Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

It Got Me Thinking…About Those Moments April 24, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

It happened so quickly. I was crossing a street and noticed ahead of me a woman and two small boys, about two- and three-years-old. As they rounded the corner, the wind caught the stack of coloring book pages the older child was holding, pulling them from his hand and scattering them across the sidewalk. As they scrambled to stomp on them and pick them up, I sprinted across the street to help.

I handed my small collection to the woman, then said to the young artist, “What beautiful artwork. Did you make these?” He looked up at me and beamed. And I looked into the eyes of the son I could’ve had and thought, I still want one.

And there goes years of therapy!

I think this has to be one of the hardest things about this journey. Even though we may have been told we can’t have children, or know we can’t have children, or have come to terms with our choice to not have children, there’s still that what if factor. The miracle cure, the quicky adoption, the rogue egg. It’s still possible, right? It’s not too late! If I still want this, I can make it happen! All those crazy-train thoughts waiting to bubble up to the surface at a moment’s notice.

Fortunately, my brain took over and, by the time I’d walked the rest of the way home, I had catalogued all my (very sensible) reasons for being childfree and overruled my flip-floppy emotions. I was back to being at peace with my choice. At least my brain is good with it. I just need to work a little more on getting my heart on board.

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

 

Uncovering Grief February 16, 2012

This week, I’m very pleased to introduce a new Guest Blogger.

Shannon Calder is a psychotherapist, specializing in grief and loss. In this, her new column, she’ll be addressing some of the issues many of us are facing as we look towards a life without children. I hope you’ll find her guidance helpful.

Uncovering Grief

By Shannon Calder

“If we carry our storms like actors pretending to be brave, each swallowed tear will fill our hearts like a bag of stones.”

– Alison Asher

Grief is a sacred time, a sacred act and it is the way we honor the importance of what we lost. The amount of grief we feel is in direct proportion to the importance of the person or idea we have lost. It is an honor to grieve.

My name is Shannon and I am a psychotherapist and a survivor of grief. I phrase it that way because surviving something indicates that it is still with you, in you, but that you pulled through and gained strength and meaning from it. I am here to remind you that grief does not evaporate, but like the wind, it breezes in and then recedes, leaving you to respond in its wake. How fast it recedes and how much havoc it wreaks on your life is the result of how you respond to it. I am here to help you with that and to listen, because grief is with us no matter how long ago we lost something or someone.

I am all for moving on, moving up, moving around, being positive and letting go. Every now and then I may discuss these very ideas. However, my purpose, whether it is on this blog or in my profession, is to address where people are in the moment and to speak to who lives and breathes underneath the persona that we show the world. I think we can agree that we don’t always feel like moving on, letting go or being positive.

Frankly, I don’t think putting happy pants on everyone and sending them back out into the world does them, their spouses, or the drivers next to them any good. It leads to repressed, angry, sad, grief-filled folks running into or running over each other unconsciously.

Do not misunderstand me. In your life, away from this discussion, it is a brilliant idea to have a stiff upper lip in most situations. But in this discussion with me, or anyone else on this blog, and hopefully with the people you trust the most, invest in the emotions that come with grief and give them the attention they deserve. If you are honest with yourself and others about what you feel, they can give you what you deeply need.

This is my not so subtle call to arms to those of you who are grappling with grief. If you are having trouble deciding what you feel, figuring out if you’re grieving, then that is completely valid and we can address that. I want to encourage you to do as Alison Asher says and “soar straight into the storm,” but only do this if you have a lifeboat. I hope that this column, the resources discussed here and the exercises we try can be your lifeboat, along with the friends and family you find here on this blog and in your life. Rally your resources and bring them close to you.

Please write to me with questions and/or your stories. I will attempt to address many of them in this column.

Be well,

Shannon

Contact me at: Shannon [AT] lifewithoutbaby [DOT] com

Resource:

Alison Asher wrote Soaring into the Storm, a lovely book about anyone facing adversity. She interviewed people of all ages and backgrounds who endured tragedy and came out strong. She is an artist and a poet and she survived the loss of a child.

 

 
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