Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Perks June 19, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I’m working in my fuzzy gray slippers today. I can do this because I’m a freelancer, I work in an office in my home, and the only creatures likely to see me in less-than-professional attire are my dogs. On most days, I choose to get dressed to the shoes because it is part of my routine, my discipline. But on a day like today, I am relishing the little perks of my status.

Which got me thinking about some of the little perks of being childfree. We’ve talked about the big perks, like having extra money for luxury purchases, being able to sleep in on the weekends, and the flexibility to travel on a whim during the off-season. I’m starting to also appreciate some of the little everyday things, too. Like being able to turn on the TV or computer without first having to shut off parental controls, or being able to curse a blue stream when I stub my toe (i.e., not worrying that my child will later repeat those words in church). I like that the laundry is manageable in my household and that I really only have to go to the market once a week. I like that right now it’s quiet here and I can hear myself think.

I think a big part of this journey for me is moving from acceptance to appreciation. For so long, I could only see the woe-is-me side of life, the loss of the family I couldn’t have, the experiences I knew I’d miss. As I shift my perspective a bit, I’m starting to see all that I have, all that I’ve been given, all that I didn’t lose.

I wish for you today a sense of peace as you look at some of the perks in your life.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her memoir about her journey to childfreeness is in the works.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About $25,000 January 31, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Two of my close friends are preschool shopping. In both cases, they submitted multiple applications shortly after the births of their children, because public schools are not an option (a topic for another post or a Whiny Wednesday) and getting into San Francisco’s private schools is very competitive. This is insane enough, in my mind, but here’s the kicker: Tuition for one child, for one year, is a whopping $25,000. “But it’s $35,000 in New York City,” one friend told me, as if that would make Californians seem frugal by comparison.

Twenty-five thousand dollars! That’s 250 $100 bills or 100,000 quarters! And that got me thinking…. If I had that amount of money to spare, how might I spend it? Here are a few options:

  • With parking at $2 an hour here, I could feed meters (with my 100,000 quarters) while running 12,500 hours of errands. Let’s do some math: At 3 hours each week, I’d be set for 4,167 weeks, or 80 years!
  • A new car! ConsumerReports.org compiled a list of the best cars under $25,000. I’m eyeing the Mini Cooper with a stick shift.
  • Six friends and I could stay in “Premiere Inns” while on Backroads’ multisport adventure in Costa Rica—biking, hiking, and soaking in hot springs in a forest setting. Sweet!
  • Since I could buy in bulk and get a discount, I’d order 468 12-packs of my favorite 82% cacao extra dark chocolate bars from Scharffenberger. At 210 calories per bar, that works out to….oh, screw that! I’ll…
  • …hire a personal trainer! The going rate is $75 an hour, so I’d get 333 hours of crunching abs and burning fat, roughly 6 hours of training each week for one year. Hmmm…I could get in shape for the Boston Marathon…or American’s Next Top Model!
  • 833 mani/pedis ($30) at the little spa down the street. If I visited once a week, I could indulge in 16 years of pampering!

With the exception of the car, all of the above seem extravagant—if not ludicrous—to me. But it is fun to think about. If you won $25,000 in the lottery today, how might you spend it?

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Right now, she’s thinking about running out to the store to buy a bar of chocolate.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Money February 15, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

Wisegeek.com estimates the average family will spend $11,000 each year to raise a child from birth to high school graduation. Bankrate.com breaks out annual expenditures that include child care, a bigger car, a bigger home, plus $600 a year for education (a figure I know is laughable considering the costs of private schools in San Francisco). After taxes, not including the costs of a college education, Bankrate’s grand total is $190,528.

This is a ginormous amount of money.

$190,528 equals 19 cycling tours around Tuscany for me and my fiancé or 1,524 dinners at our favorite French bistro or 15,877 visits to the corner coffee shop for mochas and croissants.

Now I know $190,528 is not going to drop out of the heavens and into my bank account, but if I had kids, I would “find” that money. Wouldn’t you? I would work an extra job, streamline my holiday shopping list, cut back on nonessentials, become more diligent about investing. And this got me thinking about what I’m doing—or not doing—with my childfree money.

Instead of funding participation in the soccer league, I could be learning how to sail. Instead of supporting an 8th grade class trip to Washington DC over spring break, I could be planning my own off-season visit to the Smithsonian. Instead of covering room, board, tuition, and pizza, I could return to college for an advanced degree in art history or learn how to play the ukulele, make sushi, and become fluent in Italian.

Kind of fun to think about the possibilities, isn’t it?

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is learning to embrace her childfree status.