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Except for the part where she says ditch university, I don’t disagree with this British woman. We need to stop being duped by technology’s promise that women have all the time in the world to have children.

Kirstie Allsopp

British TV presenter, Kristie Allsopp

Allsopp says fertility is the one thing that cannot change.

“Some of the greatest pain that I have seen among friends is the struggle to have a child. It wasn’t all people who couldn’t start early enough because they hadn’t met the right person,” she said.

Read the full article:

http://www.theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2014/jun/02/kirstie-allsop-young-women-ditch-university-baby-by-27

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too-late“Welcome to the Otherhood.” That’s what Melanie Notkin, author of a book of the same name on the topic of  childlessness wrote in my copy. I don’t actually want to be part of a group that calls itself “other” but I get why she did it. So few books available show exactly what our lives are like, outside the mythology of the woman hiding out with her cats, her career, and her lonely grief. So, when a book, or an article, or a video sees the light of day, we childless women – and some men too – come out of the woodwork to say thank youRead more from my Zoomer Singles article

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find love image

a new love is a click away!

Since late last year I’ve been blogging at Zoomer SinglesZoomer Media‘s online dating site, about my crazy mid-life attempt at finding love. Readers  familiar with my writing over the years know that I try to represent the rare view point of us over-50, never-married, childless women. Life looks a bit different for us renegades! You can access my blog here.

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Late last night I emailed my friend S to wish her a happy 1st Mother’s Day. Knowing it’s a sad day for me, both because my mother is dead and because I’m still working out not having had a child, her message back to me was sweet and appreciated. She said,”They should really change it to Women’s Day… since it takes a village to raise a child, so happy day to you too.”

She’s right. I, and many other non-moms, find so many ways to nurture others. Though it’s not celebrated and barely recognized. The world still doesn’t understand that just because you’re not rearing children doesn’t mean you misspend your mothering instincts. We find ways.

Mother’s Day has been difficult for 15 years since my dear mother left this planet. I’d mute TV commercials, or change stations; I’d try to ignore the Mother’s Day sales flyers and ads in newspapers. I stopped buying May issues of magazines, and knowing that even glancing at a greeting card that said “to the greatest Mom,” would send me over the edge I didn’t go near the aisle in any store that sold them. But with the advent of social media, it’s more difficult to ignore the build up. For at least a week before the day I have to all but avoid the F and T logos on my computer and phone. (sorry if I missed any birthdays in the process)motherless-child

I don’t need Mother’s Day and its hype to remind me of my mom – I think about her just about every day. In the last few years of her life, I was so caught up in my career that Mother’s Day, her birthday (Aug) and my birthday (Dec) were just about the only few occasions I was able to spend real time with her. So, these three days have become ever more significant. They’ve also become days around which I have to build armour to get through them.

Add that to the ongoing process of making peace with not having had children and you have a recipe for a very sad day. I prepare for it, I usually make a plan to honour it in my own private way and avoiding too many mentions of moms is part of the preparation. Anyone who has lost someone significant understands this practice. Grief is unpredictable, even years later. It’s been pointed out to me that grief is also the word for my feelings about being childless. And I think that’s right.

This morning I woke up in a panic because I think I’ve actually forgotten the sound of my mother’s voice. That voice had the ability to instantly sooth and calm me, no matter my age, independence or accomplishments. I miss that. Lacking any adequate replacement or surrogate, I still need it. You know, someone who is for me no matter what, who knows me inside and out and still loves me. Someone who so openly adores and loves me. The one person who happily accepts, without reservation, all the love and attention I have to give. A place where so few words of explanation are ever needed because of a deep and ongoing knowing. I have to wonder how I get by without that. I think the lack of it can sometimes make me a harder person than I am. An unwanted outcome.

How many of us have suffered through this day, while putting on a sweet smile and wishing others a happy one. It’s the polite thing to do. And I’m not the type of person who isn’t happy for people who have what I lack. I’m happy for my friend S, the new mom, and my friend J, the new dad. I’m happy my siblings have children in their lives so the sense of continuity is still alive for them. I hope they all enjoyed a wonderful day of pampering and celebration.

Still, I cannot tell you how much I cherished the words of my friend S, because it meant she took a moment to let me know she knows it’s not the same for me.

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nokidsAwhile ago, I met the write  Molly Peacock and began, by chance, to talk to her about a piece I was trying to work out about being childless and how hard it was to a) reconcile that fact, in a world where motherhood is revered, and b) how silent the process is because there’s so little written on it, and it’s rarely discussed. What I didn’t know was that she had written an entire book on her choice to be child-free and how it had defined her life.

I devoured Paradise Piece by Piece and, though my childlessness has happened more from circumstance than choice – it would never be my choice – I still related to a great deal of what she wrote. That’s because to be a “non-mom” is still fairly undefined and misunderstood.

Here are two essays I wrote on the topic for  TVO The Agenda. They both struck quite a nerve and I heard from many childless women, and men, who felt relieved that someone was speaking up.  I also heard from family members, who told me that they had no idea I had been feeling so distressed about not being a mother. But, all they really ever had to do was ask me.

So I have to wonder, why is the subject of childlessness so taboo?

The Murky Truth About Fertility, TVO The Agenda Insight

The Invisibility of Non-Moms, TVO The Agenda Insight

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Us “never-marrieds” are often at risk of being thought of as uncompromising or “picky,” but a recent Atlantic article explores one person’s thoughts on how she has finally (at 39) come to the conclusion that through not choosing to marry any of her boyfriends, she has actually chosen to be single. The article touches on how the recent recession has furthered the changing dynamic between the sexes and explores what life might be like in an all-female community.

But…

In her subsequent interviews on the article, she has tended to back off a bit from her stance and has admitted to ambivalence about being childless. Of course. There is always a shadow of protesting too much cast upon these types of public statements – lest a “modern spinster”/independent woman looks like she is actually choosing to be alone and lonely.

Loneliness is a byproduct of, well… life… but also single-dom, so I don’t know why there’s so much tabu around talking about it / admitting to it.

While I applaud people putting these topics up for discussion so we can, hopefully, get to a new understanding that (as I’ve said for years) there is not only one way to live, I do think that the author of this article might think a bit differently about her independent, childless life in years to come.

As well, I wish that the infertility industry would stop promising miracles. They are few and far between. Biology, after all, is biology and doesn’t change. Unless you have a good deal of money to burn, a fantastic physical and emotional constitution, and a direct link to the heaven’s above, no amount of technology can help a woman over 40 or esp. 45. That’s a fact.

I’d be interested in your thoughts on the article.

All the Single Ladies

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The other day I tripped on a busy city sidewalk and fell in plain public view. I can only hope my skirt didn’t fly up as I landed. At the time I was too busy trying to buffer myself from too much injury to notice. Now, anyone who knows me well will tell you I’m clumsy, so tripping and falling is not all that unusual; the one and only time I’ve ever broken anything – my foot – was during a fall from two harmless and not even steep concrete steps.

But, my recent tumble is different. It happened because I was trying to BE Kate Middleton.

Kate walks with confidence

One day after the Duke and Duchess left Canada, and following days of my obsessive royal watching, I tried to emulate Kate’s flawless, confident walk. Instead of the normal cautious stride of a serial klutz, head down, carefully watching my step for any potential risks, I breezed along, head high, looking forward. I wish I could tell you my heels were too high, or my shoes were too tight, but no – nothing. Just klutziness and, well, the sidewalk might have been uneven. Something the Duchess likely never has to worry about, what with all the planning and inspections and all the practicing and coaching that goes into being a royal on display to the fawning public and unforgiving media.

So, why had I taken up the mantra of “what would Kate do?”

Well, because there’s a little bit of Kate Middleton in all of us, isn’t there? Sure, she’s a Duchess now, married to a prince who will one day helm one of the most influential monarchies around. She’ll likely produce a child who will also one day inherit the throne. Her parents are now millionaire entrepreneurs, but at the time of her birth in 1982, they were airline employees. She’s what is known in British circles as a “commoner” – not so different from the women in the crowd that lined the royal wedding route with signs on their backs reading “it should have been me.” It well could have been.

Princess hopefuls

Kate’s 29, born in 1982. I’m 50, born in 1960. There’s no way I could ever be her at this point in my life, but watching her reminds me of the promise that life holds in your 20s, when anything is possible, everything achievable. Life before too much heartache; thwarted dreams, lost jobs, men, parents, friends; events that can affect even the way you stand, and walk in the world. I realized, watching Kate, that I’ve developed a hunch – part weariness, part self-protectiveness. It’s been awhile since I approached my life with the confidence I once exuded, with the poise my mother insisted I learn, with the spark constantly remarked upon and admired. And, I honestly never thought life could drag me so far down that it would show in my countenance. In fact, my mantra has always been, “just keep moving forward.” Yet somewhere along the way, I stopped doing it, no matter how often I give this advice to others.

Of course it didn’t immediately occur to me why the royals gripped me so strongly. But now I see that they look exactly like I used to feel. Happy, friendly, looking out, focused on the moment, ready for anything, generally game for life.

Prince William is compelling enough on his own – born and bred to one day be King, adored and protected by his mom, Diana, Princess of Wales, he was probably one of the most photographed babies ever. Who can forget his silent, heartbreaking walk behind his mom’s coffin after her tragic death? We felt invested in his growing up, his success at school and his struggle to learn to live within the stricture of his destiny. We watched and waited to see who William would choose for a partner. And though we saw all the tabloid “waity Katy” fluff, depicting her as a woman he trifled with and didn’t intend to marry, when they finally became engaged after eight years of dating, living together and one very public break up, everyone began to focus not just on what Kate wore, but on who she really is. Who is this steady, calming influence on our beloved Wills?

We caught glimpses of her on their wedding day – elegant and glowing, she looked to the entire world nothing but ready to become the Duchess of Cambridge, with all the attention – positive or negative, and service that is involved in being a member of the British royal family.

But, it wasn’t until she stepped onto Canadian soil for her first official Royal trip abroad with her husband that we saw her true nature. Leading up to the wedding I wrote a number of feature articles on the plans and preparations and I’ll admit it, I kind of fell in love with them. Now, since I’m a journalist I’m supposed to be naturally wary, or jaded or something that I can never quite pull off. So the thing is, they looked and seemed so down to earth, that I believe I was seeing one fairly normal human being, who just happened to be born Royal and bred to be King. And one natural beauty that just happened to appear in his sphere and become the object of his affection.

Some have said Kate Middleton quite strategically became Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge. That she set her sights on William at St. Andrew’s university where they both studied, and manipulated her way into his heart, that her mother helped her come up with ways to ensure she’d one day marry that prince.

Tell me, though, what teenage girl doesn’t dream of marrying a prince, real or figuratively? And if you happen to live in England and are around the same age as him, sure you’d have his photo on your wall. “Harry Hunters” have had the “spare” prince squarely in their sights for years. These are girls, mostly from abroad, who enroll in British universities and then track down Prince Harry in clubs for a chance to meet him.

At 20, when Prince Charles and Lady Diana were married, the younger Prince Andrew attended an Ontario boy’s school in Lakefield, where my best friend lived. We weren’t aristocracy like Diana, but we felt sure we had a chance with him. We may not have had the breeding but we did have the poise, the manners and, most important, pureness of heart. The princess dream starts early and dies hard, or never.

Now, I’m not looking for a prince. One good man will do. And that’s something else about Kate and my sidewalk tumble. The dapper Prince is entirely protective of his bride. Never too far from her side, he often extends a reassuring hand to her back. Since royal protocol restricts too much, or any PDA, this is his way of letting her – and us avid watchers looking for signs of affection – know how he feels (I don’t want to even talk about the adoring and knowing looks that pass between them). They are obviously in a true partnership. They are clearly there for each other.

A true partnership

Since stumbling is par for the course for me, I’m usually pretty good at catching myself before I fall. This time however, I walked beside a male companion – someone I’ve spent a good deal of time with, whom I trust and care for. As I began to fall, I reached out for assistance, grabbing his arm with my hand as I went down. He let it go. He didn’t catch me; he said he thought I would catch myself.

Come to think of it, if there’s anything strategic about Kate Middleton’s behavior it’s that she was smart enough to leave a man who exhibited ambivalence about her. And he was clever enough to look inside his heart and out at his options, and see he had a good thing going and went back to get her.

So, what I learned from Kate Middleton is something I used to know. A little thing called confidence goes a long way to achieving the rewards you want, and deserve.

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