Today I’m yielding my platform to Jody Day of Gateway Women who on her 50th birthday has published a marvelous post titled “Things I Wish I’d Known at 40.” She offers the truth about fertility, menopause, grief, relationships, society’s views of childless women, and the joys of life beyond the childless dream.
Lines I love in this post include:
“Freed from chasing the dream (and fantasy) of motherhood, you begin to realise old dreams and create new ones.”
“The life you’re going to create instead of motherhood is going to be richer and more fulfilling than you can yet imagine, and in ways you cannot yet imagine.”
Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women, is also the author of Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children, a great book about dealing with childlessness.
I can think of a lot of things I wish I had known when I was 40. Foremost would be realizing how short and precious life is and how important it is not to waste any of it moping about things that aren’t going to change.
What about you? If you’re past 40, what do you wish you had known before? What advice would you give to our younger readers. I welcome your comments.
11 thoughts on “Over-40 wisdom for childless women”
Hi Sue! I enjoyed reading that article. Lots of valid points. One thing that stood out: she says “Being single turns out to suit you much better than you expect…” I'm sure she doesn't assume all women who are childless at 50 are *single,* but I felt that point could be better communicated on her part. It truly is freeing to my soul to speak openly on such a taboo subject, even if it's via the anonymity of the Internet.While I do appreciate that she runs a business, I noticed her website is approx $100/yr USD, which is a little expensive IMO. Some women who truly need to emote or rant or vent or find kindred fellowship, etc may not even bother to sign up because of that price tag, which I find sad. I'm so glad you pointed this article out!I may think of other tips, but one thing “I wish I'd known at 40” would be that even when I do begin to share the reasons behind why I am still childless with friends and family, they will still do stupid things, so don't expect them to ever get their minds around what you are going through. It's just head knowledge to them; they have no personal experience to connect with it.I had a miscarriage last September. In December, my usually sweet mother decided it was time to give me my old crib for use when my granddaughter-by-marriage visits my home. GD was born in January. Can I just say every time I look at this crib it reminds me that I don't have a baby? Also, it reminds me that my mom waited for decades for me to have a baby and I must have let her down, or why else would she have stored my old crib for so many years? I don't need those reminders, so I plan on selling the crib to an antique shop.Even knowing all my infertility drama, trauma and backstory, my usually sweet Mom still doesn't get it. The lesson is: don't expect them to. Prepare your heart and mind for such occasions, and choose to love the person anyway. They honestly don't understand. Choose ahead of time to not pick up an offense or throw up a wall when someone who doesn't get it crosses a line.As I'm typing this, it occurred to me that someone needs to write a short book for pastors to guide them in counseling childless by circumstance women. One time I had a pastor leading a Bible study who said the way God punished His kids was barrenness. That would be one example of what *not* to say. After class, I told him he was out of line to imply that today if a person is childless that God is punishing them. He apologized for his words, but . . . seriously? This is coming from someone who is supposed to be a shepherd. Thank God my faith is too strong to be sent wavering back and forth by flakes like that!
Thanks for your comments. You make a lot of good points. As for your pastor, yikes. I suppose if you're taking the Bible literally, you might see it that way, but things have changed and he needs to be more sensitive to the feelings of his flock.
And yes, people who haven't lived it don't get it. I think it's a good idea to sell that crib. You don't need the pain, and you can find other accommodations for the grandchild by marriage.
Have a great day!
I was a member of the Gateway Women forum back in its (free) Google+ community days and it was quite valuable for me at the time. But it got too large for me to keep up with all the various threads, and I just couldn't justify the $100 yearly price tag once it switched to the new platform. Sad about that, as I really don't see why a private forum needs to cost so much when there are so many women who could use the support today…
Sockii,I didn't even realize there was a fee at Gateway Women until people told me about it here. That is a drag. I can see it for specific workshops and get-togethers but not just to support each other online. But I have to say Jody does offer some great stuff, and I still love her over-40 wisdom article.
Agreed. I still read and enjoy Jody's posts on her blog. I just can't spend the money to be part of the community any longer, which is sad.By the way, I have finished your book and want to thank you so much for writing it. It only took me a while to finish because some parts were so painful and hit so close to home, I had to take it in bits and pieces. But thank you for giving a voice to those of us who had to face the choice of true love versus (possible) children. It's given me a lot to think about and the realization that there are many of us out here.
Thank you so much for your kind words about my book, and thanks for sticking with it. I know there are lots of us who have similar stories. I wrote the book because somebody had to tell what it's really like.
I bought your book and then started following your blog when I was childless. I had gotten married at age 43 for the first time b/c my husband wanted to wait. So I figured I was childless by marriage, in a way. In the meantime, we had a beautiful baby girl via egg donor. I was 45 and I am now 46. What I wish that I had been emotionally prepared for is people who continue to judge me, first for being childless, and now for being an older mother. It pisses me off.
Anonymous, congratulations on the marriage and the baby. Enjoy them both and try not to let the judgers get to you. Maybe they're just jealous.
I just discovered your blog today, and have read many of your previous posts. Born in the mid-60s, I am also childless by marriage. But most unfortunately, my spouse not only changed his mind about having children, 15 years later, he changed his mind about our marriage, when another opportunity presented itself. In contrast, I had begun choosing my child's name before I learned the times-tables, but still supported his decision on remaining childless, with happy thoughts of traveling as a couple in our later years. At age 40, all was rather shockingly washed away. Although a few years have passed, post-divorce I sometimes struggle with never having had the chance to be a mother. I am glad to have found your blog as a resource for “you are not alone”. Thank you for your work.
Thank you for your kind words, Susan. I am not happy with your spouse. In fact, can I come beat him up for what he did to you? I'm sorry this happened to you. It will get easier with time, but . . . rats.
Well, if you must … 😉