Birthdays are tough for childless women

Jody Day of Gateway Women, a UK organization for people who are childless not by choice, is celebrating her 54th birthday. In her blog post today, “Ten Tips for Healing from the Heartbreak of Childlessness,” she notes that she doesn’t mind her birthdays now, but in her 40s, when she was trying unsuccessfully to conceive, it was a different story. Every birthday was a reminder that she was running out of time.

Jody’s post takes me back to my 40th birthday. I was struggling with my childlessness at that point. Fred and I had been married for seven years. My fantasies about somehow getting pregnant in spite of his vasectomy and his declaration that he did not want to have any more children were fading away. It wasn’t going to happen. It was too late. Sometimes I just couldn’t stand it. I struggled with depression, overeating, and overdrinking.

The day before my birthday, I attended a retreat with women from my church. One of the rituals we did, lighting a candle for our loved ones, sent me into a major meltdown. Everyone was talking about their children, and I would never have any. I was not a person who wept in public, but I sobbed for a long time. Then I wanted a drink, but there was no booze.

I shared a room that night with Julie, who was unable to conceive. She and her husband were trying to adopt a child, but having trouble with that process. We talked late into the night before falling into sad, heavy sleep.

The next day, back home, my family threw a big party for my birthday. Everyone was there to celebrate and laud my accomplishments. I made them laugh with a speech about the joys of growing old ( Now I know 40 is NOT old). It was all great fun, but inside I was hurting. Other people’s children ran around the hall, playing and shouting. Where were my kids?

Like Jody, I find birthdays easier now. I have other issues, like being alone and fearing old age, but I don’t think too much on my birthdays about my lack of children. It’s too late to change the situation. The hurt returns unexpectedly at other times, a moment when I’m feeling lonely or when my friends share pictures of their grandchildren. This grief is real and should be acknowledged, Jody emphasizes in her blog.

I know many of you are right in the middle of the hurting time. Someone reading this may be having a birthday today. I feel for you. If there’s anything you can do to change your situation before it’s too late, please do it. If not, then the hard work is learning to accept it. Jody offers good advice in her blog.

Hang in there, my friends. You are not alone.

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‘Otherhood’ and Fifty Ways to Be Childless

Today’s post is a trio of goodies for you:
1. Jody Day at Gateway-Women.com has compiled a wonderful list called “50 Ways Not to Be a Mother—with Apologies to Paul Simon.” It’s amazing how many different ways a person can wind up not having children, a lot of them through absolutely no fault or choice of their own. Me, I seem to fit numbers 9 and 39. Check out the list and see what number fits your situation.
2. Some of those 50 ways deal with not having a suitable partner, which leads me to my second link. Melanie Notkin, author of Savvy Auntie and the accompanying blog, has written a new book called Otherhood: The Unrequited Love Story of Modern Women, which talks about how many of us never find the right partner. As a result, we don’t become parents. It’s due out in February, but you can pre-order it now. Melanie has also written about this at her Huffington Post blog. Read “The Truth About the Childless Life” there.
3. Marcia Drut-Davis, author of a new book titled Confessions of a Childfree Woman: A Life Spent Swimming Against the Mainstream, has a blog called Childfree Reflections, which may offer some comfort to you. The site includes a free resource list, but I must warn you that you have to sign up for the newsletter to get it, and nearly all of the resources are for people who are childfree by choice.
Oh what the heck, I’ll plug my own site. I’ve got a ridiculously long resource list on my Childless by Marriage website, which you can access with no strings. If you’d like to buy my book, I’d be delighted, but the list is my gift to you.
Have a wonderful week.

Find comfort for the childless here

Dear friends,
It’s the second anniversary of my husband’s death. Although I promised myself to stay zen about it, the memories and grief are weighing me down today. So I’m going to share a few things off the web that give me comfort.

TheNotMom.com tells us about a new report by a Harvard researcher that shows there are more households in the United States without children than with. So if you don’t have kids, you are not out of the ordinary. The report itself is a little harder to understand, but you can read it here.

There’s a new book out by comedian Jen Kirkman called I Can Barely Take Care of Myself: Tales From a Happy Life Without Kids.” It sounds like fun. They’re talking about it on The View today.

Finally, I have probably mentioned it before, but the Gateway-women gallery of childless role models at Pinterest can keep you reading all day about marvelous, beautiful women who never had children. By the way, I’m in there, and I’m thinking: what should I do with my hair? 🙂

Have a wonderful day.

Tasty childfree treats from the web

Today I’ve decided to share some tasty treats from the web that should give you a balanced meal of information, inspiration and laughter.

At The Not Mom site, recent posts include New Year’s goals–can you express your intention for 2013 in one word?–a tribute to non-mom and screenwriter Nora Ephron, and a look at whether actresses without kids can effectively play mothers.

Visit Gateway-women.com to read “No More Nice Girls,” in which Jody Day takes us from a familiar nursery rhyme to the justifiable anger many women feel in our situation.

Then hit the Children or Not blog for a link to a great article by a woman who decided to become a mom on her own and also a delightful link to a goofy song by a couple who decided to break up because he wanted children and she didn’t and used a music video to announce their decision.

Have a great weekend, and if doesn’t turn out so great, write a song about it.

Emotional infertility and other questions to ponder

Jody of Gateway-women.com,  http://www.gateway-women.com, shared a link today for an article called “It’s Not My Fault That I Missed the Chance to Become a Mother” by Megan Lloyd Davies. This is a great article about “emotional infertility,” a term I had not heard before. It basically refers to people who don’t have kids because they never found the right partner or the one they found didn’t want kids. It also acknowledges, thank God, that this can be as painful as physical infertility. Give it a read.You may be comforted by the conclusions Megan reaches and join me in booing some of the thoughtless comments.

Question? How come I read so much more about childlessness from the UK than I do in the US press? A lot of those ladies over there are buying my book, too, via Kindle. Thank you so much. Are Americans less comfortable discussing the subject? Just wondering.

This whole childless thing varies by culture. Every few months I read about someone in India who had committed suicide because they couldn’t have kids. You may be grieving, feeling left out, or just plain pissed because life hasn’t given you children, but imagine living in a place where you’re shunned, harassed and completely shut out of the family if you can’t squeeze a baby out of your uterus. These men and women need our prayers.

In both the US and UK, about one-fifth of women reach age 45 without reproducing, but the statistics are more complicated than that. An article by Jessica Valenti in women’s e-news this week quotes a Pew Research Center study that showed the most educated women are the most likely group to never have a child. In 2008, 24 percent of women ages 40 to 44 with medical or legal, master’s or doctoral degrees had not had children. I have seen similar statistics many times. Why do you think this is? FYI, I have a master’s degree, and my late husband had one, too.

I welcome your comments.

 

A picnic basket for the childless

Dear friends,
Occasionally I need to gather up the miscellany and  put it all into a picnic basket for you to savor. Here goes:

“Creating a new life for yourself as a childless woman” at Gateway-women.com offers comfort and ideas for digging ourselves out of the pity trench and moving on.

Then there’s “What if you don’t want children, but your husband or partner does?” at the Children or Not blog. It’s a twist on the question at the heart of this blog and my book. What if you’re the one who doesn’t want kids?

Yesterday, a friend told me she has found the daughter she gave up for adoption more than 40 years ago. Now she’s a grown woman with a daughter of her own. She said she hesitated to tell me because she knew I was sensitive on the subject. I knew I should be happy for her, and I am, but mostly I wanted to wail right there in the mall. Why couldn’t it be me showing off a photo of my daughter and granddaughter? Know what I mean?

If you happen to be in or near Lincoln County, Oregon, I’m leading a discussion on childlessness this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the South Beach Community Center. It’s free, including refreshments. I’ll tell my story, share a little from my book, then invite everyone to talk about it. If you live a little farther away, would you be interested in having me come lead a similar discussion in your town? Let me know at sufalick@gmail.com.

Have a great weekend.