Monday, 20 February 2017

Accepting it's not going to happen

I’ve been trying to write a Microblog Mondays post for about an hour now. I’ve been reading a lot of the draft topics I have in my No Kidding Blog document, I’ve added to and edited a longer post that is almost ready to go (prompted by a recent blog I read elsewhere), I’ve read some articles, and I’ve started drafting and discarding several posts.

There’s only so much I can say in an eight sentence post. (Yes, I have stuck diligently to the original suggestion that these posts should be no longer than eight sentences.) I don’t want to briefly address a topic that deserves more attention, and I don’t want to repeat myself, as I know I probably do too much anyway.

So today, as inspiration has failed me, I need to accept – as I have had to do in the past –that sometimes, it is just not going to happen. That recognition is once again liberating, and allows me to feel happy at the good day, and at the other task I’ve been focused on lately, and that is planning travel activities somewhere exotic.

Instead, I need to go outside and enjoy this (rare) lovely day, appreciate that I’m not busy doing a school run or dashing from work to school to after-school activities to a chaotic home, and breathe deeply. 

Monday, 13 February 2017

Coping with children in our lives

Saying “it gets better” may at times feel meaningless to a grieving childless person, because it is so vague, not specifying how, or when, it will happen. So I’m going to try to articulate something that I realised today, after reading two different blog posts about spending time with children.

When we’re infertile, and going through the initial grief of childlessness, every child and every pregnant belly we see are reminders of the children we wanted, the children we have lost, the children we will never have, and the parents we will never be. They feel so close, such an intimately painful part of us that has been wrenched away, that having them around us is at times unbearable. We’re acutely aware they are not our children, the children we wanted, but yet … in ways … all children are the children we wanted, our children. 

As we heal, I think we manage to put a distance between ourselves and our wounded hearts, and other people’s children, recognising that there’s a difference between the children we wanted to have, and the children who are there in front of us. That separation in my heart and my mind certainly got easier over time, as children who were babies at the time we were pregnant (or trying to get pregnant) grew and developed their own unique personalities and bodies that didn’t and couldn’t have come from us, even in our imaginations.

These children are not the precious, unformed beings we had hoped to have and had already loved with all our hearts, but I now see that this is a good thing, as it gives me a freedom to love and appreciate these children for who they are, untainted by my ideas of who I wanted them to be, and without the awful yearning for them as my children.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Banishing intrusive thoughts

Life Without Baby recently had a lovely post and thread about getting to the stage of acceptance where we can appreciate and enjoy our lives without children, but I ached for one of the commenters, who said, “ … but I would give it all up for just one.”

I could feel her pain, and her unwillingness to freely admit, without qualification, that life without children has many advantages. It’s that feeling we have, so many of us (all of us?) that if we admit that we enjoy life (or at least many aspects of our life) without children, maybe what we’re really saying is that we didn’t want children enough or worse, that we didn’t deserve children enough. It’s as if we feel we are admitting something that is a betrayal, that is heretic, almost sinful; something that is certainly anathema to the prevailing belief elsewhere in the ALI blogging community, and in wider society, that parenthood is everything.

I will admit, from time to time I still experience a flicker of guilt, of a “what if this means I didn’t want them enough?” thought that appears to torment me. But now I am soon able to despatch that thought, knowing that the thought is in itself a betrayal, heresy to my staunch belief that we can truly enjoy our lives without children, even though at one stage we genuinely and deeply wanted to have them.

This way of thinking is a betrayal of of the decisions I made and the decisions and situation that were forced on us, of the pain I’ve been through to get where I am, and of the babies we lost on the way, and mostly it is a betrayal of me, my life now, and my life with my husband, my family and my friends.

On the bright side, I think that we all work through this stage eventually – or I sincerely hope so – and even though the negative thoughts may come, I know now that we can choose to listen to them and let them linger, or shoo them off with a confident, and knowing, flourish.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Shedding resentment

Last week, I wrote that those of us who don’t have children will sometimes feel resentment towards those who do have children, when we might have been on the receiving end of condescension or insensitive comments, or have had to tolerate those parents or expectant parents who are condescending or insensitive or smug and self-congratulatory, or when we feel judged as failures or weak.

It reminds me that some time ago, I heard that carrying resentments is not only mentally unhealthy, keeping you in that hurt space and not allowing you to move on, but also quite literally holds you down. It turns out that resentment is an actual physical burden – in a test, high jumpers couldn’t jump as high when asked to think about resentments.

When I think back to those early years of pain and hurt and at times anger and resentment, I can well imagine that I wasn’t capable of leaping as high, and that physically as well as emotionally I was carrying a heavy burden.

As time goes by, it is easier to let these things go, to refuse to let them keep me down, to understand they’re more about other people’s issues than they are about us, or to speak up and defend ourselves, or to point out that their comments are hypocritical or insensitive or unfair. I’m much better at this now than I was in the early days and years of coming to terms with living a No Kidding life, and looking back, that progress really has felt as if I’ve been shedding a load.

I know that I feel much more relaxed and freer as a result of letting my hurt and resentments go. Lighter, even.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Quoting Mali

Recently, off-blog, I answered some questions about living a No Kidding life, and these were some of my favourite comments. They're my favourites because they are so personal to me, and their truths were so hard-won.
  • Give yourself permission not to answer questions - it is empowering.

  • A happy life is not only possible, but inevitable.

  • The real choice is between living childless or childfree.

  • We are the real success stories.

  • Our own thoughts and fears are worse than anything anyone will say to us.

  • Life – that’s what’s next.