Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Childfree “Dads” November 1, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

While counting down the days to my wedding, I thought it would be fun to revisit some favorite films with classic wedding scenes, including Sixteen Candles (“Love the teapot.”), When Harry Met Sally (“Who’s the dog, Harry?!”), and Sex and the City (“Ever thine, ever mine, ever ours.”). Which is how I happened to snuggle up with the 1991 remake of Father of the Bride.

Steve Martin and Diane Keaton as the parents*, Kimberly Williams as the bride, and who can forget Martin Short as the delightfully eccentric wedding coordinator, Franck. It’s funny and sweet, and even though I’m twice the age of the bride in this movie, it’s still relatable. I thought we’d have a “smallish” and “simple” affair too!

As I watched Steve Martin, childfree in real life, give his hilarious, touching, and convincing performance as a dad, I was reminded of an article we featured in a post earlier this year. We rose up in heated protest (on our comments page) in response to British actress Anne Reid’s insinuation that “Actresses Without Children Can’t Play Mothers.” What a load of bunk.

And this got me thinking about the wonderful men in our lives who happen to be childfree. The uncles, husbands, boyfriends, bosses, and friends. Today I’m celebrating Steve Martin, who gives the gifts of laughter and compassion through his “dad” (also in 1989’s Parenthood) and many other roles. I’m also thinking about the man who mentored me early on, who became a father-figure and then my friend. And two colleagues who are better able to nurture my career and our friendships because they aren’t occupied with being someone’s dad. They play important roles in my life. Isn’t it time they got some credit?

*I think it’s interesting that both Steve Martin and Diane Keaton were childfree when they made this movie (she later adopted two children).

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She regrets not hiring her own “Franck” to handle the minutiae of her wedding plans.

 

Age and Attitudes September 29, 2011

On a flight recently, I sat next to an elderly woman who was on her way to visit her granddaughter. Before long the conversation veered towards children and she asked me if I had any.

For a second, I got that sinking feeling. Here was a woman with children and grandchildren, who wasn’t going to understand why I didn’t. But I told her anyway, and even headed her off at the pass by explaining why before she asked.

But the thing is, she got it. She understood that the battle with infertility can be endless. She understood that sometimes you have to walk away. And she also understood that parenthood isn’t and shouldn’t be for everyone.

This is a trend I’ve been noticing lately. I’ve found that older people are often more likely than younger people to understand that motherhood isn’t a certainty for everyone.

Maybe it’s the wisdom that comes with experience, or maybe it’s that perspective older people sometimes get about what’s really important in life. Whatever it is, I’m always glad to find that safe haven when it comes along.

 

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener September 23, 2011

Pamela at Silent Sorority posted a wonderful story yesterday about the response she received from her recent Open Salon article about being a non-mom, Dispatch from Hell: It’s not all bad.

 

I found it encouraging that so many readers embraced her decision regarding adoption, and I was especially wowed by her own mother’s open-mindedness, when she wrote: “I’ve never understood why people automatically think that because a couple doesn’t have a child of their own, they will, of course, adopt. It’s like expecting a man or woman who never married to become a priest or a nun.” Well said, Mom!

I also laughed out loud (as did my husband, who has grown children) at a comment from the father of a “stay-at-home 23 year-old” who wrote: “No doubt it is a great pleasure watching your child grow, […] but if the second ten years came first, there would be no second children.”

As if to prove this point, I opened up my newspaper this morning and found myself both laughing and despairing at this article about three 19 year-old “boys,” who have just managed to wreck their lives through sheer stupidity. I’m sure their parents are very proud.

Yes, being a non-mom can be painful, sad, frustrating, or all of the above, but even so, the grass isn’t always greener on the parenting side of the fence.