Getting through Mother’s Day as a childless woman

“Mother’s Day” – the two words that signal the most dreaded time of the year after Christmas when you’re grieving childlessness. For UK readers, Mother’s Day falls today on Sunday 11th March although, thanks to social media, we get to experience it all over again when international Mother’s Day happens in May…

I was interviewed at length for an article which was published today in the The Observer about being childless on Mother’s Day. One of the questions really made me think was this: “Does the notion of Mother’s Day upset/anger/depress you?” I thought about it and although whilst I was grieving it absolutely did all three, now that I’m out the other side and have made peace with my childlessness, there’s only one thing that still bugs me: You see, I have no problem with people taking the time to show their appreciation for their own mother (if they have one), and for all that she does for them (if that’s the case). However, coupling the celebration of motherhood to consumerism and then amplifying that with social media has given pronatalism a propaganda coup which takes the fetishization of motherhood to a whole new level. Now THAT makes me angry!

As with Christmas, the best plan with Mother’s Day is to HAVE a plan. Not to just hope it’ll be OK. Here are a few ideas

  • Join or reconnect with the Gateway Women private online community. We’re a soulful bunch of global sisters so there’s nearly always someone online when you need a rant or sanity check! First month free and then free/modest fee after;
  • Attend a Gateway Women meetup. I’ve updated the list of active meetups on the website so you can see exactly where they are happening. We have meetups in the UK, Ireland, Europe, USA, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and India. If there isn’t one near you, please consider hosting one and we’ll help you get it going. Click here for a full list and details;
  • Book to attend a Gateway Women Reignite Weekend – having something to look forward to can really help to get us through difficult times. We have new Reignite Weekends happening in London, Scotland, Ireland, Europe, USA and Canada. This weekend changes lives, so I’d really encourage you to find out more and attend if you can. More information and booking details for all workshops here;
  • Explore some of the wonderful writing on the internet from other British childless women to support and inspire you. Here are a few articles and writers to support you:
    • Jody Day (UK) – Honouring Your Experience of Mother’s Day
    • Jody Day for RED Magazine (UK) – What Mother’s Day Feels Like When You’re Childless
    • Childless Hour (UK/Global) – Sunday 11th March – 8pm GMT – #childlesshour @childlesshour. This Sunday and every Sunday at 8pm GMT
    • Saltwater & Honey (UK) – a Christian perspective on childlessness
    • World Childless Week (UK/Global) – founder Steph Phillips’ writes a letter to her church (you can also print it off and send it to your local Church if that would be helpful)
    • Jessica Hepburn (UK) – her website shows her remarkable journey from childless survivor of eleven failed rounds of IVF to her reincarnation as an author, adventure activist and arts producer and the co-creator of one of the most interesting live events in the childless/TTC calendar ‘FertilityFest‘. I’m speaking at FertilityFest twice. It’ll sell out, so do come along if you can – London 8th-13th May.
    • Walk in Our Shoes (UK) – For British Mother’s Day 2017, founder Berenice’s husband did his best to make the Morrison’s supermarket chain to task for their ridiculous “Mother’s Only” checkout lane in their supermarkets. And plenty of other great stuff for Mother’s Day and every day. Walk in Our Shoes is the founder of ChildlessHour on Twitter
    • Samantha Walsh (UK) (founder of Life: A Bird’s Eye View) writes for the Huffington Post on ‘Celebrating Mums (and non-Mums) on Mother’s Day.
    • Lesley Pyne (UK) – Living as a childless woman and couple after infertility, Lesley shares what she’s learned and has also interviewed A TON of other childless survivors too (myself included). Her book is coming up soon!
    • More to Life (UK) – the newly invigorated ‘childless’ corner of Fertility Network UK is sharing great stuff and has a wonderful free, online webinar series this year that you can sign up for (I’m presenting the July one on grief).
    • Deborah Sloan (UK) – a creative approach to childlessness on her blog ‘Without Issue’ – check out her alternative Mother’s Day cards
    • Yvonne John (UK) – writing about childlessness as a woman of colour. Read the blistering blog and video interview she gave to Gateway Women recently, The Black Woman in the Room.
    • The Childless Not By Choice Magazine (Global) – free and ‘sneak peek’ issues available. I’m writing a feature article in each issue, so please do subscribe!
    • Life Without Baby (USA) – although a US-site, its founder Lisa Manterfield is a Brit and so she gets the ‘double-dose Mother’s Day’ experience too!
    • Infertility Honesty (USA) – ‘Truth, Death & Mother’s Day’ – Sarah Chamberlain’s hard-hitting, savagely funny blog about life after childlessness
    • Silent Sorority (USA) – ‘Mother’s Day – It’s Complicated’ – Pamela Tsigdinos’s blog and campaign to wake up and shake up the infertility ‘industry’ is extremely important and her reporting wins awards.
    • The Mother Wound (USA) ‘Happy Inner Mother’s Day: Acknowledging the Myth and Embracing Your Truth’. Bethany Webster’s work to support women in coming to terms with their relationships with their own mothers is important and deeply healing.

I had to stop listing resources because my fingers are falling off. But I hope that you can see that ARE NOT ALONE in finding this day hard. You are not alone in finding coming to terms with your childlessness hard. You are not alone, full stop. Your tribe is here, waiting to support you and understand you. Come and join us. We have chocolate.

8 Comments on Getting through Mother’s Day as a childless woman

  1. Today is one of the days I detest. Everyone playing happy mummies and children. Even 30 years after having had a hysterectomy, I still wish I had never been born. I know it is selfish to feel this way and be so bitter but unless you are childless through no fault of your own will you ever understand my feelings. I still can’t cope but am so grateful to have found this group. To know others feel like me helps. Just not today.

    • Hi Kim – I’m so very sorry to hear how hard it is to bear the reality of your childlessness today. I’m glad that you are here with us. Hugs, Jody x

    • No it’s not selfish at all. It’s perfectly natural to feel like that. I don’t like the day either as it all seems to be about money nowadays.

  2. Today it is a nice walk in the fresh air, tea and cake, lunch and some TV at home staying away from the places that celebrate the day.

    • Hi Joanne – I’m glad you’re having a day away from it all. I’ve found that it’s not the day that I mind anymore, it’s the social media & marketing frenzy that starts on Feb 15th and continues until Mother’s Day. It even popped up on my flipping Kindle! Hugs, Jody x

      • I agree social media is a nightmare and references everywhere for Mums! like there gods or superior to everyone else, were so pc about everything else!! the world is a very difficult place to be when your hurting inside. Love to all you lovely women who share my grief xxxxxxxxx

  3. With you in every word. Also thinking of a powerful UK interview from our top BBC financial reporter who is still coping with the loss of his mother as a child. He couldn’t face Mother’s Day until he was lucky enough to have his own family. So we aren’t alone in our grief.

  4. Thank you as ever Jody. Yep Mother’s Day is a dreaded day for many; including some mothers for various reasons. But for grieving childless-not-by-choice women, it can be hell.

    I’ve adopted various strategies over the years, from complete denial (that can work, but only if I hide myself away completely, which isn’t always practical) to feeling enraged, to feeling very sorry for myself (that’s never good for me personally in the end), to feeling it can be my day too, as I still have the mind, heart and soul of a mother, even if I haven’t given birth physically. The truth is that it’ll never be an easy day, whatever strategy I adopt.

    Funnily enough, today I’m almost a bit too tired to be fussed, as I got back late last night from a long journey (ironically after visiting my own parents for a few days) and am busy unpacking, washing clothes, dealing with post etc. So maybe that’s the strategy I’ll adopt from now on – make sure I’m too tired & busy with nitty gritty to be bothered that it’s Mother’s Day!

    I must go and get the washing out of the machine now!

    Anyway, best wishes to all – whatever you’re doing/not doing x

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