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.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Nostalgia September 13, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

It began with a brief mention in a book: The character stopped to wind her watch before going to bed. Winding a watch. I’ve become so accustomed to my battery-operated Iron Man triathlon digital watch, with all the timers and trackers and buttons that do I-don’t-know-what. I’d forgotten what it was like to have to wind a watch at the end of each day to simply be able to tell the time.

And then, I got into a conversation on Facebook about what’s good about e-mail. I contributed how it helps me stay in touch with friends who have moved out of the country, into different time zones, and recalled the days of typing letters on “onion skin.” Do you remember onion skin paper? I know if I tried to explain it to my nieces, they would look at me like I was crazy. “You peeled the skin off an onion and wrote letters on it?!” I can understand why they would think that was weird.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I sat next to my great-grandmother and listened to her stories about traveling from Montana to Colorado in a covered wagon. In my limited experience, only Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie did that, and that was on TV, so it couldn’t be real, right? But my great-grandmother was a pretty serious lady, so I swallowed my skepticism. In time, I learned to listen and I began to wonder how much the world would change by the time I got old.

I don’t consider myself “old” at 45, but I am older, and I continue to be in awe at how much the world has changed in my lifetime. I love how my place has shifted in the circle of life, how I am now the teller of strange tales. “When I was your age…,” I begin, and my nieces give me that look. It may be weird to them now, but I hope some day they look back and think the role I played in their lives, bridging the gap between my past and their present, was also wonderful.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She’s old enough to remember when the whole extended family could pile into one car, seatbelts not required.