We Made It Through Another Mother’s Day!

We survived Mother’s Day. Congratulations to all of us. I was all set to cruise through this one by keeping busy and not thinking about it. But I don’t live in the desert or alone on an island, and neither do you. All the prayers for moms at church, the moms being taken out to brunch by their loving families, the Facebook posts, the TV shows, and the friends talking about visiting their mothers and bragging about what their children had done for them took their toll. I didn’t weep. I wished a few friends happy Mother’s Day, and I had a good time playing music with friends in the afternoon, but by bedtime, I felt profoundly sad. I missed my mother, my husband, my stepchildren and the biological children I never had. I lay awake in bed, watching the digital clock tick through the numbers until midnight, then breathed a sigh of relief. Mother’s Day was over. Thank God.
I don’t think other people understand how we feel, especially on days like Mother’s Day or at baby showers or when our friends obsess about their children. It’s like we come from another country and speak another language. The thing to try to remember is that there’s nothing wrong with our country and our language. They’re different but just as good.Our lives just took a different path.
I need your help with something. In the last week, several people have posted comments about situations where one partner wants children and the other doesn’t, and they’re considering breaking up. They love each other and don’t know if they’ll ever find someone else as good, but the baby issue has come between them. It’s hard to know what to say except I’m sorry and I hope they make the right decision. If you have a minute, visit the post If You Disagree About Children, Is Your Relationship Doomed? and add your two cents.
How did you do on Mother’s Day? Tell us how it went.  



Duck! Mother’s Day is Coming Again

If we’re to believe the images we see in the TV commercials, Mother’s Day is a joy to all women. Their children shower them with gifts, Hallmark cards, and breakfast in bed, and the whole family gathers to honor the grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Picture little girls in frilly dresses hugging their moms and grand-moms. Picture big picnics, feasts at a big dining room table, or gatherings at a favorite restaurant. Picture flowers and cards, and the whole world wishing you a happy Mother’s Day because you, the mother, deserve it.

Yeah. Now picture what it’s really like for many of us. First, our mothers may be dead or terminally ill or we don’t get along. The holiday emphasizes the fact that we don’t have a mother to honor. Second, we don’t all have children. We go to church and feel left out when special prayers are said for the mothers. We go out to eat, and the waiter assumes we’re mothers, but we’re not. We go to a family gathering and feel left out because we’re the only ones without kids. We wait all day for some kind of acknowledgement from our stepchildren, and it doesn’t happen. Everywhere we look, people are talking about Mother’s Day, and it makes us feel like crap.

For those who are mothers, congratulations. Enjoy your day. For the rest of us, if we can focus on the moms in our lives, that’s a great thing to do. If you just can’t, run away until it’s over. It’s a good day to turn off the TV, stay away from Facebook, and avoid going to restaurants. How about a hike, a walk on the beach, or a movie instead?

I’ll be playing music for two Masses at church and then going to my monthly song circle. In between, I’ll probably have lunch with a friend who hates Mother’s Day as much as I do. Her mother, like mine, has died. She has adult children, but their relationship is rocky. So I’ll pretty much do what I usually do on Sundays, and I’ll enjoy it.

Over the years, Mother’s Day has gotten easier for me. It will for you, too, I promise. Try not to get yourself all upset about it. If you need a good cry, go ahead and cry. Then move on. It’s just one day.

Thinking beyond our childlessness

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Sometimes I get tired of thinking about childlessness. I’ve got a million other things on my mind, including nonstop meetings and rehearsals this week, my ongoing struggle to put my water-damaged den back together (see my Unleashed in Oregon blog), my need to practice for two upcoming musical performances, my job playing the piano at church, my dog’s ongoing flea problem, my aging father’s ailments, my best friend’s close call with breast cancer and continuing fight with COPD, missing my dead husband, selling my novel, wondering when I should prune my hydrangeas, the floods in Colorado, the shootings in Washington D.C., the conflicts in the Middle East, why some fools are angry that our new Miss America is of Indian descent, what I’m going to wear to the church fundraiser on Friday night . . .
There’s so much to think about besides the fact that I never had children. I wish I had them. If I could go back and do things differently, I would. I think. I’m not 100 percent sure. Marrying Fred was the best thing that ever happened to me. Losing him was the worst. Not having children is barely a blip in comparison. I want kids. I want grandkids. I want sticky-fingered hugs and kid pictures all over my house. I want somebody to buy toys for and to teach and to love and to watch carry on our family heritage into the future. I want all that. I didn’t get it. It makes me so angry I want to throw things.
But I can’t change it now, and there’s no point in ruining the life I do have because I didn’t get the one I thought I’d have.
Some of these thoughts are coming up because I’m reading Jody Day’s new book Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children. It’s a wonderful book that can help women who wanted children and don’t have them to deal with their grief and move on. I will give you a full review as soon as I finish it, but you can order it now.
My dear friends, I hurt for you. I feel your deep pain as you struggle to deal with situations where you feel lost, where you don’t know what to do about your mate who can’t or won’t give you children, where you go nuts when people with children just don’t understand how you feel. I know. I’ve been there. It’s big. It’s huge. It affects your whole life. That’s one of the main things I tried to show in my Childless by Marriage book, that everything is different when you never have children. But there is more to life. And there’s more to you than just the fact that you don’t have children. Think about it.
Group hug?


[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. ]

Grieving? Find Your ‘Fishtrap’ Experience


We sat on a circle on the deck, warming in the sun as we wrote poetry. Nearby, the river rushed noisily toward the sea. Squirrels chased each other down the spruce tree and across the deck while a doe silently watched from a few feet away. This was the scene during my mornings last week at the Fishtrap writers workshop in Eastern Oregon. Writers from all over the country gathered to study with experts in all different types of writing. I was one of a dozen in Holly Hughes’ poetry class, a wonderful blend of meditation, mindfulness and creative writing. We writers quickly bonded. There were young people here, too, participating in a program for teens. Young or old, parents or not, married or not, it didn’t matter because we had come together to do something we love. More than spouses or parents or grandparents, we were writers. And I did not feel bad even once about not having children.
In contrast, when I got back to the real world, I visited The Grotto in Portland, which is like a giant Catholic garden, with sculptures and paintings telling the stories of Jesus, Mary and Joseph amid the trees and flowers. Recorded music plays above an outdoor chapel as you walk through the gardens, pausing to think about the Bible stories depicted in the art. It’s lovely, but it’s also full of people with their kids. I was walking through the rose garden when I heard a child call “Baba!” I turned to see a woman about my age stop and hold her arms open wide as her granddaughter ran into her embrace. Suddenly I wanted to weep. I had been looking at religious scenes for 45 minutes, feeling nothing, but this I felt. It was one of those moments. If you’re childless, you know what I mean.
But let’s get back to the joy of Fishtrap. If we immerse ourselves in things we love, we can stop dwelling on the children we don’t have and just enjoy being with people who like to do the same things we like to do. There were some people at Fishtrap who were not writers, who had come as chaperones for their teen-aged kids. And you know what? I felt sorry for them because they always had to worry about the kids. I didn’t have to worry about anyone but myself. I was totally free to write and think and make new friends.
The moral of this story is that you can find relief from your grief by immersing yourself in something you love. It doesn’t have to be writing; it can be anything that takes you out of yourself and into something that captures your mind and heart.
Is there something you can do, someplace you can go to give yourself that Fishtrap feeling?

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.

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.