What will you do with your one childless life?

Red candle, white flame, black background--signifying our dreams

“The happy ending doesn’t have to be a child; the happy ending can be something else for you.”

These powerful words came from Lana Walker, one of the panelists at a World Childless Week webinar titled “Accepting the New Me; the Childless Me I never Imagined.” (watch it here). All five women dealt with infertility. As I discussed last week there’s a difference between being childless by marriage and childless by infertility. But the result is the same. We don’t have children.

Walker, who reinvented herself as a massage therapist, is still grieving her loss. In fact, she thought she could not offer massages to pregnant women because it would be too upsetting, but now she specializes in massages for pregnant women. It’s a way to offer care and love to them, she says. While childlessness is rough, she notes that her lack of children has given her the gift of space, time, and energy to do other things. “Grieve, then let it go to make space for the other things you can do,” she says.

The others agreed that not having children opens up other possibilities. Lucy North, married with two cats and a dog, followed her desire to live on the coast and become an artist. One of her specialties is greeting cards and affirmation cards for childless people.

Kat Brown is an author, journalist and book editor. She has a book about childless women coming out in 2024 titled “No One Talks about This Stuff.” It has been a great help to talk about her experiences with others, she says. She sometimes uses the clueless questions people ask her as teachable moments to explain what it’s like to be childless and hopefully help them to be more understanding. Childlessness is just one facet of us, she stresses.

Victoria Firth works in the arts and theater and created a show about her childless journey. Being single and childless gave her time to care for her mother at the end of her life and to follow her creativity where it led.

Stephanie Joy Philips turned her energy to organizing World Childless Week to bring together people like herself.

At the beginning of the session, Philips lit a candle. She asked each panelist to describe her life as the mother she might have been. Then she blew the candle out. “That dream is gone,” she said. At the end of the session, she re-lit the candle. “Our first dream went out, but it doesn’t mean we can’t have new dreams.”

Powerful words. My friends, if you had a dream of motherhood or fatherhood, what new dreams will you have? Your life is yours. What will you do with it?

Photo by George Becker on Pexels.com

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9 thoughts on “What will you do with your one childless life?

  1. My childless life. There is power in the choice of how we describe ourselves and others. A fat woman might prefer to think of herself as a woman who carries weight. A disabled man might say, “I am a man with a disability.” We don’t want the world to see and initially judge us for the negative in our life.

    In some cases the disability is always secondary. No one ever says, “Bring this to the table where the cancer woman is sitting.” When you don’t see the disability, you don’t say it. And even when you learn it, you still see the woman or man first. You might admire or pity them, but you see THEM.

    Other times the affliction is a sort of “excuse”. People often say, “Karen’s autistic child will be there.” This is sort of a “warning” so that we can be prepared for what we suspect will be “odd” or difficult behavior. In this case, we’re seeing the actions first. That is what affects us. That descriptive word has value. It might call us to be more patient or less judgmental. But that can change. A child who spends her life dealing with her struggles might, as an adult, wish to be seen as a “woman with autisim” and not written off as “an autistic woman.”

    Sometimes people use descriptive words to overshadow their being. “Now, there is a beautiful black man!” For some they view race as a struggle, a source of pride, a profound challenge so that is what they want to identify with most. Because it has shaped them culturally on a level that others might not understand.

    Do you see fat, autism, black or childless as a negative? Then don’t call us that. Do you see those same words as stepping stones to strength? Then yes, call me those things in celebration. But these words are subjective. How we view OURSELVES is how we move forward.

    For a long time I was just a woman. Basic, white, middle class. With flaws and talents, both of which I kept hidden. Just a woman. Leave me alone. Then I was a woman who didn’t (yet) have children, and that consumed me because so many people in my world were obsessed with children. Then, quietly, I turned into a childless woman. And that shamed me.

    And yes, for a time, I reveled in that word. Poor me, I’m childless. I don’t have what you have. Then I switched gears and swelled with pride as I called myself childless. Look at me – “I LOVE grocery shopping” – said to the woman who has to drag all three of her children to the store. With coupons.

    I’m finding, as I age, that I have some work to do if I want to live my best life. I can accept many things about myself.

    I would not describe myself as a pretty woman or an ugly woman. I am simple a woman who can still look nice when I need to.

    I would not say that I am talented woman, I am just a woman who is good at a handful of things.

    I would not say that I am a meticulous woman because I’m sort of fussy but also sometimes a slob. So I will say that I am just a woman.

    I would not call myself a fat, curvy or plump woman. I’m just a woman with a thyroid issue.

    I would not call myself a boring woman. I’m just a woman who likes books more than parties.

    But “childless” is a word that still has weight to me. I’m having trouble moving past this one descriptive word. I really just want to be a woman who doesn’t have children.

    A woman.


  2. Hi, Sue, that’s the thing. I don’t know what I’m going to do for the rest of my life and I definitely don’t want to feel that because I didn’t have children I have to make up for it by doing something out of the ordinary (excel at career, living a life of adventure, or whatever circumstances that are most times out of reach or sometimes depend on chance, childless or not childless). The problem is that I do feel that way sometimes (but less than I used to). I try to enjoy life with my partner, my dog and cats, and doing activities that give me pleasure and most of the time I’m pretty content. What really scares me is old age/ not being able to be by myself anymore (even though I try to remember that people mostly delude themselves that their children will take care of them, most times they end up in care homes even faster than the childless).


    • Hi Laura, thank you for sharing this. I agree that old age with or without kids is scary. We do sometimes feel the need to do something extra-special to make up for our lack of children, but really just living a good life is enough.


    • I feel that way too Laura. I have a modest small business and it gives me a lot of satisfaction and pride. It connects me to peers and I’ve made wonderful friends because of it. BUT I always compare myself to those with children. Especially other business owners with children. I find myself to be ashamed for how little I do compared to others. I have absolute freedom to do whatever I want, and I pick . . . this?

      I too worry about life without my husband. He is my family and when he is gone – I will lose a lot.


  3. What will I do with my one childless life? Hobbies!

    Lol. But true… I love to quilt, I love to ski, and I love to follow certain sports. I will also spend the rest of my life maintaining and updating my home, one project at a time. It’s a simple life, but I like it. At some point, I’d like to get a dog again too.

    I also went back to school so I could get a job in a different field. I don’t feel the need to save the world or do any big, great things. But, I did not like my original profession (and I was not going to be a stay-at-home mom like I thought). So I went back to school to learn a job that I don’t mind so I don’t hate my life when I wake up to go to work.


  4. I love the candle idea. That’s what I have often talked about on my No Kidding blog. Letting go of hope, so that we can have hope for something new – a new life, a different life, but a life that is no less than the life I had once hoped for. No less happy. No less worthy. No less valuable. At first I thought I had to “do” something (something BIG) with my life if I wasn’t to have children. But now I don’t think that’s necessary. It’s enough just to live, be happy, learn and grow.


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