Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Funny Friday: A Job Opportunity? November 23, 2012

I always start my mornings by reading the newspaper (I know; call me old-fashioned) and my day officially begins after I’ve read the comics.

Recently, Darrin Bell’s Candorville tickled my funny bone, with this cartoon.

I wonder if making a few bucks would ease the sting of listening to parents who don’t quite get that we might not want to hear every detail about their children.

No, probably not.

 

 

It Got Me Thinking…About My Letter to the President November 13, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Dear Mr. Obama,

I voted for you. Twice. And last night I stayed up well past my bedtime in anticipation of hearing your acceptance speech. I was glued to the TV, watched the projections on several channels, and toasted the success of your campaign. Finally you came on and addressed us all. Or so I thought.

You shared a story about meeting a family in Mentor, Ohio, that risked losing everything to provide for their 8-year-old daughter who was fighting leukemia. Fortunately, health care reform allowed for their insurance coverage to continue. (Amen, by the way.) “I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his,” you said, “and when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes.”

Mr. President, when did compassion become the domain of parents? I am a childless woman, yet I had tears in my eyes when I heard about this family because I have walked this walk with friends, coworkers, and family members. Just because I haven’t birthed or adopted a child doesn’t mean I have no heart. In fact, quite often when a friend has been in crisis, I and other childless friends have been the ones to step up and help—financially, emotionally, physically—because we do not have the responsibilities and time commitments of people who have chosen to be parents.

In a campaign, I know how easy it is to fall into preaching to your constituents, and I suppose that’s why we hear so much about family values. It certainly was a hot topic throughout this last campaign season. Yet I ask you to consider that families come in many sizes and descriptions: mixed race, two moms, two dads, single parents, childless, and single people who create family among friends. We are all compassionate, not because we are parents, but because we are human. And guess what else, we all vote.

Wishing you much success in your new term. God bless all of America!

Kathleen Guthrie Woods

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status, but sometimes she gets a little riled up.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Useful Children November 6, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

While watering my backyard this morning, I thought about how I really really don’t want to spend the coming weekend tackling the jungle of weeds that have again taken over. The guys who come every other week to mow the lawn and hack away at the shrubs in the front don’t do this kind of work, and I assume the nearby landscape design center only offers overhaul services, which is more than I need.

If I had kids, I’d be set. In my youth, my parents took full advantage of the unpaid workforce living under their roof. We had weekly and monthly chores, and we were expected to participate in their many home improvement projects. We mowed, cleared, dug, scrubbed, polished, built, and painted. One year, following a trip to Scotland, we transformed the family room into a pub, with billiards table, dart board, and plaid carpet (loved that carpet). Our reward for painting the room was a kids’ corner, complete with bean bag chairs and the video game Pong on our own TV. Heaven, circa 1975.

Pulling weeds was one of our regular duties, and my mom found creative incentives for motivating us to stop our whining and just get it done. “You each get a bag, and the person who fills up the most gets a quarter! Go!” I picture myself now, standing out on our street, propositioning passing school kids with “Hey. Wanna make a little extra cash? I’ll pay you $10 and it’s easy”…then I picture how I would be arrested as a possible molestation suspect. Hmmm…not the best idea.

We live in a city, so there aren’t that many children around, and we don’t live on a neat cul de sac, where everyone knows everyone and it would be easy to offer one of the neighbor’s kids a chance to earn some pocket money in exchange for a little physical labor. My 11-year-old niece has one of those gigs. She does odd jobs for an elderly neighbor, like picking plums and walking the dog. She worked her tail off one summer and, with the promise for matching funds from her dad, bought a new bike. I have yet to meet any such entrepreneurs on my street.

As much as my siblings and I complained about the unfairness of all the work we had to do, I have great memories of the projects we did together as a family. I also am grateful for the skills I picked up, skills I use today as my family-of-two’s handywoman. And as I look into my future, I’m sad that I won’t get to recreate these memories and pass on these skills to a new generation. I’m also really bummed that I’m going to spend part of this weekend in my garden, alone, pulling those pesky weeds. I need to think what kind of incentive would get me to stop my whining and race to fill up the biggest bag. A quarter isn’t going to cut it. The promise of a new dress might be just what this big kid needs to get it done. But…oooh…a dress by Armani. Now we’re talkin’.

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

 

Whiny Wednesday: Ungrateful Pipsqueak June 27, 2012

The other weekend I took myself out for a quiet lunch at my local Thai restaurant. I don’t mind eating alone, in fact, sometimes I prefer the solitude of food and thought, so imagine my dismay when the hostess sat me right next to the long middle table filled with a collection of families, all with small children.

As it turned out, the children were impeccably behaved and the parents were attentive and respectful of the other diners. All except one.

This dad was a big mouth and a know-it-all, regaling his audience and half the restaurant with his worldly knowledge of everything from campers to tax evasion. Then Father of the Year went on to complain how difficult (and expensive) vacations were now that he had a “princess” (his wife) and kids, and how much easier and fun they’d been before then. And how much more he drank since having kids, and how, even though there were five other non-working adults living in their house, his kids always came crying to him in his office.

I’d like to tell you that I’m too nice a person to wish he would choke on his pad thai, but sadly, that’s not the case. I so wanted to tell him what a total git he was and that he didn’t deserve the beautiful wife and children he had. Oh how I wanted to give him a piece of my mind. But I didn’t. I couldn’t even look at him and fling him one of my best dirty looks. I just kept my eyes to myself and channeled my internal daggers his way.

I understand that parenting is hard work, and I can only imagine the changes that happen in a person’s life when they have children, but this arrogant, ungrateful pipsqueak did not deserve the gifts he’d been given.

It’s Whiny Wednesday, my friends, that glorious day when vitriol and bile are the specials du jour. What’ll you have?

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Greener Grass March 6, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

It was early in the morning on a national holiday. I was walking to our gym when I passed one of our neighbors as she loaded kids and gear into a minivan.

“Off to the gym?” she asked, grunting as she hoisted a toddler into his car seat.

“Yup.”

“I would give anything to trade places with you.”

For a split second I paused, then replied with the only response that seemed appropriate. “I’m sorry.”

As I continued down the street, it dawned on me that for the first time in years I wasn’t feeling (a) judgmental (she was, after all, dissing her kids) or (b) wistful. So often in the past I would have thought how I would have traded anything to have precious kids of my own, but now, not so much. I was pretty happy with the prospect of spending my holiday taking care of myself, maybe even reading a book or taking a nap instead of having to read a book to someone else hoping he would settle down for a nap.  I didn’t feel sorry for or envious of my neighbor, and I didn’t want to trade my grass for her grass. The grass was perfectly green on my side of the street.

Me thinks the healing process has begun.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s mostly at peace with being childfree.

 

Whiny Wednesday: Parenting Radar February 15, 2012

I’m whining at myself today and the bad attitude I’ve developed towards parents, or more precisely, towards parenting.

Listening to the radio on Sunday morning, I heard an interview with a author who’d written a book about parenting in France. She was saying how “amazed” she was to see French children sitting quietly at the dining room table, eating what was put in front of them, and entertaining themselves for hours with a simple toy.

In a second, my mind flashed through all the times I’d witnessed “bad American parents” and their out-of-control offspring, and before I knew it I was off, stomping around the house spitting vitriol at the radio and the poor unsuspecting author (who, fortunately couldn’t hear me.)

But my husband heard me, and gave me one of his, “Oh, no, where can I hide before she turns on me” looks. It was enough to cool my jets, stop for a while and listen quietly to what the (very nice) author had to say.

I apologized to my husband, and skulked off to have a talk with myself and try to figure out where this ire comes from, when it comes. It doesn’t come often, not any more, but it does come, boy, does it come with a vengeance.

I don’t hate parents (I’ve had two of my own and they were great) and I don’t resent parents, I don’t think, but this anger is hiding inside me somewhere, and when it bubbles up, it scares the heck out of me…not to  mention my poor husband.

Anyway, it’s Whiny Wednesday today, so now’s a good time to let your anger out to play for a while.

 

Guest Blogger: Identity Theft February 2, 2012

By Maybe Lady Liz

There’s a distressing identity theft trend going on in the world of young parents on Facebook. Their accounts are being hacked into and entirely taken over by their babies! People who once used to post about interesting things going on in the world (or, at the very least, some gritty details of last night’s rendezvous) have been reduced to status updates on teething, defecation patterns and (drumroll please…) the miracle of rolling over! I think my friend Jen said it best while scrolling through her list of Friends and seeing mostly toothless, drooling smiles – “When did I become friends with so many babies?”

So, to my dear Facebook friends:

I get that the baby is the joy of your life. As it should be! But you had a life before that kid, and it was full of friends – like me – who still want to know what you’re up to, who you’ve become, whether you think it’s Tebow-time. Facebook is about sharing your life with friends and family. And of course, most of that is going to be centered around your baby now. But don’t ever forget that you were a person before you were a parent, and there are people out there who miss that person. So even if it’s something as lame as your feelings on the latest Kardashian divorce, I want to hear it. We all do. (Well, sort of).

And just a word of warning: If your posts start to become a photo of the baby accompanied by first-person narration from the baby’s point of view (e.g., “I am SO excited Aunt Cassie is taking me to the park today!”), we reserve the right to un-Friend you. It’s for your own good.

Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at http://www.MaybeBabyMaybeNot.com.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Loser Parents November 29, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

This week as I was leaving the parking lot of the grocery store, I watched as a toddler wandered one direction across a lane of traffic and his mother, pushing a stroller with a baby, walked in the other direction…into oncoming traffic…because she was texting.

By some miracle, no babies, mommies, or motorists got hurt. I, on the other hand, was boiling with indignation. Why why why do I have to pay for a license to work as a writer (on my oh-so-dangerous laptop), while this idiot is given the responsibility of two precious lives with no vetting whatsoever just because she can reproduce? Why does this LOSER get to be a mother, and I get jack?!? Life is so unfair!

I want to scream: Pay attention, you dumbass! Don’t you know how blessed you are?

 

I know if I had children, I wouldn’t be a perfect parent all the time. But I know I would be better.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Most of the time she’s at peace with her decision to be childfree.