Chance/Choice: Real Stories

Any woman who’s cried herself to sleep at the arrival of her period may find it hard to imagine much in common with a woman who knew at age 12 that motherhood wasn’t for her. Nevertheless, life without children in a Mom-centered world can spark a “square peg” reaction in every NotMom.

*Guidelines for Guest Posts

→ IS MY CHILDLESSNESS GOOD OR BAD?  “For the most part, I have always been at peace in regards to not 

S Nelsonhaving children.  However, when I was 39, I became menopausal, much earlier than I could have imagined. At the time, I had just experienced a major surgery, which may have had something to do with it but I couldn’t prove it.  Nevertheless, it was then that I felt a stab of pain at no longer having a choice.

“For me, it’s always been about “the choice”.  As long as I thought I had a choice I was fine being childless. But, as soon as that choice no longer existed, I resisted the shift in my status and felt resentful.  Those feelings lasted a couple of years. After much soul searching, I saw that unhealthy relationship choices and unresolved inner turmoil had almost killed me.”

With newfound forgiveness, and a sense of gratitude for how life had unfolded, I discovered the need to nurture was real for me. I re-directed my energies to find balance between my needs and desires. Read More from guest writer Shirley Nelson

couple ← LABELING: Have you been called a DINK? It’s certainly not inaccurate to slap a label of “Dual Income, No Kids” on a NotMom and her partner, but delivered in the wrong context, the term can be hurtful, furthering an Us vs. Them mentality.

Also heard: DINKY (adds the qualifier, “Yet”); THINK (Two Healthy Incomes, No Kids); and THINKER (adds the qualifier, “Early Retirement”),

→ ACCEPTANCE & COMMUNITY: “I guess you could say I’m childless by happenstance.  Lately, D Melman-Clementthough, it hasn’t been a very happy happenstance. I always imagined I’d have kids. I just didn’t feel any pressure to do it right away, and without that pressure, it didn’t happen for me… [At 43, I started] a four-year odyssey that has included long, costly explorations of all forms of adoption, and fertility treatments. The deeper we explored, the more desperate I became. My desperation was hard on me and on those who were close to me.

“Last spring, I realized that the only escape route from the vortex of my despair was to accept my childlessness for what it is and live my life fully, fearlessly and joyfully, while wholeheartedly enjoying the benefits of life without kids. Sounds healthy, right? Of course it’s healthy, but that doesn’t mean it’s been easy.” Read more from guest writer Deborah Melman-Clement.

bingo ← BINGO! Boards for  “Childfree Bingo,”and “Breeder Bingo” are available many places online, with each grid square representing a phrase frequently heard by adults without children. What I didn’t know is that you don’t have to yell “Bingo!” to use the word as a verb.  As in, “I was so surprised when my sister bingoed me. I thought we were past that.” Read More

Andrea Peterson

Andrea Peterson

→ CHILDFREE AFTER 50: “I don’t remember ever seeing a family without children when I was growing up, unless the woman was medically unable to reproduce.

I horrified the surgeon who took out my tonsils when I asked him to take out my uterus at the same time – at 13 – because I knew I never wanted to be a parent.  Of course, he just took out the tonsils.

I have never had any regrets about not having children, and the longer I live, the more this personal choice has proved it was the correct one for me.  In my newly discovered freedom and independence as a widow, I’ve become my own child.

As I grow into new adulthood, I give myself the love, approval, kindness, support, understanding, and forgiveness I lacked as a child, and which I would have given to any child I gave birth to if I had desired to be a parent. I’m a parent despite being childless in the traditional sense – I’ve given birth to a better me, after 50.” Read More from guest writer Andrea Peterson

dark-girls ← CHILDFREE COLORS: Through her cable TV network OWN, Oprah delivered the acclaimed documentary Dark Girls to a global audience, introducing many viewers to longstanding prejudices against dark-skinned women that exist around the world. It’s the story of colorism within communities of color, not another re-telling of white vs. black racism.

Dark Girls presents so many sad, troubling real-life situations that it’s difficult to rate them, but one NotMom’s comment stood out. She said, “If I had a little girl, I didn’t want her to be dark like me.” Read More

cabbage patch → CHILDFREE IN HIGH SCHOOL: The project lasted a week. We had to carry our babies around with us at school all day. We had to care for them at home and take them with us anywhere we went that week. The baby couldn’t go unsupervised. We also needed to feed them at designated intervals throughout the day. I don’t remember at all how the teacher kept us honest about that. Our teachers and our parents needed to sign reports each day to let our parenting teacher know how we did. By day 2, I hated my flour baby.

My adorable little boy, who I named Erik Daniel because I thought it sounded pretty, was heavy and making me miserable. I wanted to abandon him. Sometimes I even thought I might resort to violence. The feelings I had toward a doll with pennies taped to it were unnatural and terrifying. I knew at that moment that I was probably not cut out for motherhood. Read more from team writer Laura LaVoie

↓ BY CHOICE AND BY CHANCE: A woman took my business card and then said, “Oh, that’s me! I’m choice-a-or-b2 a NotMom.”  The surprise was that when asked if she is “by choice or by chance,” she replied: “Both.” She went on to explain that she’d spent much of her 20s trying to conceive. Throughout the process, she promised herself that if she weren’t pregnant by 35, she’d stop trying. Which is what she did. Read More

→ THINKING OF A RETREAT?   Programming designed for NotMoms is uncommon, so you can imagine my surprise when I was invited to a pregnancy loss retreat a few years ago. Developed as a healing ritual, it offered the promise of very specialized closure. Consider developing a ritual or retreat that might ease your internal stress or heartache.

Ten women —strangers until that day— spent an entire Saturday sharing their stories. Most were like me, childless by chance, or happenstance.  We each had different reasons why adoption, or surrgogacy, or whatever, wasn’t tried, or failed. The facilitator was finding her own acceptance of infertility, and she structured a day that ranged from prayer, singing, dancing, arts and crafts (Tibetan prayer flags), talking and listening.

That may be why the retreat’s most powerful session featured solitary walks through an outdoor labyrinth.  As each woman began walking, a gong rang once as she spoke the name of her unborn child. (Not one woman had to think hard about it: every one of us knew exactly what we would have named our child.) Read More

Kim Fox (Credit: Josee Valcourt (@jv1804))

Kim Fox

← A MOM WITH NOT MOM FRIENDS: At first I thought I had just a handful of childless friends. Then, I started to compile a list of women I know over the age of 30 who don’t have children. The list started to get long. So far it’s about 25.

I’ve tried to guess how why my friends are childless, without being invasive and outright asking them. Obviously, the reasons could be private. What I do know is that the reasons are diverse. For example, some haven’t found the right mate, or it’s possible that they’ve waited too long. Another friend had been trying with intense effort to get pregnant over the past year, but so far it hasn’t panned out.

Regardless of any statistics, women who’ve wanted to have children, but end up without them probably already know that they’re a significant part of a larger familial picture by being exceptional aunts and godmothers. Isn’t that a blessing? Filling up the nieces and nephews with popsicles and candy and then returning them to their rightful parents? Read More from guest writer Kim Fox