This is a hot Whiny Wednesday topic and I’m sure you’ve all heard this at some point. I’d love to hear your thoughts:
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
This is a hot Whiny Wednesday topic and I’m sure you’ve all heard this at some point. I’d love to hear your thoughts:
“Why don’t you just adopt?”
If you feel like you’re alone on this journey, I have some good news for you.
Today I am helping Jody Day of Gateway Women kick off a blog tour for the release of the second edition of her excellent book, Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children. Between now and March 19, the book’s publication day in the U.K., the tour will visit twenty-four blogs around the world, each with its own community of childless and women men.
That statistic by itself makes me feel less alone. We, my friends, are no longer lurking in the shadows. We are out there finding one another and traveling along this bumpy path together.
And here are some more statistics to give you hope. In the updated resources section of this new edition, Jody lists:
Often on this blog, I try to emphasize that you are not alone. I hope these resources and statistics will help validate that for you, and give you some new places to find information, support and compassion.
Living the Life Unexpected: How to Find Hope, Meaning and a Fulfilling Future Without Children comes out on March 19, and Jody has kindly offered a copy of the book for me to give away. Just post a comment below and I’ll select one commenter at random on March 19.
You can also enter to win at the other blog stops on the tour. You can find the complete list of tour stops here. The links will be updated as the posts go live
If you’d like to support Jody and her work and guarantee your very own copy of the book, you can pre-order a copy from here.
‘The book to recommend to patients when they face coming to terms with unavoidable childlessness.’ British Medical Journal
In Living the Life Unexpected, Jody Day addresses the experience of involuntary childlessness and provides a powerful, practical guide to help those negotiating a future without children come to terms with their grief; a grief that is only just beginning to be recognised by society.
This friendly, practical, humorous and honest guide from one of the world’s most respected names in childless support offers compassion and understanding and shows how it’s possible to move towards a creative, happy, meaningful and fulfilling future – even if it’s not the one you had planned.
Millions of people are now living a life without children, almost double that of a generation ago and the numbers are rising still. Although some are childfree by choice, many others are childless due to infertility or circumstance and are struggling to come to terms with their uncertain future. Although most people think that those without children either ‘couldn’t’ or ‘didn’t want’ to be parents, the truth is much more complex.
Jody Day was forty-four when she realized that her quest to be a mother was at an end. She presumed that she was through the toughest part, but over the next couple of years she was hit by waves of grief, despair and isolation. Eventually she found her way and in 2011 created Gateway Women, the global friendship and support network for childless women which has now helped almost two million people worldwide.
This edition, previously titled Rocking the Life Unexpected, has been extensively revised and updated, with significant additional content and case studies from forty involuntarily childless people (mostly women) from around the world.
And finally, if you’re looking for Mother’s Day support this year, Jody will be doing a webinar.
Free ‘Coping with Mother’s Day’ Webinar – Jody Day & Guests – Sat 14th March, 5pm GMT
This free webinar will be recorded and available to view/share on the Gateway Women website afterwards. We’re looking at the ways different experiences of childlessness and Mother’s Day can painfully intersect, offering insight, support and self-care tips.
“I take pleasure in my transformations. I look quiet and consistent, but few know how many women there are in me.”
There’s an idea going around that not having children somehow makes us “less of a woman.” I don’t subscribe to this idea.
As this quote by author Anaïs Nin states, I am many, many women, and “mother” is only one element of me.
I am a writer, friend, wife, cat mama, reader, thinker, curser, fighter, nature-lover, spider catcher, traveler, cook, gardener, daughter.
All these women are fluid. They ebb and flow in me as needed. And when one of them isn’t able to fulfill her purpose, the others quickly rally to fill the gap, so I am always whole.
I am never less of a woman.
I have a large scar on my left knee. It has black lines of grit in it, and smooth patches of scar tissue that catch the light on an otherwise rough patch of skin.
My scar is 30 years old and I don’t think about it very often anymore. It doesn’t hurt, even when I poke it, and the wound that caused it healed long ago.
But if I think back to the day I got my scar, all the memories and the pain come flooding back. I remember the bike accident. I remember riding through the trees on a gorgeous sunny day, laughing with my friends and flirting with a boy I liked. I remember trying to get his attention and catching my front wheel on his back tire. I don’t recall sailing through the air, but I must have done, because I do remember skidding along the trail, trading bits of knee for bits of trail.
I remember sitting in the bath at home and crying as my mum tried to clean the wound. And I remember my older brother—a bit of an expert on injuries and scars—gently coaxing me to scrub out the grit or be left with a terrible scar.
I also have a vague recollection of a discussion among adults (not my parents) about plastic surgery and what a shame it would be if a “pretty girl” was disfigured by an ugly scar.
It all happened so long ago, but dredging up these memories can bring back all that pain, my embarrassment, the tenderness of my brother, the feeling that my scar would make me “less than” I could have been. I can feel all of it again as if it had happened in more recent memory.
I feel this way about my infertility and childlessness, too. Most days, I don’t think about it anymore. But lately I’ve been writing about grief and loss, and some of those awful feelings of sadness, anger, and deep, deep loss have been coming back to me.
It’s taught me that the healing process for emotional scars is much the same as for physical scars.
You have to suffer some terrible pain to clean the wound. You have to struggle through the initial all-consuming grief. You have to ask for support from people who might not know how to give it. You have to walk again, even if every step is agony. You’ll meet people who will see you as damaged and less than you could have been, because you no longer fit into their ideal of perfect.
But over time the healing begins. You’ll knock your healing wound a few times and break it open again. In one particularly unfortunate incident, you’ll fall on the same wound and end up with a double scar. But you’ll remember how much you loved riding a bike and you’ll take it up again. And you’ll meet new people, who don’t care whether you have one ugly knee, because they’re more interested in some other facet of who you are. And you’ll realize that being a “pretty girl” wasn’t what you were destined to be anyway, and you’re happy being an outdoorsy girl who’s accumulated a multitude of scars since then.
And when you’re shaving your legs (which is trickier because of the scar) you might sometimes recall how you got the scar and the pain you went through. But most days, you won’t even think about.
Having a big scar on my knee means I never got the opportunity to be a leg model, but I got to be so many other things instead, things that have made my life journey quite interesting. My infertility scar is much newer than my knee scar, but it is healing in ways I couldn’t have imagined when it was new and raw. And the things I never got to do or be have left room for so many other opportunities.
As the New Year begins and everyone around you is posting about goals for the year ahead, do you find it hard to envision a future that doesn’t include children?
This is the topic for this week’s Whiny Wednesday:
Tell us what’s going on with you.
Well, here we are in 2020, and I think it’s safe to say that most of us are ready to see the back of last year. Between political craziness, tragic news stories, and a general feeling of uneasiness in the world, I’m ready for a fresh start.
I do love the New Year for the potential it brings in terms of a clean slate and the chance to make big changes. And yet, in the past, I’ve ended up putting pressure on myself to fix all the things that are wrong with me. My goals have included losing weight, exercising more, doing a better job of keeping in touch with people, and on and on—a long list of things I’m doing wrong.
But a couple of years ago, I started to change my outlook. Instead of treating myself like something broken that needed fixing, I began looking for my potential and making progress with the things I’m doing right. Last week, I wrote a post about it, Looking for Potential. Do take a look as I think you’ll find it a kinder, gentler way of approaching the New Year.
So, as we go into this year, I want to encourage you to be kind to yourself, too. Instead of trying to fix a laundry list of shortcomings, perhaps you could look for where you’ve made progress over the last year and focus your energy there.
For example, let’s say you have a friend who you’ve avoided because her children are the same ages yours would have been and you can’t bear to see her. Maybe you ran into her last year and realized you’ve missed her company. Could you set a goal to reach out to her, give her a call or send a quick email note, maybe broach the topic of getting together?
Or perhaps you’ve been reading this blog for a while or working your way through my, or someone else’s, book and you’ve hit a spot where you feel stuck. Maybe a goal would be to find a therapist, counsellor, or support group and get some additional help.
This healing process takes time. Oh, man, does it take time! But progress is made by inching forward a little at a time. So, don’t try to take giant steps forward. Instead, be kind to yourself and take the tiniest, most doable step possible, something you can actually accomplish and feel good about.
How could you inch forward on your journey this year? What’s the smallest, no-sweat step you could take? Let us know in the comments, and if you need a little encouragement to take it, just ask.
For now, I wish for you a genuinely happy new year.
It has been a pretty wild year, hasn’t it? I am certainly hoping that 2020 shows some big improvements.
But, before we close out this year, here is your last opportunity to rant this year. It’s an open forum (within reason), so feel free to get things off your chest so we can start fresh next year.
The Things I Can Never Talk About
You are being heard. -x-
“Are you the adult you dreamed of becoming?”
I laughed when I read this question on Facebook. No! Of course I’m not. The adult I dreamed of was an international engineering consultant, living in a large house with a circular driveway, with a fabulous husband and four beautiful children, including one set of twins.
Aside from the fabulous husband, that adult is almost the polar opposite of the adult I am now. I’m a writer, who works from my very small rented beach cottage, and of course, there are no children in my picture. And yet, once I stop to consider my friend’s question, I realize that I’m a lot happier as this adult than I would have been had my expectations been met. I’ve met the person I’d once dreamed of becoming; she wasn’t a very happy person and she definitely had more grey hairs than me.
Half the battle of coming-to-terms with a life without children is letting go of our expectations—and creating new ones. This is never more true than during the holiday season, one of the most difficult times of the year to be childless.
When I think of my expectations of what Christmas should be like as an adult, those four children are always there, gathered around the tree, gathered around the dinner table, and then gathered around me as the day comes to a close. Even when I realized that children wouldn’t be part of my life, I still strived to make Christmas live up to my expectations. Consequently, Christmastime was very sad time for a number of years. I knew there was no way my expectations could be met, and eventually I stopped making an effort to celebrate.
The worst year was when my husband and I found ourselves sitting at home, with no Christmas tree, no plans, no celebration, and we knew we’d allowed our lack of children to take over our lives. We also realized it was time to set new, more realistic expectations.
When I took a step back and looked at what I really wanted for Christmas, not on the surface of gifts, family, and decorations, but on a deeper emotional level, I discovered that my spiritual wish list included love, peacefulness, companionship, and a good dose of silly fun. I needed to explore new ways to get what I really wanted.
It took a couple of false starts to find a new way to celebrate Christmas, but a couple of years ago we nailed it. Mr. Fab and I rented an apartment for three days in a nearby beach town. We celebrated on Christmas Eve with a lovely dinner at an historic hotel with an enormous Christmas tree, roving carolers, and even an outdoor ice rink (in Southern California!). On Christmas Day, instead of sitting at home feeling sad about a pathetic Christmas for two, we went to the zoo, like a couple of big kids, and had a whale of a time. I even got to feed a rhino and have an ice cream. We both agreed it was the best Christmas we’ve had for a long time, plus there were no tantrums or mountains of dirty dishes to deal with.
It’s hard to let go of our expectations, especially when they’re often so deeply engrained, but if you’re struggling to find your holiday cheer this year, I encourage you to look beneath the obvious losses and examine what’s really missing for you. Even if you can’t meet your tangible expectations of what the holidays should be, you might be surprised to find you can satisfy your true needs in unconventional—and unexpected—ways.
“I still haven’t figured out how to make friends with people my own age (40s) who have children. I often feel disposable, or okay to invite to things when it suits them. I’m a thoughtful, caring person who deserves better.”
What do you think about this? It’s Whiny Wednesday, so let it all out.
~ "a raw, transparent account of the gut-wrenching journey of infertility."
~ "a welcome sanity check for women left to wonder how society became so fixated on motherhood."