Thursday, July 2, 2015

Get Some Boxes--Childless by Marriage is Moving



Dear friends,
Next month, I will have been doing the Childless by Marriage blog for eight years. My first post was published on Aug. 27, 2007. Unbelievable. Eight years. Don’t panic. I have no intention of stopping. But I am working on moving the blog to a new site at Wordpress.com. The address will be http://www.childlessbymarriageblog.com. The new site will offer features I can’t get with a "blogspot" blog and increase our community of childless-by-marriage friends. I already have two other blogs at Wordpress, Unleashed in Oregon and Writer Aid. If all works smoothly, the previous posts and comments from this blog will be transferred to the new site. But I don’t want to take any chances, so until Aug. 26, 2015, I will publish the same posts at both sites.

I started the Childless by Marriage blog before I finished the Childless by Marriage book, which came out in 2012. To be honest, the blog has been more successful than the book. At the heart of it is your comments, so much heartfelt sharing of joys, sorrows, successes and mistakes. You offer comfort to me and to one another. This has become a conversation, not just me talking into cyberspace.

You have been with me through my own pain and loss, including the death of my husband from Alzheimer’s Disease in 2011. You have supported me as I adapt to my new status as a widow, a new age group, and a new life on my own without the usual kids and grandkids to support me.
Of course I want to sell my books and draw attention to my writing through my blogs and other activities. That’s why most of us start blogs in the first place, but you have become precious to me, and I’m happy to be here as your big sister or Aunt Sue to listen to what you need to say. Most of you comment as “Anonymous.” That’s fine. I’m glad I can provide a private space to say what we might not be able to say anywhere else. I feel like I know you anyway.

I’d like to make this blog more interactive, maybe add some guest posts, feature more of you in the main blog. I welcome your suggestions. Meanwhile, I’m here. I may be moving, but I’m taking you with me.
Hugs,
Sue

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

When hormones outtalk common sense

I've been thinking about Monday's "Bachelorette" TV show. Did you see it? Kaitlyn, the bachelorette, and Nick, one of her suitors, made out all over Dublin, even in a church. It was embarrassing to watch. I kept yelling at the screen, "Nick get your hands out of her dress!" but he didn't hear me. Then they went back to her hotel suite and had sex. We didn't see it, but we heard the sound effects, and it was all over the news on Tuesday. Shooting in Charleston, Kaitlyn does Nick. It could all have been staged, but clearly those two were in that zone where common sense goes out the window. I've been there. Have you?

In her voiceovers, Kaitlin kept saying that when she gets together with Nick, she forgets the cameras, the other guys and everything else. I know the feeling. Maybe you do, too. You have just discovered this person. Your hormones are going crazy. Suddenly nothing else matters. You will do or say anything to keep the relationship going. You'll move, you'll quit your job, you'll shut out the advice of everyone in your world, and you'll ignore that little voice in your head that says, "Hey, wait a minute."

Then the initial fire cools. You look around and think, wait, I don't want to change my whole life. I like my job. I like my home. He's not as cute as I thought he was. Suddenly he or she says, "About those babies . . . I'm not so sure." Now you're committed and in a jam.

That's where most of the folks here, including me, end up. I hear it over and over. Yesterday, an anonymous writer sent a four-part comment about her situation. She's 38, he's 40. She's sure he's the love of her life. She moved in with him a while ago. He was okay with baby thing before, but now he's saying he doesn't want to have a baby. She's freaking out, she's starting counseling, she's not sure if they can stay together. What do I think she should do?

I never know what to tell people in this situation. The old lady in me misses the days when people didn't jump into bed or move in together so quickly, when you had to commit to marriage before doing the horizontal polka. Or maybe people were just sneakier about it. We all do it. I slept with Fred early on and moved in with him before we got married. Luckily, I got a good man and I have no regrets, except for not having children, but it doesn't always work out that well. I could have skipped my whole first marriage if I had listened to the wiser woman in my head.

Don't ignore that little voice. It's like when I quit my excellent job and gave up my apartment in 1983 to sing with a band that had a contract to tour the U.S. All I ever wanted was to sing in a band, and here was my chance. We were going to be rich and famous. Our sponsors went bankrupt in two months. There I was with no home and no job. I moved back in with my parents and started over. Wiser members of the band had kept their jobs and had something to go back to, but me, I jumped headfirst.

It's the same with relationships. I know how it feels to be crazy in love. The rest of the world just disappears, but don't let it. Do whatever you can to get a clear head, whether it's prayer, a hiking trip, or a long talk with a friend. Listen to your loved ones, listen to that voice in your head. Don't burn any bridges until you're sure it's going to work because sometimes it's perfect, and sometimes it turns into a disaster.

Have you been in similar situations? Have you dumped everything for a man or woman and then regretted it? I would love to hear your comments.



Wednesday, June 17, 2015

12 Things Childless by Marriage People Don't Dare Say Out Loud



Political correctness touches all areas of life, including childlessness. Friends and relatives who know we’re touchy about not having kids may struggle to say the “right thing” or avoid the subject altogether. Some just say stupid things that make us want to strike them.“Guess you don’t like kids, huh?” “Lucky you, free to do whatever you want.” “You can always adopt.” “Dump the bum and marry someone else.” “You don’t know; you never had a baby.” Know what I mean?

But there are some things we childless folks also avoid saying, things that we think and feel but don’t dare say out loud because then it would look like we’re selfish, we don’t really want kids, or we’re just nasty, trivial people. Have you ever felt like saying any of these?

* I hate you for having children and grandchildren when I don’t get to have them.

* I hate my husband (wife) for not giving me kids.

* My body looks better than yours, ha ha.

* Thank God we didn’t pass on his nose or my butt.

* I'm glad I don't have to worry about having a child with a birth defect.

* I hate being around whiny kids.

* I have no idea how to take care of a baby.

* Thank God I didn’t have children with HIM.

* My mom had no life; I don't want that.

* I’m terrified of pregnancy and childbirth.

* Sometimes I’m glad I don’t have children.

* My God, that baby is ugly.

I’m sure I will think of more. Can you add some unexpressed thoughts of your own to the list? Please don't anyone take offense. We can be honest here, right? Has anyone not thought some of these things?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Don't hide your childless tears from your partner


"My god, I cried and cried reading your post as I sit here in the dark outside grieving for what will never be. I love my partner and I hate him a little too because he doesn't want children and I am left bound by that decision. I feel my time running out and wish every single day he would change his mind but he is unwavering in his decision. And at the same time I can barely acknowledge this pain and grief to myself because I am terrified of it consuming me. This is the first time I have ever really sat down and let it all wash over me. I can't stop crying. I don't know how I am going to walk inside and pretend I'm okay because he doesn't understand."

One of my earliest posts, "Are Your Grieving Over Your Lack of Children," published Nov. 7, 2007, still draws more comments than any other. The comment above is the most recent. It brings back memories for me. I too hid my grief from my husband. I cried in the bathtub, in the car, or in the garage, but not in front of Fred. Oh no. Mustn't make him feel bad or risk making him mad. But looking back, I think that was wrong. I should have showed how I felt instead of hiding my feelings and hoping some kind of miracle would occur.

I am also bothered by her statement, "I am left bound by that decision." Is she? It's so hard to see a situation clearly when we're in the middle of it. We can't see any way out, we think we have no options, but we do. To Anonymous, I say reopen the conversation. You can agree to disagree, but don't hide your feelings. They count as much as his.

I don't cry all the time anymore. Sometimes I just curse and kick things, but when you're at the time of life when you see your chances of parenthood disappearing with every passing day, it hurts like hell. Losing your chance to have children is a big loss, and we don't need to hide it. If people don't like it, too bad.

I'd love to hear your comments.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What will we do if we become “Elder Orphans?”



An elderly cancer patient in North Carolina called 911 recently to ask someone to buy him some food. He’s what a new study is calling an “elder orphan,” one of more and more older people who have no kids, no spouse, and no one to take care of them.

The study by Maria Torroella Carney, MD, shows that nearly one-quarter of Americans over age 65 are currently or at risk to become “Elder orphans.” It’s a growing population that is often invisible to the people around them, alone in their houses struggling to survive. One-third of older Americans are single, a 50 percent increase since 1980. The latest census figures show 19 percent of American women are ending their childbearing years without children. Thus they wind up alone.

I’m very much in danger of being one of those people. I live alone in the woods with no husband and no kids. My family is small and far away. I do have friends and helpful neighbors, but I have a hard time calling on them for help.

Just like my dad. My father is 93 years old and has lived alone in the house in San Jose where I grew up since my mom died in 2002. My brother and I do our best to help, but neither one of us lives nearby. Dad has heart problems, struggles to walk since he broke his hip last year, and falls way too often. He puts off going to the doctor or renewing his many medications because, although he can still drive, he doesn’t understand the medical system very well and the Kaiser Hospital where he goes is so crowded there’s no nearby parking. His house is falling apart around him because he can’t do the maintenance anymore, and his cooking is . . . interesting.

I just returned from San Jose (Did you miss me?). I had planned for a vacation-type visit, but the day before I left, Dad’s doctor decided he needed to have his pacemaker replaced immediately. So I took him to the hospital, interacted with doctors and nurses, picked up his prescriptions, and played caregiver again. He's fine. But what if I wasn’t there?

Have I told you about Dad’s fall last August? He went down in the backyard. Broke his hip. Crawled all the way across the yard, through the garage and out to the driveway, where he lay waving his hat until a neighbor saw him. This took hours. Thank God the garage door was open. I could not have stopped him from falling, but I could have prevented the torture that followed. I spent a month taking care of him, but then I had to come home. feel so guilty, but he wants me to live my life, and he wants to live his. He’s proud of being independent. He’d rather die alone in his backyard than in some senior facility.

Let me tell you about Dick and Ann. They’re in their late 80s. Ann is nearly blind. Dick, a burly guy with a strong Massachusetts accent, has been suffering from all kinds of health problems, including pneumonia, heart disease, and legs that just don’t want to work. Ann has a son somewhere, but he’s not around. Their neighbors, friends from our church, take care of them. They drive them around, make sure they have food, and take them to their doctors’ appointments. They do the same for an old woman on their block who lives alone. My friend Cathy even manages her finances because she can’t do them anymore, and the one time her son took over the checkbook, she wound up missing $5,000.

What I’m saying is having kids does not guarantee you won’t become an elder orphan. My brother and I call Dad every week. When something happens with him, we both get there as quickly as we can, but that may not be quickly enough. And we’re not there for the day-to-day needs, the cooking, cleaning, shopping, and just keeping him company. When I visit Dad, he talks and talks, like he’s been saving it up for years. When I leave, I feel incredibly guilty.

My friend Terry, who is about 60, has a plan. She has three grown children and a husband with some serious health issues, but she expects to be alone eventually. Her plan is to rent out her extra bedrooms to other women and create a “Golden Girls” household where they share the house and watch over each other. It sounds good to me. I think I’ll be “Dorothy,” the sensible one.

What I’m saying is that kids or no kids, we’re in danger of ending up alone in our elder years. But if we don’t have children, it’s more likely to happen. We need to make plans. Set up an advance directive and power of attorney. Choose someone who will manage things for us if we can’t. Reach out to other people who can help. It’s hard. I’m not good at asking for help, and I want to control everything. But I know who to call, and I’ve got in writing. You should do the same. Someday I’m hoping to move someplace less isolated, but meanwhile, since I don’t think my dog can dial 911, I have to take care of myself. So should you.


I’d love to hear your comments on this.