Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

With Eyes of Faith…A Brand New Year January 5, 2012

By Dorothy Williams

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD,

“plans to prosper you and not to harm you,

plans to give you hope and a future.”


~ Jeremiah 29:11

I love that passage from the Bible, where God promises prosperity, hope and a future. Now that I understand the context, it’s one of my favorite verses to reflect on at this time of year, especially now that I have faced my own form of cultural exile as a childless woman.

The prophet Jeremiah spoke for God to people who loved the Lord, but nevertheless had been driven into exile from their homeland. At the same time he delivered a promise of welfare and not woe, Jeremiah also prophesied that the exile would last several more decades! Can you imagine a frail, little old lady, hearing this and shaking her veil?  She had, maybe, a few good years left on earth, so how could these promises be applied to her life? Since scholars say that the prophecy pointed to God’s plan for a messiah, perhaps she placed her hope on an eternal relationship with God, rather than a passing, earthly reality.

Like her, I also face an exile that I will not outlive.  After enduring pregnancy announcements from friends and family in my thirties, I now dread the upcoming “I’m going to be a grandma!” to a chorus of whoops and yells. As the mommy club keeps expanding (gosh, even women in convents use the title of Mother) so does my period of exile.

But unlike that frail lady in Babylon, I believe God’s plan for a messiah has been fulfilled. So when I reflect on the passage from Jeremiah, I think about the past year and see clearly how God provided welfare and not woe, in the here and now of my lifetime. I may not be delivered from exile but, like my brothers and sisters in Christ, I have a Messiah who walks with me through it, blessing me with a double portion of life’s goodness.

How do you approach this time of year?  What are your plans for the future?

Dorothy lives near Chicago.  She and her husband spend January weekends cross-country skiing the snowy, winding paths of forest preserves.


The Jealous Child: Me September 9, 2010

The problem with emotions is that they never behave themselves. Just as you get one set all sorted out and under control, another set bubbles up and catches you off guard. And so it was this past weekend when that evil emotion jealousy crept up on me when I least expected it.

My hubby and I were at a local fair, and of course, had to find a present for our granddaughter (yes, although I don’t have children, I do have a granddaughter by marriage.) Let it be said that I love my granddaughter to bits, but being a childless grandmother is not without its challenges. I’ve got to the point where I can shop for baby clothes, baby furniture, diapers, and toys, and keep it all pretty much together, but this weekend I didn’t. While deciding on a dress for her, I snapped at my husband; I grumbled; I yelled, and basically pouted like a two-year-old. And then my husband called me on it.

“You’re not jealous of her are you?”

“Of course not!” I said, and then shuffled off to have a little talk with myself.

Oh, sisters, I must tell you that it’s pretty horrible having to admit to yourself that you’re jealous of an 18-month-old. My logical, adult mind is talking through it and saying all the right things, but some little voice deep inside me is throwing a tantrum. Maybe it’s because I’m the baby of my family (by 11 years) with two older brothers, and I’m used to being indulged, maybe even a little spoiled. That’s okay; I turned out all right in spite of it. Maybe I don’t like having to share my husband. Or maybe somewhere I’m still bitter that I don’t have a baby of my own and that it’s my child who should be the one being spoiled.

I’ve been mulling my reaction for a couple of days now and it finally dawned on me. There’s a natural progression in life: child becomes parent, becomes grandparent, and sometimes becomes child again. I’ve never made it out of Stage I. I’ve never experienced that moment of knowing that I am now wholly responsible for another human life. I am still, at some level, the child.

I love that I am still somewhat childlike, that I’m willing to take on an adventure, try something new, not worry too much what others think of me, but am I still childish? Well, that just won’t do; I’m a grandmother, for Pete’s sake!

I think this is going to require a little more soul-searching. Any thoughts?