What about those who are childless by un-marriage?

When I heard that MelanieNotkin, author of Savvy Auntie, was about to publish a new book called Otherhood (Seal Press, 2014),  I rushed to buy a copy. I was sure this book about women who never had children because they never married would be fascinating. But the book let me down.
Otherhood started well, but I found it hard to identify with the women Notkin was writing about. Her study of unmarried childless women is pretty much limited to attractive, successful women in their 30s and 40s living in New York City. They go to clubs, date a lot, and meet at swanky places to complain about the guys they date. It’s very Sex and the City. I love that show, and I sympathize with Notkin and her fabulous friends, but she leaves a world of never-married people out of the story. Where are the women who are shy, fat, disabled, poor, uneducated, ugly, awkward, or living in small towns without a lot of eligible men? Where are the people who haven’t had a date in decades, if ever?
Notkin is childless and so are most of her friends. They talk about their options as they approach 40 and beyond. Some are freezing their eggs. Some are considering getting pregnant with donor eggs. They debate over whether they should have a child on their own. All of these options are so expensive most of us can’t afford them, especially without husbands to share the cost. With all the new ways to get pregnant, Notkin says she sometimes she feels guilty for not wanting to have a baby by herself. Is that becoming the new norm, single parenthood? The latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics show that in 40 percent of American births, the mothers are not married. So people are definitely having babies without husbands, but as Notkin notes, it’s not easy.
And then there are those who almost get married but break up over the having-kids issue. I get comments here all the time about couples who break up or are considering it because one of them is waffling about children. In fact, this morning I received a comment from a woman whose husband has left her because she can’t have children with him. I want to turn into my mother and shout “What’s wrong with these people?”
I’m alone now, but I have been married twice. I have known love and companionship and step-children. I really feel for those people who wanted the whole happy ending and never had a chance at it. And I am certain most of them are not living Sex-and-the-City lives drinking cosmopolitans with their girlfriends and complaining about the latest celebrity or Wall Street mogul they dated.
Otherhood is well-written and entertaining, but it only tells a small portion of the story. What do you think about this? I’d love to hear your thoughts on childlessness by way of never finding the right partner.

7 thoughts on “What about those who are childless by un-marriage?

  1. Sue, I had a very similar reaction to the book. It had its merits, but I couldn't help but be somewhat disappointed that she didn't go beyond her own frame of reference, when I felt that more was promised. You can read my review here:


    By the way, I can't seem to subscribe to your blog in a reader. But I recently had the brilliant idea to sign up for e-mail alerts, so now I won't miss any posts! 🙂


  2. Thanks, Loribeth. I'm glad I'm not alone in this. I hope other readers will check out your review, which goes into more depth than mine. We in the childless community need to stick together.
    Meanwhile, I'll look into that subscription thing and find out why you couldn't subscribe.
    Hugs, Sue


  3. That book reminds me of my cousin, who has always been adamant that she never wanted kids. I just had a baby via DE at age 45, and for years I went through the pain of childlessness, so I identify more with you than with Melanie Notkin or with my cousin – I consider them childFREE. They probably do, too.


  4. I am 37 and childless because I never found anyone to fall in love with. No one to marry. I have found that more and more women who are educated, strong, hard working and successful find it so hard to find someone who is a match to get married to. It’s sad to say, but I almost am jealous of the girls who used their youth and looks and got married or just knocked up with a rich man and had the financial security for herself and her child(ren) and then went on with the rest of her life carefree dating whomever she wanted.


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