My first Reignite Weekend

I supported Cathy Vivian who ran her first reignite weekend in Lutterworth on the weekend. The workshop was held in an renovated school house originally built in the late 18th Century at Cotesbach Educational Trust, Leicestershire, where the sun energised us as we spent 2 days working through the grief that childlessness has brought into our lives.

I was surprised at how certain issues still affect me much in the same way they did when I attended my first workshop in London back in December 2014. We started with writing words (and/ or phrases), on post-it notes, that are used to describe childless women – words such as ‘old hag’, ‘crazy cat lady’, ‘spinster’ – you get my drift. It was hard to look at all the various words that were then displayed on a window, reading them felt like a kick in the gut. This feeling was not as intense as it was the first time that I had participated in this exercise but it was painful all the same. Discussing the light and dark aspects of these archetypes really helped us to reflect on what these words meant to us as  childless women and to also understand why society likes to shame us for the circumstance that we have no control over. It is not uncommon for women living without children to feel like they do not have a place in society especially amongst our family and friends, let alone how we feel in the work place, so having this space to be open and honest about our experiences and to work through our feelings is such an empowering experience.

Although some aspects of the workshop was hard for me as I have done a lot grief work on Jody’s Plan B mentorship programme, it was a great, humbling, privilege to assist with helping the women on the reignite workshop not only to feel comfortable about being there but to also work through the grief of their own stories, stories that now form part of my journey. Watching these women engage (a couple admitted to nearly dropping out) in the workshop, watching them bravely open up and share their thoughts and feelings, watching them slowly start to embrace the pain that their childlessness has left them with was such a gift for me because I got to be a part of this important start to their healing and I get to be a part of their journeys of finding who they are (and in some respects who they want to be) as childless women. What an honour, one that I could not have shared if I did embrace my own grief that started in October 2014. Not having children is truly the beginning!!!

GW Reignite Weekend

 

 

Fathers Day

Fathers days is another difficult day for us as a couple. Its a day thats celebrated by so many families and one where we can give well wishes to our dads, brothers and male friends who have children but one that so often leaves us feeling again alone and isolated.

This year I decided to celebrate the family that I have created with my husband, I celebrated my husband for the man that he is and the husband that he has become over the years.

Now that we are home from our fabulous meal and are relaxing in the garden sharing another precious moment together I would like to share this great interview by Catherine-Emmanuelle Delisle. Catherine interviewed author Elliot Jager about his book “The Pater: my father, my Judaism, my childlessness” and it’s a great insight into a man dealing with his childless journey. So please share the interview and as Fathers day draws to a close spare a thought for those men who won’t hear the words ‘Happy Fathers Day’….

 

 

 

I guess it will always be there!!!

So I am at an event wondering if I should share that I am hosting a party for my books’ first year anniversary. Even after all this time I still feel apprehensive about inviting people into my world, especially women who are mothers. But I took a step and decided to hand out my flyers.

On receipt of a flyer I was asked what my book is about to which I proudly announced “its about women who are finding a fulfilling life without children”. The women looked at me and with the swipe of her hand said “oh that’s easy, try finding a fulfilling life when you have children”. Yep I was stunned, its not one that I have heard before but it quickly reminded me that there will always be that one person that will just not get it. I’m not here saying that my journey is anymore important than hers and it was clear  to me that this women has issues of her own that she needs to reconcile with but her comment really felt like a belittlement of my circumstance, a circumstance that she did not even show the slightest notion of wanting to understand.

There is not really much more that I want to say about this (especially without going into a rant of my own) but there are times when you can enjoy yourself without the notion of not being a mother having any relevance to a situation and there are times when it is just that hard!

The appointment

So I’m sitting in front of the gyne consultant having yet another appointment that I could do without.  “Do you have children” she asks. My answer is “No”. “Are you sexually active” she asks, ummm now she has my attention… I’m not sure what to say I mean this is a strange question to ask a married women and definitely a question that I’ve not been asked in a while. But I answer ‘Yes’ only to be met with her stern gaze and her ‘Do you understand that you can get pregnant” response hurled back at me. If I was a different person I probably would have responded to this by saying “I can only hope so” or “If I’m lucky” but I just quietly informed her that my getting pregnant wasn’t going to happen and as if that wasn’t enough she then asked me “how do I know?”……. All I could was SIGH!!!

I’m not sure what concerns me the most her thinking that I’m single (when I am married), her not realising that being childless at 46 may not be the skip in the park that she is assuming it is or her not dealing with this situation with the care that it deserved or even expected from someone in her position. Yet another BIG SIGH!!!

 

The awkward moment…

So I was enjoying an evening meal with some female friends when the young waiter come over to our table and asked if we are all mothers. When asked why the waiter informed us that we should see the film ‘Boss Baby’ a film, as he put it, that mothers will enjoy and have something to talk about afterwards. So me (feeling a bit annoyed at this comment) asked him if only mothers can enjoy the film? to which he replied no but mothers will be able to relate to the content. Oh boy!!! I started twitching in my chair, I’m sure that my face was equally as active as my body was.  In that moment (as much as I could see that he was just trying to be friendly) I battled with staying silently annoyed at his (innocent) comment or lovingly educating him on the pitfalls of what he had just said.

Yep I went with the latter…

Conscious of my feelings, I adjusted my body language (to appear friendly), leaned in and said as gently as I could, “I would like to say that for someone who has unsuccessfully tried for many years to have a child I find your comments insensitive. I realise that you didn’t mean this but I know women who would have left this restaurant crying after hearing what you have just said. Just because I do not have children I do have nieces and nephews as well as friends who have children so I am sure that I have the ability to understand the film…” and boy did I feel good afterwards!!! This wasn’t about embarrassing him in any way (that’s just not who I am), it was about reclaiming my power and having the confidence to say ‘No’ to a situation that had the potential of ruining my evening.

My annoyance didn’t drive me to attack the young man who, lets face it didn’t have a clue about the impact he was having on me, but instead it allowed me to ask myself what I needed in that moment. And in that moment I needed to speak. The waiter also went away realising that he shouldn’t make assumptions about the group of women sitting at the corner table…