Archive for Childfree Posts

published in Book Reviews, Childfree, Decision Making, Family, Health, Motherhood, Mothering Matters by Maryanne | June 24, 2017 | 6 Comments

This is the 8th and final Mothering Matters blog in the Spring 2017 Blog Series:

A Must-Read Resource When Making the Motherhood Decision…or ANY Major Decision for that Matter

 

 

“When you isolate your desire first, and then weigh it carefully against your personal circumstances, it’s easier to make your decision.”

– Ann Davidman and Denise L. Carlini, Motherhood: Is It For Me?

Book Review of “Motherhood: Is it for me?”

For many women, the motherhood decision is a given. For some, the decision not to have children is just as clear. But for many of women – myself included – the motherhood decision is not so cut and dry.

In fact, I spent two decades struggling over whether or not I wanted to become a mom. In the end, life – and my choices – pretty much chose for me.

And as glad as I am that I ended up not taking the path of raising a child/ren, I could have saved myself an awful lot of time and energy…that was spent thinking about the decision, if the brilliant book, Motherhood: Is It For Me? Your Step by Step Guide to Clarity, had existed to help me work through the process of making a decision.

Alas, it wasn’t published until 2016.

But for all the other women out there, currently struggling their way through the “Should I or shouldn’t I…become a mom?” question, I highly recommend reading this book.

And yet, here’s the thing: even though I read the Motherhood: Is It For Me? book at the tender age of 49 😊 I actually found it to be extremely useful in helping me make another major life decision over the past few months (more on that in another blog).

In my opinion, that’s the sign of a very good book!

But why, perhaps you may be asking yourself, would a 49-year old single gazelle have taken the time to read a book entitled, “Motherhood: Is It For Me?” in the first place?

Well, here’s the scoop: one of the authors, Ann Davidman, contacted me several months ago, after watching our documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood.

Ann is a Motherhood Clarity Mentor and a Marriage and Family Therapist. Ann has been helping women work through the motherhood decision for more than 25 years.

In fact, the book stems from the Motherhood Clarity Course, which is a 14-week program that helps women who are struggling with indecision about whether they want to become a mother.

Ann’s co-author, Denise L. Carlini, is also a Marriage and Family Therapist. The authors know from their professional experience that an analytical pros-and-cons approach often fails to successfully answer this most personal question.

Because of the Whatever Floats Your Boat documentary and the Mothering Matters blog series, Ann asked me if I would read and review their book. I said yes. And I’m awfully glad I did.

Right off the top, Davidman and Carlini explain the difference between determining one’s desire – what the heart truly wants – and making one’s decision: what course of action are you actually going to take?

This is important because: “When you isolate your desire first, and then weigh it carefully against your personal circumstances; it’s easier to make your decision.”

So often, we get caught up in trying to MAKE a decision before we’ve taken the time to really think through what it is we truly want…and that goes for anything in life, not just motherhood.

Here are just a few gems gleamed from the book…perhaps you might find, as I did, that regardless of where you’re at on your path, there is some very sage life advice here:

“Sometimes an important piece of information needs time to completely unfold, and sharing it prematurely can disrupt the unfolding…even the most well-intentioned feedback from others can disturb the feeling of safety you’ve been creating for yourself and push you off track.”

In other words: it is very wise to keep the early part of your decision-making process to yourself. Don’t let the riff raff in until you’re ready to let them in!

“Slowing down may indeed feel uncomfortable at first, but we’ve learned that allowing yourself time and space to examine and accurately perceive the various aspects of your life is far more effective than generating those pros-and-cons lists that only seem to keep you stuck in an endless loop of indecision.”

“Thinking is good, of course, but so much more happens when you write. The writing itself takes twists and turns in a way that thought processes can’t, creating a fertile environment for more and more to emerge.”

Ahhh…music to a writer’s soul.

“Bring intention to your process while you suspend judgement, and trust that on a deeper level something is happening.”

“Most women find that when they grant themselves permission to not know, they feel less fatigue and have more energy for exploring.”

“What needs to be known first is what you want for yourself regardless of the circumstances of your life.”

“Trying to make a decision based on your internal emotions and the external circumstances in your life at the same time creates all kinds of pressure…trying to figure out your desire and your decision at the same time creates gridlock.”

“There are no appropriate or inappropriate fears. There are only the fears that live inside you for good reason.”

“Human nature compels us to seek answers actively. It can feel excruciating not to know, and fluctuating between answers creates the perpetual illusion that at any moment the answer will come and provide relief…making a case for ‘yes’ and then making a case for ‘no’ doesn’t help you get any closer to getting off the fence; it only serves to temporarily soothe anxiety, nothing more.”

“When you relax into self-acceptance, the result is spaciousness. From there you can more easily gain access to the answers that are already there.”

“When you’re able to say yes to a big dream or future possibility, whether or not you know how it will come about, you move forward toward it and life tends to meet you, often filling in the details.”

“As you imagine your future, do you feel that you’re entitled to have things go the way you want them to?”

See? I told you it was a brilliant book 😊

Here is the link for further information on (or to purchase) Motherhood: Is It For Me?

“At the centre of your being you have the answer; you know who you are and you know what you want.”

Lao Tzu

Related Blogs

Getting to the Heart of the Matter – To Be or Not To Be…a Mom?

Undecided about Motherhood? A Motherhood Clarity Mentor Shares Her Personal Story and Professional Advice on Making a Decision

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. She is the executive producer of the documentary, Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.

This is the 7th Mothering Matters blog in the Spring 2017 Blog Series:

Undecided about Motherhood? A Motherhood Clarity Mentor Shares Her Personal Story and Professional Advice on Making a Decision

 

By Ann Davidman

 

“Ultimately a fulfilled or satisfied life is not about whether you have children. It’s about knowing who you are, what you want in this life, and making that happen.”

Ann Davidman, Motherhood Clarity Mentor

Thank you, Maryanne, for having the courage to produce the Whatever Floats Your Boat…Perspectives on Motherhood documentary.

If I’d been on the boat in 2005, I would’ve introduced myself as a 49-year-old, grief-stricken, childless widow whose husband died 3 years earlier—and who still wanted to have a family. My husband and I had been together only 4 years when he died. I loved him and we had plans to sail around the world with our children.

Two years into our marriage he was diagnosed with cancer and told he had 6 months to live. The plan was to get him well, have children, get our boat, and set sail. It was ok with me that our plan was delayed; I was an optimist and I “knew” without a shadow of doubt that he’d recover. It never occurred to me that after an 18-month battle he would succumb.

We froze his sperm before his 1st round of chemotherapy. After his passing, I tried 6 IUIs with his frozen sperm but failed to conceive each time. I realized that I didn’t wanted to be a mom at all costs, and I didn’t have the drive to do IVF.

I had no fear of being an older parent. I wanted to marry again, become a parent through adoption, or meet someone with children. If I’d been on that houseboat for your documentary, I would’ve walked off the boat wishing everyone well and gone back home to meet someone who wanted the same. At 49 I did not want to be a single parent by choice.

But not long after that I knew it just wasn’t going to happen. I made a very conscious decision to stop pursing motherhood. I came to know that I would not raise children, I would not be pregnant, I would not experience motherhood. The idea of what if I regret it never entered my mind.

I had tried everything that I knew to do and was willing to do.

I wanted to punctuate this decision by asking all the women in my life who were important to me to write about how I had made a difference in their lives. I needed to know that if I wasn’t going to be a mom, I still made a difference in the world.

I gathered all the letters and had a ceremony with the co-author of our book, Motherhood-Is It For Me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity – we lit candles and she read one letter, then I would read another.

We took our time and felt the words of what each person wrote. This allowed me to see who I was and take in the difference I’d made in their lives. Ultimately that was more important to me than having a child or becoming a mother. Clearly, I was a mother to many. When I could internalize that truth, I was able to move forward with my life. This was my version of a No-Baby Shower.

After that, I was done. I would no longer be on the path of trying to become a mother. I had grieved that it hadn’t played out as I’d wanted.

Fast forward to 2017, and my life could not be more rich, more wonderful, or have more unmeasurable meaning. I’m delighted—overjoyed, really— that I do not have a child. I don’t spend a minute wondering what if this or what if that. If I had gotten pregnant in 2002 after my husband died I would now have a 15-year-old.

I would not want a 15-year-old at 61. Even though I remember at 49 being okay with being an older parent, I could not know then what I would feel like at 61.

Since I was a young person, I always wanted to impact the many more than the one. When I look into the eyes of my many nieces, grandnieces, and nephew with a kind of love that bursts open my heart, I know they see in my eyes how much I love them. My loving them is a privilege, and it’s what nourishes me.

I also make a difference in many women’s lives as a Motherhood Clarity Mentor—I help women gain the clarity they seek about whether to be a mother.

As a 61-year-old woman who has the advantage of looking back, I offer those women who are undecided on the motherhood decision this:

First go deep inside and ask yourself:

“Do you want to be a mom?”

“Do you want to raise a child, or do you want to contribute to the next generation?”

You need to know these answers deep inside of you before you can make a decision. Then you need to know why. Not because you should defend what you want and not because you owe anyone anything about your desire…but to know for yourself why you want to be a mom or not to be a mom.

You never need to tell anyone why you want to be a mom or not to be a mom, but you need to know for yourself. Because once you know why, then you are better equipped to make a conscious decision. I do believe if you make a conscious decision in that order, only good things can happen.

Children are amazing and, of course, raising them is beyond anything anyone can put into words – but it is not up to a child to make your life fulfilled. That is up to you. It’s up to you to help a child have a fulfilled life.

Ultimately having a fulfilled or satisfied life is not about whether you have children. It’s about knowing who you are and what you want in this life, and then making that happen.

Here are 4 suggestions to help you begin to move toward clarity – no matter how stuck you feel:

#1. Stop immediately making a case for YES and a case for NO. This will only create gridlock in your brain. The function it mainly serves is to protect you from feeling ambivalent. Ambivalence for many is very uncomfortable and most people will do just about anything to avoid the feeling.

#2. Instead, write down this statement: “At the risk of feeling uncomfortable, I will decide to not know on purpose. I will make peace with this before I do anything else. As soon as I accept that I don’t know, I’ll have access to more information than I’ve had access to in the past.” Then plan to not know, on purpose, until you can feel at peace with not knowing.

#3. Make a list of 3 decisions that you’ve previously made that you feel good about. Write a few sentences on each one, describing the sensation of how good it felt to have made those decisions with clarity. This is the feeling you deserve to have when deciding either YES to motherhood or YES to a childfree life.

#4. What verbal and non-verbal messages did you receive while growing up (from family members, society, your community, or your religion) about you becoming a mother? Some people don’t know how to want something different than what is expected of them.

Spend time entertaining these questions to help you think outside of your current circumstance. They’ll provide you with powerful clues about why you don’t yet trust yourself to know your desire and to make the decision that’s right for you.

Before you can make a decision you need to know and understand your desire. You also need to understand where it comes from and why. I ask you to accept this idea and understand that this is a complex issue.

Whether to become a mother is one of the most important decisions a woman makes in her lifetime. It makes sense that it’s not so simple to answer. But the cycle of indecision can end with thoughtful and compassionate guidance.

About Ann Davidman

Ann is a Motherhood Clarity Mentor & Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. For more than 25 years, Ann has been helping women decide about motherhood or a child-free life. Ann offers the Motherhood Clarity Course, a 14-week program (self-guided, online group, or private one-on-one) that helps women who are struggling with indecision about whether they want to become a mother.

In 2016, Ann and her co-author, Denise L. Carlini (a Marriage and Family Therapist), published their outstanding book, Motherhood-Is It For Me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.

This is the 3rd blog in the Mothering Matters Spring 2017 blog series:

Teaching Kids & Touching Lives – Mothering in the Broader Perspective

 

Barbara Edie

“If more people did what they loved to do – what they are here to do – can you imagine what the world would be like?”

– Barbara Edie

For today’s Mothering Matters blog, I interviewed Barbara Edie about her upcoming trip to Africa, where she will be teaching kids about why and how to tap into their intuitive wisdom. I thought chatting with Barbara might give me some new insight on the concept of “mothering in the broader perspective.” It certainly did! Enjoy 🙂

A bit about Barbara…

Barbara Edie, MA, BN, is a bestselling author, passionate writer and editor who helps entrepreneurs, non-profit organizations, and creative professionals tap into the power of their stories to promote their work or expand their business.

She is the author of Creating the Impossible; What it Takes to Bring Your Creative Vision to Life as well as Sparking Change Around the Globe: 5 Ways to Make Your Difference in the World.

A self-described “global soul,” Barbara often combines her passions for travel and writing, and has lived and worked on three continents and travelled to five. Today, she lives on Canada’s beautiful west coast in Victoria B.C. and keeps her passport handy and laptop ready.

Question #1: Did you actively choose to not have children? Or did life just unfold that way?

I love kids. I chose to not have kids because to be honest, when I was ready to be a mom – in my 30’s – the guys I was with weren’t ready to be fathers…they weren’t father material in my mind. I didn’t want to be a mom in my 20’s.

A good friend of mine told me if I wanted a child, he would have helped me out with that. But I didn’t want to be a single mom. I knew how hard it was to be a mom with a partner!

So I chose to work with kids and have children in my life. So, yes, it was a conscious choice to not have children. But it wasn’t that I didn’t want them – the opportunity just didn’t come up when I was the right age.

I have 7 nieces and nephews and love them very much. I also have my friends’ kids who treat me like an auntie. I am very close with other people’s kids. These kids tell me things that they don’t tell their parents…so I am a trusted advisor.

Question #2: What are your thoughts today on your decision? Are you relieved? Any regrets?

No regrets. I knew I didn’t want to raise a child on my own. I wouldn’t say I am relieved that I didn’t have children. But I don’t have regrets.

I am happy with the choices I made. I did get to deliver two babies, when I was a student mid-wife in Scotland (I took the course but didn’t certify), that are now 30. I was also a pediatric nurse, so I worked with babies, and then also teens later on.

I really do believe in other lifetimes and I know I have been a mother in other lifetimes…just not in this one. But I knew I would be working with kids in some capacity in this lifetime.

It matters to me that kids grow up in peaceful homes and circumstances – but I didn’t have to personally have my own to help make this happen. I have chosen instead to support children and help them in different ways.

Kids love me! Parents have to look after kids in sickness and in health whereas I am the fun-time auntie & fun-time friend. Even from a young age, my friends’ kids loved hanging out with me because I am fun and lighthearted. I don’t take life too seriously. I like to play, too.

Kids and I have a lot of fun together. We get that life is important but that it doesn’t have to be serious.

Question #3: If you could go back in time, would you make different decisions in terms of having a child?

Only if I was with a partner who I wanted to have kids with. I would have to have been with the right partner. But that’s not how it went.

I wasn’t one of those women who at 18 knew I wasn’t going to have kids. I just knew as I got older that if the father wasn’t available, then I wouldn’t have kids. In this lifetime, I realized I was just going to have kids in a different way. And I have been able to do that.

I did not feel the biological clock ticking.

Question #4: Tell me about your upcoming trip to Africa. When do you leave? How long will you be gone? Will you be teaching kids about the importance of achieving their dreams?

I leave for Kenya on May 20th. I will be gone 3 to 4 months – so into September.

I will be working at 2 different schools.

One school is Kipchamgaa Children’s Home. It is a school for abandoned kids – they stay there until they are 18.

I actually climbed Mt Kilimanjaro to raise funds for Kipchamgaa.

The school is run by a woman who read my book, Creating the Impossible, and she thought the ideas were powerful principles that could be put into a curriculum for kids. The sort of material I will be teaching is education that kids don’t usually don’t receive: education on our own consciousness…our own inner wisdom.

An 11-year-old girl by the name of Hawi Ensermu read and reviewed my book and she loved it!

“This thought-provoking, life-changing bestseller is one of a kind, and is wonderful and captivating from the very first page. It gives examples of individuals who achieved their dream and that all it takes is grit, passion and courage to step out into the sunshine and believe in yourself. This book should be not only for adults, but for children as well.”

– Hawi Ensermu

The second school I will be teaching at is Building Hope Academy in rural Kenya. Their intention is to give rural kids the same access to education that children in urban settings have. It now has 165 students and 8 or 9 teachers.

I am going to teach some of the principles to these kids, as well – but they are younger: Kindergarten to grade 2. So it is going to be a bit of research & development!

Basically what I will be teaching is to follow your heart and your dream – and learn to say no to people who say you shouldn’t follow your dream. Education for some of these kids isn’t very structured. For example, there isn’t a reading circle. So we may do that. We’ll see what the kids are open to.

In between teaching at the 2 schools, I am going to go on a safari.

Question #5: Tell me how that opportunity came about?

One things lead to another. When you are on your path, things just come your way. People came to ME!

Question #6: What do you hope to achieve from that experience? What do you hope the kids will gain?

What I hope to achieve is to empower kids. My whole mission is to empower and teach children from an early age that they can follow their own path – and how important it is not to get taken off their path by others. I believe in raising consciousness from an early age. When you raise kids to become more compassionate and passionate from an early age, they become more compassionate leaders.

Who knows what effect a person can have on a kid’s life?

In Africa, to become entrepreneurs, writers, doctors, teachers, etc, is way out of many children’s frame of reference. It gives them hope. It acknowledges that they DO have dreams and that they can act on them. If they don’t follow their dreams, then what happens? What is the result of that? If I can impart that to young kids, beginning in Africa, then that is a huge gift.

While I am there, I am hoping to learn a structure that I can apply to other parts of the world…perhaps Canada, Asia and who knows where else? So this is very much a learning trip for me, too.

I really believe you have to embrace the mystery – and see what unfolds from an experience.

Question #7: Are you planning on replicating that experience here in Canada i.e. teaching kids here?

Yes.

Question #8: What are your thoughts on the concept of “mothering in the broader/community/global perspective?” Would you say this experience is a good example of that?

I believe it takes a village to raise a child. We all have a nurturing capacity. There is grace in feminine power. In terms of children…I don’t think we should just care for them but also empower them.

Feminine power is about collaboration not just competition. As the Dalai Lama says, it is going to be western women who change the world. In the end, women are the ultimate protectors of children. Don’t let anything get between a woman and her child…whether they are biologically connected or not! It’s not a coincidence that it is MOTHER earth.

Question #9: Why do you think your book, Creating the Impossible, resonates with younger people as well as adults?

Again, I think it is because everyone has a dream. Whether or not we bring it into realization is a different story. But everyone has one. The dream can be raising a beautiful family, writing a book, or some of the examples I share in my book, Creating the Impossible, where people are achieving dreams that have a global humanitarian impact.

If more people did what they loved to do – what they are here to do – can you imagine what the world would be like?

“The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

– Joseph Campbell

There are so many people who are willing to take another person off their path. It takes courage and will to do what you want to do – without permission or approval from others.

Question #10: In your book, Creating the Impossible, you mention about the importance of trusting your intuition and getting in sync with our higher selves…our souls. Why do you think this is so important to teach to kids – especially when so many adults seem to have difficulty doing so?

Our intuition is the way we communicate with our selves. This might be abstract for kids to understand – but they DO get the concept of imagination. The place of imagination is where the ideas come.

The bearer of the dream is the carrier of the dream.

It’s not random what comes into a person’s imagination. When a person makes that connection – intuition is how that happens – then you can live in flow.

Your intuition is giving you direction for YOUR individual soul’s path. Your intuition will give you the best, clearest, path for YOU.

The problem is that when people hear the voice, it is the loud one they often listen to! But the soft voice is your intuition. It feels like the truth. And it is important to listen to because it is the best guide. You and I may have the same dream but my intuition might tell me a different way to go about achieving it.

Our souls have a different path. The key is to learn how to listen to our intuition.

Question #11: Do you have any further words of wisdom you would like to share with Mothering Matters readers? Either women who may be in the process of deciding whether or not motherhood is for them – or perhaps women who do have children?

Again, my own philosophy is this: ALL women are mothers when I say they are the caregivers/protectors of the young. The most important thing, whether you have your own child or not, is the maternal love…a child cannot have too much love.

A child cannot have too many people who care about them. So any women who can provide love and compassion and guidance for a child, how beautiful for that woman and that child? Whether or not there is any biological connection is irrelevant. Whether or not you give birth to a child doesn’t matter. It’s that you love them…that’s what matters.

Regarding the Kipchamgaa school I will be teaching at, those kids are not orphans. Most of them have parents – but the parents, for whatever reason, are unable to care for them. The kids themselves are being mothered by someone else. How blessed for the child that someone else is going to take on that role?

The housemother at Kipchangaa, Stella, – is looking after 45 kids. Yes, there are teachers, volunteers, etc but Stella is the housemother.

Imagine where those kids would be without Stella?

Thank you, Barbara, and all the best in Africa!

Barbara Edie was interviewed by Maryanne Pope. Maryanne is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

Mothering Matters is an initiative of Pink Gazelle Productions Inc.

For further information about the Mothering Matters blog series, here is the link.

If you would like to receive the Mothering Matters blogs and/or read the other blogs, please click here.