My interview with Jody Day

Watch my interview at http://gateway-women.com/calendar/reignite-weekend-london-sat-28th-sun-29th-april-2018/

Dreaming of a Life Unlived

Dreaming of a Life Unlived

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Best Speaker

I gave a planned speech titled ‘The other side of motherhood’ recently at my local Toastmasters club which saw me crowned as best speaker of the night.

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I choose to talk about the things I hate to hear (from others) as a childless women and on congratulating me on my speech/ topic I was told that “if no one ever talks about it, it never gets talked about’. So I thought that I’d take the opportunity to share my speech here with you …

The other side of motherhood

In my 20s I used to have men randomly follow me around. There was the time when I was examining eggs in Sainsbury’s when this man leaned over and told me that I would make beautiful babies one day. 

1 in 5 women living in the UK over the age of 45 are childless by circumstance and I am one of them. Now I don’t know what images come to your mind when you think of a childless woman but I can tell you that I definitely get asked very different questions whilst walking up the dried fruit isle in Tesco’s.

I also get asked some very awkward and at times insensitive questions. Fellow TM and distinguished guests, I would like to share 5 commonly asked questions and statements that can cause a childless women to cringe. I’ll also explain why, you should refrain from using them in public. These are…

  1. You can always just adopt
  2. If you really wanted children you would have tried harder
  3. But I heard of this story where….
  4. You are so lucky, you get to sleep in and travel a lot
  5. Don’t give up hope

Lets take the first one:

  1. You can always just adopt

I love the use of the word ‘just’. Its like I can click my fingers and a child will just instantly appear in my arms and all their past issues will just disappear!!!

Adoption is not the 2nd prize in a raffle for women who couldn’t have children of our own so why would you think that this would be a good substitute for me not being able to have a child with my husband???

Having someone else’s child was never in my life plan.

 Then there’s my second award winning statement:

  1. If you really wanted children you would have tried harder

Consider if you will the endless stories of failed IVF treatments, multiple miscarriages, women who have waited a lifetime for that ‘right partner’ to start a family with, early menopause, cancer, genetic conditions and family traumas, that have robbed women of their fertility – I can guarantee you that none of these women didn’t try!!! And trust me I TRIED!!!

 This 3rd one always has me running for the door:

  1. But I heard of this story where….

I DO NOT LIVE IN A BUBBLE!

With IVF having a global failure rate of 77% in 2012 have you ever wondered why the miracle baby stories are in the news???

It also gives me no comfort to see how other women have succeed where I failed.

 Which brings me onto number 4. I love this one:

  1. You are so lucky, you get to sleep in and travel a lot

When you are willing to trade in your children to sleep in and travel then we can have that conversation.

Anyway I’ve certainly not noticed a decline in parents travelling with their young children. Esp as I always seem to get seated in front of the ones who are either constantly kicking the back of my seat or crying throughout the whole flight.

 Number 5 is my personal favorite:

  1. Don’t give up hope

We live in a time where we think that if we throw a positive attitude at ‘it’ anything can change. I get the impression that when people hear my story they believe that I go home, close the curtains and spend my nights in the dark, crying into my chocolate. I only cry when I realise there is no chocolate left in my cupboard and I remember that I have already gone through my secrete stash.

Sometimes we have to let go in order to move through the pain that can be so crippling, but it doesn’t mean that we have lost hope. Hanging onto our old dreams takes a lot of energy – energy that could be better used to make an even a better life come into being. As our worlds change, hope can change with it. I now live with the hope that no-one will ever say the words ‘Don’t give up hope’ to me again!!!

 Women are praised for having it all, the career, the husband, the 2.4 children whilst wearing their wonder women nickers, but there is no recognition of how hard it can be on a woman when she doesn’t reach the status of motherhood.

Well I am here to let you know that women like me are simply trying to find a place in the world that doesn’t fully understand us. We have joy, we have hope and at times we will even laugh. But please heed my caution, the next time you meet one of us please;

  1. do not tell us that we can just adopt
  2. do not tell us that we should have tried harder
  3. do not tell us about the miracle baby stories
  4. do not tell us how luck we are and above all
  5. do not tell us not to give up hope

 Instead you can simply say, “I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t have children. That must be hard for you”

 

My Legacy

I listened to a training exercise by Jody Day recently where she talked about the difficulties that childless women face when it comes to finding meaning in our lives as we do not have children to share our wisdom with or pass down our belongs to. I know that for me, one of the desires of becoming a mum was to have a daughter (yes I was going to have a girl) that I could teach the importance of loving herself and to pass on my bracelet handed down to me by my aunty and a crucifix that my dad had given to me when I was a little girl.

Dreaming of a Life Unlived

Not having children that I can leave my most prized possessions to is a part of my grief that is probably easier for others to comprehend but until now I never really considered what that legacy truly meant. During Jody’s message she mentioned that our legacy is;

  1. for others to decide and
  2. is the difference we make to people while we are here.

I have never considered the fact that my presence in the world may have made it an easier for someone else, on any particular day, could be seen as my legacy, but on reflection I realise what a beautiful gift that kind word, that helping hand, that unexpected hug when it was most needed, the laughs we share, can mean in someone else’s life. Reflecting on this reminded me of the day I was returning to work after my lunch break. An elderly lady caught my attention and asked if I was going to my car. She mentioned that she was looking for a lift to the bus stop so that she could get home. I retrieved my car keys from my office and walked her to my car. During the conversation I realised that she lived close to where I work and so offered to drive her home. To me this was a small gesture to her it meant the world. Thinking back on this it is lovely to realise that I will be remembered by that lady as that kind girl that helped her out that day. And my dear friend, Anita, reminds me of the wisdom, love and laughter that we share with each other and receiving gifts from her shows me that I am an important part of her life.

My legac

my legacy

Dawn, who I meet a few weeks ago, messaged me yesterday saying “You are a gift to anyone that knows you”.  Remembering these moments has evoked such an emotion in me that I am crying as I write this blog.

Prior to today I had been saddened by the prospect of not being able to leave something behind to be remembered by my children but now I have the joy of knowing that I give the gift of me to everyone I come across and am able to share a special moment with them (no matter how small). What a beautiful legacy to leave behind!!!

Yx

“Please do not give up on hope…”

As you know I take every opportunity to share my experience of dealing with the grief of being childless. Recently I shared the difficulties that I have experienced as a manager, at a digital story telling event hosted by NHS England. After my presentation a lady approached me to express her sadness at hearing my story. Her sadness was as a result of her having a number of children and me having none. Taking my hands in hers she looked me in the eyes, asked me my age (46 I replied) and gently encouraged me to not give up hope. I just sighed!!!

saying goodbye

I smiled and reassured her that I do have hope, she smiled back feeling (I imagine) that she had done a great job in offering me this gift (of wisdom) that no-one else has offered me before nor could I have offered this to myself (not sure why people believe this to be true???). I do find it amusing that others think that I have lost hope because I am telling my story but what about the hope that I will be ok, what about the hope that I can hold a newborn baby without breaking down in tears, what about the hope that I will not lose my friends and what about the hope that I will find a fulfilling life without children??? In this moment it finally didn’t matter that she left believing (in her mind) that she had passed on this advice, it mattered that I was no longer left feeling angry (as I have felt in the past) at hearing those word ‘Please do not give up hope’.

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Hope is defined as ‘a feeling of expectation and desire for a particular thing to happen’ so I will end this post by saying that I have left go of the hope of getting pregnant and having a child of my own and I have replaced it with the the hope that something crazy big will happen as a result of me no longer remaining silent about my grief.

Hope

A close friend told me that ‘there are many ways of being a mother’ and my hope of being a mum is taking me on a journey to this becoming my reality!!!

Have you heard my news???

So I am sitting in a room (with a small group of people) when one of the ladies excitedly asks me “if I have heard her news?”. I barely had a chance to reply when she quickly announced that ‘she is going to be a grandmother’. I blinked as she continued to fill me in on how excited she is along with all that this new status will entail. Now I am not one to begrudge anyone anything but COME ON!!! (can you imagine my pained expression?) We barely speak as it is so I could not fathom why she would think that I would be interested in hearing her news in all its glory??? It was all too much to bear and I had to excuse myself and leave the room.

It is hard enough to be around your loved ones whilst trying to express some sort of joy for their news when on that particular day you don’t really to. To be honest its not always that hard but there are times I could happily hide away and avoid the feelings that my grief can bring. So I try and protect myself from those situations, especially with regards to people who I am not that close to, where I actually do not have to be a a part of their joy when they have not taken the time to consider my pain.

finding my plan B