Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Around the Blogosphere November 30, 2012

I’ve been hanging around out in the blogosphere lately and decided to bring to you a few things I found this week.

Challenged with writing about a life-changing moment, IVF Male shared a poignant post about infertility’s long series of life-changing moments in “Staring Down the Infertility Train.”

Mali celebrated the two-year anniversary of her wonderful blog at No Kidding in NZ.

On The Road Less Travelled, Loribeth writes about a different kind of anniversary­—what would have been her daughter’s 14th birthday—and the milestones she won’t get to celebrate.

And Pamela, at Silent Sorority, stuck her tongue firmly in her cheek and provided the facts to back up a theory many of us have probably considered, that perhaps we’re just too evolved to reproduce.

And from me, I’m just wishing you a Happy Friday and a great weekend.

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And They All Lived Happily Ever After…With Kids, Of Course November 29, 2012

 By Maybe Lady Liz

Last night, I finally saw the 1987 Coen brothers’ cult classic, Raising Arizona. For those of you who, like me, have been living under a rock for the past twenty-five years and haven’t seen it, the first hour and forty-two minutes are pretty solidly hilarious, and I highly recommend them. But (spoiler alert!), as someone who may not ever have kids, it’s the final two minutes of the movie that really ruined things for me.

Career criminal H.I. “Hi” McDonnough (played by Nicholas Cage) decides to walk the straight and narrow when he falls for a local policewoman, Edwina “Ed”. They marry quickly and Ed’s biological clock moves into full swing. After months of trying for a child, Ed is devastated when her doctor tells her she’s infertile. Knowing they’d never be able to adopt with Hi’s checkered past, they cook up a scheme to kidnap one of a furniture magnate’s newborn quintuplets. Hilarity ensues, of course, as the two of them navigate the challenges of a new baby and explaining just how they were able to adopt so quickly. Eventually, Hi’s past comes back to bite him as the baby is “re-kidnapped” by two of his recently-escaped cell mates. In their desperate chase to get the little guy back, Ed realizes that their original kidnapping was a horrible thing to do to a mother, and they return the baby to his parents.

But by this point, Ed and Hi’s marriage is pretty far deteriorated. Ed begins to think it was a bad match from the beginning and says she wants a divorce. But upon returning the baby, the furniture magnate (miraculously not angry at them) encourages her to sleep on it and not make any rash decisions. In Hi’s dream that night, which comprises the aforementioned final two minutes of the movie, he envisions a rosy future for him and Ed. Given the reality of their situation, you might think it would have been the two of them overcoming their differences and going on all kinds of exciting adventures or just enjoying each other’s company. But no. It was a rather cheesy montage that showcased nothing more than a parade of children and grandchildren running and out of their house, or sitting around a huge dining room table.

What’s the message here? That there’s really only one happy ending in life, and it must involve kids? I know I’m viewing the movie from a biased standpoint, and I’m reading far too much into it, but the implication seemed to be that despite all their marital problems, their lives might still turn out okay…as long as they’re somehow able to have children.

I should probably cut the Coen brothers some slack. After all, this was twenty-five years ago, when the term Childfree was still spelled with a lowercase “c” and people had a harder time imagining a rich, fulfilling life without kids. But, like so many other elements of pop culture, it was just a grating reminder that for most, a life without babies just doesn’t lend itself to that Hollywood storybook ending. I suppose those of us who wind up not having kids will just have to make sure we create our own happily ever afters.

Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.

 

Whiny Wednesday November 28, 2012

Thumbing through last month’s Real Simple magazine, I came across an interesting snippet of information. According to research led by Carnegie Mellon University, adults with children are 52 percent less likely to catch colds than childfree adults.

Surprisingly, it wasn’t the news of my inferior immune system that got my goat. It wasn’t even the article’s suggestion of my overall inferiority in its closing line: “Yet further proof that parents are superhuman.” (Um, no. They’re just exposed to more viruses that their kids bring home from school, so they build more resistance. Basic biology.)

No, the thing that’s prompting my whine this week is that yet another magazine that started out as a magazine for women, is drifting more and more towards being a magazine for moms. Is nowhere sacred?

It’s Whiny Wednesday. What’s needling you today?

 

 

It Got Me Thinking…About the Story Time November 27, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I am going to be a “mystery reader”! This is nothing like a mystery shopper, someone who goes into a store, shops a bit, then rates the service. Instead, I am the mystery. On a given day, after tantalizing clues about my identity have been revealed, I will surprise my 6-year-old nephew when I show up to read a story to him and his fellow first-graders.

I about leapt out of my chair when I read the invitation my sister forwarded from the teacher to aunts and uncles, grandparents, and special friends. “I AM SO IN!!!!” I replied. I love reading to my nieces and nephews. Bedtime stories with friendly monsters, fairytales with happy endings, wild yarns that tickle the imagination; hand me any book and we’ll read it together. Before I moved closer to them, I even checked out books from the children’s section of the library, made up silly voices for each of the characters, and read to them over the phone.

My date isn’t until after the new year, but I immediately started thinking about my selection. Make Way for Ducklings is a personal favorite from my childhood. I regularly give Mo Willems’ Knuffle Bunny and Knuffle Bunny Too as shower and first birthday gifts. Dr. Seuss, wild rumpusses, Shel Silverstein, the many adventures of Winnie the Pooh…and then it hit me. I’ve been giving these beloved books as gifts for years, but I don’t have any of them on my own shelves.

Dangitall! I always assumed I’d have a shelf full of children’s storybooks, and I imagined how I would teach little ones how to read then sit in awe as they discovered the joys of reading for themselves. I looked forward to becoming reacquainted with my favorite characters, experiencing precious stories through a grown-up perspective, and appreciating anew the artistry that goes into creating them. I’ve been making such good progress in coming-to-terms with my childfree status that I didn’t see this left hook coming. Like with so many of our experiences as childfree women, something that made me so happy also makes me so very sad.

I will pick myself up, dust myself off, and pick a story that I think will be fun for everyone. It’s no mystery that I’m going to savor every moment I have with my wee audience. Meanwhile, I tip my hat to the thoughtful teacher who came up with the mystery reader program and is giving me the opportunity, just for one morning, to live in my fantasy world.

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

 

Silver Linings November 26, 2012

Mr. Fab and I recently visited the San Diego Zoo. It used to be one of our favorite weekend getaways, so I was shocked when I checked my old photos and realized we hadn’t been in almost four years.

It’s not really surprising that we’ve stayed away. Taking children to the zoo is one of those things that epitomized the joy of parenthood for me. I loved the idea of taking a child to see the animals and sharing his joy and wonder at seeing a giraffe or an elephant up close and in the flesh. I knew I wouldn’t be one of those tap-on-the-glass “look at the cute monkey” parents either. I’d be the kind of parent who took the opportunity to teach understanding and respect for animals, while still having a good time chowing on popcorn and riding the Skyfari.

Four years after our last visit, one such parent caused me a momentary pang of sadness. At the bonobo exhibit, I thought: That could have been me teaching my little boy the difference between monkeys and apes. I would have been a good parent. But it was a fleeting thought and it didn’t ruin our visit.

Around 11:00 Mr. Fab and I sat in the shade of an umbrella by the panda exhibit, sipping tea, munching popcorn, and watching the masses swarm by. We weren’t the only childfree couple at the zoo that day, but we were certainly the minority. There were families everywhere. There were parents carrying, pushing, and feeding their children. They were soothing, admonishing, bargaining with, and yelling at. There were tears and tantrums, demands to stay, and demands to leave. Yes, there were smiles and giggles, too, but I realized that my “taking my children to the zoo” fantasy hadn’t included very much of the parenting reality.

From beneath the cool shade of our umbrella, it seemed that Mr. Fab and I were having a much better day than many of the parents and I was reminded again that even the dark, dark cloud of infertility and unplanned childlessness can have some very pleasant silver linings.

 

Funny Friday: A Job Opportunity? November 23, 2012

I always start my mornings by reading the newspaper (I know; call me old-fashioned) and my day officially begins after I’ve read the comics.

Recently, Darrin Bell’s Candorville tickled my funny bone, with this cartoon.

I wonder if making a few bucks would ease the sting of listening to parents who don’t quite get that we might not want to hear every detail about their children.

No, probably not.

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving November 22, 2012

For those of you celebrating the holiday today, Happy Thanksgiving.

In keeping with my campaign to start my own new traditions, I’ll be starting the day by plodding around my local 3-mile Turkey Trot, then Mr. Fab and I are taking Thanksgiving to the beach for a very non-traditional picnic dinner.

How about you? Are you testing any new traditions this year?