thebitterbabe

never married, over forty, a little bitter

Category: motherhood

day jobs

I feel like I’m entering a period of life when childlessness will feel like a blessing:

Thank God the girls are away for another ten days.
In my twenties and thirties I was into expansion.
Nearing fifty, I am now in retreat.
Full of loathing for this mortal coil, I just want to step outside the shell of myself, leave it behind like a wrinkled skin, and drift on, perhaps becoming a point somewhere beyond, hovering in space like an infinitesimal dust mote.

[…]

…now I have lost that dreamlike forty-ish haze I was in during nursing and babyhood and toddlerhood, when the peach fuzz of my daughters’ cheeks made for a heady narcotic, when my heart thrilled at all their colorful pieces of kinder art, when I honestly enjoyed… baking birthday cakes. Almost fifty now, when I squat over to pick up their little socks and snip quesadillas into little bowls and yank fine hair out of their brushes, as I have now for the thousandth time, I feel as if I’m in a dream, but a very bad, very sour-scented dream. I have totally, finally, lost the will to continue this day job of motherhood.

–Sandra Tsing Loh, The Madwoman in the Volvo, p. 177 & 212

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neverland

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-health/7768700/Babies-are-better-late-than-never.html

For every one of us who is smugly enjoying the fruits of brinkwomanship, there is another sadder woman who assumed that she would pull it off, but failed. I know several who achieved one child, but tried in vain for more. Some never made it. Recently I received an invitation from a successful actor, who used to enjoy seeing friends in a family setting, no doubt assuming that before too long she would have children of her own. Now 50, her latest summons came with the stipulation “No kids”.

double Ms

Although I don’t have kids, I’m in a care taking profession, and I know I’m going to be tired of it all by my fifties. I’m starting to appreciate the fact that I won’t have that middle M to contend with on top of everything else:

http://www.aplaceformom.com/blog/7-14-14-sandra-tsing-loh-sandwich-generation/

Loh calls these women the triple-Ms: middle-aged mothers in menopause. “You’re losing your nurturing hormones and you don’t feel like taking care of people any more. But you’re at an age when suddenly you’re caregiving.” Loh has two adolescent girls and a 93-year-old dad, and like other triple-Ms, she’s starting to feel like her multitasking is getting out of hand.

Handling my elderly parent might be more than enough. Very interesting quotes here from (childless and single) author Jane Gross’s A Bittersweet Season:

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/03/daddy-issues/308890/

In the space of three years … my mother’s ferocious independence gave way to utter reliance on her two adult children. Garden-variety aches and pains became major health problems; halfhearted attention no longer sufficed, and managing her needs from afar became impossible … We were flattened by the enormous demands on our time, energy, and bank accounts; the disruption to our professional and personal lives; the fear that our time in this parallel universe would never end and the guilt for wishing that it would … We knew nothing about Medicaid spend-downs, in-hospital versus out-of-hospital “do not resuscitate” orders, Hoyer lifts, motorized wheelchairs, or assistive devices for people who can neither speak nor type. We knew nothing about “pre-need consultants,” who handle advance payment for the funerals of people who aren’t dead yet, or “feeders,” whose job it is to spoon pureed food into the mouths of men and women who can no longer hold a utensil.

[…]

I know that at the end of my mother’s life I felt isolated in my plight, especially compared to colleagues being feted with showers and welcomed back to work with oohs and aahs at new baby pictures. I was tempted, out of pure small-mindedness, to put on my desk a photo of my mother, slumped in her wheelchair.

the monotone

I finished a good memoir this week called Gone Feral about a woman searching for her (slightly mad) father. She and her sister were the children of “back to the land” hippies and experienced unconventional childhoods. They both struggled mightily to find their way in their twenties and thirties but both found unconventional partners who were good matches for them and both ended up having a child. At the end of the book, there is a lot of ink spilled about how their own children “saved them,” gave them purpose, taught them the meaning of love, etc. They are now both “back to the landers” themselves, so the cycle is complete.

It’s so hard to know how to feel reading that kind of stuff. I, too, took many detours in my twenties and thirties (and now in my forties), but none have led to a partner, and all have led back to a one-bedroom apartment and the taxing full-time workweek. It’s basically been a long stretch of monotone with splashes of color every so often when I got brave.

I never felt that “well-matched” feeling with a partner that these women did (or if so it was with someone that it couldn’t work out with long-term), but admittedly, I had more concern than they did about things like a roof over my head and health insurance. Still. A lot of other people have those concerns too, and they found partners.

I have no answers.

brick by brick

By the age of 40, I realised that if I wanted to have a child I needed to do it fast. I looked hard at my character and realised that I didn’t have the resources, emotional or psychological, to do it on my own.

I knew I’d be on the margins of life as a single parent. Most of my friends are child-free.

Did I really want to pull down the life that I’d carefully assembled, brick by brick? I realised what I craved was more companionship, sex, travel.

– See more at: http://www.independent.ie/life/im-part-of-a-new-tribe-childless-and-happy-30412746.html#sthash.wmj9gf3x.dpuf

cupcakes

A case of having her cake and eating it too?

http://www.salon.com/2014/07/04/i_accidentally_became_a_housewife_partner/

Perhaps it’s because I’ve had big serious jobs—though I never did reach my youthful dream of being a doctor, lawyer, or doctor/lawyer—and while I loved them, I can’t muster much wistfulness for days spent supervising the work of others, wrestling a budget and schedule into submission, and attending endless meetings. Even when my work was at its most fulfilling, I can’t imagine merging it with my home life as it currently stands—two kids, a husband who travels—without making serious sacrifices in both realms. Friends of mine who work full-time with kids are my heroines, and they are also so stressed out that every time I see them I want to offer them a cupcake and a glass of wine.

charmed lives

I appreciate the honesty:

‘As a parent, I have it made,’ she said.
‘I’m on a TV show where my hiatus is [my kids’] summer, so I’m free to be with them in the summer time. I’m able to afford full-time help because of what I do. My husband also works, and my nanny makes my life doable and so easy.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2643164/Busy-Philipps-admits-charmed-life-gives-Hollywood-parenting.html#ixzz363nALGpc
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recovery

http://lifewithoutbaby.com/2014/06/27/stories-justine/

LWB: What’s one thing you want other people (moms, younger women, men, grandmothers, teachers, strangers) to know about your being childfree?

Justine: I think a lot of times we are considered to be sad and bitter women, or people feel major pity for us. I think after we do our work of recovering from struggles we can actually have better and happier lives. It took major work to get to this side. My sad and bitter moments are few and far between, but I have to stay on top of my recovery.

adaptation

Some excellent answers here. That is all:

http://ask.metafilter.com/254947/Help-me-adapt-to-the-idea-of-being-childless

pods

http://www.oregonlive.com/O/index.ssf/2009/01/multidisciplinary_artist_tiffa.html

She wanted to talk about the grief, but publicly acknowledging the pain of wanting a child, but not being able to have one, the complexity of that — there seemed to be no good framework for it. People talk about their children all the time, but how can you talk about mourning the child you will never have without taking away from their happiness? How do you explain to your closest friends that attending a baby shower is just too painful right now, that you can’t go to the grocery store during the day anymore, because the sight of all those children and mothers overwhelms you?

She felt she had to carry so much in silence, alone.

“There are some days,” Brown said last spring, “where I feel like an alienated, childless freak. And as I get older, there will be fewer and fewer people around me who don’t have children. … ”

[…]

She threw herself into researching childlessness, reading everything she could get her hands on, joining online discussions, listening to other women’s stories of childless by infertility, or reluctant choice, trying, as she put it, “to contextualize myself in a larger humanity — as opposed to my tiny pod of grief.”