What a difficult choice! So many terrific reasons for why it is important to share your stories. I took ages reading them over and thinking about which ones stood out for me. Here’s how I made the decision….
I collected the stories in ‘Motherhood Missed’ because so many women who are childless by circumstance have told me that they feel alone and invisible; that they find it hard to find others in a similar situation with whom they can share their experiences and, in doing so, make sense of their own. I loved the competition entry from the person who wrote,
Our understanding of how to navigate the path of our lives through this world is built on stories. The stories of motherhood missed are largely absent, so those who have to navigate this path have little to guide them.
If you’re childless by circumstance, telling these stories is an important way to connect with others who have their own version of this experience; to feel less alone, better understood, more encouraged to build a life that you love and value, even though it is different from the one you expected. There are many ways in which circumstantially childless people are beginning to tell their stories now, and World Childless Week is a wonderful example. I wrote ‘Motherhood Missed’ to contribute to that conversation.
But other childless women are not the only audience I had in mind in writing this book. I think stories are a very powerful way to create understanding, and to bring about a change that needs to happen! This is not part of my story—I am a mother—and it was only when women were generous and kind and courageous enough to share their version of this experience with me that I began to understand more about it. I think that many of the thoughtless comments and often hurtful assumptions others make to and about childless people are made out of ignorance. I wanted to write this book as a kind of bridge so that others like me who don’t share this experience might have better understanding and awareness that there are many ways to nurture, be creative, leave a legacy, love children, have a wonderful life, and contribute to the world. Being a parent is only one of them.
It was very difficult to choose a winner because there were so many wonderful responses, but for me, Vicki brought together these two important aspects especially well. Her answer suggests that telling these stories helps childless people to feel less alone and more supported by one another, and also makes it possible for others to understand the experience better. Telling stories of circumstantial childless is important, she wrote, because,
When we stay silent our suffering is invisible, invalidated and ignored. When we speak out we find connection, compassion and community.
‘Motherhood Missed: Stories from Women who are Childless by Circumstance” is a collection of 32 stories from all kinds of wonderful women from many parts of the world. I’m pretty sure you’ll find at least one that resonates with you! Its foreword is by Jody Day, founder of Gateway Women and one of our World Childless Week Champions. It is available in paperback from booksellers, and online at Amazon and Book Depository from September 10 2018, and published in print and ebook.