Book Review: Baby Not on Board: A Celebration of Life without Kids

14 Mar

No I haven’t thrown in the towel just yet.  I decided to look at life a little differently and picked up a copy of Baby Not on Board: A Celebration of Life without Kids, by Jennifer L. Shawne.

While I am not on board with mocking the “breeders ” of  the world (as I am clearly a wannabe),  I do appreciate the author’s perspective on how living without kids can be fulfilling and enjoyable and does not have to be seen as a “lesser” way to live.  I picked up the book to look on the other side (and get away from “Poor Me!  Lucky them!”- thinking). Rather than my usual fixating on why the grass is greener for the mommies of the world, I wanted to appreciate the present with no babies on board and this book does just that.  As the book argues and I agree, there are plenty of reasons to stop the baby-envy and love your life just the way it is.

The book provides in great detail comparisons of life with kids and without kids with wit and humorous drawings.  In one of her best examples she walks through a Saturday with kids and one without.  It reminded me how much I love sleeping in (and sleep in general), uninterrupted romantic time, and having the options to go out at a moment’s notice (yeah for travel, dinner out, fitness classes, and spa time!).  Life is pretty low stress without the responsibilities and costs of parenting and I recognize that I often take it for granted.  Blessings counted? Check!

I was most interested in the last chapter “The Meaning of Life: Making the most of your tot-free days”.   The author writes “Many parents claim that having children gives them a purpose in life”, but for those of us without children, we need to be more creative.  This resonated with me.  I’ve definitely been searching for meaning lately.  Not having a baby has forced me to realize how much I was counting on motherhood to fulfill this unmet desire for meaning in my life.  So along with my miscarriages came an identity crisis that has forced me to re-evaluate my life path and search deeper.  Among the possible paths she suggests working for charity, adopting a child substitute (like a sickly pet), engaging in fulfilling hobbies, and being a cool aunt/uncle.  Check, check, check and check!  She lists some great role models for inspiration as well: Oprah, Julia Childs, Katheryn Hepburn, Georgia O;Keefe, Mother Theresa, Janet Reno, Ralph Nadar, Christopher Walken, Terry Gross and Dr. Seuss.

Now that I am relying a little less on motherhood to fulfill me, I’ve had to come up with other options.  My hope is that by delaying having children I can change course a bit and focus my energy on activities that will put me on a more fulfilling path.   Ideally we can have it all,  BOTH fulfilling lives AND children. 

Baby not on Board does its best to make the reader feel good about their situations and let go of their expectations and insecurities about not being parents.  Ultimately the takeaway for me was life without kids sucks, but it is also a gift.

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