Interview on Ireland AM

Greetings,

Here is a link for an interview on Ireland AM with myself and Jenny Barrett on the subject of life without children.

As I mentioned on the show, I am doing some research on the experiences of childfree women who are living solo and over 55 (this includes always single, separated, divorced, or in a relationship but not co-habiting). The purpose of the research is to explore both the challenges and opportunities of living solo. Up to now, there has been very little attention given to the interests and concerns of older women who are living solo in Ireland. I hope that the research will create more visibility and awareness of the issues that matter to older solo women. I also believe that the sharing of knowledge and experience will be of benefit to younger women, many of whom have questions around how to survive, adapt and thrive as they themselves age. Participation requires an interview, one to one with me, which would take about one hour. All of the information gathered in the interviews will be kept confidential and anonymous. This is part of a bigger research project which is taking place in the UK.

http://www.tv3.ie/3player/show/184/94953/1/Ireland-AM

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Christmas will be different next year…

Gateway Women

Geisha gives the finger

Having made it through yet another childless Christmas, all of us childless by circumstance women can breathe out a huge collective sigh of relief!

It’s over and we can get back to our daily lives, and the coping mechanisms and busy routines that serve to protect us, most of the time, from the feelings of isolation, sadness and loss we often feel. Now Christmas is over, we can move back into the mainstream again; we can pass for normal women again. Well, most of the time, anyway.

But there comes a day, maybe after we’ve had just one too many mediocre Christmases, when we begin to wonder if this is really all there is for us.  Are we really doomed to eat the scraps at other people’s celebrations for life? Are we not ‘enough’ as people that we too deserve a celebration where our lives are at the centre?

We…

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Jody Day writes about Julia Gillard’s response to Tony Abbott’s comments on her childlessness

Greetings,

 

I am forwarding a link for an article written by Jody which appeared in the Comment section of the Guardian on Thursday. It addresses the issue of judgements and assumptions which are often made in relation to women who are childless. I’ve certainly experienced some of those judgements, though they are rarely articulated so directly, or they are softened or blurred…great to see them being examined and challenged by Jody!  

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/25/julia-gillard-childless-woman?commentpage=1#start-of-comments

New London workshop, 4th Nov – So You Don’t Have Kids?… Now What!

HI Everybody,

Some great news. Jody is coming to Dublin to give a two day workshop on 19 / 20 January on the theme of ‘So you don’t have kids..Now What?’ Have a look at the format for the London workshop to get an idea of the format. She is currently looking at venues and it will most likely be in Dublin city centre, so save the dates if you are interested in coming along!

Eileen

Gateway Women

English Country ChurchyardJust recently I was on a residential training as part of my psychotherapy studies. I arrived at the venue, a gorgeous tumbledown old Abbey in the English countryside without having given the days ahead much thought – after all, I’ve been training with some of my fellow students for three years now. I had no real anxiety apart from whether the beds would be OK and whether I’d be able to sleep.

Turned out I was right to worry about the beds, but what did come as a great surprise to me was to feel my scar of childlessness touched anew.

There were no children present, but their absence was felt so keenly by the mothers and fathers in the room that the training room felt ‘full’ of children. At break times, parents would squirrel themselves in corners, or rush off in a pantomime of arm waving around the gardens…

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Another great post from Jodie!

Gateway Women

happy old women with catPerhaps one of the things that’s surprised me most about coming to terms with my childlessness is how it’s impacted every area of my life: my identity, my dreams and my hopes. And one of the most unexpected shifts has been in my ideas about intimate relationships.

I was with my life-partner for 16 years, and both before and after that had serious, long-term relationships. Really, from the ages of 15-45 I had sex and relationships on the brain. And now, aged 48, and four years into accepting that my quest for motherhood is over, I’m not anymore.

It’s not that I don’t want an intimate relationship anymore, that would be untrue. It’s just that I’ve outgrown what I used to want, and what I now want hasn’t fully come into focus yet. I find that I’m clearer on what I don’t want, than what I do. Now that…

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Celebrating the Journey

Recently, I had a big party to celebrate turning 4 plus 0. In fact, the party was 2 weeks before my 41st which my friends thought very clever of me..everyone thinks I’m 40 when in fact I’m a whole year older..shock, horror:-)

I had spent the entire year planning and then cancelling the party. One part of me didn’t feel like celebrating…If you’ve read my other posts you’ll get why.

Another part of me felt that it was unfair that single girls and boys don’t get to be celebrated in the same way as folks who get married and have children…no church, no dressing up, no gifts, no teary-eyed speeches or first dances..not that I really wanted those things (lie), but I also resented that there was no equivalent for the single childfree life. Not only that, but ceremonies and celebrations are also a symbol of transition and passage into the next stage in your life. They are a way of saying to the world, “Look at me. I’m in the grown ups club now”.

As a single person, you recognise that our social customs and norms haven’t yet made space for celebrating the lives and achievements of those of us who are single and childfree. So, sisters and brothers, we gotta do it for ourselves! Feeling cheated got me all fired up and I finally decided to throw a party pour moi. I had a dress made, hired a venue and friends and family cooked the food and baked the cakes. Pictures of lil’ ole me, from nought to 40 were hung on the walls and I gave a speech. It is in the form of a fairy story because I think we need more fairy-tales which reflect our lives. It’s a little tongue in cheek and I hope you don’t think I’m a raving megalomaniac for posting it…well maybe you do, but I know you’re too kind to say that out loud:-)

Story-time

Once upon a time, in a faraway land there lived a little girl called Eileen. Although she was highly intelligent and supremely sensitive, like many little girls she was a little naïve. She was rapt and awestruck by the fairy-tales of her childhood…Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel. She dreamed of rags to riches, of growing up to a life of pumpkin carriages and glass slippers. She imagined living in a big castle in the sky with a handsome prince and golden haired, apple-cheeked offspring. Even then, she had notions above her station..no semi-d in the suburbs for her!

When she grew up she could identify with Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, except it wasn’t quite the fairy-tale version. There were many dwarf boyfriends (She fondly remembered the magnificent Spaniard…all towering 5 foot of him, not to mention the Mexican boyfriend in the Cuban heels..they brought him up to her shoulders). She also dated several grumpys and quite a few dopeys..Snow White only had to endure one of each…that bitch got off lightly, Eileen thought!!!

When Eileen reached her mid-30’s, she wandered into a dark and mysterious forest in search of a prince. She met various characters along the way and asked them if they knew where the Prince was hiding. She was sick of the hide and seek games which she frequently played in Dublin’s nightclubs, such as Copper-Faced Jacks and Café Insane. She bumped into Red Riding Hood who told her she hadn’t seen the prince but she had spotted a cute Woodcutter..Eileen was impressed by his big shiney axe, but, alas, her anti-violence principles would not let her date him. She wandered deeper into the forest . She felt alone and scared. What would she do without a prince and a castle full of applecheeked offspring?

She lay down under a great Oak-tree and cried for three days and three nights. On the third day, she saw some people walking in the forest. They belonged to a hiking club and invited her to join them. She didn’t remember hearing about them in fairy-tales. She thought they were a curious looking bunch but they looked like fun. They brought her on adventures in the forest..she discovered mountains and rivers and far-away lands and she began to feel happy again.

The more she explored the more she discovered other girls and boys who had come to the forest by themselves and made their homes there. They taught her that you don’t have to live in a castle with a prince and little apple-cheeked offspring to be happy ever after. You could build a tree house or a boat house for yourself or you could live in the wide open under the stars. They told her that they would help her build a house for herself.

Eileen was very excited about building her new home in the forest, but she really missed her old friends and her family. She had been lost in the forest for a long time. She climbed to the top of the great oak tree and called out their names. Everybody came straight away. They built the most magical house together. The walls were decorated with pictures of all her friends and her family and their apple-cheeked children who she loved very much. Some of the pictures of Eileen were put up high on the walls so the children couldn’t see them. This was because she was (and still can be) a very naughty girl and the parents didn’t think it was a good idea for the children to see pictures of Eileen going wild.

When the house was built, Eileen decided to have a great party to celebrate her amazing adventures in the forest. Her sister Cena cooked a big feast for all the guests.

Everybody gasped when they saw her in her princess dress. They said she looked like a real life princess, except even better, but she was way too modest and humble to think that herself. Eileen looked at all the people who had come to be with her for the party. She realised that her house wasn’t empty and she wasn’t alone after all. She belonged to everyone in the room and everyone in the room belonged to her…they were all her family. They all partied their socks off all night long and Eileen was the happiest girl in the whole wide world.

Article in Times Tues 25th July

Sheila Wayman wrote an article on life without children, which came out in the Health Supplement of the Irish Times on Tuesday last. Every time someone new ‘comes out’ about their experience of childlessness it reminds me that I / we are definitely not alone on this journey. And didn’t Stuart Findlay do a brilliant job in sharing his experience from a male perspective…well done Stuart!

In case you missed it, click on the link below;

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/health/2012/0724/1224320674889.html