Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Whiny Wednesday December 26, 2012

Filed under: Current Affairs,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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I was thinking that maybe we wouldn’t need Whiny Wednesday, what with it being the happy holiday season and all that. But I’m a realist at heart, so here it is.

Happy Whiny Wednesday to you!

 

It Got Me Thinking…About The Meaning of Christmas December 25, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

For unto us a Child is born. (Isaiah 9:6)

As I heard these words in my umpteenth pre-Christmas service, my first thought was Pfft! Right. I mean, isn’t it bad enough that I have had to endure yet another holiday season being painfully aware of the lack of children in my life? And then at every turn I am reminded that we mark this holiday in celebration of a miraculous birth. Come on! This almost trumps Mother’s Day as the worst day of the year for those of us who are childfree-not-by-choice.

For reasons I still can’t completely articulate, this has been the hardest holiday season for me yet. After a boisterous Thanksgiving with a houseful of young nieces and nephews, I slipped into a depressed funk as I anticipated a painfully quiet December. I forced myself to listen to Bing Crosby and the Andrews Sisters (so cheery, I wanted to smack someone), I baked cookies and gave them away, I chose to hang lights and make the house festive for me, even though it seemed pointless and pathetic. Several times I considered giving in to the darkness, donating all my keepsake ornaments to Goodwill, and spending today in bed with a jug of mulled spiced wine.

Instead, in a moment of pure inspiration, I chose to get quiet and listen. I lit a candle and prayed for light. I cried out my hurts and losses to a god who has heard it all many times before and still comforts without judgment. Having released some of my grief, I took a deep breath and invited Cynical Me to take a well-earned holiday. Then I invited Holy Me to give me a new perspective. And here’s what she said:

It’s not about a miracle baby, Love. That’s just the symbol. It’s really about the miracle rebirth of hope and faith. 

Oh, my. That’s exactly the gift I needed this Christmas, I just didn’t know how to ask for it. With tears streaming down my face, I asked for forgiveness for my lack of trust. I felt humbled by the abundance of good gifts I do have in my life, and I expressed my gratitude to God who has great things planned for me and delivers in ways I could never have imagined.

If I could give you one gift this holiday season—whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Al-Hirjra, or a tradition of your own making—it would be what I have received myself: a renewed sense of hope, a heart full of love, and peace within.

May you experience unexpected blessings today, dear sisters.

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

 

To New Beginnings December 24, 2012

Red reset buttonIf you’re reading this post, it means the world didn’t end on Friday. I’m glad; I have a lot of things I still want to do, and there are presents underneath my Christmas tree that I’m looking forward to opening.

While many folks predicted December 21st to be the cataclysmic end of life as we know it, in reality the end of the Mayan Long Calendar was simply the end of a cycle and the beginning of a new cycle, kind of like the odometer in your car going back to 000000. Instead of the end of time, this new cycle is more of a reset button.

I love the idea of a reset button. In fact, I wish the Mayan Long Calendar was considerably shorter so we could get to reset more frequently. Often, as we rumble along, life sticks to us.  But it doesn’t slow us down. Rather, life’s experiences, and especially the stresses and hurts, add to our mass and increase our momentum, until sometimes we find ourselves barreling along, feeling out of control of our emotions, our stress, and even our lives in general.

And then come the holidays. Holiday stress can certainly add to that momentum, even more so when your emotions are already running high and your holidays aren’t shaping up to the way you’d envisioned them.

So, this year I’m pressing my own reset button. I’m slowly letting go of the image of my ideal Christmas and I’ve begun experimenting with creating a new Christmas celebration that better suits my unconventional family. Instead of trying to adapt my old traditions, then feeling disappointed when they don’t live up to my expectations, I’m shaking up the way I celebrate the holidays.

This year Mr. Fab and I are going out of town for Christmas; we’ll be celebrating on Christmas Eve, instead of our old traditional Christmas Day; and we’re going out for dinner instead of cooking a big traditional meal. We’re hitting the reset button on the holidays and taking back Christmas in our own way.

At its very core, Christmas is a celebration of new beginnings, and I hope you’re pressing your own reset button and creating your own way to celebrate the holidays. No matter how you choose to celebrate, I wish you peace, happiness, and new beginnings. And to those of you who celebrate, I wish you a Merry Christmas.

 

That One Weird Childfree Holiday Card in the Stack December 20, 2012

 By Maybe Lady Liz

They’re starting to roll in. The waves of holiday cards featuring happy families festooned in matching red turtlenecks ‘round the tree or Canadian tuxedos on the beach. There will be some derivation of a toddler with his arms slung around Dad’s neck. Or Mom watching the kids play on a blanket. Or an Ann Geddes-esque shot of a newborn falling asleep on a reindeer’s back, adorned with nothing more than a tiny Santa hat. If you’re lucky, and your friends and family are deft enough with Snapfish, you’ll get ALL THREE in an artistically staggered arrangement.

And if you’re like me, you won’t be able to stop yourself from comparing them to the cards you’ve sent out over the past few years. Maybe you’ve squeezed your cats into little elf outfits and reindeer antlers (and lost an arm in the process). Maybe you’ve posed with your spouse in front of some magnificent European landmark in a subconscious attempt to remind everyone how awesome it is that you have the freedom and cash to travel. Or maybe you’re like me and my husband, who always try to outdo ourselves every year in the clever department. Last year, we put photos of ourselves at age 6, side-by-side, each ripping into hilariously dated gifts, and titled it “Keep Christmas old-school.”

And in years past, when our friends would send just a ho-hum photo with a generic greeting, we were pretty proud of the fact that our card stood out from the pack and had a little personality. We used to tack it up on the half-wall in our kitchen with all the others and pat ourselves on the back. But as the years have gone by, our card has started to stand out for a very different reason. Instead of noticing the unique panache of our card, I’ve started to see what’s missing: a baby, of course. Kids on Santa’s lap, all that jazz.

I try not to let it happen, but I can’t help but look at my cards in a different light – through the eyes of those who are sending out the baby cards. All our attempts at being so clever probably seem silly, frivolous, immature, shallow, self-centered (words that sound familiar to anyone who actually chooses to be Childfree). They must seem like a stage that was supposed to be passed by now, but isn’t. No doubt they somehow seem…less than they’re supposed to be, to them.

I know, I know – it’s probably all in my head and these aren’t very Christmas-y thoughts. But fear not. I’ll keep the funny Childfree holiday cards rolling. Somebody’s gotta Keep Christmas Weird.

Merry%20Christmas%20from%20The%20Ferences

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.

 

Happy New Year January 2, 2012

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season. So how was it?

I had a very quiet Christmas with Mr. Fab and my mum. We went for a walk, cooked dinner, opened gifts, and played some games. Oh, and ate entirely too much chocolate.

Mr. Fab has read one too many Dickens novels and has been requesting a Christmas goose for the past decade, so this year I did it, and it was delicious.

I spent Christmas Eve preparing side dishes, sauces, and dessert. It was a beautiful sunny day, my mum was out in the garden reading, Mr. Fab was running last-minute errands, and I had a couple of hours alone with my thoughts (and my goose) in the kitchen.

I was thinking about how much I enjoy my quiet Christmas, even though it’s vastly different from the noisy family celebration I had once envisioned for us. But I have to admit that I enjoy the freedom of the holidays without children.

But I was also struck with a bout of melancholy for the things I’ll never get to do. It’s a shame I’ll never get to enjoy smuggling a new bicycle into the house after dark, wrapping gifts in the wee hours after the recipients have gone to bed, and carrying on the myth of Santa when the kids are old enough to doubt, but not quite prepared to risk being wrong.

It was a short bout of melancholy that passed as I sprawled in front of my fireplace, stuffed with roast goose and good wine, and tried to decide whether to read for a while, or just give myself over to the goose and take a nap.

Everything in life is a compromise, and even as you lose something, you gain something else in its place. For me, the gain is freedom and flexibility, and the bliss of a quiet, lazy Christmas afternoon.

 

Happy Holidays December 23, 2011

Filed under: Fun Stuff — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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My Mum arrived last week to spend the holidays with us here, so I’m going to take the coming week off to enjoy some time with her.

If you need a little support over the coming week, please hop on the forums. There’s always someone there to talk to and you don’t have to deal with things alone.

I will be back on January 2nd, ready to start the third year (can you believe it?) of Life Without Baby. I look forward to catching up with all of you then.

Thanks for hanging out here with me this past year. I appreciate your willingness to talk openly on this blog. Special thanks to Kathleen for all her support and for her wonderful weekly “It Got Me Thinking…” column. Thanks also to Dorothy, who joined the conversation this year with her “Eyes of Faith” column, and to the other readers who contributed guest posts.

In the meantime, I wish you all the very best for the season. Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. See you in 2012!

~ Lisa

 

With Eyes of Faith…Birthday Jesus December 15, 2011

By Dorothy Williams

You won’t be receiving one of those cute, holiday photo greeting cards from me this Christmas.  You know, the kind you get from relatives and friends, showing the perfect, smiling family with the caption, “Greetings from the Williams bunch!” 

 

There’s nothing wrong with those holiday photos, of course, and now that I am in the acceptance stage of my grieving process, I enjoy seeing nieces, nephews and children of friends grow into the healthy, beautiful adults that God designed.  But when you’re struggling with infertility, or finally coming to terms with the stark reality that God may have a different plan for your life, the influx of December mail can be awful.

 

I once dreaded opening my mailbox during the holidays as if tiny pipe bombs lay in there, waiting to explode with emotional shrapnel.  My hands shook as I opened each holiday photo card because I knew there would be another reminder that I was childless-not-by-choice, and it would take hours to process the raw feelings of rage and sorrow that welled up. I’m glad I didn’t say anything to my family during those years because it might have stopped the cards, preventing the joy I receive now. Instead, I shared my secret pain with a couple of trusted advisers, and of course, my best friend and Savior, Jesus. It was good to have a powerful friend who experienced deep suffering, too, and didn’t mind talking about it.    

 

So instead of sending one of those cards, I am sending a link to Birthday Jesus at the Skit Guys website as my holiday greeting.  Have you heard of the Skit Guys? They are the comedy duo of Tommy Woodard and Eddie James, best friends since high school, who now serve the Lord, making up wonderful stories about life in Christ.

 

I hope you enjoy it. Merry Christmas

   

Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago.  She sends out holiday greeting cards that celebrate the birth of Christ.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Holiday Slights December 6, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

“Come One, Come All!” trumpets the headline.

I’m skimming the special calendar section of our local paper and find myself drawn into a description of a holiday spectacular and crafts fair, featuring actors as classic Dickens characters and carolers strolling in Victorian dress as they sing in the season. I am so there!

But then I read the small print: “Revelers (that’s me!), particularly families (uh, wait), are invited to enjoy the festivities.” It’s possible I’m being over-sensitive, but I am so sick and tired of slights like this, and it seems to strike an especially painful chord with me as we approach the holiday season. The “Family Sing-Along” at church. The “Family Pot-Luck” intended to bring coworkers closer together. The “Family Movie Night,” where multiple generations come together to enjoy a touching holiday-themed film. I love love love all of these fun activities, and will participate even though I’m not a 5-year-old, even though I am not part of a “family.” It’s sad to me, though, that my revelry is diminished by the sting of not feeling legitimately part of the event, all because of a marketing choice.

While I don’t want to get PC (politically correct) to the point of ridiculousness, I’d like to suggest to the world that there are other ways to welcome everyone without making single and/or childfree people feel…well…unwelcome. “Fun for all ages!” “Something for everyone!” The marketers for the fair had me at “Come One, Come All!” I wish they’d left it at that.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. “Mele Kalikimaka” might be her favorite Christmas carol.

 

Sharing Holiday Traditions December 17, 2010

Today is Friday, December 17 and no matter how in denial you’ve been up until now, it’s time to face the fact that we are in full-blown holiday mode. I still have cards to write and mail, gifts to buy, and a naked, but beautiful tree that could use some decorations, and I am slowly acknowledging that Christmas is going to happen with or without me.

J and I have been married for almost seven years now and yet we haven’t really established any holiday traditions. When his mother was alive, we often hosted Christmas dinner at our house, but since she passed away two years ago his family has become fractured and they don’t spend the holidays together so much. My family is half way around the world, so we go there about every third year, and in between we kind of ping around like lost pinballs, with no set program for the holidays. If we had kids, I know it would be different.

Growing up, our family Christmas was the same every year. We’d usually go out Christmas Eve to a party at the local social club. There’d be dancing, my parents could have a drink, and it was a 10-15 minute walk home. We often walked home after midnight, so I would look for Father Christmas (Santa) in the sky. I’d hang out my pillowcase (not stocking) at the end of my bed and somehow Father Christmas would always manage to fill it without waking me up.

Being the youngest of three, I’d be the first up on Christmas morning, and usually get sent back to bed at least twice for getting up too early. My parents would bring up tea and cookies and we’d all pile into their bed to open the gifts. No matter what else we got, we always got pajamas, a sweater, and chocolate.

We’d often go out for a walk on Christmas morning while the turkey was cooking, especially if it was one of those crisp, sunny days, and sometimes we’d go over to my Grandma’s for a short visit, but we’d always get on the phone to all the relatives to wish them a Merry Christmas and thank them for our gifts.

It was usually just the five of us for Christmas dinner. I don’t remember having relatives join us. We’d have the traditional Christmas dinner – turkey, sage and onion stuffing, roast potatoes, Brussels sprouts, etc., followed by sherry trifle and/or Christmas pudding with brandy sauce. We’d pull Christmas crackers, tell the jokes, and wear the paper hats all through dinner. Then we’d do the dishes and be all done in time for the Queen’s speech at 3:00. After that, there’d be a family movie (this was pre-video, and when the UK still only had three TV channels), something big like The Wizard of Oz, or new, such as Superman.

In the evening we’d play a game – cards or whichever board game was hot that year – and snack on cheese and crackers and all the goodies we only ever got at Christmas. My parents would have a beer or two and make me a shandy (a mix of beer and 7Up) and we’d watch our favorite Christmas specials until it was bedtime. So, for me, Christmas was always a quiet family time spent at home.

Why am I droning on about this? Because if I had children, I would pass these traditions on to them. I’d want to create the kind of Christmas memories for them that I have from my childhood. As it’s just the two of us, we have the freedom to spend Christmas however we choose, but without traditions of our own, it doesn’t feel as special.

So, I’m looking for some new traditions to start that fit our life now. I’d love it if you’d share some of yours – old family ones, and new ones that you’ve adopted as an adult. How do you make the holidays special and family-orientated when your family is just one or two?

 

Whiny Wednesday December 15, 2010

Filed under: Health,Whiny Wednesdays — Life Without Baby @ 9:19 am
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I am SO glad it’s Wednesday today, because I am in need of a whine.

Last week I was a good human and voluntarily went to my doctor for a physical, fully expecting to be the specimen of perfect health. And largely I was, except that my blood sugar levels were high, not dangerously so, but higher than he liked to see.

“So,” he said, “You need to cut back on those carbs – bread, pasta, rice, desserts, alcohol. But don’t let this ruin your Christmas,” he added. “You can have a treat on Christmas Day.”

Don’t let it ruin your Christmas? Let’s see, I have Bailey’s in the cupboard – my favorite Christmas treat. I had been out that morning and bought everything I need to make little gingerbread muffins to give away (and maybe have one or two for myself.) I’d also planned and shopped for a week’s worth of healthy meals for this week and last night’s selection was – you guessed it – pasta.

So, last night I tossed out my chocolate advent calendar, ate my pasta, had a glass of Bailey’s and went to bed at 8:30 feeling sorry for myself. And today I’m whiny, because I know I Have to change my ways. I have to give up (or at least cut back) and my favorite things, and I just don’t want to. (But I will.)