A recording of a one-hour Gateway Women book club webinar, hosted by Jody Day, author and founder of Gateway Women, interviewing Jackie Shannon Hollis, author of This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story, published in September 2019 and for which I wrote the Foreword.
Jackie’s wonderful book (hey, who’s going to argue with Cheryl Strayed?!) is available as a paperback, an e-book and is also available as an audio-book via Audible. Do order it now.
And of course, you’ll need to read Jackie’s novel/memoir, for which I wrote the Foreword. It’s available as a paperback, e-book and audiobook
Jody Day’s FOREWORD to ‘This Particular Happiness’
Because of my work supporting involuntarily childless women, I am a vault of private stories, and I often long for those stories to be out in the world so that others might find them and feel less alone. Thus, I finished reading This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story with a feeling of great satisfaction, as Jackie Shannon Hollis has done a superb job of articulating one of the many threads woven into the tapestry of modern childlessness—that of being “childless by relationship.”
So many women come to me in the throes of making the very same decision that Jackie had to make—of choosing between the love of a partner and the chance to become a mother—and their main fear is often, “But what if I end up resenting him so much it destroys us?” This memoir works through how Jackie’s husband’s choice not to become a father played out in their marriage and lives over many years, and it does so in a way that feels utterly authentic to me—with her at times pleading for him to change his mind, and at other moments grateful for the opportunities they have as a childless couple to give their love to the many children in their lives while still having the time to explore their passions for travel and, in Jackie’s case, writing.
Reading this book immediately after Sheila Heti’s Motherhood, I felt that I’d experienced both sides of the coin of maternal and non-maternal longing, and the incredibly complex issues that have to be unpacked by modern women to make peace with voluntary or involuntary childlessness. Those who have not walked these paths often imagine that women without children either “didn’t want them” or “couldn’t have them,” but the truth is far, far more complex.
This book also took me deep into the daily experience of growing up to become the only childless woman in a large, rural, traditional American family, and the very texture of that life lingers on in me as if I’d been watching a film of wide-open spaces, waving corn, and close-knit families. People often imagine that the hardest part of childlessness is not having a baby, but in fact it’s a lifelong social and emotional loss that resonates across every aspect of our lives. This book is wonderful at both illuminating that loss and illustrating ways to deal with it. It also addresses the understandable envy some parents feel about the freedom and possibilities inherent in childlessness, and gives a picture of the emotional costs they might be unaware of. This book shows both sides, and does so with courageous honesty and great tenderness towards all involved.
I recommend this book with great pleasure to any childless woman on the path of self-healing and to the men, mothers, and others in our lives who want to understand what it takes to make peace with not doing the “one thing” that society still expects of every woman whether she can, will, or wants to be a mother.
To find out more about the book go to Jackie Shannon Hollis’s website at www.jackieshannonhollis.com