Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

The Fertility Planit Show December 17, 2012

plan_photo_1350546426Next month I’ll be attending The Fertility Planit Show in Los Angeles. This weekend-long event brings together “world class experts, therapists and inspirational leaders” to help people “find everything you need to build your family.”

Now before you think I’ve gone off my rocker or back to the dark side, I’ll explain that I’m going because I’ve been asked to speak on a panel about letting go and coming to terms with not becoming a parent (official panel title is still under discussion.)

I’ll admit I was wary at first about throwing myself back into the melee of the infertility world, especially when I noticed one of my former doctors on the list of speakers. I was concerned about the emotions that might be dredged up for me and I even considered the danger of exposing myself to new family-building options and starting again on that “what-if…” cycle.

I was also unsure about speaking on this topic. To my mind, people who have bought a ticket to learn about how to get a baby won’t want to listen to someone telling them it’s okay if they don’t. I could almost imagine the headline: “Happy childless woman tarred and feathered by furious infertiles.”

I know that most of the people there won’t want to consider the possibility of not having children. When I was in the thick of my own parenthood quest, I know I didn’t. But a friend gave me that message anyway, based on her own experience, and although I didn’t want to hear her then, when I reached the end of my infertility rope, her story gave me comfort and hope for my future.

So I’ve accepted the invitation to speak. I’m impressed with the show’s organizers for including this important, but deeply neglected topic. I hope that the attendees will never need to hear about coming-to-terms with a life without children, but some of them will, and when they’ll do, I hope they’ll recall a panel of women who told them once that the road ahead might be rocky, but they won’t be alone and everything will someday be okay.

 

Chero of the Week: Charlayne Woodard November 18, 2011

You might recognize Charlayne Woodard from TV shows like Law and Order, ER, and Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but more recently she’s been making a name for herself on Broadway.

Charlayne isn’t a parent, but she’s a godmother, auntie, and mentor to dozens of other people’s children. She’s had a stranger on a subway train tell her she’s not a real woman because she doesn’t have children, and she’s had a friend try to convince her to make a split second decision about adopting a baby. But she’s stood firm, and now she’s written a one-woman play about her experiences as a non-mom.

The Seattle Times called The Night Watcher “thoughtful and engrossing, entertaining and poignant” and says that Woodard “vividly illustrates a critical source of love for young people living in a culture that exalts the idea of biological parenthood but doesn’t always follow through.”

I’m so pleased to see someone finally addressing the subject of the important role that people who aren’t parents can play in the lives of children. And lucky for me, Charlayne is bringing her show to Los Angeles this month, so I’m going.

I’ll report in when I’ve been, but for now let’s hear a “Brava!” for Charlayne Woodard for having the courage to speak up about being childfree.

 

My “Expressing Motherhood” Performance May 12, 2011

For the past two weeks I’ve been performing in a show called Expressing Motherhood. In case you’re new to this blog, you can follow along with the story of how this came about in these posts:

Expressing Motherhood

Expressing Motherhood Report

Expressing Motherhood: Part III

Telling My Story

The show closed on Saturday night and I have to tell you that it was quite an experience. I performed alongside 12 mothers and one brave man, who offered stories – and songs – about motherhood in all its forms. And then there was me, telling my story about my relationship with motherhood.

The cast was really wonderful and so supportive of what I was aiming to do. They each said something encouraging, and several even commented that my story had given them a better understanding about infertility and the ongoing emotions involved. For that alone, it was worth it.

My story was second-to-last in the line-up, and I think it had the most impact there, after all the stories from the mothers (the lone man closed the show with a story about his own mother, which was perfect.) I got several kind compliments from audience members after the show, and although it’s hard to tell from the stage, I think that my story went down well.

After the show closed, I went through a few days of questioning my decision to get up there and put it all out for the world to see. Some of those feelings prompted yesterday’s “I don’t want to talk about this anymore” post, but overall, I’m pleased that the producers chose to include my story as another (often overlooked) facet of motherhood, and I’m pleased with the response it got.

So, for those of you who expressed an interest in seeing the show, here is my performance in Expressing Motherhood.