Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday to Me
Happy Birthday Crazy Cat Lady
Happy Birthday to Me!
Sure, it’s not what I hoped, planned and dreamed for. Not what I spent the years from 29-43 trying to make happen in one way or another.
But at 49, it’s more that OK. It’s great.
Doing my grief work means that I’m out the other side now – a different person. My busted-open heart has been put back together in a new configuration. I think it might be bigger than before. The scar of my childlessness is a tender spot and it can still hurt if touched directly. I’m OK with that, I can live with that – it used to be an open wound. And anyway, it would be weird if I was able to ‘get over’ childlessness 100% – it’s not the flu. One of my old boyfriends died when still very young and if I see someone who reminds me of him, my heart hurts. Those scars on my heart are memories of people I’ve loved. And I loved my children. I just never met them.
Let me think about my childless life today:
- I do work that I love and which is making a difference in the world and continuously stretches and excites me.
- I’m connected to a fantastic global tribe of absolutely rocking women who support me, inspire me and cheer me on.
- I’ve just finished writing a book that I feel really good about.
- I have a peaceful and serene home again thanks to the support of my family.
- I love my cat and she loves me. She was my kitten when I was married and she was returned to me after almost a decade’s absence by magical means on my birthday last year.
- I have a great relationship with the young people in my life and it seems to be mutual.
There are dark days, yes – but I think mothers have their share of those too. And wives. And girlfriends.
Being single once you’re no longer looking for someone to be the father of your children isn’t actually that bad. I work a lot. I talk to the cat. I get to spend my time with really, really interesting women. It could be a lot worse.
Birthdays can be really hard when you’re still hopeful of having a baby because they mark another year of both your eggs and your dreams going stale. Birthdays can be really hard too when you are mourning your old identity and trying to negotiate a new one as a childless woman in our culture today. The messages aren’t great: barren, spinster, career woman, weirdo, not a ‘real woman’, leftover, left out, old maid, on the shelf, past her sell-by date, mad old cat lady, witch, etc.
Well, I’m a divorced, childless, barren, leftover career woman. I’m past my sell-by date, single, menopausal, middle-aged and happy. Spot the word you weren’t expecting. Happy.
How to do it? Stop reading women’s magazine, unplug from mainstream media and find the company of other childless-by-circumstance women. Gateway Women has an amazing private online community which is a great way to get to know women near you. We’re 1 in 5 women by the age of 45, maybe more if you’re born in the 70s. And we’re actually pretty awesome.
Happy Birthday Childless Me! I’m celebrating my 49th year of Childlessness! And looking forward to the joy, meaning and change I can create, enjoy and leave behind over the next 30 years, Goddess willing.
The day I see that on a Hallmark Card my work here is done.
Jody Day is a London-based writer. She set up the Gateway Women network in 2011 to support, inspire and empower childless by circumstance women (like herself) as they develop meaningful and fulfilling lives without children. Jody runs groups, workshops and retreats for hopeful mothers-to-be who are ‘running out of time’, as well as for those women reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that motherhood didn’t happen for them. Jody also consults with individuals and organisations and she regularly speaks out in public, in the media and online about issues and prejudices facing childless women in our society today. Neither a bitter spinster nor a dried up old hag, Jody puts her heart, mind, and soul into lovingly and mischievously subverting the stereotype of the ‘childless woman’. She is living proof that your Plan B can rock too! Watch her talk at the Women of the World Festival in March 2013 on “Creating a Meaningful & Fulfilling Life Without Children” in under 10-mins, with jokes!