Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: Perspective November 3, 2011

By Jill B.

Quite frankly being a friend is sometimes too much effort.  Friendships take time and energy and when you’ve lots of things on your plate, they often move further down the ‘To Do” list.

But I’ve been reminded recently about the value of those friendships and how nurturing them, even just a little bit, can reap the most beautiful rewards.

In October 2009 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it came as a huge shock, it was horrible at times, and very stressful.  But two years on I am cured and, compared to what many people go through, it was a walk in the park.

Around that same time a friend was diagnosed with lung cancer.  A healthy living, non-smoking vegetarian, a loving mother to a three-year old boy, a trusted friend, an honest and caring giver, a wonderful cook, one of the most fun people I know.  Sadly, she passed away earlier this year at the age of only 42 leaving her beautiful boy to know her through our memories and stories.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve wanted to call her in the last few months; just for a chat, to ask her opinion, to get that recipe for melt-in-the-mouth-5-hour-roast-lamb, to ask her about the places she travelled, to share a laugh but most of all to tell her just how much I love her and how much she made a difference in my life.

I was “brave.” I told her how much I loved her before it was too late, but how many of us don’t?

Since her diagnosis (and mine) and especially since losing her, I’ve made sure that I say those three magic words to the people who really matter.  Sometimes it’s hard, because some people don’t know how to react, but mostly, I’ve received the heartiest hug and to hear those magical four words back – “I love you too.”

Having cancer certainly taught me who my real friends are, and I’m sad to say that I’ve said “farewell” to a few folk in the last couple of years.  It’s always a difficult decision to choose to end a friendship whether actively or simply to let it drift away, but there simply isn’t time enough to maintain a friendship with every great person that you meet.

I’ve recently returned home to Scotland from my dream holiday visiting the fantastic national parks of southwest USA.  Whilst I was there I managed to meet up with my oldest school friend in Las Vegas.  She has lived in the US for almost 20 years and our contact in that time has been sporadic.  We were in grave danger of drifting apart.  But when she emailed to say that she and her husband would love to meet up with us in Vegas, wild horses wouldn’t have stopped me.

It was the best time of our holiday.  Seeing the Grand Canyon was truly awesome, but wrapping my arms around my childhood friend and receiving a hearty hug back is beyond description.  The two days we spent together felt wonderful and like I was 15 again (well 15 again but with serious jet lag).  We couldn’t remember how or when we met but we can’t remember a time before we knew each other.  A really magical time.

So, now I’m home, what am I going to do about my friendships – the ones that really matter? Refreshed and renewed, I’ve been calling, emailing and lunching in a frenzy with the folks close to home, and less than a week after returning home from the USA, I’ve booked a flight to California to see my friend again.

She is over the moon and we’re planning what we’re going to do together already.  It seems silly that I’ve neglected this friendship for so long.  When I see her in six weeks time, I’m going to give her a big hug and say those three magic words.

Jill B. lives childfree in Scotland. She loves to travel to see beautiful places and good friends.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Old Girls and New Tricks October 25, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

I trained for and completed my first triathlon when I was 43. A good friend earned her black belt at 47. A gal I know picked up a paintbrush for the first time after retiring from a decades-long career and became a successful landscape artist in her 70s. Recently, another brave friend and her classmates showed a gathering of a few hundred guests how real women (with curves) dance traditional hula.*

I think our youth-obsessed society is under the misconception that courage is the domain of people under 30. They party, they experiment, they go on reality TV shows. But I disagree. I think real daring rears its beautiful head around the age of 39. I see it in so many of my friends, as they finally pursue long-held dreams or take new risks, whether it be diving out of a plane or going back to school and changing careers. I think it’s a combination of finally letting go of caring what other people think about us, along with renewed desire to try new things and a dash of fatalism—life is too short, let’s do this now!

I also believe we childfree women have a huge advantage. We don’t have to worry about what will happen to the kids if we end up in a cast and pretty much useless for 6 weeks. We don’t worry about embarrassing our teenagers. We have time on our hands and money not earmarked for someone else’s college education. We can’t use sleep deprivation and PTA commitments as excuses for not chasing our dreams.

If you’re looking for inspiration, read Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love or Julia Child’s My Life in France, both memoirs of childfree women who took big chances and dramatically reinvented their lives while their peers were shopping for strollers. Or watch Under the Tuscan Sun, Julie & Julia (based in part on Child’s book), or Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah for more stories about childfree women who dedicate their free time and passion to creating beautiful homes, beautiful foods, and beautiful lives.

Get creative, follow your bliss, explore what makes you curious, discover the blessings of a childfree life. This week, I have three words for you: Go For It!

*I want to note that these women took classes three times a week for two years to prepare for their debut. Their performance was beautiful, and I am in awe of these women and their devotion to the artistry of hula.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s signing up for gardening and French classes.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Cell Phones October 11, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

I love my cell phone. I don’t know how I ever got along without one. It allows me to text flirtatious messages to my honey (while he’s sitting in Very Important Meetings), it provides a sense of extra security should I ever need roadside service, it gives the illusion of professionalism when clients catch me “at work” at the bakery down the street.

However.

I miss the old finger-dialed, actually ringing, heavy-weighted unit with spiral cord–connected receiver for one reason: When circumstances warranted, I could smash the receiver down with a satisfying slam. Remember those days? An un-helpful customer service representative gives you attitude, and BAM! A persistent telemarketer calls in the middle of dinner and asks for the male head of household, and BANG! Your father/mother-in-law/sister/so-called friend hurts your feelings for the last time and you’re done, so SLAM!

Tapping end on the screen of my high-tech model just doesn’t send the same message.

(Sigh)…I miss the good ol’ days.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She now understands why her parents vacationed in spots with no phone or TV service.

 

Life Without Baby Takes a Holiday August 13, 2011

Filed under: Childless Not By Choice,Fun Stuff,Uncategorized — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,

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.

 

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.

 

Who Are You? July 7, 2011

It’s interesting to look back on my journey and see all the people I’ve been over the past seven or so years.

I’ve been a woman who expected to be a mother and wanted a baby with the man I loved; then I became a crazed mama-wannabe, desperately trying to solve the mystery of my infertility and looking for a way to get what I wanted.

I’ve been through a phase of realizing that children weren’t going to be a part of my future, but not being able to quite let go of that dream. After that, I entered a phase of acceptance, where I knew I had to get through this and move on, but I didn’t know how.

There was a period of wondering what I was going to do and who I was going to be if I wasn’t going to be a mom, and finally, I came to the phase I’m in now. I am a childfree woman, accepting and even embracing this new life, not apologizing for my infertility or my choices, and moving on to enjoy a life I couldn’t have had if I’d had children to care for.

I never imagined I would get to this place, mainly because I never expected I’d need to, but here I am, and do you know what? It’s not bad here. In fact, I think this childfree life is growing on me.

I know that some of you are at or near this place, but others are still struggling to come to terms with not having the children you always dreamed of. So, I’m curious to know: Who are you?

Are you a newbie, trying to reconcile the idea that you won’t have children and maybe not even sure you’ll ever come to terms? Maybe news of a new treatment, or a friend’s new baby triggers all the old desires and keeps that “what if?” hope alive.

Are you coming-to terms? Have you accepted the idea of being childfree, but just need to figure out how to be okay with that decision? Are you making progress some days, and taking several steps back others? Are you still struggling with other people’s babies and finding your place in your family and community?

Are you moving on? Have you reconciled your loss, accepted your lot in life, and are ready to start a new chapter of your life? Maybe you don’t know what that is yet, but you know (at least most days) that you’re going to be okay not having children?

Please take a second to tell me who you are in the poll below. Let me know in the comments if you think these categories are accurate or if you fit into an entirely different category all together. My goal in doing this is to make sure I post information that covers all the categories, so that this blog is useful, whoever you are.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Hot! July 6, 2011

It’s about a million degrees at my house (ok, it’s about 95, but anything over 90 may as well be a million, as far as I’m concerned) and over the past three days I have spent more than 12 hours sitting in a car. All I want to do is go to my local park and run amongst the trees. But it’s too flipping hot!

Aside from that, I’m feeling pretty chipper this week, but it is Whiny Wednesday and the floor is open to get whatever is on your chest off your chest. So, let it all hang out.

For those of you who expressed an interest, here is a link to my interview from yesterday’s Sacramento & Company news show. The host was fantastic, and offscreen, I had a great conversation with him and two of the producers, about being childfree. It’s always good to meet people who get it.

 

Happy 4th of July July 4, 2011

It always tickles me as a Brit to be celebrating America’s independence from my people, but hey, you can’t stop progress.

This year I will be watching the rocket’s red glare over my state’s capitol building (assuming the California budget will stretch to it this year.)

Then I am taking my show on the road to talk about my book, infertility, and the ups and downs of being childfree-not-by-choice.

If you happen to be in Sacramento I will be talking to Guy Farris on Sacramento & Company on Tuesday morning’s show, 9:00 a.m. Channel 10.

On Wednesday, I’ll be talking to Shannon Sanford on WTBQ in New Jersey (airing Saturday, I think.)

Then on Thursday, I’ll be talking live with Kim Iverson on her show that airs in all these fabulous places:

AUSTIN – KAMX (7pm-Midnight)
BUFFALO – WTSS (7pm-Midnight)
DENVER – KALC (7pm-Midnight)
INDIANAPOLIS – WZPL (7pm-Midnight)

MILWAUKEE – WMYX (7pm-Midnight)
MEMPHIS – WMC-FM (7pm-Midnight)
NORFOLK- WPTE (7pm-Midnight)
PORTLAND – KRSK (7pm-Midnight)
WICHITA- KFBZ (6pm-11pm)

If you get the chance, please tune in. I will post links when I can.

For now, whether you’re celebrating 4th July, Canada Day, or having a normal Monday (or Tuesday for our Oceanic friends), have a safe and happy 4th of July.

P.S. Kathleen’s regular Monday “It Got Me Thinking…” column will post tomorrow.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Busy trying to relax June 29, 2011

Filed under: Family and Friends,Uncategorized,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: , ,

My husband passed this comic strip across the breakfast table to me earlier this week.

 

This is me.

We really need a vacation. I am long overdue to go home to see my mum. We just planned a weekend away that turned into a business trip and had to be planned and replannned and replanned and rescheduled so many times that I feel as if we’ve spent the past three weeks planning a vacation we’re not actually going to get.

I’m almost ready to throw some clothes in a suitcase, go to the airport with a credit card and get on the next flight to anywhere. Right now, I can’t think of anywhere I wouldn’t want to go.

It’s Whiny Wednesday. What’s your whine?