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