A childless womb

Maybe, because of my collaboration and befriending with many mummy bloggers, through my social media work with Orchard Toys, I have come to meditate more on my childless state.

Maybe reading your blogs, looking at your photos and tweeting with you about your children, the days out with your children, their childhood illnesses and the loss of your children,  has made me think that there’s something missing in my life, not having a child of my own. Not, that is, to continue my ‘line’, I don’t give a toss about that, but a living being that would need me, that I could teach, and from whom I could learn. A child that would give meaning to my life.

I was never one of those women who felt the need to procreate. To be honest, the thought of swelling up like a  whale, was never appealing. The thought of the actual birth really didn’t do anything for me either.

I had friends, when I was in my 20s, who decided to go through the experience of carrying a child and childbirth, because God had given them the body to do it. They wanted to experience being pregnant, and they wanted to have a baby. The man was just the means to the end.

I always thought that to love somebody and to have their child was the ultimate experience, but somehow I was never in the right place at the right time.

Many articles have been written about the menopause. All the different ways it affects the female body, but I have never, ever seen any articles about how it can affect you mentally. That is if you are childless. Knowing that the your body clock is ticking, that the ‘change of life’ is imminent and that you are childless.

I had always thought, at the back of my mind, that I would have children. We all think that don’t we?  Coming to terms with the onset of the menopause and the realisation of  “Well, that’s it, no babies for me” is quite something to come to terms with. Why don’t journalists write articles about it? Why isn’t counselling available?

Still, I have got past that all now and am looking towards another milestone in my life, retirement. How will I cope after having been brought up with a strong work ethic? Suddenly to find that I am not ‘earning my living’ any longer? To not have to get up in the morning to go to work? How will I cope, with the sudden change in my regime?

About this I have no fears. I have many projects, as you will see if you follow my blog. It will be a new world of learning about life, and myself, and I welcome it with open arms.

25 thoughts on “A childless womb

  1. I can imagine that it must be quite a difficult thing to overcome, despite being the 21st Century women are still given such pressure to ‘fulfill their role’ and have a child. The menopause is just another way of shoving a decision that we are entitled to make in our faces. For every woman who can’t wait to be a mum, there’s another who hates the idea; it’s fine it’s what makes the world go around. However, I do agree that menopause must be hard if that decision has been made.

    • I would say that the menopause is difficult if the decision has never been made. I never particularly had the urge to have children, but always thought that I would. Suddenly, time had run out and I didn’t have a child, and nature had decided that I wouldn’t have one, not I.

  2. I was quite moved to read this, and somewhat at a loss to say anything helpful, being myself the mother of two teenage girls. So I can’t say that I know how you feel and I can’t really imagine what its like to be childless. But I do know that other aspects of my life bring me just as much satisfaction as being a mum. The time I spend with my horses and in the garden both at home and at work bring me huge fulfilment and cannot be underestimated. I believe that as long as you have a full, interesting life and make the most of all the opportunities that come your way, you will be a well rounded, content individual and no less worthy because you happen to be childless. That should not be a defining mark of being a woman. And parenthood isn’t all its cracked up to be either! You can miss out on so many things because you ARE a mother, believe me! Of course I wouldn’t be without my girls but at times you do feel like the unpaid scullery maid and general dogsbody!
    I’m sure you’re going to have the most fantastic time in your retirement because you’ve got so much going on in your life. And your horse, chickens and garden NEED YOU!! :) xx

    • Oh, how lovely Cathy, thanks so much for you wise words. Don’t get me wrong, I have no hang ups about not having had a child, it’s just one of the hurdles one has to leap in one’s life. But nobody ever talks about it. I have to say that I lost no sleep about the fact that I was childless when I reached the onset of the menopause, but nevertheless it didn’t stop me from feeling sad that the door had closed, and the decision had been taken away from me!
      It’s just that I see the joy that you all have with your children (and the inevitable heartache) that makes me feel as though I may have missed out…
      I was very lucky as I lived abroad during my young, child bearing years, so I never had that peer pressure to get married and get pregnant. I always ploughed my own furrow anyway, and didn’t let the comments of others affect me.
      I am really happy with my lot, with my animals, my cottage and my country life. I have lots of plans for retirement, one of which is getting closer to my nephew and his two young boys, on whom I can lavish lots of auntie-love!

        • Mmm, the grass always looks greener…. But since I split with my ex OH, I am really enjoying my independence, pleasing myself, having my space back. Yes, I miss the companionship, but I think I have always been a loaner anyway!

  3. Lovely article. I will dwell on the positive and say each to their own and how lucky you are to have the freedom to do what you want, when you want. I am sure retirement will easily be enjoyed as I hear nothing but retired folk say they still have don’t have enough hours in the day to do all they desire! Just before I go…..I was trying to not reflect too much on how you have missed the experience of trauma in child birth excessive pain and then the pains during the child’s upbringing and also the great worry you might loose the child you gave life to and that would be the ultimate pain. Love the one’s your with! X

    • Thanks Denise for your comments. I suppose that having children is a double edged sword that somebody who doesn’t have them, can hardly appreciate. I have no regrets about the way that my life has panned out. I don’t do regrets. My animals have always been my children and the grief I feel when I lose them is very deep.
      I can remember when dear old Rosco, my horse, died, after 18 years with me, my confidant, my friend, my boy, who was always there to listen to me. I was in the village post office and was all fingers and thumbs when trying to sort something out. I apologised to the postmaster, saying that I was all sixes and sevens because my horse had died the day before, he was like my child, I said, and I was devastated.
      A middle-aged man in the queue behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said that I had no idea what it was like to lose a child. A horse couldn’t be equated with a child. He had recently lost his daughter and was really angry with me. I was gobsmacked. How dare he intrude upon my grief? He had no idea of the pain I was feeling. How rude, to berate me like that! How could he understand the significance of animals to a childless woman?
      I said nothing, just stared at him, and inwardly seethed!

  4. Hi Lynda, A very poignant, delicate and thoughtful piece. And you are right, it is a topic which is not frequently openly discussed. The menopause is already quite a juncture in a woman’s life and brings with it sentiments of melancholy, lost youth, sometimes an awareness of opportunities not taken but this is also accompanied by a sense of freedom, an appreciation of the wisdom gained through one’s many years of ups and downs, and the excitement of moving into another epoch of one’s life. But I can certainly appreciate the additional emotions of realizing that child-bearing possibilities are somewhat remote after the menopause, if one does not already have children. Thanks for the food for thought, roll on your retirement, keep living life to the full in your very unique and planet-friendly way and give those two young boys the time of their lives!! Baci Val

    • Thanks Val for your lovely comment. As I have mentioned in my response to Denise’s comment, I have no regrets about the way my life has gone. The time, and the man was never right, to consider having children. Being childless has allowed me more freedom, that is until I started to collect animals! I go away on holiday and all I do is worry about them! As if they can’t cope with me around, how silly!

  5. Some wonderful and thoughful comments on here – thanks to everyone – I too am a childless woman of a certain age and I have never seen anything written about this subject. THe thing that really hurts is when people say “you can’t understand, you don’t have children” That is like a dagger in the heart – lots of women don’t have children for so many different reasons but no one finds out why – I always feel as if people judge me unfairly because of this and I am excluded from ‘family things’. My animals are my babies and the loss of one never goes away. But I do think I would feel that way if I had children, that is how we were bought up. I remember my whole family grieving over the loss of our dog, he was older than me, and still we remember and love him. Well done for being brave enough to write this. xx

    • Many thanks Liz for your sensitive comments. Yes, I have had the comments of “You don’t have children so you don’t understand”. I can remember that being said when, what was his name, somebody Huntley, was it, who was the caretaker of a Thetford school and he killed those two lovely little blond girls. Pain and grief are all relative and I suppose none of us can truly understand the pain that others are feeling, even if we have been in similar circumstances ourselves. All we can ever do is hope to support them in some way.

    • Thanks Liz for your comments. Yes, of course, I am sure that if I had children, I would still have grieved for my lost animals. I can remember as a child when our dog, Laddie, passed away we were all devastated. My mum said she would never have another dog, because she could never love them as she had loved him. I think, maybe Liz, we are excluded from ‘family things’because we are single women, and some people feel threatened by that, but that is a whole different ball game!

  6. being in the same situation as you, Lynda, I read this piece with interest. I never had the strong maternal urge either, although if the right partner had been there at the right time it could have worked out. i would have been happy to adopt actually. I sometimes think how nice it would be to have a son or daughter to share things with the way I share with my mum and dad, we are the best of friends. I don’t regret not having had children, it wasn’t a decision I made, it was one made for me by life and circumstance, just like you really.
    the man in the post office, yes can imagine how affronted you were, and quite rightly so. how can anyone know your pain and loss? and anyway, it isn’t a competition, it isn’t some thing that can be measured! i do resent people who claim that their experience as a parent is beyond all other things that the rest of us experience. how dare they, indeed! I came back from the stables when my old boy died, i’d had him for 25 years, from a foal I was crying and told my neighbour why. She, like the man in your Post Office, got angry with me and said she had lost a son, and I didn’t know what grief was. I think the intensity of our loss sparks something in their emotional memories and they relive for a moment the pain of loss – do you remember the huge reaction to the death of Lady Di? I was sure a LOT of that was that it gave people a channel to finish grieving for their own lost ones, as much as it was for Lady Di herself.
    But I have to say, parents can be very possessive of the ability to love that deeply, thinking only they experience it. If you don’t regard it as a competition however, and see it as a deep loss and great grieving, what does it matter who feels it more, or who has more right to grieve. Beyond a certain point all love is love and all grieving is painful and to be respected, beyond that certain point the degree is irrelevant, I feel.
    hugs
    susan

    • Hi Susan, many thanks for your comments. I think you made some really good points. Was interested to read your thoughts of the nation’s mass grief for Princess Di, and saying that they could well have been grieving for recently departed friends or relatives. I had never thought of it as such, but I think you could well be right. It was almost like mass hysteria, whatever that may be. Books of condolences were springing up all over the place. It was very strange, we even had one at County Hall. I always wondered what people said and why they felt the need to write in those books. But I suppose the nation had taken her to its heart, her marriage problems were public property, and everybody was mourning.
      I was shocked at her death and watched her funeral on TV, but I never was a groupie, not for royalty, film stars or bands. I am my own person I suppose and even as a teenager I never raved about the latest groups (which were, of course, the Beatles and Stones), or went to their concerts. Maybe I missed out, I don’t know.

  7. I’ve been reading the comments on here, and they are very considered and thoughtful. I agree with one of the above comments – that as long as you are living a creative and productive life, motherhood is certainly not the pinnacle of being a woman – a well rounded life is. Too much is mythologised about motherhood when the reality is not brought to light enough in magazines etc – that it takes away from you as much as it can give – there are plenty of things I can’t do now as a mum, I have suffered PND and post traumatic stress from the birth, and probably won’t be having another one on the basis of that. And then there was the shock of becoming a mum, and all that it entailed – and to be honest, I felt robbed. And I agree with you – the menopause is such s big rite of passage for a woman, one that is not recognised or honoured fully in our society – there should be ceremonies around it etc to help bridge the change, but there’s nothing apart from hormone replacements and pills. The menopause should be a great time in a woman’s life marking a new phase of creativity, being a woman in herself and freedom from the dictates of the womb! I will be very happy, when the time comes, not to have periods anymore and the hormonal roller coaster of PMS. A truly great post – so much more should be written about this. X.

    • Thanks so much for popping by and leaving such an honest reply. I’m so sorry that you suffered PND after the birth of your child. That must be so traumatic to experience at a time when you have given life and should be feeling so happy. I don’t know how long ago that was for you, but finally they are now recognising it as an illness and mothers aren’t being told to “pull themselves together” like they used to be.
      I agree that there should be more in the media about the menopause, it’s not just HRT, mood swings and hot flushes!
      I have been so lucky as, because I never married, I never felt the pressure, from parents or friends to have a baby. That’s one consolation I suppose.

  8. I think it’s a lovely thing you have all these adventures planned for yourself and you’ve reminded me of my mum when she realised she was getting hers. She has 3 kid but still felt like it had crept up and she hasn’t seen it coming!

    • I think the secret to retirement is to have lots to do! If you have always been a person who has had ‘projects’ then I think you can carry that into your retirement. But sadly, so many people, who have just lived for their job or family, find when they get to retirement, that they have nothing to do!

  9. Just here from Mummy’s Little Monkey’s, and very glad i’ve found you, I look forward to reading more. I have children, but often wonder what I could have done if that hadn’t happened, to the extent that it is almost a constant alternative existence on a reel. It’s meaningless – these 2 people I had a part in creating are here and their own people, and my life with them is full and happy, but I think a life without them could have been too, another path I could have taken, and which I’m curious about.

    • Thanks so much for popping by Caz and for your comment. It’s funny how our lives pan out, isn’t it? So easy for them to have gone in another direction. We’ll never know. The important thing is not to have regrets. We all do things that, perhaps, in hindsight would have been better not to have done, but we need to move on. How lovely for you that you have your two children, who I am sure bring you great joy, and whom you will have around you as you grow old. Growing old…. well there’s another post!

  10. such a thoughtful post and commen ts, I agree with cas above, I have three children and had the at an early age, my whole life seems to have been either being a child or being a mum and its difficult sometimes to imagin what the alternative is, and now my children are all getting independant and older it leaves me wondering what I should and could be doing with my life, I love how you have achieved your home in the country and a lifestyle that you enjoy and I love that you are blogging it is great to connect to different people to inspire and remind us of the different paths in life, I will follow your blog and watch as your plans coe together over the following years I a sure you will have such fun ahead x

    • Oh, thanks Sarah for your visit and for going deeper into my blog, and subsequent comment. That post did generate a lot of comments, and maybe a bit of soul-searching, which I’m glad about. Wish I could write posts like that all the time, to get people thinking, responding, but life isn’t like that, and the mundane has to be written about sometimes too! After all life is made up of the exciting, irrelevant and the mundane. Hopefully, peeps won’t be turned off by the mundane. Did you read my post Two little Miracles? It is my favourite so far as what happened left such a deep impression on me. Hopefully, I will keep you thinking, amused and, perhaps, entertained!

  11. What touching words. It’s amazing what things “define” you – whether it is being a mother, because this is what women are “supposed to do” or earning a living, because this is what we benchmark ourselves against, define and introduce ourselves at dinner parties with from our twenties onwards. It’s exactly why one of the best things my mother taught me through example was to find those things that excite and delight you and be more. Wishing you a very happy retirement! You seem like a very busy lady! Thank you for stopping by my blog.

    • Many thanks for your comments, they’re much appreciated. Working with mummy bloggers through my job, reading your tweets and blogs, hearing about your happy times and your not so happy times has made me think about my life a lot, hence this particular post. As I said, I lived abroad during my twenties and most of my friend were single and we were all living a great single life. I only felt pressure, from friends and family, when I came home on leave. “When are you getting married?”, they used to ask. Once I got past 30 they stopped asking!

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