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How I faced being childless not by choice -How my career gave me purpose

How I faced being childless not by choice -How my career gave me purpose

 

When I was 25, I couldn’t sleep the night before my final exam at University. I wrote a letter telling myself that the exam was irrelevant and that the degree I was completing would provide me with the best possible job only until I became a wife and stay at home mum. 

By this time, I had dreamed of being a mum for 18 years; ever since my youngest brother was put in my arms.  Freed from anxiety, I fell sound asleep. The next day I passed the exam which was the first step along the career path I am still on today.

I am 46 now and have had to accept that I will never be a mum.  My dream has died, but I have found a way to live.  In many ways, I have done this through my career.  I have changed jobs from that original degree and have completed another degree to further my journey.

Along the way, I have had adventures like driving a minibus full of strangers from Scotland to the south of France -having never driven in France or driven a minibus!  Twice I’ve made drastic changes to my work life that left me with almost no income for a year. Last year, at short notice, my partner and I went to Jordan for a friend’s wedding.  I would not have been able to do any of these things if I’d been responsible for children.

 

Today I work with adults with profound disabilities in a day service, bringing meaning to their lives and value to their self-worth.  They learn skills and develop talents in ceramics, art, horticulture, and other crafts. 

What was originally intended as a pleasurable stop-gap, has instead been a 21-year journey that has given meaning and purpose to my life.  Each time the grief of being childless not by choice overwhelms me, I think of the pain it would cause these people if I ended my life.  My pain has been that deep.  But my care for their well-being strengthens my will and I find the resolve to continue.  And each day I live, I am blessed by being surrounded by their joy and courage.

I don’t know what my future holds, and I am not the kind of person who does a bucket list; so, I have no list of future adventures.  With good health, I will be working for another 20 years. And I would like to visit my partner’s home in Iraqi Kurdistan. I will grab the adventures that present themselves to me with joy and enjoy every single day for the blessings I receive.

Joanna

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16 Comments

  1. Awww Joanna. My heart breaks for you. You are a mummy to many.just not by giving birth to them. We all love you. You are a brilliant role model. A amazing person with a beautiful heart. .and I’m privileged to have you in my life.I love you x

    Reply
    • Thanks So much for taking the time to read this Abbi, and for your lovely comments. It has been a long journey but of every which has brought unexpected blessings, xx

      Reply
  2. This gives me hope that I can live without a child of my own. Thanks you for this post XXXX max

    Reply
    • Thanks for taking the time to read my wee blog. I’m glad you see the hope in this Max, as there is always a way even when we can’t see it. You have a generous and kind heart, and you are loved by so many people, xx

      Reply
    • I just had a burst of memories. I too was in college. My counter parts were talking about children names. I had mine picked out. My daughter after dorm in college where I had so much growth. Maura and a some , Lincoln. I just remembered last night. Just remembered I turned 49 this week. I have been blocking it all out. I joined the group. How do I go on

      Reply
      • Hi Adrian, I am so pleased you have found this group, and that you are in a strong enough place to start looking at this hidden sadness.
        I don’t know exactly how you will find a way forward, as each woman’s journey is unique. But I belive you can and will find a way; you have done it for all these years.
        As well as my work, I am Mammy JoJo to a young woman who was 18 when I met her and am very involved in the lives of my godson and his sister who live nearby. I share the time and love I would have given to my biological children to so many others. I still have days of deep sadness and the grief is there every day, but so too is love and fun and fulfillment. Take care

        Reply
  3. Joanna what a beautiful life story you have shared. I am so proud of your self discovery – through higher education & your life experiences with people that have disabilities. You have come along ways to reach this level in your life – a good loving adventurous life – You Go Girl!

    Reply
    • Thanks Janice. It has been an adventure by choice most of the time and sometimes by surprise, x

      Reply
  4. Thank you so much for sharing so honestly, inspirational for others.

    Reply
    • Thanks TJ.
      It helps me today to know that my journey can inspire others to find their purpose in a life that is not their first choice. Take care

      Reply
  5. I love your spirit but I struggle with my identity being about work. I also care for people and I have purpose that way but I want to be happy at home too and for that to be complete….Does that make sense?

    Reply
    • Hi CF, I think for me that I have found purpose in what I do but it is not my identity. I am Joanna, I am not a care worker. Who I am is multi-faceted and is the character attributes and qualities and rough patches that make me up.
      So, I do a job which is care, and I am Scottish, loyal, a keen gardener, a book lover, friendly, stubborn, contemplative, disciplinened, academic….
      That way my identity is not lost when something in my life is missing. I do not lose myself if I lose my job (which has happened) or a husband or a particular friend. My identity is expressed in what I do and who I spend time with and how my house and garden look, but I am Joanna. I hope I’ve managed to explain that OK. It’s taken a long time to get my head round it. In this way I grieve my childlessness but it doesn’t define me per say. Take care

      Reply
  6. I have spent so much of my adult life working that I have failed to maintain a relationship. I’m an only child, now 52, living with my mother, and I’m finally facing the fact that I will end up alone with no one to take care of me as I grow old. I love “creating” purpose with my life through my work, but I think I need to now figure out a long term solution to the possibility of being totally alone on the planet one day, without genuine friends or family. Hopefully no one else is in this (same) leaky boat out there! I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.

    Reply
    • Hi Tina, thanks for your honesty. I too am likely to end up in a nursing home as I am likely to outlive most of my friends and only have my mum left. I have got good friends but they are scattered across the West so I’m sitting alone tonight when I really want a cuddle off someone (since I wrote my blog I’ve had to leave my partner).
      One thing I’ve learned is that nothing is permanent, and you can cultivate new friendships and reignite old ones even at our age: I’m 46. Wishing you well on your journey into newer or deeper friendships, x

      Reply
  7. What an inspiring story! I love how you embrace the adventures that come your way. Your story gives me hope. Thank you for sharing

    Reply
    • You are so very welcome Joanna

      Reply

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