Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: Outrageously Boring Birth Announcements June 7, 2012

By Maybe Lady Liz

Remember when we used to get a real piece mail that wasn’t selling us something? It’s so rare nowadays that the handwritten address peeking out amidst all the junk actually makes my heart flutter a little.  Maybe it’s a letter from an old flame, fifty bucks from Grandma who’s senile and thinks it might be your birthday, or an invitation to a party in your honor for some fabulous thing you don’t even remember doing. But no, it can really be only one of two things: a wedding invitation or a birth announcement.

A wedding invitation is cause for excitement. Once you get over the annoyance of being addressed as Mrs. Husband’s First Name/Husband’s Last Name (my first name is not Mrs. Drew, thank you very much!), you have the opportunity to peruse the various invites, cards, return envelopes and that little wisp of tissue that no one ever knows what to do with. You get to judge them on color choices and menu options, decipher whether or not there will be a full open bar or just beer and wine, get miffed about not being invited to the rehearsal dinner. In short, there’s lots of good stuff in there.

But the birth announcement? Without fail, this is the same boring 4 x 6 Snapfish card. A montage of black and white close-ups and a list of stats: name, date and time of birth, inches, pounds, and ounces. I don’t mean to be rude here, but I’m genuinely curious – why on earth does anyone care how many ounces a baby was, other than the poor woman who had to push it out? It would be so much nicer to actually get an interesting piece of news here, maybe hear something about the parents. How many hours was Mom in labor, did Dad make a fool of himself and faint in the delivery room, etc.? Or at least something more interesting about the baby – how did they pick the name or what does it mean? Since baby names these days are more closely guarded than federal secrets, it’d be nice to finally hear how they chose.

All of this could come in a nice little note on the back and would reignite everyone’s excitement on getting a solid piece of paper news about friends and family. I might even start saving them in a little drawer. But if I keep getting the same old thing, I’ll probably just continue throwing them in the trash and later feeling very bad about having to toss a pile of coffee grounds or banana peel on a baby’s face.

Maybe Lady Liz is blogging her way through the decision of whether to create her own Cheerio-encrusted ankle-biters, or remain Childfree. You can follow her through the ups and downs at Maybe Baby, Maybe Not.

 

Whiny Wednesday: It’s Your Turn Next May 9, 2012

A friend posted this picture on Facebook and it made me laugh out loud.

Then it got me wondering how this could work for those women (and it’s usually women) at baby showers and family gatherings who unwittingly assume that yours will be the next belly to be celebrated and adored. I haven’t come up with an appropriate equivalent yet, but I’m working on it.

It’s Whiny Wednesday and I know that for those of you in countries that celebrate Mother’s Day this weekend, this week could also lovingly be called Hell Week. So, here’s your chance to let off steam among friends. Feel free to vent at will.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Grieving Our Treasures March 13, 2012

By Kathleen Guthrie Woods

My wedding dress and veil hung off the back of my closet door for four months until I finally got my act together and donated everything to Brides Against Breast Cancer. It felt like the right thing to do. After all, I hadn’t loved the dress in a weepy way that so many brides do about their gowns; it was flattering, it got the job done, but I didn’t feel a strong sentimental attachment to it. I knew I’d never wear it again, although my husband suggested I save it to wear to the opera, and I had to remind him that we’d both slept through the only opera we’d ever attended together. Plus, the fabric couldn’t be dyed, so it was never going to look like anything but a wedding dress. I also had no illusions about saving it for someone else to wear on her big day, knowing each of my nieces will find her perfect style and silhouette when her time comes.

So I was unprepared for the wave of grief that hit me when I decided to look at it one last time before tucking it into the shipping box. I stood in front of my full-length mirror and admired the gently gathered folds of satin that accentuated my waist, the slightly dipped sweetheart neckline that flattered my bust, the long bands that my sister and best friend spent half an hour braiding in and out, adjusting just so, to create a romantic corset down my back. I tucked the comb into my hair and floated the cathedral-length veil around me. The moment was my own, just me and my ensemble, and that’s when it hit me.

There will be no daughter or granddaughter to share this with in years to come. No one will ask to take my gown out of storage, to reminisce, to ooh and ahh. No one will care to find out if it still fits me in 10 or 20 years, and no one will join me a generation from now as we double over laughing that this was considered “in style” back in my day, like I did when I revisited friends’ gowns from the ’70s and ’80s. No one will slip tiny feet into my wedding shoes, disappear under yards of tulle, and giggle as she imagines how one day she might walk down the aisle to marry the love of her life.

It’s not so much the gown that causes me grief, but the cold, hard loss of the future memories I’ll never have. It’s not the giving away of a treasured thing that hurts, but the giving up of so many other dreams.

Shannon is now writing an insightful column for us about facing the grieving process that comes with being childfree. She’s a brilliant and compassionate woman, and I encourage you to check out what she has to say. In a recent column, “How Does Grief Feel to You?”, she invited us to share what our grief looks like. I had to sit with that for a while, to let it sink in, but now I can answer: My grief is a small girl draped in layers of ivory satin and tulle.

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 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.

 

Congratulations! October 28, 2011

Tomorrow is a big day.

My dear friend and writing buddy, Kathleen, is getting married. She is marrying a wonderful man (we’ll call him Thor – not his real name, merely his alter-ego) and I couldn’t be happier for her.

You’ll know Kathleen from her weekly “It Got Me Thinking…” column, and I hope you’ll join me in congratulating her and sending her off on her new adventure.

But don’t panic! She’s not leaving us. In fact she’ll be back next week as usual, just as Kathleen Guthrie Woods.

Congratulations, Kathleen. Wishing you much love.

 

It Got Me Thinking…About Shotgun Weddings May 9, 2011

By Kathleen Guthrie

We recently sent out save the date cards for our upcoming wedding and, in response, I’ve received several variations of “Didn’t know you were pregnant – har har!”

I’m not finding this the least bit humorous, although I’m sure this is what these Jim Carrey–­wannabes had intended. My fiancé and I have been together for four years, living together for two. We are getting married because we want to, not because we have to. And so what if I was pregnant? Would it make this occasion, our commitment to each other, any less solemn?

Of course, because I have finally (mostly) made peace with our decision to be childfree, this strikes a deeper, more painful chord. What I really want to do is reply back by saying, “No. Sadly, pregnancy is no longer an option for me.”

But that would be rude.

Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She finally met her Mr. Right in her 40s and looks forward marrying him this fall.