Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

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.


Circumstantially Infertile July 14, 2011

Thanks to Robin for posting this link on the LWB Facebook page.

In the Huffington Post’s new “Women” section this week, Savvy Auntie, Melanie Notkin writes about the grief and lack of empathy that comes with being “circumstantially infertile.”

Melanie always wanted to have children, but just never met the right person. She talks openly about the insensitive and sometimes cruel things people have said to her. She also makes the case that, just because someone doesn’t have children, doesn’t mean they don’t like kids or aren’t maternal.

Melanie is the author of the fun book, Savvy Auntie, that I reviewed last month, and creator of I also had the pleasure of interviewing her recently. More about that soon.


Book Review: Savvy Auntie June 16, 2011

Melanie Notkin created the Savvy Auntie website as a gathering place for childless and childfree women who play an important role in the lives of other people’s children. It’s a big shout out to those of us who share our time with nieces or nephews, or are “aunties-by-choice” to the children of friends and family. Now she’s written a book by the same name.

In Savvy Auntie: The Ultimate Guide for Cool Aunts, Great-Aunts, Godmothers, and All Women Who Love Kids, Notkin quickly dispels the myth that women without children are lonely, bitter, and don’t like kids. She refers to herself as a PANK – “Professional Aunt, No Kids,” and says, “I don’t have kids, but I’ve got five amazing nieces and nephews by relation, a beautiful goddaughter, a fabulous career, amazing friends, I travel a ton, and I always go to the best restaurants in the city.” Far from bitter and lonely!

Notkin keeps this fun-loving tone throughout the book, with silly tidbits, such as how to say “Aunt” in 28 different languages, how to throw a killer 1st birthday party, and her Auntiescopes, which define auntie types by birth sign (and are dead accurate – at least for Aries Aunts!) But Notkin balances this with practical information and useful advice about taking care of other people’s children, finding age-appropriate gifts, and answering those awkward questions kids often ask their aunties. She even discusses how to deal with other people’s good news when you’re still dealing with your own grief and also offers some comebacks for those prying questions people ask about why we don’t have kids of our own.

Savvy Auntie is a book I wish I’d given when I was 15, when my first nephew was born, but it still makes for a fun read 20-something years later.