Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

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.


Cheroes: Children’s Authors Who Didn’t Have Kids December 16, 2011

Filed under: Cheroes — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

It takes a mother to truly understand children, right?


Next time someone tells you that, whip out this handy dandy list of cheroes. All of these wonderful women wrote books that have resonated (in some cases for over a century) with little tykes all over the world.

Louisa May Alcott – Little Women (1868)

Beatrix Potter – The Tale of Peter Rabbit (1900)

Kate Douglas Wiggin – Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1903)

Eleanor Hodgman Porter – Pollyanna (1913)

Margaret Wise Brown – The Runaway Bunny (1942), Goodnight, Moon (1947)

Tove Jansson – The Moomin Series (1948)

Dodie Smith – 101 Dalmatians (1956), I Capture the Castle (1949)

Anna Sewell – Black Beauty (1957)

Louise Fitzhugh – Harriet the Spy (1964)

Penelope Lively – The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), A Stitch in Time (1976)

Ann M. Martin – The Baby-Sitters Club Series (1986)

Gail Carson Levine – Ella Enchanted (1997)

Kat DiCamillo – The Tale of Desperaux (2003), Because of Winn-Dixie (2000)

Meg Cabot – The Princess Diaries (2000)

Holly Black – The Spiderwick Chronicles (2003)


I Love Books September 17, 2011

Filed under: Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
Tags: , , ,

This has been a good year for books for me. I set a goal in January of reading 30 books this year and so far I’m on number 29! What’s more, a lot of the books I’ve read this year (unlike last year’s sorry line up) have been outstanding. So, as it’s Saturday (the day we talk about anything but it) I thought I’d share some of my favorites and why I loved them. [Please note that I’m not a paid book reviewer, just love to share.]

Secret Life of Bees – Sue Monk Kidd

A coming-of-age story set in the South. Beautifully written and three great childfree characters!

Olive Kitteridge – Elizabeth Strout

A cleverly written novel-stories about the inhabitants of a small town. Olive Kitteridge has a walk-on role in every story and it’s fun to see how she will tie in to each person. Over the course of the stories the author paints a detailed picture of the complexity of Olive’s life.

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand –  Helen Simonson

This is a charming and humorous love story about two people “of a certain age.” It also examines themes of age, race, class, and yes, even touches on the issue of being childfree-not-by-choice. I loved it.

ChocolatJoanne Harris

Forget the movie (although it’s a great movie.) This book is magical. The characters, setting, and stories are gorgeously painted, and the chocolate scenes are enough to make your mouth water.

Sarah’s Key – Tatiana de Rosnay

This is a poignant story about an American journalist in Paris who uncovers details of the Jewish “round-up” in World War II France and follows the story of Sarah, a young girl who escapes from one of the concentration camps. It’s a tough subject, but the author deals with it with an appropriate amount of drama and detail.

State of Wonder Ann Patchett

I’ll admit, I’m on a bit of an Ann Patchett kick at the moment. I discovered her through The Magician’s Assistant, which almost made this list. State of Wonder is the story of a researcher sent into the Amazon to find out what happened to her colleague and to track down a doctor conducting research with a tribe whose women are able to conceive well into their later years. Don’t be put off by the subject matter; it makes for thought-provoking stuff.

Bel Canto – Ann Patchett

The Ann Patchett kick continues. I won’t say much about this book as it’s our Book Club pick for next month. Suffice to say it’s about the relationships that develop between a group of people (including a renowned opera diva) at a party in South America and the political guerrillas who take them hostage.

If you’ve read something fabulous this year, please share it here, as I’m always looking for something new. Also, if you’re a book lover, we have an online Book Club going on. It’s all very informal. We read a book a month and comment on it the following month. We’re reading Laura Lippmnn’s I’d Know You Anywhere this month, so hop in if you want to play along.

I look forward to hearing your reading suggestions.