Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Childless or Childfree? June 29, 2010

This is a debate that rages in my head often and I know it’s going on out there in the world, too. Are you childless or childfree?

I used to refer to myself as childfree as my way of stating that I made a conscious decision about my life. The problem is that “childfree” always had the suggestion of a narrow escape, or that I’d been cleansed of something unpleasant, like being germ-free, or living rent-free. Occasionally I come across parents or children that make me feel like I had a lucky escape by not having kids, but usually that’s not how I feel. So, recently I’ve switched to using “childless” instead, but that has the opposite connotation, that I am missing something that makes me less than whole. Again, aside from those odd times when the hormones fare up or one of my triggers is flipped, I consider myself to be a whole and fulfilled woman.

So what do I call myself? I’m looking for a term that suggests no affiliation to any faction, including parenthood.  Something that suggests my independence and my wholeness. Any suggestions? How do you refer to yourself?

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Best thing about being childless: Children June 15, 2010

One of the best things about not having children of my own is the time I get to spend with other children in my life. Without the constant pull of parenting duties, I can take time to talk to my niece about some of the numerous issues that go along with being a teenager. When she “Facebooks” me with a problem, she becomes my number one priority and I can take the time to help her through it. When a friend’s daughter asks if I will write a story for her, or another niece asks if I’ll knit a sweater for her new teddy bear, or a nephew asks if I’ll take him—just him–out for a walk, I can tell them that I will, without having to consider if I’m neglecting my own children.

These relationships are a gift I find I’m glad to accept—an opportunity to form bonds that I wouldn’t have had if I’d had kids of my own. I know they’re not the same as a mother-child bond, but for those children in my life, I also know that our relationship is special and valuable to them in a different way. It’s a voluntary relationship, one entered into freely, and something a mother-child is not. Mothers and children don’t get to choose one another and if they don’t get along, they’re stuck. I get to choose the relationships I form with other children and they get to choose to have me in their lives, too. It’s a beautiful and fortunate thing.

 

Seeing the World Through Childless Glasses June 8, 2010

I saw this Cathy cartoon in this morning’s LA Times and at first it made me laugh with the intended joke, as well as the gentle dig at support groups. But then I whipped out my childless glasses and took another look. As Cathy would say, “Ack!”

I’m looking at the expression on Cathy’s face and wondering what’s going on in her mind. If you follow Cathy at all, you’ll know that she too is childless, although it’s never really mentioned, and it’s not clear (at least to me) if this is a choice or a circumstance for her. Either way, she discovers that she has even less in common with her newfound friend, and that she’s more alone than she thought she was.

Yes, it’s a cartoon, yes, I know I’m reading far too much into it, but childlessness is a filter I bring along with me in life now and, whether I like it or not, it tints everything I see.

 

Summing Up My Childless Life June 7, 2010

Reader Sarah posted this excellent quote on her blog, Five Camels. This is one of those quotes that makes me want to get up and shout, “Amen!” And when applied to living a childless life, it just resonated with me.

Thanks Sarah.

 

Learning to be Childless June 4, 2010

It’s been a funny week this week and I’ve learned a lot about myself. The main thing I’ve learned is that I’m not yet completely comfortable with this whole childless thing. Oh yeah, I talk a good talk, but put me in a conversation where the subject comes up of my status with regards to children, and there I am squirming in my seat, averting my eyes, and deftly changing the subject.

This has happened twice to me this week, both times in the company of other women who are also childless. You’d think I’d be comfortable in that situation, and able to talk openly about my childless status and my story, you know, the one I’m so happy to put in writing for complete strangers? But I’m not. Not quite.

I’m still a little raw about the education I received this week and I still haven’t had time to think it over, to scratch away at my own veneer and try to figure out what’s going to underneath. Maybe I don’t want to risk getting one of those sympathetic looks, one of those, “Oh, you poor thing. I completely understand” looks. Maybe I don’t want to feel I have to explain my childlessness. Or maybe I don’t want my childlessness to define me and so I just don’t want to talk about it any more.

All I know is that if I’m going to tout myself as some kind of advocate for childlessness, I’ve got a lot of work to do on myself first.