Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Souvenirs October 5, 2012

Whenever Mr. Fab and I travel, we usually bring back a piece of local art. Among my favorites are a pair of oil paintings of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas that we bought from a street artist on Copacabana beach, a set of wooden masks from a Johannesburg market, and a rather buxom middle-aged angel mobile that I found and fell in love with in a cliff-top ceramics studio on Orcas Island in Washington. These pieces remind me of my travels and trigger memories – some good and some not so good – of journeys and adventures.

A few years ago we went through a period of hunting down sculptures and ended up with a number of statues, in bronze, wood, and stone, of pregnant women. Over time, these have found a home on shelves around our house and, like many of our belongings, have blended in and become part of the furniture. It’s only recently that I’ve become aware of just how many we’ve collected.

I don’t remember making a conscious decision to collect these sculptures, but at a subconscious level I suppose I was drawn to them because they represented my hopes and dreams, or more accurately, my expectations. Now, they represent a part of me I’ll never get to know.

And yet, these pieces don’t make me sad and I’ve never considered parting with them. Like the other treasures I cherish, they are souvenirs of my travels, not just mementos of geographical locations, but a map of the journey I’ve taken through life. Even though the road was sometimes rough, I still want to remember the places I’ve been.

 

My Glamorous Childfree Life April 9, 2012

Last week, loribeth left a comment that struck a chord with me. She said:

“Sometimes I feel like my life should be more “exciting” than it is. It’s like if you’re childless, people think you should be constantly travelling to exotic places — or feeding starving children in Africa — or giving up your job to run away & live on a beach in the South Pacific — because you don’t have kids to think about or send to college. When really, I am, for the most part, perfectly happy spending a quiet Saturday night at home with dh and a good book or my laptop.”

When I first realized I wasn’t going to have children, I did a lot of soul-searching about what I was going to do with my life now I wasn’t going to be a mother. Eventually, the answer came to me: I’d be doing pretty much the same as I was before. The upside now is that I still have the time to pursue things I love and I’ll most likely still enjoy that freedom ten years from now when my children would have been hitting their teen years and I would have been seriously considering running away to live on a beach in the South Pacific.

Mr. Fab and I are heading off on vacation this week—for a whole week! We’re going to the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, where we plan to spend the week doing not very much. We’ll take our backgammon and dominoes, some good books, and our hiking boots for some long walks. I’ll pack my binoculars for whale watching and bird spotting, my waterproof jacket in case I decide to brave the water in a kayak, and my Pajama Jeans (and, by the way, believe the hype. I wear mine every day) for lounging around and relaxing.

In other words, we won’t be perpetuating the stereotype of the jet-setting childfree couple, galloping around to the most exotic corners of the world, but we will be doing something important; we’ll be making the most of what’s turning out to be a very pleasant, if not especially glamorous, life.

 

Fabulous Friday January 13, 2012

Earlier this week, Rerah commented how great it would be to have a “Fabulous Friday,” where we can list all of the positive things we do or want to do, or are able to do because we don’t have children. I think this would be an excellent way for us all to keep our eyes on the future and what it might hold for us, even as we’re dealing with the past.

Kathleen mentioned that she is planning a cycling trip to France this year and is gathering information on things to do.

My plans for this year also include travel. Mr. Fab and I once created a Bucket List of places we wanted to visit. We made a start on checking things off, but life happened, we got busy and distracted, and our last few trips have been places that are quick and easy to book and don’t require much planning.

So, this year, I’m dusting off my Bucket List, making time to do some research and planning, and then we’re going…somewhere. I’ll report back later.

So what do you have planned, or what would you like to have planned? Could you use some encouragement? Let us know here, so we can keep one another buoyed up and maybe offer advice and support, if needed.

 

Guest Post: Perspective November 3, 2011

By Jill B.

Quite frankly being a friend is sometimes too much effort.  Friendships take time and energy and when you’ve lots of things on your plate, they often move further down the ‘To Do” list.

But I’ve been reminded recently about the value of those friendships and how nurturing them, even just a little bit, can reap the most beautiful rewards.

In October 2009 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer.  Now, don’t get me wrong, it came as a huge shock, it was horrible at times, and very stressful.  But two years on I am cured and, compared to what many people go through, it was a walk in the park.

Around that same time a friend was diagnosed with lung cancer.  A healthy living, non-smoking vegetarian, a loving mother to a three-year old boy, a trusted friend, an honest and caring giver, a wonderful cook, one of the most fun people I know.  Sadly, she passed away earlier this year at the age of only 42 leaving her beautiful boy to know her through our memories and stories.

I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve wanted to call her in the last few months; just for a chat, to ask her opinion, to get that recipe for melt-in-the-mouth-5-hour-roast-lamb, to ask her about the places she travelled, to share a laugh but most of all to tell her just how much I love her and how much she made a difference in my life.

I was “brave.” I told her how much I loved her before it was too late, but how many of us don’t?

Since her diagnosis (and mine) and especially since losing her, I’ve made sure that I say those three magic words to the people who really matter.  Sometimes it’s hard, because some people don’t know how to react, but mostly, I’ve received the heartiest hug and to hear those magical four words back – “I love you too.”

Having cancer certainly taught me who my real friends are, and I’m sad to say that I’ve said “farewell” to a few folk in the last couple of years.  It’s always a difficult decision to choose to end a friendship whether actively or simply to let it drift away, but there simply isn’t time enough to maintain a friendship with every great person that you meet.

I’ve recently returned home to Scotland from my dream holiday visiting the fantastic national parks of southwest USA.  Whilst I was there I managed to meet up with my oldest school friend in Las Vegas.  She has lived in the US for almost 20 years and our contact in that time has been sporadic.  We were in grave danger of drifting apart.  But when she emailed to say that she and her husband would love to meet up with us in Vegas, wild horses wouldn’t have stopped me.

It was the best time of our holiday.  Seeing the Grand Canyon was truly awesome, but wrapping my arms around my childhood friend and receiving a hearty hug back is beyond description.  The two days we spent together felt wonderful and like I was 15 again (well 15 again but with serious jet lag).  We couldn’t remember how or when we met but we can’t remember a time before we knew each other.  A really magical time.

So, now I’m home, what am I going to do about my friendships – the ones that really matter? Refreshed and renewed, I’ve been calling, emailing and lunching in a frenzy with the folks close to home, and less than a week after returning home from the USA, I’ve booked a flight to California to see my friend again.

She is over the moon and we’re planning what we’re going to do together already.  It seems silly that I’ve neglected this friendship for so long.  When I see her in six weeks time, I’m going to give her a big hug and say those three magic words.

Jill B. lives childfree in Scotland. She loves to travel to see beautiful places and good friends.

 

It’s All About Attitude October 3, 2011

Thanks to Iris for forwarding this article about living happily without children.

I love this author’s attitude to the hand she’s been dealt. At first read, she seems almost flippant about her inability to have children, but she’s packed a whole life story into one article, and reading between the lines, it’s clear to see the pain she felt, the struggles she and her partner went through in coming-to-terms with being childfree, and the attitudes she still has to endure from others. But her whole outlook was encapsulated in this paragraph:

“We didn’t get to have something. We had 2 choices as a result of that – let it control, dictate and sadden the rest of our lives or find something else to do instead. Either way, we still wouldn’t get to have kids. So which is the best choice?”

Are you still struggling to come to terms with your own situation and feeling that childlessness is “controlling, dictating, and saddening” your life? If so, can you see what your “find something else to do instead” could be? And could you do it?

I don’t this author is trivializing the blow she was dealt – far from it – but I love that she’s found a way to turn her situation to her advantage. What do you think?

 

Whiny Wednesday: Vegas, Baby! September 21, 2011

I just got back from a couple of days in Las Vegas, which you’d think would give me ample material for Whiny Wednesday topics, but in fact, Vegas didn’t grate on my nerves and send me fleeing for the airport, as it has in the past.

The purpose for the trip was to meet up with my most long-time friend, a woman I’ve known so long, I can’t remember ever not knowing her. I think we met in pre-school, but our parents knew each other from many moons before that. We manage to get together somewhere in the world about once every five years, and this time she happened to be passing through Vegas on a trip around the south-west’s National Parks, so we agreed to meet there. We ate, we walked, we talked, we laughed, and all in all, we had a fantastic time together with our significant others.

If I have any reason for whining this Wednesday it’s that I’ve taken so much time off for traveling fun lately that I am way behind in every other aspect of my life, including work, exercise, and household maintenance. But I suspect I’m not going to get a whole lot of sympathy, am I?

Still, it is Whiny Wednesday, so please don’t let my good mood get in the way of your complaining. Today is the day to get it off your chest, so whine away!

 

Getting away from it all July 26, 2011

Mr. Fab and I love to travel and long ago set a goal of visiting one new country and one new U.S. city every year. In the early days we checked off Canada, Brazil, Italy, and Tahiti, and explored Seattle, Washington D.C., and New Orleans. But over the last couple of years our circle of exploration has shrunk and some of the top destinations on our wish list remain uncharted, at least to us.

For a number of years, I didn’t want to risk a trip to Guatemala, Colombia or China, just in case I got pregnant and ended up with Junior tagging along in utero to some malaria infested region. After that episode, we both threw ourselves into our careers as an avoidance technique regarding the lack of Junior’s arrival.

Now we’re tired. Planning a trip sounds like so much work right now, and the idea of arriving in a strange city where we don’t speak the language – something that was once the major thrill of travel – seems so unappealing. What we really want to do is hole up in a cottage somewhere quiet, where we can walk to dinner and spend peaceful days reading, talking and napping. But that all sounds very middle-aged to me.

Maybe the solution is to take the sedentary vacation and use the quiet downtime to plan an adventure for next year, but somehow that defeats the object of getting away to unplug and unwind, doesn’t it?

What’s changed for you in the past few years? Do you have passions that could use a rekindle? Does making the effort just sound like too much effort? If so, do you have a favorite way to reboot yourself when you’re dragging, like I am? I certainly could use some suggestions.

 

Childfree Flights November 23, 2010

Filed under: Children,Current Affairs — Life Without Baby @ 6:23 am
Tags: , , ,

You’ve been there. You’re tired, jet-lagged, just want to go home, but two rows over a baby with the healthiest lungs imaginable is testing them at full force. Or the three-year-old behind you is pounding the back of your chair with his light-up sneakers. Or (my own personal nightmare) the kid in the seat next to has turned green and is reaching for the air sick bag.

At some point we’ve all been on a flight disturbed by kids, but now a movement is beginning to persuade airlines to provide childfree flights or at least family only sections. I must say, I can’t quite decide where I stand on this.

Over the years, I think I’ve had relatively good luck with babies on flights, but when my luck has turned, it’s turned big. This summer we flew from LA to Vancouver on a flight that had connected with one from Fiji. There were lots of families on board and the whole three-hour trip was like a bad day at the Whacky Warehouse. The flight back was no better and we’ve vowed not to fly that airline again, at least not on that route.

But a childfree flight? The NY Times article prompted this letter to the editor, and while I don’t wholly agree with her argument (yes, all babies cry, but that doesn’t mean they should be taken to restaurants, the movies, or on long-haul flights) she makes some good points. Childfree flights feel elitist and while I like the idea in theory, I can’t actually see myself paying more for the privilege. And a family section on a plane? Remember the days when planes had smoking sections? Confining children to one section is like giving them carte blanche to run riot.

I think this debate is going to go on from some time. Where do you stand? Would you pay more for a childfree flight or do we all just need to get along?

 

 
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