Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday: Halloween October 31, 2012

It’s Halloween and I really wanted to prove I could get into the spirit of things this year. But it just isn’t working out that way.

I’ve been so busy the past few weekends that I haven’t had chance to put out my decorations. Mr. Fab will be home late, so that means greeting trick-or-treaters alone, which feels weird. And my stash of candy is already much smaller than it was a week ago (know idea why!) and I can’t face going to the store to buy more.

So instead, I’m planning to go to a yoga class tonight, then come home, turn out the lights, have a long bath, and go to bed. What a fun and festive person I am.

Alas, my intentions were good, but my execution has failed me.

Happy Halloween to those of you who are in the spirit, and Happy Whiny Wednesday to those of you who aren’t. If you’d like a Halloween gripe, please feel free to do so here.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Angels October 30, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

My friend Deedy is the gentleperson who visits old souls in nursing homes. She sends flowers for no particular reason, writes cards to simply say “Thinking of you!”, calls regularly just to chat and reminisce. Now in her 80s, she has a driver take her on her rounds, otherwise she hasn’t slowed much in her efforts. She’s a champion conversationalist, a goodwill ambassador, a messenger of cheer, an angel on Earth.

Long ago she recognized that friends were slowly dying of loneliness because their own extended families were too busy with jobs, children, and other important responsibilities to tend to their elders, so Deedy picked up the slack. She doesn’t do any of this because she expects anything in return, but because she has a good heart. And she’s able to do this with such vigor because she is not married and doesn’t have children of her own. Ironic, isn’t it?

I’m often asked who my childfree role models were. To be honest, it wasn’t until last year, when we did the series on cheros (heros who happen to be childfree), that was I able to I think of any. For some women it’s an inspiring aunt, teacher, or boss. I can’t recall one childfree woman who was part of my growing-up years. Then there was Deedy, who came along in my late 30s, just as I needed someone to shine a light and show me a different path. Deedy is my personal chero. I hope I have learned well from her, for I intend on following her example and becoming a chero to others.

Look around you and share with us: Who is your personal chero?

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status.

 

Thinking About My Old Age October 29, 2012

The question often seems to come up of, “What’s going to become of me when I’m old? Who’s going to take care of me if I don’t have children?” It’s a question that rattles around in my brain more often than I’d like, and my answer is always the same: “I have absolutely no idea.”

Given that my husband is 15 years my senior and my family lives on a different continent, I am facing the statistically real possibility that I will be someday be alone with no blood relatives within a 6,000-mile radius of me. I’m thinking that as long as I remain physically and fiscally fit, I’ll get long well enough. I have friends and interests, not to mention a job that doesn’t tie me to any particular geographic location, so I could choose to move closer to my family if that’s what I wanted to do.

But what happens if I’m not healthy, either physically or fiscally? What happens if I need care that I can’t afford to pay for and there’s no one around who gives enough of a damn to look after me? What will become of the poor, impoverished, childless widow then?

These are the thoughts that pop into my head, and honestly, it’s depressing. If I allowed these thoughts to take hold, it could be paralyzing. I could see myself planning for this possibility, saving every penny for my future healthcare and frantically collecting friends in the hopes that, in my time of need, one of them will be a friend indeed. I could see me putting my current life on hold for the sake of avoiding a future life alone, and I don’t want to do that.

I don’t want to get all Pollyanna about this. I am thinking about this future possibility. I am trying hard to keep myself healthy, I’m nurturing my friendships, and I’m trying to be smart about my finances. But I’m not looking at my friendships with an eye as to who will take care of me (that would be weird, for one thing) and I’m not living now for the possibility of my future, because it might not happen that way.

Anyone who’s ever made plans for the future and then watched them fail to come to fruition (is that anyone here?) knows that life has no guarantees. Yes, statistically I should outlive Mr. Fab and someday be alone, but in reality I might not. Yes, theoretically people with children will be taken care of in their old age, but if you’ve ever visited a retirement home, you’ll know that’s not a given either. In fact I wonder if people with children aren’t sometimes more alone because their friends assume their kids are visiting and taking care of them? As a friend, I am more likely to step in to help a friend who doesn’t have family than one who has a partner and family close by. Likewise, I hope that my friends will be there for me, when needed.

So yes, I’m aware that I may need a plan for the future, and I am thinking about what my options might be. But there’s no way of knowing what my future will be, so I don’t want to fritter away my present worrying about it.

P.S. After writing this post I came across the image above and it made me laugh. Who knows, 40 years from now I could still be sitting here blogging about how to get along without children. Hopefully by then I’ll have it all figured out. 🙂

 

Please join me on tonight’s support call

Filed under: Uncategorized — Life Without Baby @ 12:01 am

Just a quick reminder that tonight is your chance to get some support from me and your fellow LWB’ers as we head into the beginning of the holiday season.

Please join me tonight, Monday, October 29th at 5:30pm PST for our first LWB support group call. If you’d like to join the call, please register here to receive the call access details.

Come with a topic for discussion or just come to listen in. Everyone is welcome. I look forward to speaking with some of you later tonight.

 

Certainty October 26, 2012

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I always used to have an answer to that question. For a time the answer was, “Raising my children and writing brilliant novels in my spare time.”

These days I don’t have a clear vision of how my life will look 10 years from now. It’s not to say that I don’t have goals and plans—I have plenty of those—but what I no longer feel I have is certainty. I really have no clue where or who I’ll be in 10 years time.

After a strange week, where I’ve felt sure of nothing, I always know that there’s one thing I can count on. If I walk around the corner from my house and go down the hill, I will find the ocean. Some days it will be calm and enticing, other days—like today—it will be wild and intimidating. But it will always be there. And if I am here, in this place, 10 years from now, I can be absolutely certain that the ocean will be there, too.

If you’re feeling uncertain right now, what’s the one thing you can count on?

 

Anniversaries October 25, 2012

Do you have an “anniversary”, a day that is significant on your journey? Maybe it’s the day you decided to stop trying to conceive, or perhaps it’s the date of a miscarriage or stillbirth. How do you deal with those days?

My friend’s father died earlier this year, and she recently marked what would have been his birthday. She gathered some of her family and “celebrated” in a way he would have enjoyed. Her friends understood it was going to be a rough day for her and we gave her space and offered to listen, if she needed to talk.

But how do you deal with an anniversary that many other people wouldn’t understand?

I don’t really have any of those anniversaries. My quest for a baby simply ran out of gas. I never actually conceived, so my losses weren’t marked by any particular events. But if they were, I would mark those anniversaries the same way I remember other losses.

I wouldn’t schedule any work events or meetings that day. In fact, I might take the day off all together. I would be kind to myself and I’d allow myself to experience whatever emotions came up or me. I think I would give myself permission to just let my sadness be.

And the following day I’d get up and get back on the horse. I’d go about my business and I’d keep myself moving forward. I would get on with my life and I’d make plans to make it the best life it could be, and maybe the next time the anniversary rolled around, I’d feel that pain a little bit less, but that doesn’t mean I would forget what brought me to this point in the first place.

That’s what I’d do. How about you?

 

Whiny Wednesday: Thanks a Lot, Facebook October 24, 2012

In the interests of fuelling my Whiny Wednesday fire, Kathleen was kind enough to send me news of Facebook’s new “Little One” pregnancy tracker app. (Here’s a link, but please click through with caution as it’s a baby fest.)

Not only does the app provide video of baby’s development, users can also “Keep friends and family involved throughout your pregnancy with weekly updates, comments, gift registry, and polls.” The idea is to make it easier for moms-to-be to share photos and news.

I am currently “involved” in a family member’s pregnancy via Facebook. And let me tell you, this woman needs no help from an app in broadcasting her daily updates. In fact, it’s starting to become fascinating to see which unrelated topic she can twist around to the subject of her pregnancy next.  I know she’s excited, and I am happy for her, but mix it up a bit, lady, ok?

Glad that’s off my chest. What’s on yours today?

P.S. On their open salon this week, Pamela has a wonderful analogy about what it feels like to watch a friend (or family member) go to the other side and lose empathy for those left behind. On her blog, Keiko talks about having to announce her pregnancy and feeling guilty for “not failing.” Check out the conversations.

 

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Self-Awareness October 23, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

My friend Kim* is an amazing pediatric dentist. Not only is she highly skilled, but she is passionate about what she feels is her calling. I have always admired her and, quite honestly, have at times been envious as I see her in action, see how her patients l-o-v-e her, see how energized she is by her work. In fact, it doesn’t seem appropriate to call it “work” because she glows when she is in her element and even outside when she talks about it.

So I was stunned during a recent catching-up phone call when she announced she was letting go of her practice.

“What?! Why?”

“It sucks the life out of me, it’s just takes too much energy, I’m exhausted,” she said.

“I’m so sorry to hear that,” I said, but that wasn’t entirely what I was thinking. See, Kim now also has a one-year-old daughter. Her job hadn’t changed. She’d never found it life-sucking before, quite the contrary. No, it is being a parent that is sapping her energy and making her too tired to continue to enjoy her job. I was saddened to hear that she was choosing to sacrifice her first great love, and also to hear that she was misplacing the blame.

But while I was quick to judge, once I took a step back and looked at the big picture, what I felt was compassion. I realized this was perhaps her way—consciously or unconsciously—of making peace with her sacrifice in her own mind. I do the same thing when people ask me why I don’t want kids and I respond by joking that my dogs take all the parenting urges out of me. Oh, I wanted kids, but I didn’t get to have them, and rather than have a complete meltdown in public, I deliver a half-baked “excuse.” I could easily imagine myself telling one of those strangers, “I just don’t have the energy to be a parent” versus revealing the real and painful reasons for my childfreeness.

When I think about it from my heart, I realize Kim and I aren’t all that different. We’ve both lost something we wanted, we’ve both sacrificed big dreams, and we’ve both lied to ourselves in an effort to salve the wounds. It makes me think that if we could be more honest with ourselves, and if we could then better communicate our real feelings with each other, there would be a smaller divide between the moms and non-moms.

We’re all women, doing the best we can with the paths we’ve been given. I hope that by being aware of this, the next time I am at the receiving end of a half-truth, I will bypass judgment and instead model understanding and compassion.

*Her name and details have been changed to protect her privacy.

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

 

Flying the Non-Mom Banner October 22, 2012

My fellow bloggie friend, Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos, is always one to proudly fly the childfree flag. If you’ve read her book, Silent Sorority, or visited her blog by the same name, you’ll also know that she speaks on this topic with intellect and eloquence.
This week, Pamela will be hosting a 5-day Open Salon alongside infertility advocate, Keiko Zoll. Although now on opposite post-infertlity paths (Pamela is child free; Keiko is in the early stages of a donor egg pregnancy), I know that these two women will provide a lively and intelligent discussion on the topics of infertility, motherhood, and the childfree option. If you’d like to tune in and follow along, here’s where you’ll find the conversations this week:
To Mom or Not to Mom: A 5-Day Open Salon on Infertility, Motherhood and the Silent Sorority
Welcome to our open salon, hosted by Keiko of The Infertility Voice and Pamela of Silent Sorority. We created this open salon to discuss both sides of the motherhood debate from our unique perspectives in a responsorial fashion between our two blogs.Over the next five days and culminating in an open Twitter discussion #ALIMomSalon this Friday at 12:30pm EDT, we seek to parse out the concerns and vulnerabilities of transition within the ALI (adoption/loss/infertility) community without tripping over political correctness and delicate sensibilities.We hope you’ll join us every day this week and will be inspired to add your own responses in the comments here and at (the other person’s) blog and even by writing your own blog posts about this salon too!

Monday- intro to the conversation setup & first topic
At The Infertility Voice: Dealing with Survivor’s Guilt
At The Silent Sorority: Dealing with the Mommy Waiting Room

Tuesday – we write from opposing POVs
TIV: Accepting reality when motherhood won’t be happening
SS: Finding a place in a new world and reconciling conflicted emotions

Wednesday – addressing The Mommy Phenomenon
TIV: The Queendom of Mommyhood
SS: The Consequences of Placing Moms on Pedestals

Thursday – To Pass or to Stick Out: when to make infertility part of the conversation

Friday – Twitter Chat, 12:30-1:30pm EST #ALIMomSalon
Recap/reflection posts at TIV and SS

 

Not the Holidays October 19, 2012

I’m sure I don’t need to point this out to any of you, but the holidays are just around the corner. While many of you will be decking the halls and celebrating, it can also be a tough time of year if you’re still working your way through that delicate phase of trying to get to grips with a life without children, and figuring out how your particular kind of family fits in.

It took me several years to fall back in love with the holidays. I hid from trick or treaters for a number of years, and Mr. Fab and I spent a couple of Thanksgivings out of town, dodging family obligations. One particularly miserable year, we decided to stay at home and celebrate Christmas alone, but when the time rolled around, neither of us had it in us to make merry. With no tree and no big family dinner, it was the farthest I’ve ever drifted from my expectations of how the holidays should be.

This year, if the weather ever drops below 90 degrees here in Los Angeles, I plan to get into the holiday spirit and put out my few Halloween decorations. I’m at the point now where the steady stream of impossibly cute trick or treaters doesn’t upset me, so I’ll probably stay in and hand out candy (perhaps one for the trick or treaters, one for me.) Mr. Fab and I will celebrate Thanksgiving in a very non-traditional way by biking to the beach for a picnic, and I’ll be renting a living Christmas tree from my friend’s company come December.

But for now, I’m celebrating that it’s not yet the holidays. And if you’re celebrating too and need a little comic relief, please enjoy Christina Applegate’s opening monologue on the topic from last week’s Saturday Night Live.

If you are steeling yourself for the coming season and could use a little moral support, please consider hanging out with me on Monday, October 29th at 5:30pm PST. I’ll be hosting a live call-in session where I’ll share some suggestions for getting through the difficult holiday season and answering some of your most pressing questions. I’ll also be talking about an opportunity to get on-going support throughout the season this year.

If you’d like to join the call or catch the recording later, please register here and I’ll send out the call access details.

If you have a question or topic you’d like to hear covered, please post it in the comments and I’ll make sure it gets included.