What Will You Do with Your Fresh New Childless Year?

Dear friends,

This is my last Childless by Marriage post of 2022. We could rehash all the previous posts. In June, for example, we talked about the Supreme Court’s abortion decision, school shootings, babies on airplanes, heedless comments, and Louis May Alcott. But you can read the old posts for yourself, and I hope you do. Sometimes when you read something again on a different day, you have a completely different reaction.

I could note that I joined four childless elderwomen chats, that I published another novel featuring a childless heroine this year, I signed a contract for a memoir that will be out in June 2024, and I promoted poetry in my role as president of the Oregon Poetry Association. I also traveled to California and Ohio, got the catalytic converter stolen off my Honda Element, got hurt falling through a broken board in my deck, and caught a late-breaking case of Covid. I’ve done readings, participated in a bazillion zoom meetings, and as of today, read almost 100 books. What does that have to do with childlessness? I suppose that not having children gives me time to do all those things. I’m finding that those of us without kids often lead more colorful lives.

What were the major events of your 2022? Did anything change in your childless situation? Were any decisions made, to try for pregnancy, for example, or turn the would-be nursery into an office? Has the subject just sat like a big rock in the corner all year, one that nobody dared touch for fear it might explode into a big fight? A new year is about to start. If you don’t talk about that big rock, not having children in a world where most people do, surely it will blow up. So make this the year you are honest with each other and express how you feel. And not just to your partner. Talk about it with others, too. It’s okay to say you are sad, angry, frustrated, guilty, or unsure. You feel what you feel.

I just put away the Christmas wrapping paper last night. Scrolling through Facebook, I have seen lots of photos of people unwrapping their presents. You won’t see any of me because I was doing it alone. But I didn’t cry this year, and that’s a step ahead. This whole Christmas was different. I set up a Zoom with my brother’s family so I could see them and my nieces and nephews. They had seven people crowded around an IPad, and I couldn’t hear them very well, but we made the connection. I want them to know “Aunt Sue,” and it’s on me to make that happen.

Most Christmases, I have been with friends’ families and felt like the one who didn’t quite fit in, even though it was very nice. This year, three single women from church with no family around got together in one of our houses. Dinner was potluck. We ate, sang Christmas songs, and talked for hours. It was the most comfortable Christmas any of us had spent in years. We all feel like the ones who don’t quite fit in with our families, but we matched perfectly with each other. I am so grateful.

When you’re young, with parents still living, with family demanding your attention, and possibly stepchildren to entertain on the holidays, you don’t have a lot of choices. I remember the early married years where we shuttled from one family gathering to another. It was exhausting. One of the joys of being on your own in old age is having more choices. But you can try new options at any age. Maybe you won’t fly home next year. Maybe you’ll eat enchiladas instead of turkey. Maybe you’ll . . . ?

We’re coming into a new year. It’s a time for make resolutions and plan changes. I have my list. Do you? One of the things I’m planning to change is the frequency of posts at this blog. After 830 posts over 15 years, it’s getting harder to come up with new ideas every week, so the Childless by Marriage blog will appear every other week next year, unless I have something urgent to say in-between. I welcome guest posts, as long as they stay on topic. I will continue to post on my Childless by Marriage Facebook page, too. If you haven’t connected there, give it a shot.

As I type this here on the Oregon coast, the wind storm that started last night continues. It is still dark, and I wonder what damage I will see when the sun finally rises. No one knows what the new year will bring. I hope it’s good news for all of us. May you have peace, good health, and happiness in 2023.

See you next year.

Sue

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

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13 thoughts on “What Will You Do with Your Fresh New Childless Year?

  1. Sue,

    This has been a tough year for me. I’m not sorry to see it end. I thank God that
    I found your blog. Being childless isn’t as good as many people think it is. For years I’ve felt unworthy because I never had kids of my own. It’s what it is. Father’s Day is something I dread every year. This year I might go deep sea fishing in the Bahamas to be away.

    Your blog has taught me so much and I’m thankful you’ve accepted me. I can assure that many men have the same struggles with being childless as I do. But for whatever reason won’t come forward about it. Have a Happy New Year.

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  2. I’m so glad you had a comfortable Christmas Sue. I recognise that feeling of not quite fitting in. I have it when with my husband’s family. When we are gathered together, the other daughter and son-in-law have their children alongside them. I just feel like my husband’s +1 and think “What would it matter who he had with him?” As my parents are very elderly, we usually spend Christmas with them, where I feel much more part of an extended family. I can’t imagine what Christmases on our own will be like when our parents are gone. I guess we will just make a nice dinner and watch TV. On New Year’s resolutions here, dreading what this year will bring in terms of parental decline. I don’t comment very often anymore, but I thank you for committing to posting every 2 weeks, amidst your busy schedule. I will still be reading.

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  3. Your Christmas with friends sounds fun.

    I have a big goal for 2023. I want to complete my proposed research project for school about the experience of involuntary childlessness. In fact, I’m not making any more commitments for this year because my research project is what’s most important to me.

    I’m glad you still plan to write on your blog for 2023. I will be reading. ❤

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  4. This post is what I needed to read tonight. I’ve been struggling with talking about how I feel about not having kids – with my husband, who changed his mind about wanting kids a few years after we married – and my family. My family are sympathetic, but they ask all the typical questions: did you tell him how you really feel? Did you try counseling? What if you just tried to get pregnant without telling him? I’ve tried it all and he’s not budging.
    I’m in my mid-40s and he’s a good partner for me in many ways, so I’m not leaving. (One family member suggested I give him an ultimatum and leave if he didn’t agree to have children.) We’ve been married for more than 10 years and I don’t think that there is anything better out there for me.
    Some days I think I’m fine and I can appreciate the benefits of not having children. But the holidays hit me with a 1, 2 punch this year. My younger sister had her last baby due to her advancing age, and my husband was wonderful with the very young baby at Christmas. That was hard to watch because I know he would be a good dad. He just doesn’t want to do it. I thought I was doing better after some rest and starting working on my 2023 goal to decorate our new home. Part of that has been throwing out items we don’t need … like cookie cutters I bought for a church kids club I volunteered for before I met my husband. I kept them for close to 20 years, thinking I would use them someday when I had kids. I put them in the trash today and it hurt deep in the pit of my stomach. I hardly thought about the cookie cutters, but part of me didn’t want to let go of them today. I had a quick thought of “what if something changes?” But I know that’s unlikely to happen with my husband and my age.
    Reading the posts here helps … I know I’m not alone. And you are right that I need to speak up about it instead of trying to convince myself that I’m okay all the time. I will be okay, and sometimes I am okay, but today was not one of those days.

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    • My husband used to engage with and play with other people’s children. I think the message he was trying to give me was “look, its ok, we can still play with other people’s kids”. But I didn’t want to play with other people’s kids, I wanted to mother my own. I used to refuse to look at him when he was doing it or walk out of the room. Not seen him do it recently. Perhaps tell your husband it adds to your hurt and ask him to stop doing it.

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  5. Cheers for your Christmas friends!

    I had a huge Christmas blessing. My formerly “terrible sister-in-law” slipped an apology note in a gift to me. I NEVER thought I’d see the day. I have fretted and stressed over this relationship for seven years, refusing to budge. That beautifully written letter was a very precious gift. It continues to be complicated, but at least now I have a bit of peace and something to build upon.

    I missed out on seven years of her children’s lives, and that makes me sad. It racked me with guilt because I KNEW that if I swallowed my feelings I could have faked a relationship with this woman and stayed in her children’s lives. But I have learned too much these last couple of years. I sacrificed a lot for this authentic place, but ultimately I know that it needed to happen in order for me to honor and respect my own life and my own feelings.

    I wish I had had more faith along the way. I wish I had reached acceptance sooner. But I’m glad to have walked the path to this very unique (to me) place.

    This year I want to strengthen relationships. Especially with Christ.

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      • Yes, the years added up. I did complain a lot – too much. I’m thankful to you Sue, that you provided a safe place to vent. It saved me from spreading toxic energy within my real life relationships.

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