Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Dealing With Social Landmines September 14, 2012

The Dealing with Social Landmines e-pamphlet is making its official debut today. As promised in Monday’s post, this is a compilation of tips and strategies for getting through those difficult situations and handling prying questions. Even better, I’m offering it to you, my lovely readers, at the low, low price of absolutely free!

If you’d like your very own copy, plus more upcoming goodies, enter your name and e-mail here and I’ll get it to you right away. You’ll also receive a free subscription to the brand new Life Without Baby newsletter, delivering tips, challenges, and (of course) news to your inbox about once a month. If you find the blog posts and member site are all you need, you can unsubscribe at anytime and I promise my feelings won’t be hurt.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the e-pamphlet and any tips of your own you’d like to share.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Excluding Others September 11, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I have many friends who have gone through the Alcohol Anonymous (AA) program, and I admire them greatly for how they have turned their lives around and live into their new commitments every day. But I have to admit, as I sit here planning my next dinner party, in which my famous sangria will be prominently featured, I am hesitant to include two friends who are recovering alcoholics. I worry that they’ll be uncomfortable. I worry they’ll make the other guests self-conscious. I worry they simply won’t fit in.

Ooops! Did I really think that? What a hypocrite I am!

Recently, Maybe Baby Liz wrote on this site (“Locked Out of the Mommy Clubhouse,” July 5) about her first experience of being left out of a dinner party because she is the lone childfree friend among all the mommies. Your comments attested to what I know, that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Many of us have shared our painful experiences of being excluded from social gatherings (and even family get-togethers) because we are childfree. While I am commiserating, I’m also starting to face myself in the mirror. Have I excluded pregnant friends because I just couldn’t bear to be around them while dealing with my own loss? Have I excluded parents of young children because I just couldn’t take another night of listening to them talk about schools and sports programs and teething issues, a discussion I can’t participate in?

I know there aren’t easy answers. I know we can’t deny our own pain, and it also isn’t right to force ourselves to sit through a long evening that causes us to go home and drown our sorrows in a pint of chocolate-fudge-ripple ice cream. I also know that even when we make the effort to include our mommy friends, oftentimes we’re the ones who end up being excluded from the conversation around us. Believe me, I’ve been there.

But that doesn’t mean we stop trying. That doesn’t mean we don’t still make the efforts to reach out and support our friends no matter where they are on their life paths—or where those paths are headed.

The bottom line for me is I care about my friends and I want to spend time with them. I will be upfront with them about the sangria, I will make sure they know there will also be booze-free options available, and then I’ll let them decide if they want to come. If not, I’ll suggest we get together another time, maybe for brunch with really great coffee.

Because this is what friends do. We commiserate, we support, we show compassion. We reach out and embrace each other and we try to build bridges of understanding. It can start with us.

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

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Set-ups January 17, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

I had more than my share of bad dates during my single years, but one stands out from the crowd of mis-matches: He huffed ’n’ puffed during the flat, 10-minute walk to dinner (I was training for a half marathon), he complained about the food at the restaurant I’d recommended (Who doesn’t like Italian?), and he griped that all the women in California were snobby b*tches (Um, hello?).

As soon as I got home, I called my friend and asked why she’d set us up. “You’re both single,” she said.

After a couple of deep breaths, I gently suggested that she raise her standards. Perhaps in the future she should find out if I had anything in common with the random, eligible bachelor of her choosing before handing out my phone number.

Sadly, I was reminded of this during a recent ladies’ lunch. I was seated next to a woman I hadn’t met before and launched into standard getting-to-know-you questions—job, hometown, connection to the hostess. She was nice enough, but it was soon clear we had little in common…except we were both childfree, the only childfree women at the table.

I looked up from my seat as the other women laughed over toddler antics, compared poopy diaper horror stories, discussed the pros/cons of various baby carriers, and exchanged knowing glances about the challenges of sleepless nights with newborns. In all fairness to the host, I don’t believe she placed us childfree women together on purpose; it was more that the mothers were drawn to each other. But that didn’t make it any easier to bear.

I certainly understand the need for mothers, especially new mothers, to get out and socialize and to be able to get information and support in their new roles. Had I known what I was walking into, though, maybe I would have bowed out of the lunch. Maybe I could have risen above it and made another stab at finding common ground with my seat mate, but I felt so downtrodden, so invisible, that I just couldn’t muster the courage to make the extra effort. I also didn’t want to talk about being childfree; I’m mostly over it.

What I had looked forward to that day was getting out and talking with women about all sorts of issues, things we could all relate to. Maybe moving forward I should only accept invitations to after-work drinks. I’m thinking not a lot of new mommies will make it out for that, and I’ll be in more amiable company.

Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She still looks for the good in people.

 

The Art (and Benefits) of Lying November 28, 2011

Dorothy sent me this article recently (thanks Dorothy) from a woman asking “Dear Coquette” for advice on what to say when people ask if she has children. Dear Coquette’s answer? Lie.

 

I had to laugh out loud when I read this, because it has never occurred to me before to lie about not having children. It’s brilliant!

 

Now, granted, if you’re talking to someone you’re likely to see again or who might otherwise find out the truth, then it gets tricky, but if you’re at a cocktail party or some social situation where you’re basically making small talk with strangers, then why not make something up? I mean really, you could actually have some fun with this,

 

I envision clipping photos of kids from magazines and putting them in one of those fold-out wallets, then when someone asks if I have kids, I’ll whip out the pictures and say, “Why, yes! I have five. This is Mai, Uri, Owen, Bea, Senise.” (Say it fast; extra points if you get it.) Then I can start in on what a horrible time I’m having because the baby has a very delicate digestive system. I really think this could work.

 

What do you think? Could you lie to a stranger? More to the point, would you?

 

Oh, and I must just say that while I think this suggestion is inspired, I happen not to agree with her suggestion that saying, “I can’t have children” will shut the person up. In my experience, it’s more likely to open a whole conversation about adoption. I think it’s much more fun just to lie.