Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Connections November 21, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Marlo ThomasThat Girl, St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, and “Free To Be…You and Me”—is on my mind today. I just finished her most recent book, Growing Up Laughing. If you need a pick-me-up, I highly recommend you run out for a copy. It’s her memoirs of growing up with her famously funny father, comedian Danny Thomas, and his legendary pals, which include George Burns, Milton Berle, Don Rickles, Bob Hope, and Red Buttons. She also interviewed present-day stars, such as Jerry Seinfeld, Chris Rock, Tina Fey, and Jon Stewart, to get their thoughts on how they ended up funny. I laughed out loud at the many anecdotes and jokes, and I have a new appreciation for the hard work it takes to be a successful comedian.

But what struck the deepest chord within me was a brief story about when Gloria Steinem, founder of Ms., asked Thomas to speak to a group of welfare mothers. Thomas was unmarried at the time, and childfree (she later became a stepmother to husband Phil Donahue’s four sons), and wondered what in the world she could talk about. “Trust me,” Gloria said. “They’ll love you—and you’ll love them. You’re all women.”

And I thought: “That’s IT!” That’s the one message I want to get out to the world through our site and through how I live my life. We’re not mothers and non-mothers, we’re not breeders and infertiles, we’re not with child or childfree. We’re all women.

Thomas bonded by sharing family stories. We can all relate to the antics of the eccentric grandmother, the regrets of aunts who shelved their dreams for the so-called security of marriage, the sisters and friends whose talents were “dismissed because they were women.” With her stories, childfree Thomas had the audience of mothers laughing and crying along with her. “Gloria had opened my eyes and my heart to the connections that we women have with each other.”

It’s so easy for me to obsess over other women’s haves versus my have-nots—or to gloat over the freedoms I enjoy that they have sacrificed for family life. Enough. Let’s focus on our common ground and celebrate and support each other, as women, regardless of the paths we follow.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She celebrates Marlo Thomas for breaking down barriers to gender equality. 

 

Congratulations! October 28, 2011

Tomorrow is a big day.

My dear friend and writing buddy, Kathleen, is getting married. She is marrying a wonderful man (we’ll call him Thor – not his real name, merely his alter-ego) and I couldn’t be happier for her.

You’ll know Kathleen from her weekly “It Got Me Thinking…” column, and I hope you’ll join me in congratulating her and sending her off on her new adventure.

But don’t panic! She’s not leaving us. In fact she’ll be back next week as usual, just as Kathleen Guthrie Woods.

Congratulations, Kathleen. Wishing you much love.

 

Energy to Share October 10, 2011

This weekend I put up my Halloween decorations for the first time in maybe five years. My neighbor (who lives in the house behind us) was so excited that she came out to help.

My neighbor and I function on a similar spiritual wavelength and the reason for her excitement has less to do with skull lights and flashing corpses and more to do with her understanding of the significance of me pulling things out of storage and making an effort. She knows much of my story and she’s watched me pull back from the things that used to bring me joy­­–hosting dinner parties, nurturing my vegetable garden, and celebrating the holidays with others. Last year, Mr. Fab and I barely celebrated Christmas at all. My neighbor understands that decorating for Halloween is a sign I’m on the mend.

And I think she’s right. When you’re trying to heal, trying to sort out a mess and get back on track, it’s hard to put energy into anyone or anything but yourself. Getting into the holiday spirit requires a lot of energy to be poured out in other directions. I haven’t had that energy to spare for a long time, but this year, I think it’s back. And I’m glad. I’ve missed it.

For the first time in a long time, I’m really looking forward to the holidays. My friend from England will be here for Thanksgiving and my mum will be here for Christmas. I’m planning what to cook, and I’m getting a tree. But most of all I’m looking forward to sharing the holiday festivities with other people, and pouring positive energy out, instead of turning my energy in on myself.

 

Pay it forward for Annabelle August 3, 2011

I know it’s Whiny Wednesday today, but sometimes something crosses your radar that puts your life into perspective.

Rebecca Abreu is celebrating what would have been the 1st birthday of her daughter today. Annabelle Angel was stillborn at 31 weeks on August 3rd last year.

Rebecca has created the Pay it Forward Project in honor of Annabelle and asks that today you help celebrate by committing a random act of kindness.

Rebecca says: “Something that I have learned this year is the enthusiasm and optimism felt when paying it forward. I have sent out care packages to many bereaved parents and with each care package sent out, each word of support shared through our pages, a beautiful light erupts in my soul and for that brief moment I feel unbroken. I feel like each of us truly have the power to change someone’s life for the better.”

Here are some “random act of kindness” suggestions:

  • Pay for the person behind you in the drive-through
  • Buy a meal for the homeless
  • Clean up graffiti
  • Pick up trash
  • Play music for the elderly
  • Water dry plants at a cemetery
  • Let someone cut in line in front of you
  • Smile to everyone on the street
  • Return a shopping cart
  • Write and mail a letter to someone who made a difference in your life!

Rebecca is collecting a scrapbook of acts. For more information, visit the Pay It Forward Project website or Facebook page.

 

My New Family January 3, 2011

I love the New Year. I’ve spent most of the past week taking long walks and thinking about what I want my life to be like this time next year. What do I want to learn, where do I want to be, what do I want to do? Then I’ve spent the past couple of days writing down some goals for the year and making a plan of action.

I have lots of career-related goals, but some of my personal goals include participating in a triathlon, learning some new skills (making cheese, learning a language, as examples), and taking a big trip with my husband. I also have a goal this year of celebrating all the holidays with my “family.”

As you may know, my blood relatives live on the other side of the world and my husband’s family is scattered in a non-geographical way, which leaves us with a family of two (plus the cat.) Although we spent the recent holidays very happily as a family of two, I’ll admit to missing time with family. So this year I’m going to make a family to celebrate the holidays with.

My plan is to build a new family of my own choice, made up of people I like who live close enough to actually see at the holidays. I realize that many of them will have families of their own to celebrate with, but those who don’t will be welcome at my celebrations this year. My first family celebration will be a Valentine’s dinner.

What about you? What are some of your goals and wishes for this year? And what does your image of family look like now?

 

Finding My Christmas Cheer December 3, 2010

Filed under: Childless Not By Choice,Family and Friends,Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 11:48 am
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It’s December and I can feel myself slipping into the black hole of the holidays. I have no gift ideas for my loved ones, no plans for how to spend Christmas, and frankly no time or energy to do anything about either. I could go on about being busy, getting frustrated with the holiday madness, and blah-di-blah, but it’s not Whiny Wednesday and that’s not what this post is about.

I’ll admit that my holiday funk stems from “that-time-which-shall-not-be-named” when my husband and I were at our lowest point on our infertility journey and decided not to bother with Christmas that year. We made no plans, didn’t get a tree, and decided to hole up for a few days and avoid everyone and everything Christmas-y. About two days before Christmas I finally cracked and thought, “I’m infertile; I’m not dead!” and ran out and bought a rosemary tree and something delicious for Christmas dinner. But even now, I still can’t get my Christmas groove back.

I think part of this stems from my family being so far away. I used to enjoy shopping in October for my nieces and nephews, then shipping a giant box of presents via surface mail. It was fun for me and for them to anticipate the arrival of the box. Would it make it in time? Would it make it at all? But since the USPS did away with surface mail and jacked up the airmail prices so that shipping costs more than the gifts, I do most of my Christmas shopping online and have it shipped direct. It’s efficient and convenient, but really, it’s no fun.

Today we received a gift from one of my husband’s corporate associates. Instead of the usual basket of fake cheese and heart attack salami, they sent us a beautiful live wreath. I opened it up and the house filled with the scent of pine and cedar. Christmas! Now, all of a sudden I want to get my tree, I want to bake gingerbread, and give homemade gifts. I want to throw a party, celebrate Christmas and have fun! But I can’t remember how.

If I’d had children I would have passed my family’s traditions on to them and my holiday fun would have revolved about them. But as it is, it’s just the two of us, and the cat, so how to make Christmas Christmas-y again?

What do you do to keep the Christmas cheer? Do you decorate? Bake? Sing? What do you do to keep the spirit of the holidays?

I’m going to find some string to hang up this wreath, and I’m going to get a rosemary bush and some poinsettia’s this weekend. I’m also going to plan an informal party – some friends and drinks. This year I’m putting some fun back into my holidays.