Friday, December 26, 2008

On our own and free

I expected to spend Christmas curled up crying because we had no family around, just the pups, but it was surprisingly enjoyable. At one point, all of the stepchildren claimed they were coming to spend the holiday with us, but Gretchen and Ted couldn't get the time off or the money to pay for the trip, and Michael was snowed in. Due to my husband's illness, we couldn't go south to California to visit the family. Sad? I thought it would be, but it was great. Not that we don't love and miss the family. We did talk to them on the phone, but we were freed of the usual Christmas obligations. We got up late, opened our gifts slowly, then went out to eat at a fancy restaurant. Our table overlooked the ocean, and it felt very romantic. Plus I didn't have to cook or wash dishes. Later we played with our Christmas presents, just like we used to do when we were kids and had no obligations.

Friends braved snow and ice to get to their kids and grandkids. They spent a fortune on gifts and worried about getting it all done. It we had children, we would have done likewise. Like my friends, nothing would have kept me away from my offspring. But we put everything in the mail early and relaxed.

I noticed a lot of people with white hair at the restaurant. I guess by not having kids around, we jumped a generation to do what seniors do. It's not so bad.

The only negative: One of the dogs' collars lay in the grass, chewed in half,when we got home. Where is the other half? Did his sister eat it? I looked for an hour and didn't find it. It's a lot like leaving toddlers at home alone. So today we're buying Chico a new collar and a spare for Annie. Meanwhile both dogs are running around naked. From everything I hear about small children, there isn't much difference between them and puppies, except you can't leave kids out in the back yard with bowls of Puppy Chow.

However you spent your holidays, I hope they were peaceful and full of blessings. If you are grieving over a lack of children, try to live in the moment and enjoy the good things you do have. What is, is. I wish you a fun New Year's holiday and a happy 2009.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Can you talk about it?

Tiffany Lee Brown wrote a great article for Oregon Humanities about how her friends and relatives don't seem to want to talk about childlessness. It stops a conversation cold. Meanwhile, they flaunt their babies and children and grandchildren without realizing that it's hard for people who can't have kids to be around them. This is a great piece which you may identify with, especially at this time of year. Try for more information on how to find a copy.

While we're on the subject of writing about childlessness, I'm currently reading What, No Baby? by Australian author Leslie Cannold. I'll give a fuller report when I'm finished, but this is a good look at women who are childless by circumstance. They grew up thinking they would have children, but ran out of time, picked a man who didn't want children or couldn't figure out how to combine babies with their careers. It's a bit on the scholarly side, footnotes and such, but it's a very good study of exactly the kind of women I'm writing about. We are not infertile and we are not exactly childless by choice. It just happened. For some, it's a tragedy, while for others, it turns out to be a relief. Ask for a Christmas gift certificate to buy a copy.

Enjoy the holidays. No matter what your situation, there's surely something to be glad about. Don't worry about what might be or might have been; just enjoy what is.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Tidbits for the Christmas stocking

The holidays can be tough for folks dealing with childlessness. We're surrounded by advertising showing happy families with lots of kids around the Christmas tree and all the great gifts we can buy them. Other people's children are putting on their Christmas pageants and making little gifts. I suppose they're using computers instead of construction paper and paste these days, but I don't have kids, so I don't know. Anyway, I found a couple things online I thought you might enjoy.

On the serious side, Carol Caldwell offers thoughts about being childless in a church full of moms at her blog, No, I Did Not Forget to Have Children. She has some good ideas for coping during the holiday season and throughout the year.

And for fun, one of my childless friends, Tiffany, is offering gift certificates for the tarot readings she gives as Miss Magdalen. Says Tiff, "A number of my tarot clients are specifically dealing with biological clock, baby, and infertility issues. Wouldn't you or one of your loved ones simply adore getting a genuine, proper Tarot reading as a holiday gift? Why yes, you would! My psychic powers predict it. Readings may be redeemed in person or over the phone.

"I've been reading Tarot for nearly two decades and I'm now applying my spooky powers toward fundraising purposes. all proceeds benefit the non-profit arts and literary organization 2GQ -- specifically, computer related expenses -- and my work-in-progress, The Easter Island Project -- specifically, expenses for related travels to San Francisco, Seattle, and of course, Easter Island, Chile, in the South Pacific.
Please see for more info & to purchase your gift certificate. Let the mystical mayhem begin!"

So, hey, if you're wondering whether the future holds the pitter-patter of tiny feet or puppy paws, check it out.

Christmas is two weeks away. Enjoy all the good stuff and let the rest go.


Friday, December 5, 2008

I Didn't Know How

My stepdaughter Gretchen took offense at recent postings referring to her. She was hurt that I didn't use her name, although I was simply trying to protect her from embarrassment. Then she went on a rant about how I wasn't involved enough with her and her children, especially when the kids were young. She talked about how her own mother took the kids home with her for long periods and spent lots of time with them. When I explained that her father was an obstacle to me being a hands-on mom/grandma, that her mother had first dibs, and that the kids were often with their own father, she said I could have worked around all that. As I pondered this, my own feelings greatly hurt, I began to realize that perhaps I didn't become one of those huggy grandma types because I didn't know how to interact with kids. Not only have I never had my own, but I haven't had much opportunity to be around children. Mine has always been an all-adult life. Dogs, I get. Children, not so much. So if I didn't charge in and create a close relationship, I'm sorry. I thought I did pretty well, considering. I do know this; parenting is tough, and step-parenting is even harder.
One of my missions in this blog and my other writing is to make people understand that women who don't have children miss a lot in life, including learning how to take care of them. Sorry, Gretchen.

A while back, I talked about men's views of childlessness. I just finished reading a book called Nobody's Father: Life Without Kids, an anthology edited by Canadians Lynne Van Luven and Bruce Gillespie. It's a good book. I can recommend it, although I'm not sure it gets to the heart of why so many men don't want to have children. Among those writing here, quite a few are gay or were in marriages where they couldn't conceive or carry a baby to term. Only a few say they just didn't want to have kids. Men don't seem to talk about these things with the same emotion that women do. The general view is, "I didn't have kids because of X. Next subject."

There, now I have probably offended Gretchen and any men that might be reading this blog.