As I’m based in the UK, we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving. However, because unchosen childlessness is a pain shared globally, there are many US and Canadian women who read this blog, and who are members of the private Gateway Women online community. It’s from them that I’ve learned that it’s like having to do Christmas…twice.
Whilst I was still grieving my childlessness, topped off with being divorced and single, Christmas was like a thorn in my paw from September onwards, so I get it what a big deal it is.
I’m wondering what the focus on ‘gratitude’ (which seems to be what so many of the blogs and articles I read about Thanksgiving are about) might feel like when your heart has been broken into a billion pieces by your childlessness. And yet sometimes it seems that all others are able to say to us is how ‘lucky’ we are for being able to ‘sleep in’ or ‘travel’… As if somehow as if those things were top of our list of life desires for many years?!
Sure, I get it that when those options are taken away or massively reduced by your family commitments, they must look very attractive indeed, but that doesn’t make them a straight-swap for the experience of parenthood! I know many childless women who would trade ten thousand hour’s of sleep in a heartbeat for the chance to be a mother…
So, for me, what I’m ‘grateful for this Thanksgiving’ is the Internet.
And for being able in 2011 to start this blog and website which has, astonishingly, reached two-million of us around the world in various ways, and which meant that I no longer had to be alone with my sometimes ungrateful thoughts and my heartbreak. You got me through.
In the company of people like your good self I, and many others, have found ourselves at peace again. Able to appreciate the things in our childless life that we are grateful for, as well as having enough room now in our healed hearts to support those who still struggle with the idea that there’s anything to be grateful for yet. Together, one empathic connection at a time, we will each find our peace, and our gratitude. And recover more quickly from the unthinkingly stupid comments of others…
I’m also grateful to a particular Californian-based Gateway Woman – Kelly Brandt – who’s the first woman who’s trained with me to run the Reignite Weekend and who will be hosting it on the weekend of February 25/26th 2017. Do take a look at the link for more details – it might be just what you need to have something to look forward to in the New Year!
Below are some US and Canadian based blogs run by women who I now call friends, thanks to the Internet, and where you can find wise articles on coping with Thanksgiving as a childless woman:
- Eric Olson – the male half of ‘Slow Swimmers & Fried Eggs’ (US/UAE) writes on the male experience of Infertility, Tradition and Gratitude. Oh, and Turkey, a LOT of Turkey…
- LifeWithoutBaby.com (US): A Little Thanksgiving Self Care Lisa Manterfield’s book ‘Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen’ has some great advice on coping with holidays and celebrations and Lisa (with Kathleen Guthrie Woods) have also written a short, budget priced and to-the-point e-book: Life Without Baby: Holiday Companion on Kindle which you can download right now and get some sanity-saving tips!
- ChildlessByMarriageblog.com (US): Stepchildren and holidays always a tricky mix Sue Fagalde Lick writes movingly and honestly as life as childless widow in her 60s. You can download a sample of her book ‘Childless by Marriage’ here too.
- SilentSorority.com (US): Silent Sorority Gratitude and a Look Ahead to a New Generation Pamela’s book ‘Silent Sorority’ was one of the first I read that spoke to me, even though I never got to the stage of fertility treatments. And her more recent one ‘Finally Heard’ says it all really!
- FemmeSansEnfant.com (Canada): Blogs, interviews and meetups in Quebec, Montreal, Pau and Paris I’ve had the pleasure of meeting the delightful Founder of Femme Sans Enfant, Catherine-Emmanuelle and highly recommend her work. The website can be read in English or French
- TheNotMom.com (US): How To Spread Gratitude Beyond November And maybe treat yourself to a ticket to the October 2017 ‘NotMom Summit’ – I’m proud to be one of the keynote speakers
- InfertilityHonesty.com (US): I like Mondays… When you layer the holidays over grieving and healing from trauma, life can seem pretty absurd… Sarah Chamberlain’s blog about life after infertility is razor-sharp in both wit and insight.
- TheRoadLessTravelled (Canada): Thanksgiving Loribeth’s blog has been going since 2007 – which is like a hundred years in Internet years! Still relevant, honest, sometimes painful and always hopeful. A must read if you’re a couple navigating life together after infertility and babyloss.