Book tells stories of ‘missed motherhood’

Let’s talk about books on this snowy morning. Yes, it’s snowing on the beach in Oregon. So pretty. So not going to my dentist appointment. 🙂

Comstock, Kani with Barbara Comstock. Honoring Missed Motherhood: Loss, Choice and Creativity. Ashland, OR: Willow Press, 2013.

In a world where having children seems to be the default setting for most women, Comstock acknowledges that large numbers of women do not become mothers for physical or circumstantial reasons. Even if they do have children, they may have lost other babies to abortion, miscarriage or stillbirth. The book includes the Comstocks’ personal stories of non-motherhood, followed by a series of first-person narratives from other women. It concludes with a series of resources to help deal with grief and the loss of children.

Aside from some grammar glitches, the book is well-written and the stories are engrossing. I was shocked at the number of women here who had abortions, sometimes multiple, and others who had one miscarriage after another. The situation I address in my own Childless by Marriage book and blog, the partner who is unwilling or unable to make babies, is glossed over with one story that ends happily with a great relationship with the woman’s stepchildren. Believe me, it doesn’t always work that way.

I was also bothered by the frequent mentions of something called The Hoffman Process, a personal growth program in which both women are deeply involved. For approximately $5,000, you can spend a week at one of their retreats and release all your trapped feelings. Some online writers call it a cult. Are the Comstocks trying to sell us the course? Are they qualified to offer the psychological information they include? They are probably right that most of us do not fully express our feelings or acknowledge our losses, but I don’t know if we need the “process.”

Those concerns aside, the resources included at the back of the book are a boon for any childless woman trying to figure out how to grieve her loss and move on. They include rituals one can perform alone or with friends and a wonderful Mother’s Day ceremony I would love to try. You can also find these rituals at their website, http://www.missedmotherhood.com.

The emphasis really is on physical loss of a baby. If your problem is with your partner, well, you have already found us right here.

Kani Comstock and I will both be presenting at the NotMom Summit in Cleveland, Ohio October 6 and 7.

Michele Longo Eder, Salt in our Blood. Newport, OR: Dancing Moon Press, 2008

Right after I read the Comstocks’ book, I launched into this memoir by a local woman about the loss of her stepson at sea. I’m still deeply engrossed in this 430-page paperback, but wanted to share part of her story that applies here. The author, an attorney with no children, married a fisherman with two sons. He had custody of the boys, and their mother was not involved at all. Michele immediately became their mother. They call her “Mom,” and she calls them her sons throughout. There is no “step” between them at all. There is also no mention of wanting her own biological children or regretting not having them. Of course, it’s not a happy story. One of the sons dies. She grieves him like her own. Is it possible for a woman to step into a family and bond so completely bond that someone else’s children become her own? Is this only possible if the bio mom is not around? Something to ponder.

Meanwhile, there’s snow blowing past my window. I’m calling the dentist’s office. Not coming. Have a good day, wherever you are and whatever your weather.

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Welcome to the Childless by Marriage Blog

Dear friends,

Childless by Marriage is a blog, a book and a Facebook page for those of us who do not have children because our partners were unable or unwilling to have children with us. Some are infertile. Many already have children from a previous relationship and don’t want anymore. Others just don’t want children. In a world of people whose lives revolve around their children and grandchildren, we feel left out and alone. But not here. We’re all in the same situation.

Note that this is not a “childfree” site for those people who never wanted kids and are perfectly happy without them. We are “childless.” There’s a difference.

For those of you visiting for the first time, this is not a new blog. It’s an old blog on a new site, and I’m excited to share it with you. The new WordPress site will offer features I couldn’t get at my old blog host. I already have two other blogs at WordPress, Unleashed in Oregon and Writer Aid, so I know it will work out well.

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. If all works smoothly, the previous posts and comments from this blog will be transferred to the new site. But I’m still working on it, and 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 Marriage book, which came out in 2012. So many people had contacted me and visited the “Childless resources” page on my web site that it seemed like a conversation that was dying to happen. People couldn’t wait until I got the book between covers. Plus I had things I wanted to share that wouldn’t fit into a book or an article. It needed to be a conversation.

Here’s my situation:

I was married twice. Husband number one didn’t want children, although he didn’t tell me that until a few years in. It was always wait till he finishes college, wait till he gets a good job, wait till we buy a house. Then there came a time when I thought I might be pregnant, and his tune changed to: if you have a baby, I’m leaving. Ouch. I wasn’t pregnant, but the marriage didn’t work out anyway.

Husband number two, a wonderful older man who already had three children, didn’t want any more kids. He had had a vasectomy. I thought he might change his mind, but he didn’t. Four years ago, he died of Alzheimer’s Disease. So now I have reached menopause with no husband, no kids of my own and three stepchildren I’m not close to. I live alone on the Oregon coast with my dog Annie. I regret not having children, but at the same time I know that I have done a lot of things in my life that I could not have done if I were a mother.

So that’s the deal. Missed my chance, but maybe that’s what God had in mind for me. Or maybe I really screwed up.

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, my readers, have become precious to me, and I’m happy to be here as your big sister or Aunt Sue to try to answer your questions and listen to what you need to say. Most of you comment as “Anonymous.” That’s fine. Call yourself anything you want. 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 fussing with the widgets and looking forward to your comments.

Hugs,

Sue

D