We recently celebrated World Childless Week, and it was fabulous. I loved hearing stories from men and women, stories of grief and loss, stories of solidarity and love, stories of re-invention and renewal, stories in poetry and colour and narrative. The warmth and generosity of spirit was moving.
And this week is Singles’ Week. This is the week we honour singles for all they do, acknowledge those who are happily single, and comfort those who are single but do not want to be. (And hopefully it lasts beyond the week.)
While every story is unique and touching, my heart goes out to those in particular who are both single and childless – the double-whammy.
Or, as I like to call them, those who are childless-by-singledom.
My heart goes out to those who are both single and childless.
Also known as childless-by-circumstance, these individuals wanted to have children but have not been able to find the right partner. Some thought they had, only to find out their partner had only said they wanted kids without meaning it, or had turned out to be homosexual, or had got cold feet.
Others may have given up on the whole dating scene with all its pressures and disappointments. And the proverbial ticking clock does not make dating any easier. It’s difficult to relax and take your time with dating when you are already in your 30s, and you know your fertility is dropping by the hour.
Yet others may have lost a partner before they were able to have children together.
Such people may be doubly grieving.
Such people may be doubly grieving. Because not everyone who is single is happy about it. True, some singles embrace their singledom with relish. But others are frustrated or heartbroken by it. And the same goes for childlessness.
So instead of assuming childless-by-singledom people are footloose and fancy-free, and instead of accusing them of being selfish or immature or picky (or worse yet, bad Christians), let’s remember they may not be completely happy with their circumstances.
They may be grieving the life they hoped for.
They may be lonely.
They may appreciate a check-in at the moment.
This Singles’ Week, let’s celebrate with those singles who are satisfied with their solodom. (Sure, that’s a word.) And let’s reach out to other singles who may be a little morose or downright depressed about their situation.
Let’s reach out to singles who may be a little morose or downright depressed.
Because Singles’ Weeks and World Childless Weeks are not just for those who are single and childless. They are for all of us. They are a time for us to come together as a community. Let’s use them to practise generosity, compassion and inclusivity.
No matter our single or childless status.
Do you know any childless-by-singledom people? Is there anyone you can reach out to this week to encourage? How do you survive the double-whammy of being both single and childless? Share your story. Let’s have a countercultural conversation.