Celebrating Childless by Marriage the book

7d455-childlessbymarriagecoversmallFirst you marry a man who does not want children. He cheats and you divorce him. Then you marry the love of your life and find out he does not want to have children with you either. Although you always wanted to be a mother, you decide he is worth the sacrifice, expecting to have a long, happy life together. But that’s not what happens. This is the story of how a woman becomes childless by marriage and how it affects every aspect of her life.

That’s the description of my book Childless by Marriage, which debuted five years ago this month. At that point, it had a different cover and was only an e-book. The paperback with the current cover came later in the year.

The book tells my story, but I also include interviews of many childless women, as well as things I learned in over a decade of studying childlessness. Chapters include “He Doesn’t Want Children,” “What Have I Done?” Who Knew It was a Sin?” “The Evil Stepmother,” “Exiled from the Mom Club,” “Why Don’t You Have Kids?” “Can a Woman Be a Dog’s Mother,” “Mothering Fred,” “Side Effects of Motherhood” and “What Will I Leave Behind?”

The book has not become the raging bestseller that I dreamed of. The many publishers who rejected it all warned that while it was well-written and covered an important topic, there might not be a big enough audience. Also, it might be depressing. Maybe they were right. But I published it anyway. You can buy it at Amazon.com. Or just send me a check for $15.95 at P.O. Box 755, South Beach, OR 97366, and I’d be happy to mail you a copy.

I hate advertising myself and my books, but that’s part of the writing game these days. You have to build a “platform” and promote, promote, promote. That’s part of why I started this blog, but it has turned into more than just a plank in my platform. We have built a community where we can share our thoughts and feelings freely. It has been almost 10 years since that first post! No wonder I struggle some weeks to find a new topic.

Another part of book promotion is giving talks. To that end, I will be one of the speakers at the NotMom Summit in Cleveland, Ohio the first weekend of October. The most exciting part of the conference for me will be meeting the many other childless/childfree authors whose books I have read, quoted and mentioned here. Anyone can attend. Check out the website for details.

Ten years, five years. So much has happened in all of our lives during those years, right? I feel like everything has changed, but I have no intention of quitting the blog or the book. You all are such a gift to me. Thank you so much for sharing your stories.

Keep coming back, dear readers, and let me know what you’d like to talk about here.

***

As I write this, my dog Annie is a hundred miles away having knee surgery. Over the next few weeks, I will be wrapped up in keeping her comfortable and quiet and preventing her from chewing on her stitches. I suspect I won’t get much sleep. I came home from the veterinary hospital covered in dog fur. Annie drooled all over my car seats. Motherhood, human or animal, is messy! I hope I’m up to the task. Our old dog Sadie had a similar surgery, twice, but my husband Fred was around to help. This time, it’s just me and Annie.

 

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A Childless Life Well Lived

Jill Baker
Jill Baker photo posted by Maureen Little on Facebook

Dear readers,

One of the women I interviewed for my Childless by Marriage book passed away last week. Jill Baker had been suffering from major heart problems for years. She was married once in her youth, divorced and never remarried. She never had children. But none of that defines who Jill was. Full of life, even when her body was failing, a large presence even though she was a small woman, Jill stood out wherever she went. She was funny, opinionated, and loaded with talent.

I first met Jill at the Central Coast Chorale, a singing group that I joined shortly after I moved to Oregon. Jill was the one always raising her hand with suggestions or laughing loudly from the alto section. We were both chosen to sing in a smaller ensemble that used to be called Octet Plus and is now Women of Note. You could count on Jill to hold down the low notes while the rest of us warbled up above. She was also a talented flute player. After I moved on to other musical endeavors, Jill rose to assistant director of the chorale.

Jill taught music—piano, flute, voice, and more. She sang in small groups and major choruses. She had also worked in bookkeeping, accounting and computer software because it’s hard to make a living with a music degree, but she was finally able to focus on music after she moved to the Oregon coast.

Back in the 1960s, she was engaged to be married when she discovered she was pregnant. Her fiancée took off as soon as she told him. She had an abortion in a motel room. “She was some kind of a nurse and did illegal abortions and it was awful,” Jill said. “I hemorrhaged for six months, during my final six months of college.” Once the baby wasn’t an issue, her fiancée came back, and they got married. He refused to even discuss having children. Eventually the marriage ended. She said she never found another man she felt strongly enough about to marry.

Before our interview, Jill had never told anyone about the abortion, but she had reached a point where she was willing to share her story and happy to have me use her real name. Telling me meant she would have to tell her family, she said. She was a brave woman.

Jill never knew for sure whether that abortion affected her ability to have children. Suffering from fibroid tumors, she had a hysterectomy in her 40s, . “I guess it wasn’t meant to be,” she said.

When I asked how she felt about never having children, she said, “I felt lucky in that I didn’t have that massive craving to have a child. I would have liked to have kids, but only if I was in a marriage where the husband could be a father. I never wanted to have kids just to have kids.”

Instead of having her own children, she dove into the role of aunt to her siblings’ children and dog mom to her precious canine companions. Jill was the one holding her sheet music with one hand and petting her dog with the other in the chapter of my book about dog moms. Asked if she felt left out when her friends talked about their children, she laughed. “No. I get ‘em back; I talk about my dog.” She added, “I get irritated when people feel sorry for me. I really detest that because I think I’ve had a good life. I don’t believe you have to have a husband or kids to be happy.”

As for old age, she was determined to live on her own as long as she could, moving into a retirement home if necessary. She never had to. As she left this life, her hospital room was full of friends who loved her like family.

Rest in peace, Jill.

Get Some Boxes–Childless by Marriage is Moving


Dear friends,
Next month, I will have been doing the Childless by Marriage blog for eight years. My first post was published on Aug. 27, 2007. Unbelievable. Eight years. Don’t panic. I have no intention of stopping. But I am working on moving the blog to a new site at WordPress.com. The address will be http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com. The new site will offer features I can’t get with a “blogspot” blog and increase our community of childless-by-marriage friends. I already have two other blogs at WordPress, Unleashed in Oregon and Writer Aid. If all works smoothly, the previous posts and comments from this blog will be transferred to the new site. But I don’t want to take any chances, so until Aug. 26, 2015, I will publish the same posts at both sites.
I started the Childless by Marriage blog before I finished the Childless by Marriagebook, which came out in 2012. To be honest, the blog has been more successful than the book. At the heart of it is your comments, so much heartfelt sharing of joys, sorrows, successes and mistakes. You offer comfort to me and to one another. This has become a conversation, not just me talking into cyberspace.
You have been with me through my own pain and loss, including the death of my husband from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2011. You have supported me as I adapt to my new status as a widow, a new age group, and a new life on my own without the usual kids and grandkids to support me.
Of course I want to sell my books and draw attention to my writing through my blogs and other activities. That’s why most of us start blogs in the first place, but you have become precious to me, and I’m happy to be here as your big sister or Aunt Sue to listen to what you need to say. Most of you comment as “Anonymous.” That’s fine. I’m glad I can provide a private space to say what we might not be able to say anywhere else. I feel like I know you anyway.
I’d like to make this blog more interactive, maybe add some guest posts, feature more of you in the main blog. I welcome your suggestions. Meanwhile, I’m here. I may be moving, but I’m taking you with me.
Hugs,
Sue

No Kidding: The book, the club, the goats?


Book review: 
No Kidding: Women Writers on Bypassing Parenthood, edited by Henriette Mantel, Seal Press, 2013
When I started working on my Childless by Marriage book, nobody was writing about being without child. It was almost a taboo subject, but now the shelves are filling up with books about not having kids. Most of them, like this one, are about the joys of being childless by choice. In this case, 37 women writers in the entertainment business tell the story of how they ended up not being mothers. Although a few did try to have children and learned that they couldn’t, most never wanted them in the first place. They were too busy with their careers and not interested in the sacrifices required to raise a little human being.

The writing here is good. Many of these women are comediennes, and they know how to put together an amusing essay. But after a while, all the stories blend together in my mind because they are so similar. Some of the names are familiar. Most are not. It is an entertaining read. Readers in the childfree-by-choice crowd are sure to enjoy it. Perhaps those who are childless not by choice will find some encouragement and see that life can be wonderful without children. At least that’s what these women tell us.

The club: 
In addition to being the title of a book, No Kidding is the name of an international club that provides opportunities for members to make new friends whose lives are not wrapped around their children. Members are all ages, married and single, and lack children for all kinds of reasons. You can find chapters all over the world or start a new chapter if your area doesn’t have one. Many of the people who comment on this blog and at other childless sites describe how uncomfortable they are at gatherings where everyone else seems to have kids. This is a chance to find friends with whom you have more in common.

The goats: 
When I was young, people who used the word “kid” were quickly corrected and told that a “kid” is a baby goat. Well, we humans have stolen their word and often use it to describe our own offspring. Funny we don’t call them calves or puppies. Unlike humans, goats don’t use birth control. If you put a he-goat and a she-goat together at the right time, they will have baby goats. Believe it or not, there are actually goat mating videos on YouTube. I don’t want to get in trouble for recommending goat porn, but they’re pretty funny.

No kidding. The word “kid” applied to a child apparently traces back to the 13th century with Olde English and Norse origins. But how did the word kid come to be used also as a synonym for joking? Beats me.

Have a happy day.

 

Childless by Marriage Blog Marks a Milestone and Looks Ahead

Dear friends,
Last week, we passed 100,000 page views. As of this moment, we’re up to 100,521. That seems like a milestone to celebrate. Yes, other blogs get millions of visitors, but ours is a special group, and I am grateful for every one of you. On an average day, we get about 250 visitors. Readers come from all over the English-speaking world, as well as from countries where most people don’t speak English. They find us via Google and other search engines, as well as Facebook, other sites about childlessness, and direct referral from friends.
The comments tell stories of women and men who are hurting and searching for answers. They wanted to have children, but they are in situations where it may not happen. In many cases, their spouses have decided they don’t want to have children, and they don’t know what to do. Sometimes the spouse is reluctant and then a physical problem ends the discussion in sorrow.
I have gotten the most comments in response to posts about grief. Just this morning, I approved two that both tell the same heartbreaking story from different perspectives. You can see them here. (Scroll to the end of the comments.) These anonymous women are 42 and 64 years old, but both are in so much pain they don’t know how they can stand it. I wish I had the magic words to make the pain go away. Perhaps some of you can offer some hope to these women.
I’ve been doing this blog for six years. It’s hard to believe. And no, I’m not quitting. Part of its purpose has always been to promote my Childless by Marriage book. I would like everyone to buy it. But the blog has grown into a special place of its own that goes far beyond the 300 pages of my book.
To post at least once a week for so long requires a little research, considerable stretching of the creative muscles, and occasional inspiration from above. Sometimes when I think I have nothing to say, God drops a story into my hands. Sometimes you, my readers, give me ideas with your comments and e-mails. It seems there is always more to say on this subject.
I’m working on a project to reconnect with the women I interviewed for my book. In some cases, more than a decade has passed, and I think it would be helpful to all of us to find out how their stories turned out. Did they ever have children? Are they still with the man they were with at the time? Have they found peace with their childless situation? Do they have regrets? The first responses have started coming in, and I look forward to sharing them with you here. (If anyone reading this was interviewed for the book and has not received an email from me, I may not have your current address. Please contact me at sufalick@gmail.com.)
Right now census figures show that one-fifth of American women have reached menopause without having children. That number is increasing. By the time today’s women of childbearing age are 45, I suspect it will be more like a fourth or even a third who never become mothers. But right now, I know lots of us feel left out, misunderstood and alone. We are not alone. Thank you all for being here, and please keep coming back.
Hugs,
Sue

Childless readers seek comfort in their grief

“Are You Grieving Over Your Lack of Children?” is the headline of the blog I posted here on Nov. 7, 2007. Since August 2007, I have published 366 other posts at this site, but that is the one that has drawn the most views–6873–and the most comments–152. Most people get to it by a Google search. I’m thinking they’re searching through tears because the key word is “grief.” It hurts to want children and not be able to have them, especially when it seems to be a normal part of life for everyone around you. You see other people cuddling babies and it hurts. You see your friends and sisters getting pregnant and it hurts. You see a child laboring over a Mother’s Day for his mom, and it hurts. You see an older woman going out to lunch with her daughter and granddaughter, and it hurts. I know. I feel that pain, too.

The comments keep coming in for that post, as well as for many others. People, mostly women, write to me in crisis. In so many cases, they thought they would have children with their spouse or partner, but now he/she is saying no, they don’t want to do it. Maybe they already have children from a previous marriage and feel that’s enough. Maybe they’ve had a vasectomy. Maybe one or both people have fertility issues. Maybe they just didn’t get serious about it until they were in their 40s and now it’s too late. Often, the writer, again usually a woman, is having to make an impossible choice: the man she loves or the children she’s always wanted.

I’m not a psychologist or marriage counselor; I’m a writer. I know a lot about this subject because of my own experiences and a boatload of research. I include much of that research as well as my own story in my Childess by Marriage book. I continue to collect all the information I can about all aspects of life without children and will share as much as I can. I offer my love and prayers in the hope that we can all find peace with what feels like a hole in our lives.If we can help dry each other’s tears and ease each other’s grief, then this blog is worthwhile.

Thank you all for being here. Keep coming back.

 

Childless by Marriage the paperback is here

Dear friends,

Copies of the paperback edition of the Childless by Marriage book are in the house. All over the house actually. After more than a decade, the book is complete and, for better or worse, it’s in print. If you want to help me pay for them and clear up the house by buying many many copies, I’d love it. If you decide not to, keep coming back to the blog anyway.

It’s a beautiful book, which I can’t believe I’m holding in my hand. In a way, it’s my sixth child, following The Iberian Americans, Stories Grandma Never Told, Azorean Dreams, Freelancing for Newspapers, and Shoes Full of Sand. (Info at www.suelick.com/books). As the baby, it will require extra care until it can stand up on its own.

I have begun to realize that this book, which is very personal, may also be controversial. There isn’t one chapter that people couldn’t find something to argue about. If you don’t have children in this world full of parents, you know that some people just don’t understand. They may get angry when I talk about the “mom club.” My chapters on step-parenting might set them off. The “childfree” crowd may object to my pro-child stance, might rage about my Catholic orientation, might take offense at what I say about the angry minority who call women who want children “breeders.” I’ll get guff from people who refuse to admit there are any psychological or physical differences between mothers and women who have never had children. I’ll hear from people who believe old age is no different without children than it is with them. I’ve been in the writing business long enough to know that I’ll hear objections about things I never suspected would irritate people. The reviews will probably be either five stars or no stars, love or hate with nothing in-between. Writing is easy; this is the scary part.

I’m really worried about what my father and my church friends will say, but our stories need to be told, and I could not go to my grave without publishing this book. I hope you all will continue to support me in this Child by Marriage life we share. Thank you, all you anonymous and named readers, for all of your love and support. It means a lot to me.

See you Thursday.