like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you who keep showing up, reading my words, and contributing to this conversation. Thank you for keeping me going on my own journey and for helping one another of yours. Thank you for having the guts to share your most intimate feelings in the comments. Whether you realize it or not, you’re making a difference to other people who come here for solace and to know they’re not alone.

So, as a new year begins, I have exciting plans brewing for the blog. I intend to add some new voices to the conversation, include some practical guidance and some expert opinions on how to go about this whole coming-to-terms business, and I’m hoping to provide some more inspiration in the form of childfree women who left indelible legacies for the world.

I hope you’ll continue to come along  with me for the next 500 posts. And thank you for all your support. -x-

 

With Eyes of Faith…A Brand New Year January 5, 2012

By Dorothy Williams

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”

 

~ Jeremiah 29:11

I love that passage from the Bible, where God promises prosperity, hope and a future. Now that I understand the context, it’s one of my favorite verses to reflect on at this time of year, especially now that I have faced my own form of cultural exile as a childless woman.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke for God to people who loved the Lord, but nevertheless had been driven into exile from their homeland. At the same time he delivered a promise of welfare and not woe, Jeremiah also prophesied that the exile would last several more decades! Can you imagine a frail, little old lady, hearing this and shaking her veil?  She had, maybe, a few good years left on earth, so how could these promises be applied to her life? Since scholars say that the prophecy pointed to God’s plan for a messiah, perhaps she placed her hope on an eternal relationship with God, rather than a passing, earthly reality.

Like her, I also face an exile that I will not outlive.  After enduring pregnancy announcements from friends and family in my thirties, I now dread the upcoming “I’m going to be a grandma!” to a chorus of whoops and yells. As the mommy club keeps expanding (gosh, even women in convents use the title of Mother) so does my period of exile.

But unlike that frail lady in Babylon, I believe God’s plan for a messiah has been fulfilled. So when I reflect on the passage from Jeremiah, I think about the past year and see clearly how God provided welfare and not woe, in the here and now of my lifetime. I may not be delivered from exile but, like my brothers and sisters in Christ, I have a Messiah who walks with me through it, blessing me with a double portion of life’s goodness.

How do you approach this time of year?  What are your plans for the future?

Dorothy lives near Chicago.  She and her husband spend January weekends cross-country skiing the snowy, winding paths of forest preserves.