Tag Archives: finding your purpose

The Lust for Transformation

3 Nov

transformation screenshotBeing ‘us’ is just too damn hard some days. We long for the transformation of motherhood, as much as for the delight of meeting our children. We are bored shitless of our inner worlds, of trying to ‘realise our potential’, tired of self-help books that promise to make it all better.

But without motherhood as our existential “Get out of Jail Free” card, we are thrown back onto ourselves and into what I think of as the lust for transformation. At its core, transformation, self-improvement and self-development all carry the same toxic message: “You’re not OK. There’s something wrong with you.”

Ten years ago, when I first came out of denial about the mess that my marriage was in, I read every self-help book I could lay my hands on. I’m a fast reader at the best of times, but that year, I must have read the A-Z of the genre. And I realised (rather smugly, I must confess) that most of them had, at their core, two messages: “Know Thyself” and “To Thine Own Self be True.”  Well, that can’t be too hard, I thought.

But what these books also implied, and this is what made them books and not fridge magnets, was that there was something essentially wrong, dodgy and sub-standard about that ‘own self’ that needed fixing before it was really safe, wise or even legal to be ‘true’ to it.  And so I bought the books, not the fridge-magnets, and launched onto an epic journey of self-development, of self-improvement.

We live in a capitalist culture that tells us that everything can be fixed. That if we make better decisions, try a bit harder, we’ll automatically have better outcomes. For those of us who’ve come up against the intractability of not having a family when you wanted one, we begin to realise that this ideology is bogus. That maybe the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes after all…

George Orwell wrote that “During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” and sometimes it feels that in duping ourselves (individually and collectively) into believing that motherhood is the ‘answer’ to our problems we’ve swallowed a bit fat lie. And one that does disservice to all women. And that includes mothers, who aren’t meant to have any ‘problems’ as being a mother is so ‘fulfilling’.

It’s only since the pill became widely available in the mid-sixties that women were able to ‘think’ about becoming mothers, and delay that biological possibility  whilst they pondered on it. And one of the inconvenient truths we’ve discovered is that creating a life of meaning is harder than it looks, whilst motherhood looks (from the outside) like a doozy.

Those of us who had tough childhoods and/or unhappy mothers may have thought “I don’t want that” and, unaware that we had the choice to be a different kind of mother, may have used careers, poor relationship choices and contraception as a way of avoiding the unprocessed disappointments and traumas of our youth.  It takes turning 40 for many women to realise that they need to know where they stand on the whole ‘baby issue’. And what often comes up then is a fear of regret. Well, I’ll go further than that – an absolute terror of regret. A fear of a life which is going to consist of just ‘more of this’. More of the same. More of being ‘us’.

We long to belong, and we see that motherhood is a lifetime belonging sentence – it’s a decision that you can’t turn back from, and there’s a strange existential comfort in that. Once you’re a mother, you’re locked into your decision –  which, if you’ve spent a long time vacillating about it, feels like a reassuringly restrictive freedom. Freedom from the eternal ‘what ifs’. Freedom from the freedom to wonder about it. Freedom from the fear of regret. Freedom from your inner dialogue. Ultimately freedom from yourself and from the human condition.

Well, that’s the rubbish we project onto it anyway. There is no freedom from the human condition. That’s why it’s called the human condition. Some mothers may be too busy ‘juggling’ to have time to think about the human condition, but they have a whole load of other things to worry about instead. And then their children leave home and they look back over the last 20 years of their life and think “what happened to ‘me’?”

And so, without motherhood, we are thrown back on ourselves. Our faulty, imperfect, dodgy and flawed selves that were responsible for all the crappy decisions that created the life we’re genuinely not that impressed with.

So, obviously, we need an upgrade. Because what else will we screw up otherwise?! So we buy some more books, start a new diet, give up this, start that and continue ‘working’ on ourselves. We go into therapy, join an ashram, go vegan, start internet dating, stop internet dating or just give up altogether and plan to spend the rest of our lives in our pajamas. Sometimes, checking out completely seems attractive, but what if that’s the wrong decision too? What if we get to spend an eternity wondering if we should have done something differently?!

Hang on a minute: what if there was a shocking, radical and counter-cultural way out of this? One that flies in the face of everything that the media tells us, everything that we have absorbed from the culture and made part of our inner world. One that fits on a fridge-magnet:

self acceptance

So simple. But utterly radical.

I choose to accept my failures, my disappointments, my lack of clarity. I choose to accept my mistakes, my screw-ups, my regrets. I choose to accept my size 14 body, the muffin-top that generously embraces my waist, the lines on my face and the thread veins on my thighs. I choose to accept my divorce, my singleness, my low days and my failure to live up to my potential. I choose to accept myself in all my imperfect humanness.

And in choosing acceptance, something remarkable has happened, and continues to happen. Blow me down if it’s not transformation by the back door!

  • By accepting my failures, I am able to recognise my strengths (goodbye low self-esteem)
  • By accepting my mistakes, I am able to seek and handle criticism (which has broadened my definition of myself and gives me new information when it comes to making decisions).
  • By accepting my childlessness, I have been able to grieve for the dream of motherhood, and also to understand how much else was bound up in that goal that I didn’t want to take responsiblity for. I have grown up.
  • By accepting that sadness and loneliness are part of life, not a personal failure, I’ve learned to enjoy my own company a lot more and meet and make new friends and connections
  • By accepting that I don’t look like a supermodel in a bikini, I can finally be comfortable in my skin, which is a great feeling, and a pretty sexy one too.
  • By accepting that some days it’s just all too much, I’ve discovered that self-care is not the same thing as self-indulgence
  • By accepting my humanity, I can joyously and impishly celebrate the remarkableness of my individuality

We are the first generation of women who are discovering the space that not being a mother opens up.  The childfree amongst of us chose this new way of life, whilst many of us are reluctant pioneers. Never before in the history of our civilisation has our way of life been possible for so many women. It’s hardly surprising that there’s no road map, and precious few roads. It’s raw open country, a new territory. We are defining what it means to be a woman cut loose from the ties of biology. Our loving consciousness longs to find a home, but we have to build it first.

But before we can build a new house, we need to feel that we’re worth it. That we’re not failures. That our life is not a punishment for getting it wrong.

You are fine the way you are. You don’t need to be fixed. The world is broken, not you. And it looks like it’s our job to fix it, not ourselves. 

Put that on a fridge magnet!

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Jo Cameron Women Achievers Academy Champion Finalist

Imperfect me has been nominated for an award as a Women’s Champion by Jo Cameron’s Achievers Academy for Women. Not for mothers. For women. I find out on Friday 9th November at the ceremony if I’ve won. The other women look amazing too, and I’m really looking forward to meeting them.

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Last workshops this year London 4th NovemberLondon 8/9 December

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Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)Jody Day is the Founder of Gateway Women: an organisation she founded to support, inspire and empower childless-by-circumstance women to live fertile, passionate, meaningful lives. She works with women who are still hopeful of becoming mothers as well as those for whom that time has passed.  She holds a certificate in integrative counselling and is training to qualify as an integrative psychotherapist. Jody runs groups & workshops for Gateway Women, and also offers one-to-ones for women looking to explore issues around identity, maternity & fertility. A Godmother & Aunt many times over, but never a mother, she speaks regularly at events and is always looking to share her empowering message with new audiences. If you would like Jody to speak at one of your events, or to write for your blog or magazine, please contact her at jody@gateway-women.com

For priority booking for all future Gateway Women events including further dates/locations for UK and international workshops and online groups, please add your name or update your details on the mailing list.

Creating a new life for yourself as a childless woman

29 Aug
Woman dancing in front of flames

Why are we so afraid of creativity?

Creativity is one of the words that brings out the ‘woo woo’ faster than almost anything else. It’s as if it’s the one word guaranteed to make our inner bitch jump up and say “no thank you, we don’t do that around here!” before you’ve even had a chance to open your mouth.

Why is creativity so scary?

I’ve come to believe that creativity is one of the roots of recovery from involuntary childlessness. However, it’s quite easy to become so comfortable with our “poor me I couldn’t have children” persona that we’re actually a bit reluctant to let go of it. I mean, if we weren’t feeling so sorry for ourselves, and blaming how shitty we feel about our lives on our childlessness, we might actually have to do something about it…

And that ‘doing something about it’ nearly always involves change. And change is scary. Terrifying actually.

I have a theory (road tested to exhaustion in my own life) that we only change when the pain of changing becomes less painful than the pain of not changing. I can be as stubborn as a mule when it comes to hanging onto things that make me miserable. Call me a martyr, call me a masochist… or call me human.

Creativity and change are two aspects of the same thing. It’s about making something new happen. Bringing into being something that would never have existed unless you’d been alive. And one of the reasons it’s so scary is that once we take that first step, we don’t know where we’re heading. We’re building a new path to a new destination and there’s no guarantee that when we get there we’re going to like it.

But if we don’t like where we are, isn’t it worth the risk? (Nope. I’m staying right here. You go first.)

Sometimes it seems unfair that not only did we not get to be mothers, but that now we have to take responsibility for our own happiness. Some booby prize, huh?

Fed up of change

Sometimes, when I’m feeling fed up of transformation, and the pain of letting go, I get a bit nostalgic for denial. With my imperfect memory I fantasise that I was happy then, even though my dreams were dripping with monsters and gore and I simply couldn’t stop eating.  I mean, it got to the point where I was sleepwalking and eating simultaneously to keep those monsters at bay! In the end I had a spontaneous Kundalini awakening on a Monday afternoon ten years ago (sounds more fun than it was) and the ‘monsters’ won. Turned out they were on my side after all. Since then change has become my constant companion. And we bitch at each other from time to time like all constant companions tend to do.

I think one of the things that makes us fear change is the idea that ‘letting go’ of the past means ‘losing it forever’ – but that’s not been my experience. Through the changes of the last ten years my past lives on, but in a different way. It’s now integrated into the person I’ve become, and keep becoming. I view my past through a different lens now, and am a lot kinder to the person I was then, and some of the dumb decisions I made, and blamed others for.

The process of change accelerated massively over the last four years once I accepted that I would never become a biological mother. Sometimes I have been quite terrified by the way that my life seemed to be on fire – relationships, careers, hopes, security, ambition, self-image – the whole damn show on the bonfire. The dream of becoming a mother was the last to go, but boy did it make a big bang when it went!

In alchemical terms, this process is called ‘calcinato’ which means to be purified by fire. And out of that fire comes the phoenix. Many of us are familiar with the symbol of the phoenix, but tend to draw a veil over the process of being burned alive. I know, I’m selling it really well…!

Blowing the doors off the car

One of the (many) reasons that creativity is so scary is because we know, I mean we really know, that even allowing ourselves a tiny side-trip into it will begin a process of rediscovery and change that could blow the doors off the car. That we might risk taking our happiness into our own hands again and relinquish our identity as “that poor woman who really wanted to have children and it didn’t work out for her.” But we don’t yet know what we’ll put in its place. We’ve got so used to feeling left-out, hard-done-by, unlucky and pissed off that we wonder if we’ve lost the knack of being any other way.

As Erica Jong wrote, “Take your life in your own hands and what happens? A terrible thing – no one to blame.”

If your back’s against the wall and you’re sufficiently fed up with how you feel about how your life has worked out, please listen to the quiet voice that says to you “I really want to go ice-skating again” or, “Wouldn’t it be great to actually go to Paris” or, “I wonder if my potter’s wheel still works?” or “Maybe I could write a blog?”…

Your soul is calling you. It’s ready. And so are you. Put your oven gloves on Kitty, it’s going to get toasty in here!

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At the time of writing there are still a few places left on the two Gateway Women Groups starting this September in London. Still Hopeful (Wednesday eves from 5th September) is for women who are still able to have a child and are being gripped by the silent misery and toxic shame of thwarted motherhood; Reignite! (Monday eves from 10th September) is for women who are no longer able to have a child and would like some support, inspiration & encouragement to get their Plan B going! Both groups last 12 weeks and follow a structured series of steps to arrive at a new way of dealing with your situation. 

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Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)Jody Day is a London-based writer and the Founder of Gateway Women: an organization she founded in 2011 to support, inspire and empower childless-by-circumstance women to live fertile, passionate, meaningful lives. Gateway Women is for women who are still hopeful of becoming mothers, and also for those for whom that time has passed.  She holds a certificate in integrative counselling and is training to qualify as an integrative psychotherapist. Jody runs groups & workshops for Gateway Women, and also offers one-to-ones for women looking to explore issues around identity, maternity & fertility. A Godmother & Aunt many times over but never a mother, she speaks regularly at events and is always looking to share her empowering message with new audiences. If you would like Jody to speak at one of your events, or to write for your blog or magazine, please contact her at jody@gateway-women.com

For priority booking for all future Gateway Women events including our upcoming series of monthly talks, please check that you’re on the events mailing list by clicking here.

What the hell am I going to do with my life if I don’t have a baby?

21 Aug
empty birds nest

What am I going to do with my life if I don’t have a baby?

This is the question that haunts you: What the hell am I going to do with my life if I don’t have a baby?

It’s often the driver that keeps the engine of anxiety churning, night and day… It’s the 3am question par excellence, although we’re a bit sheepish to admit it to anyone.

I’ve got some good news and some bad news

  • The Good News: Once you’ve got to the time where ‘running out of time to have a baby’ becomes ‘I ran out of time to have a baby’ things get a whole lot simpler.
  • The Bad News: It may get a whole lot simpler, but the solutions don’t get easier.

Why not being a mother sucks

If we put aside the biological drive to have children for a moment, one of the things we crave from having a child is to create a family. Becoming part of something bigger than ourselves. Becoming the most important person in the world to another human being. Taking on the lifelong task of being the best mother you can.

  • Being a mother is, perhaps, one of the most important jobs on the planet. Even world leaders, prophets and dictators answer to their mothers, for good or ill!
  • Being a mother in our culture is meaningful, has status and gets you out of your own way forever.
  • As a friend once said to me when she had her first child “I don’t have to worry what my life’s about any more” – being a mother is an existential ‘get out of jail free’ card. You’re off the hook, meaning-wise.

When you’re a mother, the thing that has the potential to make the difference between a good day and a bad day, happiness and despair, fulfilment and frustration is… your children. Your work may or may not be a source of fulfilment for you, but being a good mother is something you don’t need anyone else’s permission for.

DIY happiness

If you don’t have children, you can’t delegate the major part of your happiness, fulfillment and meaning to your role as a mother and your delight in your children. You have to do it for yourself. And the feedback loop is invisible - no cheery little people smiling and hugging you, no knowing smiles of approval from other parents, no special day in the calendar to tell you how wonderful you are and how much you mean not just to your family, but to the whole flipping world.

Whilst motherhood is a lifetime of hard work, the results are tangible (even if you don’t like them or they bring you great sadness) and once you have a child, irreversible. Creating a life of meaning as a woman without children is a promise to ourselves that no-one forces us to keep and which has to be renewed daily.

As a childless women, no-one’s going to jump on your bed at 6am and remind you that you promised to:

  • write that book
  • clean out the fridge
  • change your job
  • move to Paris
  • leave Paris
  • meditate more
  • travel up the Amazon
  • retrain as a garden designer
  • stop buying scented candles
  • climb a mountain
  • be nice to yourself
  • eat more vegetables

The world, frankly, doesn’t give a shit what you do with your life now, as long as you don’t make too much noise and hopefully become the unpaid and uncomplaining carer of your elderly parents.

So, this is the time to start making some noise. To get your mojo working again.

What does it mean to have your mojo working?

Comfort ZoneFor me, one of the things it means as a childless women is having the balls to get out of your comfort zone. The balls to look in the mirror and see someone there who matters, dammit! And then to do everything in your power to make her life matter.

It means having the courage, faith and self-belief to create a meaningful life in whatever way makes sense to you, and to do the work to find out what that is if you’ve forgotten how to dream. That fierce mama you were going to be to your children? Well, you need her to kick your ass now and draw on her love and encouragement to be the best YOU you can.

It means working through the grief of your childlessness until you’re ready to stop blaming biology, society, your surgeon, your mother, your ex, your boss and the world for your situation and to get busy with your Plan B.  That doesn’t mean that these aren’t factors in how things turned out, far from it, but that you’re THROUGH with investing your life-force in a toxic blame and shame game.  It’s time you kissed your own knee better, gave yourself a loving pep talk about ‘getting back out there to fight another day’ and went back out into the world with your head held high.

It doesn’t mean you have to have a big life on the outside. Just because you don’t have kids, there’s no reason why you can’t live a quietly fulfilling life. You’ve got nothing to prove to anyone, nothing to ‘make up for’ (that’s just more shame talking). But it does mean that you need a big life on the inside.

To be a fulfilled and happy childless women when that’s not what you chose requires that you psychologically mature in a way that not that many people have the balls to do. It requires you to stare at the stark reality of your existence unsoftened by the idea that “life goes on” after you’ve died. This process, whilst daunting, will free you up to become the person you can only dream of right now.

From the hell of a barren women, to one hell of a woman.

That’s the bad news, and the good news.

It’s 6am. This is your wake-up call. Go kick some ass sister. The world needs you to show up, it really does. Have you seen it out there recently?!

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Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)Jody Day is the Founder of Gateway Women: an organization she founded in 2011 to support, inspire and empower childless-by-circumstance women to live fertile, passionate, meaningful lives. She works with women who are still hopeful of becoming mothers as well as those for whom that time has passed.  She holds a certificate in integrative counselling and is training to qualify as an integrative psychotherapist. Jody runs groups & workshops for Gateway Women, and also offers one-to-ones for women looking to explore issues around identity, maternity & fertility. A Godmother & Aunt many times over, but never a mother, she speaks regularly at events and is always looking to share her empowering message with new audiences. If you would like Jody to speak at one of your events, or to write for your blog or magazine, please contact her at jody@gateway-women.com

For priority booking for all future Gateway Women events including our upcoming series of monthly talks, please check that you’re on the events mailing list by clicking here.

Menopausal Mojo: why being post-fertile is yet another taboo to bust!

11 Aug

happy old women with catPerhaps one of the things that’s surprised me most about coming to terms with my childlessness is how it’s impacted every area of my life: my identity, my dreams and my hopes. And one of the most unexpected shifts has been in my ideas about intimate relationships.

I was with my life-partner for 16 years, and both before and after that had serious, long-term relationships. Really, from the ages of 15-45 I had sex and relationships on the brain. And now, aged 48, and four years into accepting that my quest for motherhood is over, I’m not anymore.

It’s not that I don’t want an intimate relationship anymore, that would be untrue. It’s just that I’ve outgrown what I used to want, and what I now want hasn’t fully come into focus yet. I find that I’m clearer on what I don’t want, than what I do. Now that I’m no longer wondering whether someone would make a good father, a whole lot of other stuff seems to need thinking through. It’s not that I’ve become anti-relationship, but I guess I’m just a bit more pro-me than I’ve ever been before.

Well that’s not entirely true…

The fact is, the way I feel is quite familiar to me. It’s how I felt before puberty.

The unMentionable M word

Menopause has become a word more unmentionable than ‘period’ these days. Periods are what young, fertile women have. Whereas the menopause… well, we just don’t talk about that darling! Get some work done, work out more, stop eating carbs, hate your body and lie about your age but don’t talk about that darling!

I quite often describe myself as ‘middle-aged’ and I can guarantee that the first response from others is nearly always a shocked: “but you’re not middle-aged!”

I’m 48. If I’m not middle-aged, what am I? And just because in a good light, on a good day and after a good night’s sleep I can ‘pass’ for 40, why should I bother trying?

About a year ago, I bumped into an old friend of mine. Back in the day, when I was married, there was always a ‘vibe’ between us.  He asked me what I was working on (I was sitting in a cafe, typing, just like I am now) and I told him about Gateway Women and about an upcoming talk I was giving – asked him to spread the word. He’s a major social butterfly, well-known about town, very popular with women (and already a father).

“I’m sure you must know loads of women in this situation,” I said.
“What situation?”
“Oh, you know, late 30′s to mid-40′s, coming to the end of their fertile window and freaking out about not having kids.”
“Yeah,” he said, “I do know a few… but why are you giving this talk?… you’ve still got loads of time left!”
“Don’t be silly”, I said, “I’m post-fertile”
The look on his face was as if I’d just crapped in my pants and he could smell it.
“How can you even say that!?” he said, absolutely horrified and made his excuses to get away from me as quickly as possible.

I think we can safely say that I killed the vibe!

Puberty in Reverse

Before puberty, I didn’t really give a damn what boys thought about anything, except useful stuff like the best way to climb a tree. I felt complete and whole in myself mentally and emotionally and had a sense of integrity and trust in my body. I had a mystical connection with nature and the universe and felt up to any challenge that life had in store for me (and it was already dishing them out at quite a pace). I didn’t call it my ‘mojo’ in those days, because I didn’t need a name for it. It would have been like asking a fish how the water is: ‘what’s water?’ says the fish.

Strangely enough, even the word ‘menopause’ is misunderstood.  Menopause is the actually the end point, the welcome ‘thank god it’s over’ destination after the 5-8 years of turbulence leading up to that point, known as ‘peri-menopause’.  Defining the menopause by its end-point is crazy – it’s like defining puberty as ‘turning 18′.

In some ways, I consider peri-menopause to be puberty in reverse: the dramas, the emotionally lability, the fluidity of identity, the crashing highs and lows, the new ideas about relationships, the painful self-consciousness, the skin and body changes.

And through this process, we are returned to ourselves after a decades-long reproductive detour. Some of us with a biological child, some without.

Being peri or post menopausal is a time of reunion with a deeper part of ourselves. It’s a time when our dreams for the kind of person we wanted to be, the kind of adventures we wanted to have, come back to us. And, if we allow it, the courage and confidence to follow them.

We are wiser than we know, braver than we think and this can be a truly magnificent flowering for our consciousness. We need to give ourselves permission, individually and culturally, to do so.

A Death we Survive

Menopause may be the end of Youth with a capital ‘Y’, but it’s not the end of life. And actually, once you get used to the idea, letting go of capital ‘Y’ youth is a bit of a relief. The menopause is a kind of death, one which we survive. It transforms us, whether we like it or not, whether we’re in denial about it or are prepared to face it. Childless women are perhaps more acutely aware of the ‘death in life’ nature of the menopause because they know that they’re not going to ‘live on’ in their children. They are the end point of millions of years of evolution.

That shit is sobering to ponder on and you can either run from it or let it transform you.

Knowing that we are the ‘end point’ we can either feel crushed by the weight of history, or released to live the rest of our lives in a way that brings us joy. We have a choice, if we’re prepared to go against the youth-obsessed messages of our culture. We’re going to be old a long-time, and so are all those young women coming up after us. We really need to change this record.

Human beings are ‘meaning making machines’. We seek to understand the chaotic dance of life, and to impose a sense of order on that chaos. The joy and the challenge of our life as post-fertile childless women living in a pro-natalist, mummy-mad culture is to create that meaning for ourselves. And not to be defined by the M word – whether it stands for ‘motherhood’ or ‘menopause’.

Looks like I’m on the fast track to being one of those old ladies living alone with cats. Bring it on! Looks like fun to me!

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Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)Jody Day (49) is a London-based writer and social entrepreneur and the author of #1 Amazon best-seller ‘Rocking the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfiling Life Without Children’ (2013). She set up the Gateway Women friendship and support 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 private sessions, workshops and retreats for women coming to terms with the fact that motherhood didn’t happen for them. She speaks regularly in public, in the media and online about issues and prejudices facing childless women in our society today and is becoming known as ‘the voice of the childless generation’. She was selected by the BBC as one of 100 Women that represent the voice of women today in 2013. 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!

Click here for the latest schedule of Gateway Women events

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If I’m a childless witch, where’s my broomstick?

26 Jun

Banky, Sorry the Lifestyle You Ordered is Currently Out of Stock, 2012Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being childless by circumstance, and the one that those who are parents or who have chosen to be childfree find hard to grasp, is working out what our life is ‘for’.

So much of our hoping, planning, dreaming and  fantasising has been in preparation for a life that is not to be. And, much as feritilty medicine has brought joy to some, it’s also condemned a lot of other women to extended periods of ‘hoping’ well into their forties. Fertility treatments or not, we’ve been living in an emotional never-never land, full of lost children, and during the time we’ve spent there, we’ve lost the knack of being in touch with the present, with reality.

Waking up from this dream can be a bit of a nightmare.

You see, there’s a hole in our lives that is hard to fill, and the really strange thing about this hole is that it’s invisible. It’s almost like the negative space that artists work with, the gaps in-between things that are about the presence of absence.

And on those times when we do become aware of this space, and try to describe it to those around us, what mostly comes back at us is what passes as “practical” advice. Sometimes I point out the illogical nature of this ‘advice’, but I wish I had the balls to do it more often. But then I worry about sounding like a bitter old witch:

  • Why don’t you just adopt? Um, because it’s actually not like ordering pizza, and anyway I’m a single, working woman so even a dog would be a stretch…
  • But you’re still a good looking woman, you’ve got plenty of time left!  That’s so kind of you, but actually, my eggs went off a while ago…
  • There’s lots of children in the world already, we don’t all have to have them. Really, children in need? Gosh, I hadn’t noticed! And strange how it didn’t occur to you to exercise your social conscience before you had your kids…
  • But being an Aunt is so much fun! You’re not missing out at all!  And how exactly do you know that as a parent then?
  • Oh, you’re so lucky not having children, it’s such hard work! You can travel and have fun!  A life as an aimless drifter, how delightful! Just what I wanted!  
  • But you can always work with children, it’s so rewarding. Yes! Abandon the career I’ve spent 25+  years building. What a genius idea! Tell me again, what is it you do? 
  • Never give up hope! I knew this woman who adopted & got pregnant / had a surrogate baby with a donor egg, etc. Actually, Hope is possibly the most toxic fertility drug I’ve ever had to digest. F*** hope.

Now, I’m not against adoption, issues of global overpopulation, my ability to attract a partner, the delights of Aunthood (yes, it is wonderful), travel, fun, fertility treatments or even miracles. It’s just that none of these can be taken seriously as an alternative to being a mother when that’s what your heart is, or was, set on. Perhaps if one were to suggest to a parent that they trade in their offspring for one (or all) of these options they might begin to see our point…

However, what all of these suggestions do point to is the un-nameable, the ‘negative space’, however sterotypically or clumsily expressed. And that is: You need to create a life of meaning or what’s the point of your life? It’s harsh, which is why we don’t say it out-loud. Even writing it feels pretty risky.

However, a life of meaning isn’t something you can order online, or apply for. It requires digging down into your soul, stirring up the shit as you go until you find that kernel, that essential truth that makes sense to you. And maybe to you alone, because one woman’s meaning is another woman’s Meh.  Being a mother is meaningful in our culture, being a childless woman is meaningful too… just not in ways that are helpful to live with.

Tracy Emin at Turner Contemporary in Margate

Artist Tracey Emin (48) says that being childless can be difficult. “You’re treated like a witch.”

Tracey Emin, in an interview in The Guardian today (Saturday 26 May, 2012) said that being childless is difficult because “You’re treated like a witch.”

However, if 1 in 5 women in their mid-forties are now childless (by a mixture of choice and circumstance), that’s a lot of witches. Perhaps it’s time we reversed the spell that sees us as a problem, and magicked a wonderful, fulfilling life for all of us, whatever that means to each of us.

Pass me my broomstick!

***

Jody Day - Founder of Gateway Women - www.gateway-women.comJody Day is the Founder of Gateway Women(UK): an organization to support, inspire and empower childless-by-circumstance women to live fertile, passionate, meaningful lives. A qualified counsellor and trainee integrative psychotherapist, Jody runs groups & workshops for Gateway Women, and also offers one-to-ones for women looking to explore issues around identity, maternity & fertility. She speaks regularly at events and is always looking to share her empowering message with new audiences. If you would like Jody to speak at one of your events, or to write for your blog or magazine, please contact her on jody@gateway-women.com

For priority booking for all Gateway Women events, please join our mailing list by clicking here.

Surviving the childless weekend blues

31 Mar
It may not be my weekend, but it's going to be my year. Image reblogged from http://classyfailures.tumblr.com/post/5075097249

Weekends can be hell when you’re a single, childless woman

There, it’s said. Weekends can be absolute hell as a single, childless woman. “They creep up on you,” said one friend recently.

Many of us are so busy with work commitments and after-work activities Monday-to-Friday that we can’t wait for the peace and quiet of the weekend in order to recover. And then, when we wake up on Saturday morning to an empty bed, an empty house and an empty weekend, it doesn’t feel relaxing, it feels hideously oppressive.

Alternatively, we pack our weekend schedule to the gunnels with activities and appointments only to feel burnt out and resentful and end up having to cancel half of them in order to get some downtime. Possibly the burnout is in part caused by the fact that as single, childless women almost all our activities are self-organised, self-attended and usually require a good deal of social and emotional resilience to  cope with, let alone enjoy. Activities with old friends can be pretty thin on the ground as so many of their lives now revolve around their own families, and so we often find ourselves in a room full of people we hardly know, doing our best to ‘make an effort’.

For example, a blog that I’ve become a big fan of recently The Bitter Babe (tagline: Never Married, Over Forty, Slightly Bitter) shares the author’s exhausting schedule of full-on job, theatre groups, dance classes, gym and internet dating… Just reading it makes me want to lie down in a dark room with a damp cloth on my forehead.

There was a period in my life quite recently when I found myself living along, working alone, not in a relationship, childless and petless. I didn’t plan it but, rather like the perfect storm, the circumstances crept up on me to form a tsunami of isolation. Of loneliness. (There,  loneliness, another word we’re not allowed to say out loud).

I had chosen to live alone after several years of renting bedrooms in other people’s homes post my divorce. I also chose not to be in a relationship having been in one almost continuously since I was a teenager (including being with my ex-husband for sixteen years). But I didn’t choose to be childless, petless or to be working alone at home.  Things happened – a business partnership went sour, my landlord wouldn’t allow pets, my infertility and unwise choices in partners post-divorce left me childless.

It was possibly the toughest period of my adult life, and I thought my divorce was as bad as things could get. But nothing prepared me for the sense of dissolving into oblivion that I experienced in that isolation. It made me understand why solitary confinement is used as a form of punishment.

I was haunted by what I called ‘the void’ – a visceral sense of being engulfed by my own subjectivity. It was absolutely exhausting  just ‘being me’.

When I’d go out for a drink with friends I’d encourage them to talk about their own lives as much as possible, and when they’d protest that they had been talking about themselves too much I’d say, “No, please carry on! You’ve no idea how bored I am of the inside of my own head!” And I meant it.

Solitude and isolation are very different beasts. I have always loved solitude, and was happy playing alone as a child as my imagination was pretty good company. But isolation is different – isolation is unchosen. However, with the support of a gifted therapist, and the insights gained from my ongoing training to become a psychotherapist, I weathered the storm. And when I surfaced I found that the void was nothing to be scared of and that, rather than engulfing me, it actually contained power, joy and creativity. Making space for this darkness in my life regenerated me in a profound way.

I wanted to share a video with you that I found during that dark time, and which alternately annoyed me and uplifted me, depending on how I was feeling that day.  Filmed by Andrea Dorfman in Nova Scotia, it features Canadian poet/singer/songwriter, Tanya Davis, and it’s had 4.5million hits on YouTube. Yep, that’s 4.5million other people who can’t say that sometimes they’re lonely either.

Right now, it’s Saturday afternoon. The friend that I’m staying with is away and I have few social plans. It feels good – a chance to let go and wind down, which is a rarity these days.

Since I came to terms with not having children, the whole tone of my life has changed. I’m no longer waiting for it to start, or for someone to help me get it started.

I’ve understood that for me, creativity equals meaning, and that meaning is what I was craving. What I was missing. What I was mourning. I thought only a child could fill this space, but I was wrong. Although there will always be a scar on my heart from my childlessness, I feel that it is one I can imagine living with. A scar is very different from a wound.

I’ve learned that meaningful work and friendships are what sustain me, and so I nurture them. Because, to quote Kahlil Gibran: Work is love made visible.

***

To apply for Membership of the life-chaging, friendly, funny & frank private Gateway Women Online Community, click here

Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)

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!

Click here for the latest schedule of Gateway Women events including talks & drinks, workshops & groups.

The Power of Testimony

10 Nov

This is a guest post from the fabulous
Katherine Baldwin of From Forty With Love

I am forty – forty-and-two-thirds to be precise – and single. I’m childless and/or childfree, however you prefer to look at it. I have a desire to have children of my own. And I’ve just declared a moratorium on dating. I’ve called off the search for a partner…

Foolish? Crazy? A little extreme?

Well, yes and no. Given that my biological clock must be ticking furiously by now, it might be a little foolhardy. But as regards my long-term sanity, happiness and fulfillment, it makes perfect sense. You see, it’s taken me all these years to get to an understanding of where I’ve been going wrong, to comprehend why my relationships – and there have been many – never worked out.

It seems I was jumping the gun. I was looking to have a harmonious relationship with someone else before I’d found peace in my relationship with myself. I was trying to create a happy and full life with someone else before managing to create one for myself. And I was hoping to love and nurture a child before learning to love and nurture me.

Did I really think being in a partnership and having a baby would take away my feelings of loneliness and incompleteness? Did I really think being part of a couple and a family would make me feel whole? It sounds naïve but maybe I did.

But now I can see that if I’d got what I wanted when I wanted it, I might have ended up not wanting it pretty quickly or not being able to cope with it. And you can’t just get up and leave when you’re married and a mother – at least not without painful consequences.

So, today, I’m grateful I’ve recognised I’m not yet ready. I’m thankful I’ve decided to surrender my romantic future and prospective motherhood to God. And I’m pleased I’ve resolved to stop running the show. Trying to control the outcome only ever ended in tears – always mine, often someone else’s too.

Of course, this begs the question whether I’m really ready for the potential consequences of my actions. Am I really prepared for the inevitable grief I’ll feel if I don’t have a child of my own? Am I ready to watch my dearest friends get pregnant and bring up their beautiful babies? Am I content to stay an aunt? I’m not sure I can answer those questions right now – but nor do I have to.

What I do know is whatever happens I’ll have a testimony.

It’ll either be a testimony of a woman who took some time off from romance, created a life she loved and then met someone, at forty-one, forty-two or forty-three even, fell in love and had a child. A story that perhaps will encourage other women who are worried about the ticking clock to take time out and ask themselves if they’re truly ready.

Or it’ll be the testimony of a woman who – like Jody – didn’t have the baby she wanted but who worked through the feelings of grief and loss to lead a full, purposeful and childfree life and to be an inspiration to others. Whatever happens, I’ll have my testimony. And I profoundly believe the tough times in life are there not only to strengthen us but also to encourage, inspire and empower others.

Since I turned forty in March this year, I’ve been sharing a little of my testimony and my feelings about this stage of life with those who’ve been kind enough to read my blog. It’s been an interesting journey. I’ve felt the baby gap – a sense there’s something missing in my life, something I’m supposed to have done by this age. I’ve been dating with baby goggles on – eyeing up every man as a potential father to my future children, talking about kids far too early on and forgetting to enjoy the experience without having to know all the answers. And now, after a brief relationship that ended, I’ve decided I’m calling off the search for a partner. It’s time to focus on me – on my relationship with myself, my relationship with God, on my passions and my purpose.

Since I’ve made that decision I’ve also realised I’ve been drifting for a while – perhaps for the last few years. I’ve had a vague idea of what my purpose is – to share my story in the hope it would help, encourage or at least entertain others, and to share the stories of inspiring people and organisations around the world to encourage us all to get involved in the good stuff that’s happening out there. But I haven’t exactly pursued this purpose with gusto.

Instead, I’ve been drifting, perhaps confused by where I am in my life, perhaps assuming by this age I’d have had children to look after or a partner with whom to share tough decisions, financial concerns, foreign travel and fun. I think I’ve kind of had things on hold.

I’ve been treading water. Playing a waiting game.

The advantage of this moratorium on dating, however, is I have to get on with things myself. No more waiting. No more drifting. I have passion – it’s there somewhere, beneath the malaise – and I have a purpose, at least one to get along with until I have a better idea. There’s nobody else to provide for me, no-one to take decisions for me, and no-one else I can rely on to make me happy. It’s down to me.

Paradoxically, though, I’m far from alone. I’m surrounded by beautiful, intelligent, childfree women – women who are also on journeys of self-discovery, who are also wondering what their future holds. We support each other, inspire each other, pull each other out of the pit and rejoice with each other. Where will we be a year or two from now? Who knows, but the beauty is I don’t have to worry about that today.

***

Portrait of writer Katherine Baldwin

With many, many, thanks to Katherine Baldwin FromFortyWithLove for this moving guest post for Gateway Women. Katherine is a storyteller. She is a journalist, a writer, a blogger and a teacher of writing and journalism. She loves to write from the heart, to share the stories of inspiring men and women, to have a positive impact on those around her and to share her experience with the hope of helping others. She loves to laugh, dance, exercise, enjoy nature, share, explore and to go on adventures. You can find her on Twitter @From40WithLove.

What Talking Heads has to do with finding your mojo again as a childless woman

8 Sep

Lost mojo notice black & white, on telegraph polePerhaps one of the most delightful discoveries of coming to terms with not having children has been that my natural joie-de-vivre has returned.

In other words, I got my mojo working.

Now, this doesn’t mean that I wake up every morning like Mary Poppins, thrilled with the way my life has turned out in every tiny aspect, but neither am I so daft as to believe that:

(a) anyone really feels like that every day (with the exception perhaps of the Dalai Lama and I’m sure even he wakes up occasionally with neckache and wishes he could bunk off) or that,

(b) having had a family would have solved it.

But back to that mojo thing. It’s funny stuff, a bit like love. You can muddle along without it, but it’s not until it comes back into your life that you realise what you’ve been missing. It’s like someone just turned all the lights back on.

And what I realised was that what had missing from my life for a long time was joy. But, even more importantly, that the missing-in-action nature of my joy had had absolutely nothing to do with the usual suspects of divorce, money problems, career hiccups, illness, depression or infertility.

I lost my mojo because I lost my meaning. I forgot, and neglected, my why.

Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist, wrote a deeply moving and important memoir about his internment in Auschwitz called Mans’ Search for Meaning in which he quotes Nietzsche: “He has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”  Having a reason to survive internment proved to be a major factor in determining who was alive, and who wasn’t, when the Allies liberated the camp…

Our why connects us to the larger purpose of our life; it lifts us up from our mundane day-to-day reality and gives our souls and hearts space to sing again. It reminds us that we matter, to ourselves. And that we have a mission that we, and we alone, are uniquely equipped to fulfill.

This is a message our culture keeps pretty close to its chest as it’s actually pretty subversive. Because once you realise that what you’re really looking for is meaning, you stop buying stuff hoping it’s going to fix that hole. You stop numbing yourself with food, relationships, holidays, property, sex, drama, alcohol, work, TV, celebrity culture, whatever…

You wake up in your life and, like the brilliant Talking Heads’ song wonder how did I get here?!

I got my mojo back because I understood that it wasn’t motherhood I craved, it was meaning.  Being a mother is deeply meaningful, but it’s not the only route.

I got my mojo back because whilst I understand that giving birth is the primordial creative act for a women, there are many ways to be creative, many ways to serve and many ways to be a mother.  And that my mission is to share this message with other childless women so that they too can make the joyful transition from childless to childfree – to being a nomo and proud of it!

To help them remember what their mojo’s for. What their why is.

And then to proceed to rock out Ladies. Rock out!

*** 

To join the Gateway Women Online Community, click here

***

Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)Jody Day (48) is a London-based writer and the Founder at Gateway Women. 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!

Click here for the latest schedule of Gateway Women events including talks & drinks, workshops & groups.

 

Behind every woman without children is a story

25 Jul

Role Models picture from Pinterest

One of the missions of Gateway Women is to celebrate the contribution that women without children make to our culture.

Not having children, whether by choice or circumstance, creates the possibility of a different kind of life. Too often, women who are childfree-by-circumstance are left with the sense of not having a proper life, but instead of somehow making do with the leftovers…

And many women who are childfree by choice find themselves vilified as heartless, selfish types, lacking some ‘vital’ quality that would make them ‘real’ women. But tell me this, what other kind of women are there apart from ‘real’ ones?

Behind every woman without children is a story and we need to start telling those stories; hearing those stories.

That way, a life without children won’t seem as scary: either contemplating it because of circumstance, or to those people trying to get their heads around women choosing to remain childfree.  Personally, I find some of the anti-kids, anti-parent ‘childfree’ sites on the net a bit distasteful at times, but I can appreciate that perhaps they serve as a release valve for women tired of explaining themselves, tired of the intrusive questions and cruel projections our culture loads onto voluntarily childfree women (and couples). I have never met a childfree woman who ‘hated’ kids and many of them seem to have plenty of them in their lives… just not their own.

That’s why it’s so important that we start celebrating publicly the lives of women who don’t have children – women whose lives still have meaning at the centre of them – it’s just that this meaning is something other than their offspring.

The Gateway Women Gallery of Childless and Childfree Role Models on Pinterest is a great reminder of just how many different ways there are to live a life as a woman without children.

Perhaps the time has come to update our attitudes towards women without children. Just as the pill liberated our bodies from unwanted pregnancies, now we need to liberate our culture from the fetishization of motherhood.  Could this fetish be, at its core, a cover-up for some women’s embarrassment in actively choosing motherhood and the domestic arena over being that scary archetype, the ‘career woman’? The old Madonna/whore dichotomy all over again? Do we really have to live our lives with such a poverty of thinking as its backdrop?

Woman are human being not just human breeders. We have more to offer the world than just our wombs. The fact that I have to even write that still astonishes me.

The fact is, motherhood is not going out of fashion any time soon, and indeed recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a 2.4% increase in live births in the last year alone, with the Royal College of Midwives saying that the UK is short of 4,700 midwives to handle what they term ‘a forty year high’ in the birthrate. (The Guardian, 11 July 2011).

Not everyone has to be a mother in order to contribute to society. That doesn’t make motherhood wrong in any way but neither does it make being childless or childfree something freakish.

So, let’s start nominating and celebrating our childless and childfree role models. There are no rules, no reasons, no caveats. They can be childfree by choice or by childfree by circumstance.  What matters is who they are, not what they are not. Motherhood is, at its finest, an act of devotion but, as the poet Rumi wrote:

Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

***

To apply for free membership of the Private Gateway Women Online Community, click here

Photo of Jody Day, Founder of Gateway Women (UK)Jody Day is a London-based writer. She set up the Gateway Women friendship and support 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 private sessions, groups, workshops and retreats for women coming to terms with the fact that motherhood didn’t happen for them. She speaks regularly in public, in the media and online about issues and prejudices facing childless women in our society today and is becoming known as ‘the voice of the childless generation’. 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 from the Women of the World Festival in March 2013 on “Creating a Meaningful & Fulfilling Life Without Children” in under 10-mins, with jokes!

Why do they call us selfish?

29 Jun

There’s a dirty word often thrown about in the ‘childless/childfree’ debate: selfishness.  Although you rarely ever hear people saying that men who haven’t had children are selfish…

It’s an opinion that people feel free to voice, often unkindly and without a second thought. I recall being at my ex-father in law’s funeral. It was a perversely beautiful hot summer’s day for a funeral and my arms were bare as I stood, numb, with my then husband. I was surprised to feel a sharp pinch near my elbow and looked down into the rheumy eyes of a tiny old lady I’d never met before.

“You should be ashamed of yourself!” she said, fiercely, pinching me harder, “too busy with your career to have a baby! Your generation is so selfish!” And then she marched off.

Blindsided, I went outside to find a cool place in the shadows and wept hot, sharp tears.  She wasn’t to know that my husband and I had been trying to have a baby for years.  It was a tough day but she’d managed to make it worse.

For such a private matter, it’s astonishing how everybody feels they have a right not only to have an opinion, but also to let you know what it is.  Much as complete strangers will stop to coo over someone’s baby, this old lady didn’t hesitate to let me feel the full force of her disgust at my ‘selfish decision’ not to have children.

Her opinion is fairly common, yet it conceals a much more complex argument.  Laura Carroll, a prominent US ‘childfree’ author and blogger quotes Jilata Horten on her blog as saying that:

“If you believe that every childfree married couple is selfish, then this means that you believe that every human being is cut out to be a parent. How could anyone agree that every human is cut out to be a parent? This would mean you think that everyone, alcoholics, rapists, even pedophiles should create offspring.”

And yet just as I found the old lady’s criticism of me hurtful and insensitive, this kind of logical pushback doesn’t help either – because the ‘argument’ isn’t a rational one, it’s an emotive, irrational, taboo-driven one –  and pointing this out only seems to perpetuate the idea that childfree women are, deep down, slightly unhinged. That they didn’t have kids because something is ‘wrong’ with them.  And that hurts too, and is insulting to all women without children.

In biological reality, the ‘selflessness’ (and self-sacrifice) of many mothers (and fathers) is an extraordinary thing; an unconditional love that never fades, and which sets a pattern for our adult longings and expectations of love.  And, much as women without children (whether by choice or circumstance) can claim that we are ‘not selfish’ the evolutionary selflessness of motherhood is not something we’ll ever experience.  A mother’s love for her child has a fierceness that we will never know – giving birth physically changes the structure of the brain and makes the survival of the child more important that self-protection. That doesn’t make us non-mothers monsters, but neither does it totally invalidate the notion that we are indeed perhaps more selfish than parents. But this is to use the word ‘selfish’ in an incredibly narrow way.

I believe the more important question is this: can I still be a good person even though I’m not a mother? And the answer to that is a resounding ‘yes’.

I spent 15 years of my life with a big part of me stuck on ‘pause’ because I thought I’d be a mother soon. I lost my ambition, my spunk. I made crap decisions about relationships, finances and my career.  Everything was just temporary, until… the day that never came.

To be whole again, I’ve had to grieve for the life unlived.  And on the other side of the grief I’ve found a life of meaning and purpose. It’s not always easy, having my mind free of children and childcare issues. I often have way too much time to think about myself which is rarely helpful.

A close friend told me that since she’d had children ‘she didn’t have to work out what her life was about anymore’.  On top of all the other losses, women without children don’t get that existential ‘get out of jail free’ card either.

What we get instead is the chance to define our freedom, to create our meaning.  To use our nurturing, wise, intelligent feminine energy to make the world a better place for other people’s children to inherit.  To love our nephews and nieces, our stepchildren, our god-children. To help our friends with childcare and watch them pass through the life we longed for without being bitter or resentful.

And yes, we have to make our own plans for when we’re old. We can’t just cross our fingers and hope that someone else is going to take care of us.

Selfish? Hardly.

***

Jody Day - Founder of Gateway Women - www.gateway-women.comJody Day is the Founder of Gateway Women(UK): an organization to support, inspire and empower #nomos (not-mothers) to live fertile, passionate, meaningful lives. A qualified counsellor and training psychotherapist, Jody runs groups & workshops for Gateway Women, and also offers one-to-ones for women looking to explore issues around identity, maternity & fertility. She speaks regularly at events and is always looking to share her empowering message with new audiences. If you would like Jody to speak at one of your events, or to write for your blog or magazine, please contact her on jody@gateway-women.com


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