Mixed emotions on Mother’s Day, childless not by choice

This Mother’s Day I thought I’d talk about what where my head is regarding my own childless journey 6 years on from freezing my eggs and how society could help with some of the pain experienced by the childless not by choice community.

Saying Goodbye

For those of you that have followed my journey since 2016 will know single motherhood by choice has never been the path I wanted for myself, so as the years have moved on my options to have a family of my own have declined significantly since freezing my eggs. The pandemic has certainly not helped, but it has given me time to focus on other areas of my life which I’m really grateful for.
So, the long and short of the journey is that I have made peace (as much as I can at this point in time) with that part of my life has now passed.

Embracing change

Letting go completely can be a painful process to go through, but also hugely cathartic. Sometimes we keep hold of things in the past that prevent us from moving forwards, and sometimes when we do, we don’t do so with a healthy mindset. Feeling bitter and regretful about what could have been, are normal emotions, but feelings that don’t serve me well and take up space that could be filled with more positivity.

I’m feel pretty sure that many people that have been through fertility treatment, but had to come to the painful realisation that it just wasn’t meant to be, had to battle with a similar decision of knowing when to move on, however hard it may be.

Different stages of grief

I was talking to someone just recently about the different stages of grief that childless not by choice community go through and we both agreed that our grief had shifted over the years. I can definitely recognise that my inward grief has now become more outward, and the triggers I experience have also changed with time.

Today, the feelings that have the most negative impact on my wellbeing are the feelings of Isolation and exclusion, mainly brought on by societal biases. I can definitely associate with many of the topics discussed in this article, even though the focus is on the choice not to have children.

Today, is Mothering Sunday in the UK. A day which is filled with so many mixed emotions for many. Being childless not by choice doesn’t just affect you on certain days of the week, or year, it can have a profound affect on your mental health, as so clearly described in this personal story from one of the childless community. It seems we have a long way to go before companies, families, and society as a whole do more to acknowledge, understand, and open up the conversation around inclusivity, specifically related to having a family.

Now this isn’t me feeling sorry for myself, its my observations and the feedback from the childless community and parents alike. We need to do more to stop making assumptions, embrace differences and being more inclusive with the language we choose and the way we go about our lives. Only then will we truly be giving everyone a more even platform for fulfilment, which has less pressure from society.

Inclusivity

In it’s most basic form, I’d like to describe just one example of how we can all do our bit in making people feel more included, by painting a picture of a real life example that I’ve seen play out so many times.

So, you’re going to meet a group of friends that you’ve known for some time and you’ve invited another friend along that doesn’t know the group. You introduce your friend to the group, but very quickly the conversation revolves around subjects/people that the one friend doesn’t know. May be its just my view, or life experience but I’d see it as pretty rude to let the conversation go on excluding the one friend that you’ve invited along. It can leave that person feeling awkward, isolated, unwelcome, and possibly the odd one out if this continues to be the pattern for the whole social interaction. So, unless you are so self assured, or perhaps not that engaged in the dynamic of the group, it tends to not be an enjoyable feeling. However, I’ve seen this happen so many times when you’re in a room of parents/grandparents. I’m very aware that I’m perhaps more sensitive to it now, but may be thats the point. Why should anyone in a minority group have to feel isolated?

If you’re reading this from the perspective of a parent, and are thinking ’but Ive felt like that too’ then I guess the point I’m trying to focus on, is inclusivity. Most people don’t intentionally leave people out of conversations, or social situations, or ask questions to make them feel isolated, or hurt, but it happens.

The childless not by choice community are not asking for everyone to walk on egg shells around us, but we are asking for more thought, and perhaps an opportunity to reframe the conversation around pronatalism.

If you’re celebrating Mother’s Day today, I wish you the very best day to celebrate what brings you joy about being a mother, but it would also be wonderful if you would share a thought to those that might not be embracing it in the same way. If, however, you’re avoiding it like the plague, simply trying to get through the day, or like me sharing it with some lovely friends who have invited me into their family for the afternoon, please be kind to yourselves.

Lots of love Sarah. x

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