Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Graduation Season June 11, 2012

It’s graduation season and Facebook and the local newspapers are festooned with pictures of graduating high school and college kids. I have a niece graduating from university and a nephew aiming to get the grades to go the university of his choice in the fall. It’s an exciting time and it always makes me wistful.

I’m over my longing for a baby and over my desire to be pregnant. I got over the desire for a screaming toddler first of all, and am largely at peace with the idea of not having the chance to raise children. But my recovery always seems to fall apart when it gets to the teenagers.

You’d think I’d have to be crazy to long for teenagers, and no, I’m not exactly pining for a pouting, door-slamming, know-it-all emo. But in general, I like young adults. I love to get into a conversation (difficult as it might be sometimes) with someone old enough to have opinions, but not yet old enough to be cynical. I love to hear about their ideas and dreams and plans for themselves. And I would have loved to have a kid of my own to be proud of.

I no longer ache for the cherub-like cheeks of a new baby or the warmth of a child in my lap. But I do get a little melancholy knowing I’ll never enjoy the pleasure of knowing I did a good job raising a decent human being to send out into the world.

This feeling will pass and my teen longing will join the ranks of the other stages of childhood I’ll miss and have mourned. But for now, I suppose I’ll just keep imposing myself on my nieces and nephews and living vicariously through my very proud mom friends who are celebrating their children’s rites of passage this summer.

 

Well-Behaved Women February 8, 2011

I’ve been going through a bit of a renaissance recently. I’ve dropped a few pounds and been exercising fairly regularly, things are going well in general, and I’ve found myself with a new shot of self-confidence.

This has resulted in my buying a pair of kick-ass red boots, chopping off my hair into a funky little bob, and adding rocket red streaks to the front. I’ve also been digging around in the back of my closet (and the Goodwill bag I recently filled) and experimenting with putting together some old favorite clothes in new ways – interesting tops over summer dresses over leggings, with the aforementioned funky boots. I’m having fun and enjoying letting the new me out in public.

After seeing the Expressing Motherhood show, it occurred to me how different this experience would be if I had children, in particular teenage daughters. Imagine: “Mom! (shriek!) You’re not going out in THAT are you?!” or, “Oh, Mother, what HAVE you done to your hair?” or that old chestnut, “Mom, don’t you think you’re a bit OLD to dress that way?”

Oh, the humiliation, not just for the teenage daughter, but for me, for being pointed out as mutton dressed as lamb, or for just being an embarrassment. Because moms are expected to behave a certain way, to dress a certain way, to be respectable and good role models for their daughters. (I realize that many aren’t and several come to mind, but being good is what they’re supposed to do.)

Laurel Thatcher Ulrich has a wonderful quote that has made its way into popular culture lately. She said, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.” I’m not exactly planning on making it into the history books for my misbehaving, but I’m enjoying the freedom of having no one to embarrass but myself.