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Nobody's Mother: Life Without Kids Paperback – Nov 22 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: TouchWood Editions (Jan. 1 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1894898400
  • ISBN-13: 978-1894898409
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.5 x 19.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #260,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

Review

A contemplative and frank look at what it means never to bear children. A valuable read for those who have borne children, not just for those who haven't.—Washington Post

(2006-11-01)

About the Author

Lynne Van Luven is an associate professor in the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria, where she teaches journalism and creative non-fiction. Her writing has appeared in numerous publications across Canada. She has edited four previous anthologies, including Nobody’s Mother: Life Without Kids, Nobody’s Father: Life Without Kids, and Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption. Lynne lives in Victoria, BC.

Please visit finearts.uvic.ca/lynnevanluven.


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Format: Paperback
XXXXX

Consider the following questions:

(1) Have childless women missed out on one of the greatest experiences a women can have?
(2) Are mothers happier than childless women?
(3) Are mothers more fulfilled than childless women?
(4) Does being a mother make a women more "complete?"
(5) What are childless woman REALLY up to?
(6) What do childless women do with all the time they have not raising children?
(7) Are childless couples really DINKS (double income, no kids)?

These are just some of the questions answered in this enlightening, provocative, and sometimes humorous book, an anthology of brief essays (the last essay is actually a poem). The editor of this surprisingly frank book explains:

"[These] personal essays written by Canadian and American women...range in age from their early 30s to [their] mid-70s. Not all of the 21 contributors are professional writers--some are teachers, researchers, Aboriginal-rights activists, and world travelers--although almost all of them rely upon language and the written word in their work...This collection of personal essays examines the child-bearing choice intelligently and honestly, from [the] individual contributors' points of view; the essayists are your neighbors, your sisters, your colleagues, and your friends."

The women who contributed to this book can generally be put into three groups:

(1) those that are child-free intentionally
(2) those that are child-free by circumstances
(3) those that are child-free due to some twist of fate

Did I read some essays where there was some regret expressed about not having children? Yes.
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Format: Paperback
This is a great book! It really touches on all of the questions and comments that child-less woman get on a daily basis. It is humourous at times, and very realistic. Highly recommend it for any woman who does not have children.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9d348ee8) out of 5 stars 6 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d09a354) out of 5 stars Nobody's mother but definitely not a...nobody!!! April 26 2007
By STEPHEN PLETKO - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
XXXXX

Consider the following questions:

(1) Have childless women missed out on one of the greatest experiences a women can have?

(2) Are mothers happier than childless women?

(3) Are mothers more fulfilled than childless women?

(4) Does being a mother make a women more "complete?"

(5) What are childless woman REALLY up to?

(6) What do childless women do with all the time they have not raising children?

(7) Are childless couples really DI-NKS (double income, no kids)?

These are just some of the questions answered in this enlightening, provocative, and sometimes humorous book, an anthology of brief essays (the last essay is actually a poem). The editor of this surprisingly frank book explains:

"[These] personal essays written by Canadian and American women...range in age from their early 30s to [their] mid-70s. Not all of the 21 contributors are professional writers--some are teachers, researchers, Aboriginal-rights activists, and world travelers--although almost all of them rely upon language and the written word in their work...This collection of personal essays examines the child-bearing choice intelligently and honestly, from [the] individual contributors' points of view; the essayists are your neighbors, your sisters, your colleagues, and your friends."

The women who contributed to this book can generally be put into three groups:

(1) those that are child-free intentionally

(2) those that are child-free by circumstances

(3) those that are child-free due to some twist of fate

Did I read some essays where there was some regret expressed about not having children? Yes. It seemed to me that this regret was more of a "comparison regret" or a "conformity regret" where the childless woman compared herself to usually her siblings and friends who were having children. This regret didn't seem to last long. I did notice that all contributors did have one thing in common: an overwhelming contentment with their lives.

Each essay ends with a brief description of a particular essayist's life. Here is an example:

"Lorna Crozier has taught at the University of Victoria [in British Columbia, Canada] since 1991. She has published 12 books of poetry...Her books have received [many awards]. She has also published non-fiction in various anthologies and has edited several collections of essays. Her poems have been translated into several languages and she has read her work from one end of the world to another. Her love for animals, especially cats, is boundless."

Finally, my only minor quibble with the book is with the above brief descriptions. I think they would have been more effective at the beginning of each essay so the reader could become acquainted with the female writer from the onset. (When I came to a particular essay, I flipped to its end to read about its writer then I read the essay proper.)

In conclusion, it's about time we had a book like this that deals directly with a controversial issue. Many of the contributors to this book have written books. Thus, I'd like to leave you with this quotation by Virginia Woolf:

"The world might perhaps be considerably poorer if the great writers had exchanged their books for children of flesh and blood."

As well, here is an interesting quotation from comedian Rita Rudner:

"My husband and I are either going to buy a dog or have a child. We can't decide whether to ruin our rugs or ruin our lives."

(first published 2006; forward; introduction; 21 essays; main narrative 225 pages; acknowledgements)

XXXXX
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d09a270) out of 5 stars Life Without Kids Sept. 9 2008
By Story Circle Book Reviews - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
We celebrate the births of babies and ask our friends how their children are. If we have friends without children, we don't usually broach the subject of their childlessness. It seems too personal a question to ask someone. Did they ever want to have children or did they make a conscious decision not to? Nobody's Mother offers a variety of frank answers to such questions. You just may receive the inspiration to raise the sensitive subject.

According to the contributors to this collection of personal essays, many women choose not to bear children because they feel they can accomplish more in the world without them. In fact, statistics reveal that one in 10 women is choosing not to bear children. Some of the contributors became mothers by becoming stepmothers. Broadcaster Shelagh Rogers, who wrote the foreword, wanted a child when she married but her husband already had three. She was frustrated and hurt not to be able to plan for a child of their own.

The essays in the collection are by Canadian and American women who range in age from their early 30s to mid-70s. Many are writers. Others are teachers, researchers, Aboriginal-rights activists and world travelers. The women have used a variety of styles to tell their stories which is a testament to their own unique lives. As the editor points out about the women, "not one of them is a nobody simply because she is 'nobody's mother.'"

Although some of the women realize the timing and circumstances just weren't right for a child, there is the sense of something missing, no matter how many others' children they may be close to. In some cases, their relationship or memories of their own upbringing affected their choices. Mary Jane Copps, who lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, changed her mind and changed it again so that "many of my choices have contributed to my being childless. I live with this as regret and blessing both, a point of chaos within my ordered life." She reveals that she has always been afraid of becoming her mother. "No positive reinforcement" is one of the reasons Laurel Bernard of Victoria, B.C. gives for not having children. She writes a funny essay about being eccentric, along with her husband John: they don't have children because they are children, she says.

Zoologist and science writer Nancy Baron had surgery to unblock a Fallopian tube but never did get pregnant. Her husband felt he was "running out of time" to become a father and separated from her. Baron found a new love, her soulmate, who also didn't have children and they both share that regret. She's the writer who comes closest to describing the anquish of infertility.

Poet Lorna Crozier found when she looked in Roget's Thesaurus that the synonyms for "childless" are "about as negative as you can get." For instance, "acarpous," from the Greek, means "bearing no fruit, sterile." Crozier considered having a baby while in her mid-30s, with a man who had five already. She wonders if Patrick's refusal to have more children was one of the unconscious reasons she chose him. It is such raw honesty that makes this collection so special.

Sometimes Lorna Crozier imagines the child who might have been. In a poem she wrote in her late 30s (she's now in her late 50s), she imagines a ghostly daughter dancing in a white dress saying "good night, little mother." Her essay is a beautifully poignant one about gratitude threaded through with longing. That poignancy makes it my favourite essay in the collection--but I have to confess, I'm already a fan of Lorna Crozier's poetry.

Katherine Gordon has no interest in becoming a mother. There's no sentimentality whatever in her essay, which makes it totally refreshing. This is one writer who appears to have no regrets and doesn't "want to be held hostage to parenthood."

Sadhna Datta is of East Indian origin and as a single woman without children is something of an oddity in her community. She believes that mothering should be performed by everyone, regardless of gender. As a lesbian, Sarah Leavitt could have chosen a donor to become pregnant. She believes, though, that love and energy should be given to children who already exist on the planet.

Maggie de Vries had an abortion as a young woman but assumed that she would give birth to children later on. Her husband didn't want children, so as in many cases, she accommodated herself to her situation. The women learn to count the blessings they have--the freedom that comes without children, as de Vries describes it.

Although there are stepmothers in the book, there are no adoptive mothers. Adopting. I suppose, is a conscious decision to become a mother. That's the category I fall into--a very fortunate mother of two adopted children.

by Mary Ann Moore
for Story Circle Book Reviews
reviewing books by, for, and about women
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9ccb7240) out of 5 stars Straight from the Heart Nov. 2 2007
By Susan F. Lick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This Canadian anthology by various childless women is fabulous. Excellent writing, honesty and freshness set this book apart from the many other tomes on childlessness and make it not just a one-subject collection but an outstanding work of creative nonfiction. The writers have come to be childless in various ways, and they have really thought about what it means to never have children. What I like most is that there is no disapproval of others' choices, no dismissing mothers as "breeders" or childless women as "selfish." In fact, many of the women love children and have found that their childless state allows them to spread their mothering wherever it is needed. Highly recommended.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9e144b28) out of 5 stars Decent collection July 24 2007
By Bette - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is a collection of mostly Canadian writers. I was disappointed in that enough of the essays included were from women who COULD NOT have children, rather than CHOSE NOT TO. Perhaps the latter would have become too much of an angry feminist manifesto of sorts. Still, worth a read, especially Sarah Leavitt's frustrated look at how people have children for all the wrong reasons. Another interesting piece was by a woman who didn't know she was barren, and her husband's disgraceful reactions when they found out. Apparently the jerk married her just for her ovaries.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9d28a5f4) out of 5 stars Fruitful Examination of Not Having Kids Nov. 7 2007
By J. Aragon - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I wasn't sure what to expect w/ this book. It fell out of the shelf at the university library, when I was placing another book beside it. This seemed serendiptious, so I checked it out. Disclaimer: I have two children myself and probably wouldn't have bought the book or looked for it.

I found the book thoughtful, funny, and a little heartbreaking at times. The writing was honest, provocative, and thankfully unapologetic, which I appreciated most. These women were not bending themselves over backwards for forgetting to have children. A good number of them just didn't want to have kids.

It's ironic that for a culture (Western culture) that argues so vociferously for children doesn't understand that having kids is a choice and that not everyone should have children.

I hope that this book will be like the _Dropped Threads_ series and that a companion piece or two will be published. The audience for this book is wide--general or lay audience and undergraduate english, literature, sociology, anthropology and women's studies.


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