Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Funny Friday: A Job Opportunity? November 23, 2012

I always start my mornings by reading the newspaper (I know; call me old-fashioned) and my day officially begins after I’ve read the comics.

Recently, Darrin Bell’s Candorville tickled my funny bone, with this cartoon.

I wonder if making a few bucks would ease the sting of listening to parents who don’t quite get that we might not want to hear every detail about their children.

No, probably not.

 

 

Dealing With Our Scars June 14, 2012

By Quasi-Momma

How much time do you spend concealing “what is?”   As I begin my road toward healing, it’s a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.

I have tiny scars on my chin from blemishes. I don’t like them, so every morning I dig into my arsenal of beauty products — foundation, concealer, powder, and the like — to make them appear like tinier, lighter versions of what they are.  This enables me to leave my house feeling a little less self-conscious.

The time I spend performing this ritual allows me to practice hiding my emotional scars as well. I take stock of how I’m feeling, rehearse my mask of calmness, and identify potential triggers that might set my heart reeling. It’s a routine I haven’t quite yet mastered. With relatively fresh wounds, it is difficult to maintain composure at times, especially in the face of cherub-like cheeks, rounded bellies, and all things that radiate motherhood. I am no Lady Gaga.  Yes, you CAN read my poker face.  I need more practice.

Last month as I was getting ready for an unavoidable family reunion and bracing myself for being around a pregnant relative, I wondered aloud to Hubs if it would just be easier to wear a little sign around my neck. It would be like a “Don’t Feed the Bears” sign, only mine would read, “Don’t ask me about [insert relative’s name here]’s pregnancy.”  He shook his head sympathetically, laughed and said with his best southern-boy charm, “That ain’t right.”  I agreed, and then offered to make him one too.

Joking aside, Hubs is correct. Indiscriminate expressions of hurt are not appropriate. Everyone has their own burdens, and our issues belong to us. We simply can’t expect everyone to sympathize with our plight. Not many people truly can. Selective concealment is a necessary evil.

This leads me to wonder how we can know when it is appropriate to reveal our emotional scars to the outside world. What yardstick is used to decide when we show them and to whom? How do we prepare ourselves for the reactions of those who just don’t “get it?”  Do your scars protect you?  Do they give you strength? Or do you no longer consider them as such?

Quasi-Momma is not quite a mom, but has always wanted to be.  In her blog, Quasi-momma, she explores her struggles with pregnancy loss and facing childlessness while grappling with the ups and downs of step family life.

 

With Eyes of Faith…Charity and Social Justice May 31, 2012

By Dorothy Williams


 

“But when you give alms,

do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,

so that your almsgiving may be secret.

And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

 

~ Jesus

Gospel of Matthew, chapter 6, verses 3 & 4

 

The virtue of charity is about more than writing a check to a dachshund rescue group.  As I wished friends at church a “Happy Mother’s Day” this year, I realized that this too was a form of charity and a gift worth giving.  Because I gave from my poverty — my lack of children — the gift felt more sacrificial than inking over alms in the form of cash, so that’s why I almost overlooked it as a practice of virtue.

 

Why are these gifts so hard to give?  Maybe it’s because we look for immediate reward from people rather than God; maybe it’s because we get tied up in knots trying to achieve social justice.  A Chinese proverb says: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Charity is the initial gift of fish, while social justice changes the man’s behavior, to cure the problem requiring charity in the first place.  When I first grappled with the fact that I was childless, all I wanted was social justice.  If I could just change society’s perception of my status, I would not have to be so understanding, so charitable, in the face of such monumental ignorance and insensitivity.  But in a child-centric culture, I was in over my head. Opportunities for social justice seemed to be around every corner and it frustrated me as I tried to correct problems that sometimes didn’t even exist!  I eventually learned that charity is something I could give until I had the opportunity to cure the problem at its root.

 

Nowadays, when I enter a troubling situation where I do not have the capacity or motivation to teach, I give an inward glance to the Lord, secretly communicating my need for grace in dealing with the person who has just crossed a mental boundary. Sometimes my gift of charity is humor, like when I brush off an insensitive comment with a joke.  Sometimes the gift is sacrificial, like when I wish someone a “Happy Mother’s Day”.  Finding balance between charitable and teachable moments is worth the struggle we go through to find it. The reward that comes from God alone is priceless.

 

Dorothy Williams lives near Chicago.  Her favorite pet rescue group is Midwest Dachshund Rescue. You can find them at:   www.mwdr.org.

Editor’s Note: This will be Dorothy’s last “With Eyes of Faith…” column. Please join me in thanking her for sharing her words these past months and wishing her well on her new writing ventures. Thanks Dorothy.

 

 

Whiny Wednesday: World’s most insensitive comment October 26, 2011

During my random Internet rambles I came across a community called Widows Too Young, an amazing group of women who have lost spouses. (Can I just say at this point that I love how we women come together to support one another. We rock.) However one of the forums deals with women who are childfree, and I think this one wins the prize for “most insensitive comment ever.”

SusieBear posted that for years she and her husband dealt with prying questions and insensitive remarks about their decision to be childfree. Now that her husband is gone, people are actually commenting to her about what a comfort children would have been to her, and suggesting that she must now be regretting her decision to not have kids.

Really, people? Is there any chance you could engage your brains before opening your mouths? Can you please explain what it is about these statements you think is actually going to be helpful?!!

 

I’ve complained plenty here about the things people sometimes say to “help,” but I think that this really takes the cake. My heart goes out to SusieBear, and I’m glad she’s found a supportive community that gets it.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, and while it’s hard to top Susie’s whine, feel free to have a grumble and get your gripes out.

 

The “Do You Have Kids?” Conversation June 28, 2011

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how “Do you have kids?” is such a natural part of polite, “ice-breaking” conversation, and yet it’s such a loaded question for so many of us.

When we meet new people, we’re looking for something in common to talk about. People with kids know that when they talk to someone else with kids, they automatically have a topic of conversation – their kids. And asking this question is presumed to be okay because the answer is usually anticipated to be either “Yes” or “Not yet.” People just aren’t prepared to hear “No.”

So, imagine you’re at a function, wandering around with a glass of wine in one hand and a shrimp on a skewer in the other and you strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know. You talk about the weather, she asks where you’re from or what you do for a living, and then she asks, “Do you have kids?” Assuming this is someone you don’t want to offend, you resist a snarky answer and instead say a simple “No.”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found that this response is usually met with a horrified silence (although occasionally I’ll get, “You’re lucky,” or “You can have mine.”) People just don’t know what to say when I tell them I don’t have kids, and in order to fill the silence I find myself explaining why I don’t kids, and imparting some very personal information about myself.

So, let’s help these poor people out. No, seriously. Instead of the stunned silence, what do you wish people would say? Do you want them to ask if you’re childfree by choice? Do you want them to ask if you’re ok with not having kids? Or would you prefer them to change the subject to someone or something else so you don’t have to talk about you anymore? Assuming someone opens this conversation, what would you want her to say next?