By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
“You are not alone.”
I think those might be four of the most beautiful words in our language.
Not long ago, I was a single, childfree woman who felt like the last single and childfree woman on the planet—or at least among my circle of friends. I rarely talked about my sadness, my isolation, my desperation, and my fears that I would never be a member of the mommy club with my peers. Instead, I pasted a smile on my face and stuffed myself into puffy bridesmaids gowns and nodded with feigned understanding as mommies shared their birthing and child rearing stories at baby showers. It is possible to feel completely alone in a room full of people.
I credit our amazing founder Lisa Manterfield with opening my eyes to a new world of possibilities. Through her and the LifeWithoutBaby site, I became acquainted with Pamela Tsigdinos, author of Silent Sorority; Melanie Notkin, the Savvy Auntie; and Jody Day at Gateway Women. I was introduced to our cheroes (heroes who just happen to be childfree), including Oprah Winfrey, Marilyn Monroe, Sally Ride, Mary Cassatt, and Julie Taymor. Getting to know more about these women has shown me that a childfree life can indeed be exciting and fulfilling.
What has touched my heart the most is how women just like me have shared their stories and offered support. As I’ve (cautiously) begun to tell women outside of our circle my story, I’ve been amazed at the candid responses: “I never really wanted children…I love being an aunt and that’s enough for me…You are so brave and you inspire me…I’ve never told anyone this, but….” Wow. Once I opened myself up, women from all corners of my life opened up to me and told previously undisclosed stories of infertility battles, adoption disasters, and hurtful discrimination—stories we hear on this site every day. All of these experiences have served to remind me that while the circumstances that brought us here may be different, our passion for living our lives to the fullest is a common denominator. I am humbled to be included in these discussions, and awed to sometimes recognize that I have been the catalyst.
If you’re feeling alone, I encourage you to explore this site more fully and look for topics and stories that resonate with you. There are many resources available here. There’s wonderful support and encouragement here. You are—and I am—not alone. Embrace it.
Kathleen Guthrie Woods is a Northern California–based freelance writer. She is wrapping up a memoir about her experiences as a temporary single working mom, an adventure that helped her come to peace with her decision to be childfree.