In a society where most people have kids, some of us don't because our partners are unable or unwilling to make babies. That's what this blog and my book, Childless by Marriage, are about. Let's talk about what it's really like.
Renewal. What does that word mean to you? A fresh start? A new way of seeing or doing things? It seems like we ought to be discussing this in the spring, not in the midst of a huge winter storm, but renewal was the topic yesterday when childlessness guru Jody Day brought together 12 “childless elderwomen” for another solstice chat on Zoom. If you are younger and not sure whether or not you will have children, listening to these wonderful women should prove that either way you can live well and become a badass elderwoman or, as Jody likes to call us a “nomo crone.”
For me, renewal this year means taking my recovery from my fall in October and COVID in November into a concerted effort to reassess my body and my lifestyle in 2023. I am working to counter my aloneness by reaching out more to other people and creating my “village” so we can take care of each other. It also means reaching out to my family and basically demanding to spend time live and online with all of them, especially the young ones, so they know who this “Aunt Sue” is and let me be part of their lives.
Does this sound like New Year’s resolutions? Yes, but this is different. This is a restart on our lives, looking at it fresh. For some, that means getting rid of possessions that weigh us down. For others, it might be changing a life situation that has got us stuck, including this bit about your partner not wanting to have children or you not sure what you want to do. If you knew you only had a short time to live, what would you do? Don’t wait until you’re old or facing a terminal diagnosis to change what needs changing.
What do you think? I welcome your comments.
Have a wonderful holiday. Do your best to make it your own. All of you are a gift for me. Thank you for being here.
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It’s here! Love or Children: When You Can’t Have Bothhas been published. After seven months and several title changes, I have gathered the best of the Childless by Marriage blog from 2007 to May 2020 into a book. If I had had any idea how difficult it would be to boil down more than 700 posts into a reasonable-sized paperback and ebook, I might not have done it. I mean, it’s there on the blog. You can read all the posts and the comments. It might take months, but you can. But what if the Internet disappears? It could, you know, and we have built something here worth saving. Sure, I started it, and I write the weekly posts, but it would be nothing without your comments. That’s why the cover says this book is by “Sue Fagalde Lick & Anonymous.”
Coming up with a cover was tricky. How do you express the idea of being childless by marriage in a picture? We tried a lot of different images, children’s toys and flowers and such, but I like what we wound up with. It was originally sort of a brick red. We played around with the shade, but then I suddenly thought, “Hey, what about teal?
The designer, Erin, who works for an outfit called Reedsy.com, did a great job designing the cover and the interior. I’m sure she earned a few gray hairs dealing with the more than 300 live links in the Kindle version. She worked all last weekend on them and didn’t get much sleep. But she found the subject interesting, so that helps. At 35, she and her husband are talking about whether or not to have kids.
What’s in the book? Let me share the table of contents.
When Your Partner Will Not Give You Children
Stay or Go: What Should I Do?
How Do You Heal from Childless Grief?
Learning to Accept Childlessness
Childless vs. Childfree
Locked Out of the Mom Club
Male Point of View
I Can’t Believe They Said That
Do the Childless Get Ripped Off at Work?
If You Don’t Have Children, You Will Never . . .
Where Does God Fit?
The Joys of Stepparenting
Not the Life I Expected
Old Age without Children
What Will Be Our Legacy?
Childlessness Didn’t Stop Them
See anything of interest? I thought you might.
I need your help spreading the word about this book. If you want to write a review, let me know, and I’ll send you a PDF copy. Or you can buy the Kindle version for $2.99. Review it at Amazon, Goodreads, on your blog, or wherever. If each reader tells a friend, sales will go well. It is so important that people read and start to understand our situation.
I will do my part by broadcasting the news wherever I can.
Meanwhile, for you, my dear readers, I offer a deal. As you know, Love or Childrenis my second book on the subject. During the month of December, if you email me proof of purchase for Love or Children along with your address to firstname.lastname@example.org, I will send you a copy of Childless by Marriage absolutely free, paperback in the U.S., Kindle overseas. If you already have Childless by Marriage, you can give it to a friend or I can send you one of my other books. See https://www.suelick.com/books for other possibilities.
Remember, the conversation continues here at the Childless by Marriage blog. This is post #726, and I have no plans to stop. New readers keep joining, and comments keep coming in. Also, I’m still accepting guest posts. See the guidelines on this page. We have a Childless by Marriage Facebook page, too. Take a minute to “like” it.
Got your attention with that title, huh? Well, good. At 4 a.m., I started making this list, and I encourage you to continue it in the comments. Before you say it, I will note that some of these can become you WILL via stepchildren, nieces, nephews, friends’ children, jobs and volunteer gigs.
If you don’t have children, you will never . . .
Have to worry about the school schedule (unless you’re a teacher)
Have to find a babysitter in order to go out to dinner, a movie, a party, or a trip around the world. (You might need a dogsitter)
Have to share your cookies with a child.
Add any names to your Christmas card signature.
Have anyone come after you on your family tree.
Show off pictures of your own children on your cell phone or post them on Facebook.
Have grandchildren or great-grandchildren.
Have sons- or daughters-in-law.
Have to worry about paying your children’s college tuition.
Have children to list as your next of kin.
Have to attend Little League or soccer games.
Learn the latest kid songs (unless you work at a preschool)
Be required to hang out in a roomful of sugar-crazed children.
Have to be careful at cussing in your own house.
Have an episiotomy. (Thank God!)
Have to watch cartoons before breakfast.
Share your pregnancy story at a baby shower
Be a full-fledged member of the Mom or Dad Club.
Have someone who looks like you call you Mom or Dad.
Stop answering questions about why you don’t have children.
That’s my list for now. I know you can add some more. And yes, I know you can do all this stuff with other people’s kids or with adopted children, but it’s not the same, is it?
This has been an insane week, another one in an insane year. Having my father die would have been enough. But on Tuesday, I was forced to give notice at my job, a job I loved. Our priest has banished half my choir because they dared to hold hands during The Lord’s Prayer. No warning. I can’t live with that. I will be taking my music skills to another church in the area. Meanwhile, today I have learned that my poetry chapbook, Gravel Road Ahead, has been published. Hallelujah. Info here. All of this may have something to do with me being up at 4 a.m., writing with this light-up pen I got from a charity for blind people.
I always had this dream of being a mother who was also a professional writer. When I married Fred, it seemed as if at least half this dream might come true. When he proposed, my first reaction, after saying yes and crying happy tears was to announce that finally I could freelance. Hold on a minute, Fred said. He was counting on me adding to the family income. I tried hard, but the newspaper business was tough even back then. With a book contract and regular outlets for me work, I moved into full-time freelancing in 1987, two years after we were married.
Then, four years into our marriage, Fred’s youngest son, Michael, moved in with us. What follows is a brief passage from my Childless by Marriage book.
We rented a house up against the south San Jose foothills. Moving into a suburban neighborhood full of young families, we paid our $1,200 a month and tried to save a little here and there. I was fully committed to freelancing, not even considering looking for a job, and now I had a live-in son. It seemed that I had finally realized my dream of being a stay-at-home mother-writer.
In January 1989, my book money ran out, and my two main article clients both went bust. Our expenses had gone up. Fred was the kind of guy who liked to stay out of debt and have a comfortable cash cushion in savings. A barely employed freelance writer wife did not add much to the bank account.
By March, Fred had begun suggesting that I get a job. I wanted to stay home and write books. Over the years, we have rarely fought, but I held my ground this time. I had been working as hard as I could to earn money with my writing, plus I was helping to raise his son without being able to have my own children. After many more years of the ups and downs of the writing business, including a couple more full-time jobs, the memory is blurry now. But back then I was very clear about it in my journal. “If I don’t get babies, I’m damn well going to get books.”
So I continued to freelance, and I did not have a baby with Fred.
Childless by Marriage is available in print and e-book form at Amazon.com. If you order the paperback directly from me at email@example.com, you can have the book for $12, with no shipping charges.