Last month I announced the Great Life Without Baby Makeover and asked, “If you wandered onto a site that was exactly what you’d been looking for, what would you find there?”
You responded with some great suggestions and I’m working to implement those ideas as best I can.
Several of you mentioned how much you enjoy the Guest Bloggers, how refreshing it is to hear new voices, and how reassured you feel by knowing you’re not the only person going through this mess.
Andrea suggested a new “You’re Not Alone” column, featuring readers’ “own stories of fall, personal suffering, and acceptance: of slowly getting back up.”
I love this idea, so I’m putting out a call right now.
“Tell us your stories!”
Here are some suggestions to start you thinking:
What do you wish you could tell people?
What was your darkest moment?
What turned things around for you?
What made a difference?
How did you start coming to terms?
How do you see your future?
What’s the silver lining you never could have imagined?
Your story doesn’t have to include all of these—or even any of these. I’m just using these as prompts to light a creative spark.
And if you’re thinking “I’m not a writer; I can’t do this” banish those thoughts right now. Storytelling is a basic human instinct. It’s how we learn and how we share information. Don’t overthink it; it’s in your bones. Just tell us; we’ll appreciate it because many of us will have lived it too.
So, put on your thinking caps and send me your stories. You can email them right to my inbox at: lisa [at] lifewithoutbaby [dot] com.
I can’t wait to hear from you.
Dear Mr. Obama,
I voted for you. Twice. And last night I stayed up well past my bedtime in anticipation of hearing your acceptance speech. I was glued to the TV, watched the projections on several channels, and toasted the success of your campaign. Finally you came on and addressed us all. Or so I thought.
You shared a story about meeting a family in Mentor, Ohio, that risked losing everything to provide for their 8-year-old daughter who was fighting leukemia. Fortunately, health care reform allowed for their insurance coverage to continue. (Amen, by the way.) “I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his,” you said, “and when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father’s story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes.”
Mr. President, when did compassion become the domain of parents? I am a childless woman, yet I had tears in my eyes when I heard about this family because I have walked this walk with friends, coworkers, and family members. Just because I haven’t birthed or adopted a child doesn’t mean I have no heart. In fact, quite often when a friend has been in crisis, I and other childless friends have been the ones to step up and help—financially, emotionally, physically—because we do not have the responsibilities and time commitments of people who have chosen to be parents.
In a campaign, I know how easy it is to fall into preaching to your constituents, and I suppose that’s why we hear so much about family values. It certainly was a hot topic throughout this last campaign season. Yet I ask you to consider that families come in many sizes and descriptions: mixed race, two moms, two dads, single parents, childless, and single people who create family among friends. We are all compassionate, not because we are parents, but because we are human. And guess what else, we all vote.
Wishing you much success in your new term. God bless all of America!
Kathleen Guthrie Woods
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is mostly at peace with her childfree status, but sometimes she gets a little riled up.
The film’s creator, Frédéric LaBonde interviewed ten men and women around the theme of childlessness. The result is a beautiful series of poignant and inspiring stories.
Here is a version with English subtitles. Click on the eyeballs to hear each story.
Please join me tonight, Monday, October 29th at 5:30pm PST for our first LWB support group call. If you’d like to join the call, please register here to receive the call access details.
Come with a topic for discussion or just come to listen in. Everyone is welcome. I look forward to speaking with some of you later tonight.
How much time do you spend concealing “what is?” As I begin my road toward healing, it’s a subject I’ve been thinking about a lot lately.
I have tiny scars on my chin from blemishes. I don’t like them, so every morning I dig into my arsenal of beauty products — foundation, concealer, powder, and the like — to make them appear like tinier, lighter versions of what they are. This enables me to leave my house feeling a little less self-conscious.
The time I spend performing this ritual allows me to practice hiding my emotional scars as well. I take stock of how I’m feeling, rehearse my mask of calmness, and identify potential triggers that might set my heart reeling. It’s a routine I haven’t quite yet mastered. With relatively fresh wounds, it is difficult to maintain composure at times, especially in the face of cherub-like cheeks, rounded bellies, and all things that radiate motherhood. I am no Lady Gaga. Yes, you CAN read my poker face. I need more practice.
Last month as I was getting ready for an unavoidable family reunion and bracing myself for being around a pregnant relative, I wondered aloud to Hubs if it would just be easier to wear a little sign around my neck. It would be like a “Don’t Feed the Bears” sign, only mine would read, “Don’t ask me about [insert relative’s name here]’s pregnancy.” He shook his head sympathetically, laughed and said with his best southern-boy charm, “That ain’t right.” I agreed, and then offered to make him one too.
Joking aside, Hubs is correct. Indiscriminate expressions of hurt are not appropriate. Everyone has their own burdens, and our issues belong to us. We simply can’t expect everyone to sympathize with our plight. Not many people truly can. Selective concealment is a necessary evil.
This leads me to wonder how we can know when it is appropriate to reveal our emotional scars to the outside world. What yardstick is used to decide when we show them and to whom? How do we prepare ourselves for the reactions of those who just don’t “get it?” Do your scars protect you? Do they give you strength? Or do you no longer consider them as such?
Quasi-Momma is not quite a mom, but has always wanted to be. In her blog, Quasi-momma, she explores her struggles with pregnancy loss and facing childlessness while grappling with the ups and downs of step family life.
I think “FOR LEASE” are two of the saddest words of our time. When I saw the blinds drawn during business hours at our local butcher shop, my stomach flipped. When the sign appeared in the window a couple of weeks later, I fought tears as I stood outside on the sidewalk.
The owner is a young guy who grew up in this neighborhood. He set out to bring new life back to our community, to encourage new businesses to take a stake in the many vacant storefronts, to serve as a role model for independent, small businesses owners. He offered great products and personalized customer service with a dash of hope, and I loved supporting him.
I wish I could have done more. Now I wish I could bump into him because I have something to say, something I’ve been thinking about. My motivational speech would go something like this:
Joe, I know what it’s like to have a big dream, and I know how it feels to see that dream fail. You will figure it out. You will get through this. I have to believe that something better, something you haven’t even considered, is coming your way. I believe this experience will make you stronger, smarter, and more compassionate. I believe your life story will ultimately be one of success, a success of your own definition.
I haven’t run and lost a small business, but I did desperately want to be a mommy, and I lost my dream. With help from women like you who have shared your stories, your struggles, your inspirations, I am finding my way through the grief and into a new beginning. That’s experience I can pass on to Joe; this is one way I can pay it forward. Because the loss of a dream is a human experience, and whether we’re mommies or childfree women or downsized employees or neighborhood butchers, we can all relate to it and be supportive.
P.S. In grieving the loss of our wonderful butcher shop, I’ve thought more about how I can be a better neighbor, a better member of our community. I’ve decided that as one of my New Year’s resolutions, I will dedicate part of my groceries budget to support the local, independent shops. It will take more time and effort to run errands, but ultimately I think we all win. Consider how you might pay it forward in 2012 and share your ideas with us.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She takes issue with the idea that society still largely considers childfree women anomalies.
Even though I’m not yet even halfway through my planned life journey, I’m falling apart. Last week it was hot flashes; this week it’s a bad back. Not life threatening, but certainly life adjusting. And let me tell you, there’s nothing to make you feel more decrepit than being unable to lift your leg high enough to put on your underwear.
Luckily for me, my brother suffers from the same Achilles heel, so I was able to call him for sympathy. And now it’s Whiny Wednesday, so I can gripe to you too. I’m planning to be fully recovered and fit for dancing by the weekend (not that I plan to dance, but it would be nice to have the option) but in the meantime, all I have to say is, “Wah! Poor me!”
As it is WW, feel free to out-whine me. I dare you.