Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Childless by Marriage has moved

Thank you so much for visiting the Childless by Marriage blog. We have moved to a new location. I am hoping the new features available there will give us a better experience. You will find all new posts and all of the old ones, plus comments, at http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com. Please go there to read and comment. You will soon see that however you fit into the childless by marriage picture, you are not alone.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

IMPORTANT NOTICE: This is the last new post that will appear at this site. Please switch over to the new site at http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com. All of the old posts have already been transferred over there, and it would make life easier if you would comment at that site. Thanks you.

Women’s bodies are baby factories. It’s not all we are, of course, but if you look at our bodies, they are definitely designed to produce babies. Our breasts give milk, our vagina is designed to take in sperm, the ovaries to produce eggs which unite with the sperm, and the uterus to provide a nest for the resulting embryo to grow into a baby. Somehow, when it's time, the body knows how to send the baby out through wide hips and a cervix that expands tremendously. Women carry extra fat reserves to help nourish the babies they carry. Hormones flood our bodies to keep the process going.

Every month of our fertile years, our uteruses prepare a cushy space for a baby then flush it away through our periods. That monthly flow of blood is the reminder of what’s not happening in our bodies, that we’re not making babies. I had periods for 40 years. Mostly it was a nuisance, messy, painful, and embarrassing. I didn’t think much about how it meant I was not pregnant because I wasn’t trying to get pregnant. I was using birth control with my first husband, and my second husband had had a vasectomy. Between marriages, I was trying NOT to get pregnant, so the arrival of my period was a relief. But think about how amazing this whole system is and how different from men’s bodies, for whom it’s all about sex.

Of course, we’re not JUST baby machines. We think, we love, we create, we dance. We’re CEOs, doctors, lawyers, teachers, ministers, artists, actors, bakers, gardeners, and so much more. But we do it all with bodies designed for motherhood. In modern times, we can decide we don’t want to be mothers. Sometimes our partners make the choice for us. Sometimes something goes wrong and we can’t get pregnant or carry a baby to term. But four out of five women still have children. Why not us?

Every other animal reproduces without questioning whether or not to do it. But we humans with our fancy brains sometimes say, "No, I’d rather do something else." Not to get all Catholic on you, but is this right? I would love to know what you think about all this. Women’s bodies are designed to have babies. What does it mean when we choose not to use those parts or let someone make that choice for us?

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

No Kids? Find a New Dream

Dear friends,

I spent four days last week on the road at the Willamette Writers Conference in Portland, Oregon. I have gone to this conference many times, but rarely have I come away feeling so inspired. The workshops I took, the connections I made, and the friends I spent time with all gave me new energy for my work. There were hundreds of us at the Doubletree Hotel. Many were parents or grandparents. Many were married. Many had jobs doing other things besides writing. But I didn't see any of that. There were no family groups to make me feel left out. No kid-centric conversations. For those four days, we were all writers. Nobody felt left out or different; we all shared a passion for words and books, from the high school kid who writes about rock stars to the 80-year-old writing a murder mystery. 

I can go to events like the conference because I don't have anyone except my dog to take care of. A phone call brings my trusted dog-sitter, and I'm free to go. If I had children, it would be more difficult. Not impossible, but tricky. When my husband was ill, I had a hard time getting away even to run a few errands. What I'm saying is being on your own is not all bad.

Most parents wait until their kids are grown to follow their own dreams. A lot of people who want to write don't start until retirement. But you and I can do it now. Whatever your passion is, dive into it. Following your passion for whatever interests you can take your mind off your lack of children, put you together with people who share that passion, and give you a new purpose for your life. I know many of you wanted to be parents and wrapped your lives around that dream, but sometimes we have to find a new dream. If it's something you and your partner can share, all the better. My motorcycle-riding cousin and his wife come to mind.

Maybe you're still trying to figure out whether or not you'll have children. But why not find something you love to do while you're figuring it out?

As you may know, I'm in the process of transferring this blog to a new site. After Aug. 19, I will only publish new posts at the new site. All of the old posts are already there. Please switch over to http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com as soon as you can, and if you want to comment, do it there. Thanks. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Maybe It's Time to Reassess the Situation

Six people I know have died in the last month. Six! None were family members, thank God, but still, they were people I knew and cared about. Also, my cousin gave birth to twins. Plus, I’ve got a new boss who is, how shall I put it, insane. And my neighbor has a new rooster who never stops crowing. All since July 1. What a month. Makes a girl think and reassess.

I’ve been whining a lot lately about being alone and childless. I won’t lie. It’s hard sometimes. Saturday, when I arrived at a funeral that was not held at my own church, I found myself alone in a sea of families. And when the folks in front of me told me all about their children and grandchildren, I felt awful. So alone. I went home and cried and only partly for my neighbor who died. But part of that is my own fault for being too shy to introduce myself to strangers and make them friends. I'd rather feel sorry for myself. My friend Pat talks to everyone. Within five minutes, she has new friends, so she’s never alone. Yes, she has children, but they all live far away. She has a husband, but he’s currently disabled and can’t do things with her. Her own health isn't great. We’ve all got problems.

But you know what we also have? Blessings. One day last week when I just couldn’t face my work anymore, I got in my car and drove to the beach. I hung out on the sand until lunchtime, then treated myself to an expensive lunch at a posh restaurant with a fabulous view. Later I went shopping, and I drove down some roads I’d never tried before. I did not have to arrange childcare or consult with any other human being. I just went, and it was great.

I watched 13 episodes of “Orange is the New Black” in one week last month. I’m not sure that’s good for anybody’s brain, but again, no one to consult, no child or husband to feed, nobody whining that they wanted to watch something else.

My dog Annie and I walk almost every day through the woods or on the beach. Between us we have six good legs and we’re healthy. That, my friends, is a blessing.

I eat three delicious meals a day and have money left over. I am so lucky.

Many of you have partners whom you love. You might be making each other crazy over the baby issue, but stop for a minute. Set that aside. What do you love about this person? What does he or she give you? Sex? Love? Support? A hand to hold when you’re scared? That’s something a lot of people don’t have.

Do you have a home? Your health? Parents? Siblings? Cousins? Friends? Pets?

Do you have work that you enjoy?

I know. This baby thing has you all tied up in knots. You worry about the future. Will you regret not having children? Will you end up alone? Will your relationship last? Should you leave? Should you stay? It’s hard.

But today, right now, count your blessings. Life is short, and we never know when it will end. My fingers are getting tired of playing funeral songs. But I’m grateful that those fingers can still dance on the piano keys and I can still sing.

How about you? Perhaps you don’t have babies of your own, but what DO you have?

As you probably know by now, this blog is moving to a new site. In fact, it's already happening there and will soon stop happening here. Please go to http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com and click on the "Follow" button so you don't miss any posts. If you comment there, more people will see it. Thanks for sticking with me for all these years.