What happens when you grow up imagining you will have a child at some point, but find yourself running out of time, and it hasn’t happened? Not because you are (as far as you know) infertile, but because life didn’t work out that way for you?
Circumstantial childlessness is a growing demographic trend, especially amongst academic and professional women. In the new book Motherhood Missed: Stories From Women Who Are Childless by Circumstance, UC lecturer Dr Lois Tonkin edits a collection of 32 first person narrative essays that explores this experience.
Tonkin’s book was published in both the UK and US on 10 September, timed to be launched for World Childless Week 2018.
As both a researcher and a counsellor, Tonkin, who specializes in infertility and grief, collected and edited the stories, which are arranged in a way that explores the complexities of this experience.
The stories explore women’s experience of sometimes conflicted feelings around issues such as grief, feminism, abortion, and the sense of isolation they often feel in a world that valorises motherhood and centres on families and children.
“There are stories from young women in the early thirties, and older women now in their fifties, single women and those in partnerships, gay and straight women, and one trans woman – women living in New Zealand, Australia, US, India, Spain, and the UK.”
“They discuss their responses to not being mothers when they thought they would, and the ways they are coming to terms with this and creating lives they value and enjoy, alongside grieving at times for the children they have not had, and the lives as mothers that they have not lived.”
The book has been endorsed by three high profile women in this field internationally: Jessica Hepburn, author of ‘21 miles: Swimming in search of the meaning of motherhood’, and ‘The Pursuit of Motherhood’; Stephanie Phillips, Founder of World Childless Week; and Kathleen Guthrie Woods, San Francisco based ‘Life Without Baby’ columnist and author of ‘The Mother of All Dilemmas’. Its Foreword is written by Jody day, founder of the award winning website Gateway-Women.
The book is available both as a paperback and an eBook, and can be ordered from Amazon, Book Depository, Goodreads, or bookshops.