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Posts Tagged ‘loneliness’

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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Another lonely Christmas . I tell myself it really has to be the last, and that I have to change my life just enough to end this isolation that I feel. The feeling that my experiences in the world are too outside the norm to express. The feeling that I cannot relate or truly connect with anyone. The worry that I will never have intimacy in my life, any, or enough.

I have never known how to perform my personal life. Only work. So, how can I possibly know how to change it?

The latter part of this year I began to try to express my loneliness to the people in my life and the experience has only made me feel more isolated and… alone. It’s really hard to understand why this is. Is it because people don’t want to feel responsible for my loneliness? They are not. But I do think they could do a little more to help me feel less alone.

What would that look like?

Allowing me to speak the truth about loneliness and my inability to shake it.  Understanding – and being unafraid to understand – what life looks like without children, without a partner, without parents, without a connected family. In short, not shunning the things that many  people fear most.

It’s difficult to even write this down – so much of lonely defies words. I’m certainly aware this is not my most eloquent post. I’m not the type who thrives on feeling tortured.

Loneliness is more common than anyone wants to think about. I’m tired of pretending it doesn’t have a firm hold on me.

But what I’ve learned is, asking for help doesn’t always work. Strange.

I had three occasions this Christmas where I sat and watched other people open gifts. Sure, there was a token gift for me at all three parties – so I wouldn’t feel left out. The gesture is noted and appreciated, however, it’s still hard to watch other people share their intimate moments knowing you do not have a one and only (mother, child, lover). Each experience left me more numb than before hand.

In case you ever wondered, this is why it’s preferable to be alone at Christmas.

People mean well, they do. My friends and family love me, I know this. But I would feel  much more connected and loved if I could just talk to one of them openly and honestly about how it really is with me.

You can’t really DO anything for me, except let me know you understand that this is how it is for now in my life.

And that would mean everything.

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A few months ago I went to a concert by myself. I do this a lot, go out alone. Sometimes I prefer it. I really didn’t think it was a big deal until I told a couple of people about the concert. Of course the inevitable question was, who’d you go with? The reactions surprised me.

Apparently it’s courageous to do something social on your own. Or, maybe it’s even anti-social!

Read the rest at my primary blog site.

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