One of the regular reminders of my not having had children centres around ritual.
Societies, cultures, communities and individuals function through customs of one sort or another. In our society I see that raising children dictates so much. By necessity.
Organising life around the school day, holidays, social activities, financial considerations, even where one might choose to buy a house. Rites of passage through the years. I stand outside all of that.
Where are my rituals? Times of the year marked, stages of life noted. By someone, everyone, anyone. I recently received a photo-card celebrating a young relatives achievement of reaching four weeks of age. [yep] Where are the cards and balloons for my moments?…..“Happy Menopause!” anyone? Short of being another year more decrepit or [eventually!] retiring from work, my loved ones are not going to be troubling the stationary shop any time soon.
For me too, one of the most difficult aspects of coming to terms with not having had children is that there is no recognised ritual for my grief. Unlike those who have lost a lived love one. I have, like others, considered various options. Plant a tree, bury a letter, create some kind of representation of my situation through art? All very meaningful methods of addressing this.
But, for me, I saw a risk in having somewhere or something to revisit. Would that just keep my grief ‘static’? Not processed or better lived with? Meanwhile, I worry I will perpetually feel my ‘not-born’ children are somehow ‘wandering’ and that has a haunting effect on me.
So, question: How can I set about creating my own rituals, milestones, moments of note? Do I need a new kind of calendar? Perhaps I could start a cultural event that would eventually be subsumed and participated in by families? Can I find a way to connect my loved ones to events that will come to have meaning to me as a childless woman? For that is one of the ways ritual is validated by society. That others give it recognition.