This past weekend, I spent 2 days in a conference center with over 100 women who bore a kind of pain that takes years to create.
Women who’ve been told they’re not really women because they haven’t had a child, that they’re a terrible wife or daughter because they have no children, that they’re being selfish for making a carefully considered choice, that their faith isn’t strong enough — or real — because they’ve not been given a child, that their decisions are irrelevant because everyone else knows what’s best for them, that they’re not feminine enough, not nurturing enough, obviously damaged or broken, and not really worth much to anyone else.
Some of this comes from perfect strangers who — to be fair — don’t know these women and their words have very little to do with the person they’re talking to, but much of it also comes from families, friends, coworkers, clergy, the same people they’ve spent 3, 4, 5 decades with. People who, one would hope, are in their corner. If these are the people in your support group, imagine how daunting facing the rest of the world must feel.
One fear that I brought with me to this conference was that it would turn into either a cry-fest, bitch-fest, or both. Yes, there were tears, but I witnessed so much understanding and healing that the tears were welcome.
The healing is what struck me the most. Yes, there was still pain present as we all left the conference center, but there was far less than when we arrived. We left some of it there — in hugs, in conversations that were so good we had to sit on the floor (because the chairs were too few and too far apart), in shared experiences, in tears, in laughter, in saying things out-loud for the first time, in a space where we didn’t need to defend ourselves… healing happened.
Allow Me To Introduce You
I’ve been sharing my mom for as long as I can remember.
Sitting on our front porch as neighbor-kids asked her questions, because they knew she’d be honest with them… getting into trouble with other parents because they didn’t like their kids asking someone else about things… welcoming them into our home when theirs wasn’t a healthy place to be… doing the hard stuff of letting them learn and make their own decisions… and loving them when that’s all they really needed.
This conference was no different.
For all the women who have struggled with their own mothers around the topics of kids, grand-kids, duty, obligation, faith, womanhood, or self-worth, I’d like to share with you my mom. After she spoke at the NotMom Summit, she was repeatedly stopped in the hallways, thanked, and asked for a hug.
This is progress.
This is how healing begins.
And I’m happy to share.
Next year: I want to see more mother-daughter attendees at
A Very Special (Difficult) Day
Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. This is one of those bitter-sweet days where we’re asked to remember our pain, which is tough, but also to acknowledge it as real and worth remembering, which can be healing.
You’ll see a lot of numbers about loss, too — usually around the 16-20% mark of pregnancies that end in a loss — but these aren’t quite right. These numbers are based on verified pregnancies (in other words, tests was taken), but we estimate that about half of pregnancies end before they’ve been confirmed. For these women, the miscarriage was the confirmation that they were pregnant… which means that we’re a lot closer to 50-60% of all pregnancies ending in loss.
Generally, this is a very private loss, too. One that doesn’t get talked about or acknowledged, it just gets carried throughout one’s lifetime.
I’ve had 2. I choose to talk about mine, but many women and men don’t.
Just know that many of the people you know have experienced this type of loss and bear that pain silently. Please choose kindness. And if you are aware of someone’s loss, maybe take a moment to acknowledge their loss and let them know that it matters. That they matter.
I’ll be lighting my candle at 7pm. Not because lighting a candle changes anything, but because it’s a physical reminder to set aside some time for myself to continue this journey of healing and creating more joy.
You’re invited to join me if you’d like.
Bonus: fire is pretty.