Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Year-End Planning December 14, 2012

It’s December and I don’t know about you, but I can smell 2013 in the air!

I know we still have the holidays ahead, and I’m promising to get into the spirit this year, but I love the New Year and so I’m already starting to wrap up 2012 and get ready for a fresh start next month.

I tend not to hold grudges or to hold too tightly to the past. Lots of things happened this year that I wish had happened differently, but they’re over now and out of my control. I can’t change them, so I may as well pick myself up, dust myself off, and apply the valuable lessons I’ve learned from my mistakes to make sure they don’t happen again next year.

So far, my plans for 2013 include a couple of trips, some time to finish my book, some exciting projects for this site, and some deliberate “white space” on my calendar to recharge my batteries.

What about you? Are you thinking about the New Year yet? What’s on the horizon for you?

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It Got Me Thinking…About Holiday Help December 11, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I don’t know what’s different about this year, but I’ve found myself capital-D Dreading the coming holiday season. I think I’m okay with my childfree status, I think I’m ready to create meaningful traditions that embrace my little family of two, I think I’ll be just fine at all the “family” sing-alongs, tree trimming parties, open houses, etc. Problem is, I don’t feel fine.

For so many years, I anticipated what holidays in my home would look like, and it’s just not that easy transitioning away from those dreams. So many of the activities I loved participating in as a child and young adult involved children, so what’s a childfree gal to do?

I turned to one of my favorite cheros (a heroine who happens to be childfree) for advice. Melanie Notkin is the founder of Savvy Auntie and the author of a book by the same title. (If you haven’t already, check out her fab Web site here.) In the “Holidays” section (page 124) she reminds me that “with the parents so often extrabusy…an auntie can actually help by making herself available to her nieces and nephews.” I know how being with my nieces and nephews takes me completely out of my head and gives me so much joy, so after perusing suggestions from Melanie and some of her readers, I started thinking about what I could do to creating some merriment and childlike wonderment for myself in the next several weeks. I could:

  • Offer to take the nieces out to shop for gifts for their parents.
  • Invite friends and their kids over for a cookie decorating (and eating) party.
  • Over Skype, read a classic holiday story—’Twas the Night Before Christmas or The Polar Express—to the children of faraway friends.
  • Bundle up my nephews and take them out to view the decorative lights in their neighborhood.
  • Host a hot chocolate tasting party (peppermint, cinnamon, and boozy for the big kids).
  • Invite other childfree friends over for Game Night—Charades, Celebrity, all those lively group games my family used to play when we got together.

I’m also thinking about spending extra time in the gym, reading a big juicy book, and watching all of the Harry Potter movies on DVD. I think these distraction options are healthier than fudge (which I’m still considering), and I’m also open to suggestions. I’d love to hear from you. How are you planning to face the holiday season this year?

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

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Catalogues November 20, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I can’t even remember what it was that I ordered, but at some point in the last couple of years I purchased a gift online for a niece or nephew, and BAM! Now I’m on everyone’s mailing list.

By everyone, I mean every company that makes stuff for kids—bedding, clothing, toys, gear—and as we rev up for holiday shopping, I’m getting catalogues from all of them. Cute kids in Santa-themed PJs, cute kids playing with cute dogs while cute parents look on with pride and joy, cute kids who are healthy and happy. Just shoot me now! The promotional flyer that really put me over the edge was for organizational systems especially for parents. I’m not even sure what it’s supposed to do (I couldn’t quite bring myself to look at the Web site), but maybe I don’t understand it because I’m not a parent. Whatever!

You know, I also buy my fair share of chocolate. You’d think I’d be inundated by catalogues brimming with sweet things for me, but noooooo.

Say it with me: The Holiday Season Sucks!

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

 

Holiday Support Group November 9, 2012

A few of you mentioned recently that you’d love to be able to find a local support group near you. It’s going to take a bit of coordinating, but it’s on the list of things to figure out in the near future. In the meantime, the next best thing is a support group that meets by phone.

I’ve been facilitating some group support calls as part of the “Finding Peace” program and participants say that it has really helped to be able to talk with peers who understand them. As the facilitator, I’ve been really inspired by the support and camaraderie I’ve experienced in these groups.

With the holidays fast approaching, it seems that now would be a good time to offer up some extra support. It can be a busy time of year, so rather than putting together a formal program, I am hosting a series of support group calls that you can drop in on as needed.

The first call is on Thursday, November 15th at 5:30pm PST and the cost for the one-hour meeting is $20. If it looks as if this is something that is going to be of value for everyone, I will add additional sessions throughout the holidays and into the New Year.

If you’d like to register for the November 15th session, you can do so here. If you’d like to learn more, you can find all the details here. And if you’d like to receive notification when more sessions are added, you can do that here.

As always, I’m open to feedback and suggestions as to what will be most helpful.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Halloween October 31, 2012

It’s Halloween and I really wanted to prove I could get into the spirit of things this year. But it just isn’t working out that way.

I’ve been so busy the past few weekends that I haven’t had chance to put out my decorations. Mr. Fab will be home late, so that means greeting trick-or-treaters alone, which feels weird. And my stash of candy is already much smaller than it was a week ago (know idea why!) and I can’t face going to the store to buy more.

So instead, I’m planning to go to a yoga class tonight, then come home, turn out the lights, have a long bath, and go to bed. What a fun and festive person I am.

Alas, my intentions were good, but my execution has failed me.

Happy Halloween to those of you who are in the spirit, and Happy Whiny Wednesday to those of you who aren’t. If you’d like a Halloween gripe, please feel free to do so here.

 

Not the Holidays October 19, 2012

I’m sure I don’t need to point this out to any of you, but the holidays are just around the corner. While many of you will be decking the halls and celebrating, it can also be a tough time of year if you’re still working your way through that delicate phase of trying to get to grips with a life without children, and figuring out how your particular kind of family fits in.

It took me several years to fall back in love with the holidays. I hid from trick or treaters for a number of years, and Mr. Fab and I spent a couple of Thanksgivings out of town, dodging family obligations. One particularly miserable year, we decided to stay at home and celebrate Christmas alone, but when the time rolled around, neither of us had it in us to make merry. With no tree and no big family dinner, it was the farthest I’ve ever drifted from my expectations of how the holidays should be.

This year, if the weather ever drops below 90 degrees here in Los Angeles, I plan to get into the holiday spirit and put out my few Halloween decorations. I’m at the point now where the steady stream of impossibly cute trick or treaters doesn’t upset me, so I’ll probably stay in and hand out candy (perhaps one for the trick or treaters, one for me.) Mr. Fab and I will celebrate Thanksgiving in a very non-traditional way by biking to the beach for a picnic, and I’ll be renting a living Christmas tree from my friend’s company come December.

But for now, I’m celebrating that it’s not yet the holidays. And if you’re celebrating too and need a little comic relief, please enjoy Christina Applegate’s opening monologue on the topic from last week’s Saturday Night Live.

If you are steeling yourself for the coming season and could use a little moral support, please consider hanging out with me on Monday, October 29th at 5:30pm PST. I’ll be hosting a live call-in session where I’ll share some suggestions for getting through the difficult holiday season and answering some of your most pressing questions. I’ll also be talking about an opportunity to get on-going support throughout the season this year.

If you’d like to join the call or catch the recording later, please register here and I’ll send out the call access details.

If you have a question or topic you’d like to hear covered, please post it in the comments and I’ll make sure it gets included.

 

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.