If Not a Mother, What Will You Be?

Book Review

Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen by Lisa Manterfield. Redondo Beach, CA: Steel Rose Press, 2016.

It looks like you’re never going to be a mother. So now what? That’s the main focus of this book by Lisa Manterfield, the founder of the Life Without Baby online community. Although it is addressed to women and leans toward those with fertility problems rather than partners who don’t want kids, most of the wonderful advice in this book applies to all of us.

Step by Step, Manterfield takes us through the process of learning to live with our childlessness. In the opening chapter, “Letting Go of the Dream of Motherhood,” she helps the reader figure out when it’s time to stop trying and move on. She offers rituals to help us mark the end of our quest to have children. She goes on with chapters on dealing with the loss and the grief.

Other chapters cover finding support, aging without children, and envisioning new possibilities for our lives. She also gives practical advice for dealing with those difficult situations we all face: the people who want to know how many kids we have, the ones who claim we’re lucky to be childfree, and the ones who offer unwanted advice or thoughtless jabs that hurt us to the core. She helps us get through the holidays, including the dreaded Mother’s Day, and other situations that put us in tears years after we think we’ve gotten over our pain.

One of the points that really stuck with me was her emphasis that not having children does not mean we are broken or failures. We don’t have to make ourselves crazy trying to compensate for our lack of children. I have done that. Have you?

In each chapter, Manterfield offers exercises for readers to help figure out what to do next, along with tales from her own life that prove that she has the same struggles as the rest of us. This is a very comforting and helpful book for women trying to move past the overwhelming panic and grief that comes with realizing you might never have children. I wish I had had a book like this when I was 40 and struggling with the reality of my situation. I highly recommend it. And do visit the Life Without Baby site. But keep coming back here, too.

Thanks to Lisa for guest-blogging here last month. Let’s keep in touch.

So, read the book. Chin up, we’ll all get through this. Keep up the comments. I’m encouraged by the community we’re building here.

Immediate help for childless holiday survival

Holidays making you nuts? You can survive. You will survive. Here are some things that might make it easier.

Life Without Baby: Holiday Companion. Lisa Manterfield and Kathleen Guthrie Woods, who write the Life Without Baby blog, have compiled their favorite holiday blog posts  into one 57-page e-book that just might help you get through these crazy days. Family traditions getting you down? Is it kids, kids, kids everywhere you turn? Tired of people asking when you’re going to have children? This little e-book offers advice for all those situations and more. Plus it’s fun to read. You can download it right now and be reading it just in time to face Christmas with a more positive outlook.

Watch a movie! Television being full of sappy specials these days, I’ve been using my Netflix movie subscription to the max. Last night I watched “The Last Ride,” which is a fictionalized story about country music star Hank Williams. So good. Not a baby or pregnant woman to be seen. Earlier this week, I watched “Great Gatsby” with Leonardo DiCaprio. Wonderful and also childfree. You could rent this version and the older one with Robert Redford and spend almost five hours in no-baby bliss. Another excellent movie is “Now is Good,” which is about a young woman who is trying to pack everything into her life before she dies of a fatal illness. No babies, and it’s very upbeat despite the subject matter.

If you’re into monsters, suspense, fantasy or romance, I’m sure there’s a movie out there for you. Go to the theater or stay home and watch it on your DVD player or Internet-connected device and forget all about your troubles.

Can you suggest some other great distractions?

Read my guest post at Life Without Baby

Dear friends,
Lisa at the Life Without Baby blog was kind enough to display my guest post “That He Would Do This for Her” today, Friday, March 23. I think you will relate and enjoy many of the posts at that site. Lisa Manterfield is the author of a fine book, I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home,which I have discussed here before. Her circumstances are a little different, but we have a lot in common. In addition to her own posts, she invites other writers to join the discussion.

I have been informed that people are having trouble subscribing to my Childless by Marriage blog. Try clicking “follow” and then “posts” and use the Google interface. It seems the most user-friendly. Please let me know if this doesn’t work. I’m thinking about moving to a different blog host and this would be a good reason to do it. I don’t want to lose any of you.

My book is coming soon. A childless friend told me yesterday that my books are my babies. She may be right. What do you think? Are some of us destined to produce things other than human children?

Manterfield really understands childlessness

Here’s a book you might want to read.

I’m Taking My Eggs and Going Home by Lisa Manterfield, Steel Rose Press, 2010. This is a memoir that includes all phases of childlessness. Manterfield’s first husband did not want to have children. She was still hoping he’d change his mind when their marriage broke up.

Then she met Jose, who was older, already had children and had had a vasectomy, but he was willing to do whatever it took to have a baby with Lisa, including having surgery to reverse the vasectomy. Surgery complete, Lisa and Jose set about trying to make a baby. They had names picked out and all kinds of plans for little Sophia or Valentino, but she didn’t get pregnant. Ultimately, Lisa had to accept that she might never be a mother and that maybe life without children could be all right.

Wherever you’re at on the childless spectrum, I suspect you will identify with this book. It is well-written, well-researched and suspenseful enough to hold the reader from beginning to end. It’s a welcome addition to the literature of childlessness.

There’s more. Manterfield blogs at LifeWithoutBaby.wordpress.com. She also has a fantastic video on her childless experience at http://lisamanterfield.com. It will make you smile and feel less alone.