NotMom Summit brings non-moms together

Notmom logoImagine yourself in a room filled with women of all ages who are not mothers, women who will not ask you how many children you have or when you’re going to get around to having them, women who will not brag about their grandchildren because they don’t have any either. That’s what it’s going to be like at the NotMom Summit, a conference for childless and childfree women happening Oct. 6 and 7 in Cleveland, Ohio.

I will be one of the speakers there. Other speakers will include many of my heroines from the childless/childfree world. They include Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women and author of Living the Life Unexpected; Laura Carroll, author of The Baby Matrix and Families of Two; Marcia Drut-Davis, longtime parenting choice advocate and author of Confessions of a Childfree Woman: A Life Spent Swimming Against the Mainstream; Laurie Lisle, author of Without Child: Challenging the Stigma of Childlessness; Karen Malone Wright, founder of The NotMom, and so many more amazing women.

I have never been to Ohio, and I have never met any of these women except online. I expect to be totally jet-lagged and star struck.

Topics include “Women Without Children: Then and Now,” “NotMoms on the Job,” “How to Manage Your Money,” “Singles Without Kids,” “The Medical Upsides and Downsides of Being a NotMom,” “Getting Older Just Like You Planned It,” and “On the Big Screen: Childless and Childfree Stories.” There will be opportunities for women in similar situations to meet and for women who live near each other to get together.

Attendees will get a chance to talk about the stuff that they can’t always discuss with their families, their friends or even their partners because they just don’t get it or don’t want to hear it. This is amazing to me.

It’s $395 for the whole conference. You can also opt to attend for one day or one of the keynote speeches. For details, visit https://notmomsummit2017.sched.com/tickets. If you are anywhere nearby or can get there in October, think about attending. To be honest, I’m spending much more than I’m making, but I think it’s going to be worth it. If nothing else, I’ll have a lot of new things to share with you here on the blog.

There’s more to The NotMom than just the conference. Visit the website at https://www.thenotmom.com. They’ve got a blog, a list of resources, a list of famous women without children, and a forum where people can talk about this stuff. Click around the site and have fun. Just don’t get about me. 🙂

Meanwhile, keep those comments coming on the existing posts. I love a lively conversation.

 

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Not having children need not define us

Dear readers,

About a month ago, I posted “Beyond Childlessness, Life Goes on.” I have gotten some great responses. I want to share with you this comment from Anon S that came in yesterday. I’m laid up with back problems this week, and Anon says it more eloquently than I can, so I yield this week’s space to her. Enjoy. –Sue

There are several older women in my hometown that I see on a regular basis who do not have children. One is happily married and is always doing fun things with her husband. They seem to have a lot of friends and do lots of couples things. I would love to talk to her sometime to see if she is really is as happy as she seems. I want to know if she was always this happy and if not – how did she get there.

The other woman is both single and without children. She is highly respected as she serves on many community boards and is involved in about anything you can possibly be involved with in our little town. Want to volunteer at the library, call Betsy – she’s in charge. Want to know about the prayer circle at church, call Betsy – the group meets at her house once a week. Want to know when the Halloween parade for the kids takes place, call Betsy – she’s on the judging committee and has purchased the door prizes for the kids. In a small town that values marriage and family, it’s odd to have a single woman of considerable age in the mix. She doesn’t date and has never been married. She seems very happy on her own. But she doesn’t let being on her own stop her from having friends to go to dinner with, filling her days and nights with commendable community work, and being a well liked woman of our community. She is considered a blessing to many.

Too often I compare myself to others. I’m stressed about life but imagine what a mother of three feels like? “Suck it up” is what I say to myself. “Get on with it.” And then I look at these two women I just mentioned and I feel like I’m wasting my freedom from children by living small and doing little.

Stories like this post and the one of your friend who passed away are very encouraging. The things that set one mother apart from all the others are the same things that set all of us women apart, our attitudes, our hearts, the things we do for our loved ones and others. The best peach pie in the world can be made by a mother of five or by me – a busy businesswoman who likes to bake. The best dressed woman at church can be a single woman with the time and money to be a fashion plate or it could be the mother of a special needs child who takes considerable effort to raise. Those children (or lack of them) do not define us or make us better or worse at anything. We are who we are and we should not hide or “save ourselves” for motherhood.

Thank you, Anon S. Comments?

 

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 Marriagebook. 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 women in pain

I had a great weekend, although I was strongly reminded of my childless status at a party where everyone was talking about their children and grandchildren. At such times, I can either smile and nod or hit the buffet table again. “Five grandkids, huh? And the new one is due in September? Nice.” You know how it goes. I’ve been dealing with it for years.

But some women are in the throes of such deep pain they don’t know what to do. I received messages from two such women this weekend.

The first is Jennifer, who writes:
“I’m now 37, husband is 40. We have been married for almost 13 years. I always wanted children…he wanted to wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, 3 years ago I ‘made’ him go to a fertility doctor with me. The doctor immediately thought it was me, put me on Clomid, etc. He tested my husband ‘just in case’. On Halloween (my favorite holiday in the world…or it used to be)…I went for my check up to see how the Clomid was working. He examined me, told me I was responding “wonderfully”…and told me to have sex that weekend. I was SO thrilled!!!! Then, before he left, I asked him if he had the results of my husband’s exam. He looked worried, and said “I’ll be right back”. He came back in a few minutes later, and simply said “There was a big problem. Your husband has no sperm”. I must have said “are you sure” about ten times. I was shocked. He said “don’t worry, we can use donor sperm and you’ll be pregnant within a month or two”. My husband, however, did not want to use donor sperm…My husband doesn’t want to adopt. He’s happy with his life. He likes his job and has his stupid band. I, on the other hand, am miserable. I feel left out. I don’t have any friends anymore because all of my friends have children and that’s all they talk about. I don’t have family, so my having a child meant everything in the world to me. I feel so isolated and SO lonely…I honestly don’t know how I am going to survive another day let alone a lifetime. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? I’m sorry to bother you but I’m at the end of my rope.” 😦

This morning, I got a message from Iris:
“I don’t know where to turn. I don’t know how to deal with the pain of
being childless. My heart never felt so broken. I am married now and
my husband has four children. None of those experiences were good. Now
between lay offs, strikes, and circumstances, think I will never have
children. I am 45 going on 46. If the window of opportunity is not
already closed, it is fast approaching. I don’t want to feel this
pain. I don’t want to be bitter. I don’t know what to do.”

Friends, we’re all in the same leaky boat. I think the hardest time to be childless is when you’re in your 30s and 40s and feel your chances slipping away. When you get older, I promise you will find ways to make peace with the situation. Meanwhile, I think it’s essential to talk first with your mate. Try to make him understand how you feel, how very important it is to have children NOW. I was guilty of not speaking up enough. I think if I had, I would have children now. If your mate will not listen, find someone else to talk to, a friend,a counselor, anyone who will listen. Don’t keep it bottled up. You also need to consider whether this man is worth the sacrifice. If you had to choose between losing him and losing your potential children, which would you pick?

I welcome your comments and your advice.

Childless women play important role

Throughout history, a certain percentage of women have remained childless. Although people have often viewed them with suspicion or pity, they play an important role in society, says Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller Eat, Pray, Love and the new book Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage. Childless women are free to do the things mothers can’t. They teach, they nurse, they encourage young artists or become artists themselves. In myriad ways, what Gilbert calls the Auntie Brigade is there to help.

I don’t know about you, but this comforts me. We who have not given birth still have an important part to play in the world. Sometimes we’re lonely, but we matter. We are able to do things our mothering sisters cannot. On Wednesdays, I can lead the children in singing at my church because I am not fettered with a little one. Think about it. We can all mourn the losses that come with never being a mother, but what about all the things we CAN do because we don’t have children.

I have not yet read the book, but gathered these excerpts in a review by Margot Magowan. Thank you, Elizabeth.

Visit this magazine for childless women

Hi. Sorry about the delays. I can’t seem to catch up, but I am pleased and proud to invite you to read the winter edition of Exhale, a literary magazine for childless women. My piece, “Childless Woman’s Survival Guide,” is included. The whole issue is about “levity,” the ability to laugh in the midst of grief. Read this with Kleenex nearby. I suspect you’ll want to bookmark this e-zine and perhaps join Exhale’s discussions on Facebook.

Hey, here’s another good thing: The holidays coming up, Valentine’s Day and President’s Day, don’t have anything to do with children, so we don’t have to feel left out. Celebrate. Oh, and don’t forget Fat Tuesday Feb. 16. What a great month.
Back soon.
Sue