No Children? What is your Plan B?


Jody Day, a British woman who founded Gateway-Women.com an online community for childless women, recently published a book called Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children. In it, she tells about how she struggled with infertility and other issues that prevented her from having children. They also prevented her from enjoying the life she had because she was so busy thinking about the life she did not have. In her book, Day talks about the “shadow life.” She was simultaneously living the life she had living a shadow life in which she was a mother.
“At no point in that time (a 15-year stretch no less) did I fully and completely embrace the life I was actually living, that of a childless woman. I was always in transition to the next stage when my real life would begin.”
My friends, we only get one life. As my father likes to say, “It is what it is.” And it could be much worse. Ask anyone who is paralyzed or suffering from a fatal illness or who has lost a limb. Ask anyone whose spouse or child has died. Every day that we can get out of bed on our own and choose what we want to do is a good day and should not be wasted.
We risk poisoning our relationships not only with our mates but with everyone else around us if we see only that they have kids and we don’t. Try to see beyond that. Why do we love these people? How would we feel if we lost them?
Examine your lives. Acknowledge what you are probably not going to do. One of the childless women I interviewed for my book said she looked at having children like a lot of other things she had never done and probably never would. She would not be a published author, would not live in Paris, would not be a concert pianist, would not be rich, tall or thin. But she loved the life she had.
If there’s something you really feel you must do, then do it. If it means finding another mate or adopting a child instead of giving birth, just do it. But if you are not willing or able to take these steps, look at what else you can do. You probably have more choices than most because you are not tied down with children. The “childfree” crowd sees that as a good thing.
Make a list of everything that you CAN do, that you get to do, that God gave you the opportunity to do. Now use that list to design your own Plan B.
In future posts, we’ll talk about rituals to let go of childless grief and places to find support from people who understand. Meanwhile if you haven’t read Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children, do yourself a favor and read it. Jody will take you through the steps toward starting to not only survive but enjoy the life you have.

Copyright 2014 Sue Fagalde Lick

Advertisements

Over-40 wisdom for childless women

Today I’m yielding my platform to Jody Day of Gateway Women who on her 50th birthday has published a marvelous post titled “Things I Wish I’d Known at 40.” She offers the truth about fertility, menopause, grief, relationships, society’s views of childless women, and the joys of life beyond the childless dream.

Lines I love in this post include:
“Freed from chasing the dream (and fantasy) of motherhood, you begin to realise old dreams and create new ones.”

“The life you’re going to create instead of motherhood is going to be richer and more fulfilling than you can yet imagine, and in ways you cannot yet imagine.” 

Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women, is also the author of Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children, a great book about dealing with childlessness.

I can think of a lot of things I wish I had known when I was 40. Foremost would be realizing how short and precious life is and how important it is not to waste any of it moping about things that aren’t going to change.

What about you? If you’re past 40, what do you wish you had known before? What advice would you give to our younger readers. I welcome your comments.

Some Tidbits for Your Childless Christmas Stocking

I’ll bet most of us are going a little crazy with Christmas only a week away. I was out of town for my dad’s surgery in early December (he’s doing great), so I got all off schedule. To catch up, I decided to do everything in one day: shopping, cards and decorating. For those inclined to try it, take my advice and don’t. About a third of the way through the decorations, I started sobbing. It was just too hard with no kids, no husband, and no family nearby. Why bother? The dog hovered around me, trying to lick my face as I dove deep into my pity party.
The next day I was over it and finished what I could, deciding I didn’t need to do everything I had done every year before. To be honest, not having children or grandchildren meant a lot fewer gifts to worry about. I had my presents in the mail before the post office closed at noon. Now I’m done decorating and almost finished with the cards. I’m finally able to listen to Christmas carols.
As we established in last week’s post, I don’t have any young children in my life. Everybody’s kids have grown up. But that’s not the case for lots of childless people. This time of year, they find themselves surrounded by people obsessed with making Christmas special for their kids. I’ll bet some of you can identify with this reader’s dilemma over the family gift exchange in the Ask Carolyn column. I like Carolyn’s answer. Do you?
In lieu of any brilliant thoughts of my own today, I offer two additional articles that I think you’ll find worth reading. In the first one, Jody Day of Gateway-Women offers a powerful essay, “Childlessness is a Political, as Well as a Deeply Personal, Issue” on the difficulties of being childless at Christmas  and throughout the year.
This piece, “I’m So Glad I’ve Frozen My Eggs,” linked from the Have Children or Not blog, offers a fascinating look at one possibility for women who are worried about not being able to have children until after their eggs are too old.
Happy reading, and please try to enjoy all the good things about the holidays and let the rest go. As always, I welcome your comments.

Jody Day’s book rocks the childless life


Jody Day of Gateway-Women.com and I have corresponded off and on over the last few years. We both write about childlessness in our blogs. She lives in the UK, where it really seems as if the conversation about not having children has advanced far beyond that in the United States. When she said she was writing a book, I couldn’t wait to read it, and I was not disappointed.

In Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children, Day offers childless women a way to define what their lives can be without children. If Plan A, to be a mother, didn’t work out, what is Plan B? Day’s Plan B is to write about and create a community to support women who are childless by circumstance–which includes those of us who are childless by marriage. In addition to her blogs and online groups, she hosts gatherings of childless women and 12-week courses to help them find their new path as non-mothers, nomos, as she calls them. If you live in the UK, you can actually meet in person. But if you don’t, you can be with them in spirit through this book.

Day, who is training to be a psychotherapist, tells her own story and provides exercises to help women dig themselves out of their childless grief and discover the new life that is still available to them. Chapters explore family histories, our relationships with our bodies, stereotypes about childless women, our views of ourselves, ways to heal from our grief, and much more. She also includes extensive lists of resources that in themselves are worth the price of the book.

I did get a free copy of the book, but I would recommend it just as highly if I had paid for it. There are lots of books about childlessness on the market these days, but most focus on the joys of the “childfree” life or the sorrows of infertility and don’t get at the things bugging those of us who are childless by circumstance. I hope you’ll read my Childless by Marriage book if you haven’t already, but do read this one, too. It will help, I promise.

*****************************
[Sue Fagalde Lick is part of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. ]

Check out these childless/childfree links

Having written myself down to my last syllable this week, today I am sharing some interesting links about having or not having children.

Get tired of people asking when you’re going to have kids or failing to understand that the decision has been made and you’re not? This fun article in Jezebel by Karyn Polewaczyk may give you some ideas on how to counter those nosy nellies. Thanks to Beth Follini for sharing this in her “Have Children or Not”  blog.

From a book called Why Have Kids by Jessica Valenti comes this excerpt reprinted in The Atlantic, titled “Not Wanting Kids is Entirely Normal.” 

For a perspective on babymaking vs. careers, check out “I am More Than Just a Uterus” on the Road Less Traveled blog.

Finally, visit my friend Jody Day’s Gateway Women blog to read “Healing the Friendship Gap Between Mothers and The Childless.” 

Have a great weekend, dear friends.

Read about the "Silent Sorority" of barren women

Have you read Silent Sorority? I can’t put it down. In this memoir, author Pamela Mahoney Tsigninos tells the story of her struggle to get pregnant, trying all the techniques that modern science has to offer, before realizing she will have to accept her childless state as permanent. Yes, she is struggling with infertility while many of us are fertile but don’t have a partner who wants to make babies with us, but many of the challenges she faces, especially in the second half of the book, are the same. Indeed, her title echoes what most of us know: people don’t talk about this stuff much.

Tsigdinos writes with such a free-flowing easy style that I have already gotten halfway through the book in half a day. You can read about her and her book at www.silentsorority.com.

While I was blog-hopping yesterday, I came across Laura Carroll’s blog, called La Vie Childfree. Carroll is the author of Families of Two, which tells the stories of 15 married couples who have decided not to have children. She has published a fascinating post this week on the increasing number of Gen Xers who are not having children.

I also found http://gateway-women.com, a UK blog by psychotherapist Jody Day for the one in five women who don’t have kids. She calls us “nomos,” short for “not-mother.” You’ll find some good reading here, too.

Cheers.