By Kathleen Guthrie Woods
One of the amazing gifts that comes out of sharing your very personal story in a public forum is how it makes other people feel that they can open up and share their very personal stories with you. I’m experiencing this in buckets on the heels of the launch of my first book, Life Without Baby Holiday Companion.
Naturally when someone hears I’ve published a book, they ask what it’s about, and I’m always a little nervous to share. Deep breath… “It’s inspiration and encouragement for women who wanted to have children, but didn’t get to, to help them get through the holidays” …please be nice to me. I can’t count how many times someone has said back to me, usually in a whisper, “That’s my story,” and then goes on to share where she is on her journey toward acceptance of her childless status. These women get it, and I feel honored to get to hear from them about their loves and losses, heartbreaks, dreams, and hopes.
I have also heard from women who don’t get it yet, but are trying. “Are there really women who need this?” a new mom asked when she heard the subject matter. A teaching opportunity! I shared with her some of the stories I’ve heard from LWB members, and helped her to better understand why the holidays can be so hard on us. Another close friend, who knows my background, compared the “labors” of my “birthing” of a book to the anticipation and excitement that builds from months of pregnancy through to the delivery of a precious child. I know there is no malice in her comments; she’s trying to relate to my experience from her own perspective. I get that, but that she doesn’t yet get why her comments are inappropriate is stunning to me (and ultimately a bit funny).
Finally, I’ve encountered a few people who don’t get it at all…and never will. Like my seatmate at a dinner party who, after listening politely (or so I thought) to my description of the book, interrupted me mid-sentence to tell me about how she should write a book about all of her interesting life experiences. I spent an evening trapped into listening to her talk about herself, and got confirmation that she hadn’t paid the least bit of attention to me when we said our good-byes. “If you ever write a book not about moms, I’d love to read it. Call me!” Um…it’s a book about non-moms, but whatever. I won’t be calling.
Each encounter could be a cause for me to cry or laugh or simply appreciate the beautiful spectrum of the human experiences. I will say, though, that I am getting better at avoiding the not-getters. There are too many wonderful getters out there, and I love basking in their glow.
Just in time for the not-always-happy holidays, Lisa Manterfield and Kathleen Guthrie Woods have released Life Without Baby Holiday Companion, a collection of classic blog posts that offer inspiration and encouragement for getting through the season when you’re childfree. The book is available here on our site and on Amazon.