Monday, November 22, 2010

Build a robot baby for Christmas?

Let's start off with an interesting news item. It seems this childless couple in the UK built themselves a robot they named AIMEC, and now they treat him (how do they know the gender?) as their son. He's brilliant, funny, musical, and helpful around the house, they say. Maybe they'll even make him a baby brother.

Before you jet off to read the article at, be forewarned that you'll be greeted with an annoying barrage of pop-up ads. But it is a fun story. And ladies, if your husband doesn't want an actual child, maybe he'd go for this. Most guys like gadgets.

But seriously, Thanksgiving is this week. Right away, our holidays don't look like the ones we see on TV because we don't have children and grandchildren to gather around the table eating turkey and pumpkin pie. Unlike parents, our plans don't revolve around our kids. That gives us some freedom to choose what we want to do, but it also may spark feelings of sadness and loss.

I'll be spending Thanksgiving with my dad at my aunt's house. My brother is coming, and I'll see some cousins I haven't seen for a while. But I'll be the one flying solo, the one whose life bears no resemblance to everyone else's.

What can we do? I suggest we all spend just a little while thinking about what we don't have and a lot of time feeling grateful for what we do have. One of my friends at church, for example, is in a wheelchair. She can't walk, she weighs over 300 pounds, her husband died recently, and she has no money and no way to earn any. Compared to her situation, I am blessed in so many ways.

Let's count our blessings, folks. It could be worse.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Are you a childless stepparent?

How many of you are childless stepmothers? Me, too. My husband came with three children. That led to two step-grandchildren. Now there's a step-great-granddaughter, but I'm way too young for that.

We do not have a warm and fuzzy relationship. In fact, now that they're adults, we don't have much of a relationship at all. But at least when we do cross paths, we hug and say nice things, unlike some other steps.

I have been reading postings at the Childless Stepmoms forum. If you're looking for company, you might want to check it out. Be forewarned: What I see there most is a lot of anger. The childless stepmoms often seem to be at war with the biological mothers and with the teenage kids. The younger children are usually all right, but there are constant battles over child support, visitation, discipline and other issues that come from sharing children. It's a good place to vent with friends who know what you're talking about.

In contrast, blogger and artist Tiffany Lee Brown writes about the joy she has found in step-parenting. Once a childless stepmom, too, she recently became a mother herself. She says her great relationship with her stepdaughter made her want to have kids of her own. Read her blog at

What is your experience with step-parenting? Do you think it's harder because you don't have children of your own? (I do.) I'd love to hear what you have to say.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Are you a family without kids?

Well, we survived Halloween, when the world is filled with little kids in costumes and a few adults who feel the need to dress up. I stopped in Corvallis that weekend and found myself in the midst of a chamber of commerce event that filled the streets with costumed children and harried parents. I saw spidermen, Lady Gagas, princesses, dogs, a ninja turtle, and more. Part of me was glad I didn't have to deal with the whole thing, but part of me wished I had a little one to dress up and take around the neighborhood.

Our church had a Halloween party that night. The flyers promoted it as a "family" event. I knew from past experience that "family" is code for "kids." All of the activities and refreshments would be designed for people under the age of 12. So I stayed home.

Have you noticed that everything advertised for families is actually geared to people with children? A childless couple apparently is not a complete family. It grates on me sometimes, especially now that I'm a party of one (husband with Alzheimer's in a nursing home, if you haven't been keeping up.)

How many people live in a standard two adult-two kid unit anymore? If they do have children, eventually those children will grow up. The word "family" should include all different configurations of people who love each other, even if none of them are children.

Now we just have to get through Thanksgiving and Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate those holidays, the media has already begun to bombard us with images of happy families that always include children. Look around, folks. We don't all have kids.

How are you dealing with the holidays this year? Are there certain occasions that are especially hard? Do you have advice for those who grieve this time of year?

Monday, November 1, 2010

How about a little fun?

We mope a lot around here about the kids we don't have. The attitude is totally different at a lot of childfree sites. They celebrate their freedom. Although we may wish with all our hearts that we had children, I think it's important to recognize that being childless does have its blessings, at least in the years when our kids would have needed constant care. It's the whole glass half empty/glass half full conundrum.

Anyway, have you ever heard of Breeder Bingo? I found it at the Happily Childfree site. It's like regular bingo, except the squares are filled with the stupid things the unaware say to people who don't have children. Whenever you hear one, fill in a square. When you fill up a row, holler Bingo!" It's brilliant. Find your bingo card and rules at