By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
I was telling a good friend about a difficult and concerning work-related problem I was having, once again airing my righteous grievances, expressing my frustration at not being able to resolve the issue, bemoaning the fact that my life seemed to be such a never-ending struggle.
“Is this going to define you?” she asked.
What? She’d stopped me cold.
“Is This Going To Define You?” She reached for my hand and took a deep breath.
“Look,” she said, “what you’ve gone through—are going through—is real. And it’s awful and ugly and unfair and everything you’ve said. But. You have a choice. You can wallow in being the victim of all this mess, or you can choose to move forward, in whatever way you can. You can choose what will define you.”
Over the next several days I really thought about what my wise friend had said. She was right. I couldn’t change the choices and behaviors of the other people in this scenario with me, but I did have the power to choose how I would react and who I would become.
Then I got to thinking about my status as a childless woman and how I might apply this advice there. I’m not saying take a stiff-upper-lip approach, because I believe all the stages of grieving are necessary and serve purposes. But at some point, if I want to reach a place of acceptance and peace, I will need to let go and move on. I can choose to be “bitter childless woman” or I can choose to be “strong woman who made the most out of what she got.”
Other people will have their own definitions of me, and that’s their business. The only definition that truly matters, I’ve come to believe, is my own.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is telling the story about her journey in The Mother of All Dilemmas. As she shares her quest to become a single mother (and ultimately embraces a life without children), she explores why society still appears to base a woman’s worth on how many children she has. Watch for updates on the book’s release here at LifeWithoutBaby.com.