World Childless Week - September 16-22, 2019
My experience of childlessness has been a mixed bag filled with both sadness and joy.
Sadness that came of the longing I once had for a child—sometimes a longing of my body, sometimes a longing driven by feeling left out of the momming club, sometimes what from others’ disappointments about my choice.
Joy because I was choosing. Choosing the love I had with Bill, a man who did not want children. Joy because other possibilities filled the space a child might have taken. The joy of being a childless aunt. Joy in freedom of time and resources. Joy because I was taking a journey that was not expected.
For years I held the sadness in a secret place. I didn’t want pity. I wanted to project an image of sureness in my decision to stay with Bill even though he did not want children. Eventually, I learned to surrender to these parallel feelings, joy and sadness. To be curious and explore them rather than try to sit on one side or another. We humans can be and feel many thing at once, we can hold many emotions side-by-side.
But it wasn’t until I started writing my memoir, This. Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story, that I began sharing with others about the sadness that sat next to the joy. And as I wrote, andI shared what I was writing about with others. I found out I was not alone. There are many of us. Between 20 and 25 percent of the population of women do not have children. Some by choice, some by circumstance, some by infertility or loss. We are a community.
Three years ago, Stephanie Phillps founded World Childless Week. WCW marksout time and space for people who are childless not by choice to share, connect, support, and celebrate each other. During the week, you can read and listen and witness, through webinars, the multifaceted experience of childlessness. If you want to contribute your story, here are ways to get involved (deadline for submission is August 31, 2019) I am delighted to be a part of WCW this year, which will be held September 16th through the 22nd. I will be involved both as an advocate and as a participant.
My book, along with four others, will be offered as a giveaway. Details here: On Friday, September 20th, Bill and I will be hosted by Stephanie Phillips in a webinar focused on the topic for the day, “Comments That Hurt.” We will talk about our own journey as a couple who had this one stunning difference between us, and how we navigated that difference. And we will look at ways to respond to the thoughtless comments of others and how to keep those comments from becoming knives that we wound ourselves with.