Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Kids on Planes (part II) September 25, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

A second airline has added a childfree “Quiet Zone” and the debate continues! Read the news here.

Asia Air has announced this new service, available for a fee in 2013, and I learned of it in a “mommy” column in my city’s newspaper’s online site. Normally I wouldn’t read anything with “mommy” in it, and I almost never read the comments (usually so snarky), but I couldn’t resist seeing how this cause was faring. And guess what? It’s getting more support!

What do you think? How much extra would you pay for a seat in the Quiet Zone?

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

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It Got Me Thinking…About Those People June 12, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Last night I attended a production of Beauty and the Beast at an elementary school. First of all, I was knocked out by the stage presence, talents, and enthusiam of the young performers (mostly nine and ten-year-olds, I think). Second, it was a hoot being part of the audience. I was there as a supportive aunt, alongside parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, and friends of all ages. We cheered every entrance, laughed and applauded mid-scene, gave the cast a thunderous standing ovation, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. It was riotous, rambunctious, and so much fun.

Considering the context, I found it interesting that the couple seated in front of us shot daggers at our row whenever my young nephew piped up. “That was HILARIOUS!” he’d say, in response to a character’s funny line or expression. “Did you see the salt and pepper?” he asked, during the big “Be Our Guest” musical number. It seemed each time he had something to say, Those People turned abruptly in their seats and shot us The Look.

Come on, people! We were surrounded by cranky babies, chatting adults, and distracted children (tantrum in the side aisle, anyone). It was noisy, it was chaotic, it was fun! This wasn’t a Shakespeare tragedy performed by revered actors. This was kids, doing the unexpected things kids do, surrounded by an audience of kids (young and old) who behaved…well…appropriately.

Shushing my nephew and occasionally covering his mouth didn’t diminish the noise around us, and also didn’t put an end to The Looks. I caught myself thinking, I wonder if they’re childfree? Certainly I’ve been at the receiving end of kicks to the back of my seat and been annoyed beyond reason when a screaming baby drowns out the pivotal speech of an Oscar-worthy performance. (Take the kid outside! Get a sitter!) I’ve given The Look, too. But not here, not now. I don’t want to be one of Those People, who give people-who-happen-to-be-childfree a bad rap, who perpetuate the stereotype that “childfree” is the equivalent of “child-hater.”

I feel sorry for them. Those People missed the point of the evening. While they grimaced and frowned, the rest of us created wonderful memories by getting swept up into the total chaos of a kids’ show, with all the goofs, good humor, and, yes, noisiness that comes with it. I wouldn’t have wanted any less.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s at work on a memoir about her journey to being childfree.

 

A Great Place to Raise Kids March 26, 2012

I live in “a great place to raise kids.” People have been telling me this since before I made the decision to leave L.A. and make this my part-time home.

I love it here. I can walk into town for just about any service I need. I can walk or bike from my house along a creekside path that takes me out into the vineyards. A ten-minute drive away is a huge State Park, where I can hike, bike, look for birds, and enjoy the peacefulness of the countryside. For me, this is a great place to live.

I didn’t give much thought to it being a great place to raise kids until my neighbor stopped me one day last week. She and her husband run a day care center in their house and even as I write this post, I can hear the kids playing and squealing in the backyard. It doesn’t bother me. I enjoy their laughter, and when things turn ugly – as they’re apt to do later in the afternoon around nap time – I get to enjoy one of those “Phew, I’m glad I don’t have to deal with that tantrum” moments.

But last week, the neighbor lady made a welcome gesture to join her and her friends for cocktails one night. “We have a great group of ladies here in the neighborhood,” she told me. “You’ll love them.” But I realize that in this “great place to raise kids” this woman’s great group of ladies all have kids too.

I was struck with an image of myself sitting on the couch, clutching a pina colada and staring like a deer in the headlights as the neighbor asked me if my husband and I are going to have kids, while a dozen pairs of inquisitive eyes bore into the new girl, waiting to hear her answer.

I’ve lived in L.A. for 18 years. I barely know any of my neighbors because, as a general rule, L.A. is a great place to be anonymous and neighbors don’t often come around to introduce themselves. As a woman without children, it’s a great place to blend into the background. But here in “a great place to raise kids” I’m starting to worry that I might not fit in after all.

 

The Game of Life October 13, 2011

Courtesy Hasbro Games

My brother and his wife are very open with their children and talk to them about all kinds of things my mother would never have brought up in conversation with me. And somewhere along the line I know they’ve answered questions from their children about me and my lack of offspring. One of my nephews (let’s call him “Frank,” because he is – always) even asked me flat out why I don’t have children. So I told him.

I’m actually glad for this openness; it’s allowed me to practice answering direct questions honestly in a situation where they’re asked in pure innocence. When someone asks out of nosiness, I already know I can say, “I tried, but I couldn’t.”

On my recent trip home I conned my nieces and nephews into playing Game of Life with me. As I loaded pink and blue pegs into my car, “Frank” said, “It’s funny that you have so many children in the game when you don’t have any in real life.”

And then the cool, calm, well-practiced me snapped, “Well, you don’t have a yacht in real life either!”

Yes, sometimes I have this whole thing under control, and sometimes all the embarrassment and insecurities come rushing back at me and I bite off some poor innocent bystander’s head.

Frank, if you’re reading this post when you’re not supposed to, I’m sorry I snapped at you. And I know you’ll be mad that I called you “Frank” in this story, so I’m sorry for that too. And you’re right. It is funny that I always end up with a ton of kids in the game. It’s funny that I end up at the Millionaire’s Mansion sometimes too. If one of those doesn’t come true in real life, maybe the other one will. If it does, I promise to take you out on my yacht. Love, Auntie Lisa –x-

 

My Ex’s Kids October 27, 2010

It’s happened to me a few times over the years. The first time an ex resurfaced was pre-Facebook through a site called Friends Reunited. He was my first true love and it was fun to see his face and remember the good times we had when we were way too young (and thankfully smart enough) to do anything more than fantasize about getting married and having kids together. When he told me about his wife and two little girls, I felt a little melancholy for the life I could have had, but knew I made the right choice when we broke up and I pursued a different life.

The next run-in was in-person with the ex-fiancé who had never wanted kids. I ran into him with his new wife and daughter when I was right in the thick of my infertility madness. That time I was livid, furious, jealous, feeling that the world had done me wrong, thinking how he’d wasted five years of my life and frittered away my chance to have children of my own.  Fortunately my husband was with me at the time and I was instantly reminded that my ex’s lack of desire for children wasn’t the only reason we were no longer together.

This week another ex resurfaced on the dreaded Facebook. He was a high school boyfriend and we “went out” for a few months, as I recall. Nice guy, but I think I was probably about 15 at the time. He friended me on FB and I accepted, and of course went straight to his photos to look for evidence of his current life. There were photos of two little blonde girls and him playing board games with them, and I felt…nothing. No envy, no sadness, not even relief.

We all choose our paths in life. Sometimes the path choses us, but even then we still have choices to make about how we walk that path. I didn’t plan to have a life without children, but I always planned to have a good life, and I do. When I look at the lives I might have had with the men I might have had them with, I realize that they weren’t the life I wanted. I like my life, it’s a good life, and even if it’s a life without children, it’s still the life I want.

 

Thank Goodness I Don’t Have Kids October 7, 2010

Filed under: Children,The Childfree Life: Issues and Attitudes — Life Without Baby @ 6:00 am
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Right now, my life feels like a hot mess (this is the reason I wrote this post for Tuesday and then forgot to hit the button to actually post it, so am posting it today instead!) It’s nothing serious, thank goodness, but everything around me is in chaos. Work is crazy busy, with fires flaring up faster than I can put them out, and new projects starting while deadlines for other keep getting pushed. My school stint has started up again, my house looks as if a tornado swept through, my garden is in its death throes due to lack of care, my husband, when he’s not traveling,  is feeling neglected, and my mum is here for her annual 6-week visit. Oh and my cat won’t come out from under the bed as long as my husband is in the room. Like I say, nothing serious, but I’m finding myself waking up in the night with my task list racing through my head and spending my days careening from job to job with my hair on fire. And one thought keeps popping into my head: Thank goodness I don’t have kids.

Oh sure, if I had kids, I’d probably work less, take on less, let more slide by the wayside, but the truth is, I don’t want that. I love my work, all my crazy jobs. I love being my own boss and calling my own shots. I love pulling an all-nighter (all-nighter meaning working until 10 pm these days, but you know what I mean) and delivering a project on time, knowing I went the extra mile. And I love being able to sit in bed in the early hours, drinking my morning coffee in peace, and tapping out the blog post that I didn’t have time to write the day before.

There’d be so many sacrifices to make if I had kids, and perhaps they’d be worth making, but right now I’m glad I don’t have to.