Monday, 16 October 2017

Survival is not mandatory

It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.

I never really thought I’d be quoting an engineer (other than my husband), statistician and management consultant here on my No Kidding blog, but when I saw Dr W E Deming’s quote, I thought it really fits here nicely.

People resist change, whether they’re in business or whether their life plan has been foiled by circumstances or health or finances. It's not unusual to hear the newly No Kidding say something along the lines that they will NEVER accept their No Kidding situation, and to resist any suggestion that they will be okay, that they will eventually be happy even without the children they wanted so much.

But although we might think we can't or won’t adapt and accept and embrace life without children, for most of us, this isn’t really optional. Survival, after all, if not mandatory, is at least an instinct.

The sooner we allow ourselves to make the choice to survive, to adapt, to change, we'll find that it is a lot more pleasant than fighting against that which is impossible, even though it takes us out of our comfort zone.  Choosing to survive and flourish is empowering, and who wouldn't want that?

Monday, 9 October 2017

Shedding desire

A quote from the article I mentioned last week has been repeated in a number of places in our community this last week or so, with many people agreeing that the “ desire to have a child never goes away.”

I’m now 14 years on from knowing definitively that I would never have a child (or I will be in 11 days), and I feel that passage of time; I’m now in my 50s, I’ve had a hysterectomy and I’m in menopause, and whilst I might have regrets that I didn’t have a child, given my age I wouldn’t want to have a child now, even if it were possible.

The problem with the desire to have a child is that in my case it is an unrequited longing which could only lead to disappointment and feelings of loss, inadequacy and pain. Frankly, I’ve had enough longing and disappointment and pain over this issue, and I will not allow anything in my life that is going to prolong this, or to make me feel lesser, simply because I wasn’t able to have children.

So I don’t, I can’t, I won't allow myself to feel the desire to have a child, as I don’t see that it could achieve anything except to make me feel bad, and why would I want that?

There’s a difference between having once wanted something when it was a very reasonable possibility, and still wanting it when you know there is no possibility of it ever happening. To those of you who still feel that desire, maybe it will help to know that as time passes, as acceptance grows, as our bodies change, it is easier to shed it. It is gradually replaced with acceptance, with our desires for more achievable goals, and by quests that will help us feel good, worthy, happy, and free.

Friday, 6 October 2017

What adds dimension to my life

Rather belatedly, I just read Infertility Honesty's post for World Childless Week, about the four words (the dreaded question "Do you have kids?") and the responses we get to our answer "no," that hurt. Amongst the many responses I'm sure you're all familiar with, including being given the cold shoulder, her most recent was “Children add dimension to your life.”  (Go read her take on it here.)

I find it hard to think why anyone would respond that way. But it got me thinking about the things that add dimension to my life:
  1. Empathy – The person speaking to Sarah and her husband clearly lacks empathy, but I find that it is a constant reminder that life isn’t about me, and that others have struggles too, and we should all be kind to each other. 
  2. Loss – With loss, of children, of a future, of hopes, my life took on an added dimension where I was mortal, where I was vulnerable, and where I knew that life would not deliver everything I needed, as it rarely does to anyone, no matter who or where you are. 
  3. Grief – The experience of grief and pain and sadness taught me to know myself better, to be mindful about what I have and to be in the moment, and to understand more what others might be going through when they endure loss or experience depression.
  4. Accidents and illness – I learn to appreciate what I have, and know how much worse it could be.
  5. Exercise – It gets me out of the house, makes me appreciate health when I don’t have it, and reminds me that I can push myself further than I sometimes think possible.
  6. Helping people – It breeds empathy, teaching me to put myself in other people's situations, reminding me not to concentrate on myself, and allowing me to feel good about myself at the same time.
  7. Writing – It makes me think about motivations, about the use of words and how they can help or hurt, and because it encourages me to be so much more observant.
  8. Photography – There is beauty in this world, and if we’re too busy, or to self-involved, we don’t get to stop and appreciate it, to smell the roses, or wonder at their colours and shapes.
  9. Blogging – I get to have more technical IT skills than most of my friends, I get to write (see #7) and to use some of my photographs, and I get to make friends from all over the world and learn from their experiences and lives, to love them and receive their love (or not).
  10. Cooking – Brings the world to my kitchen, and to those who eat from it, expanding my horizons further, giving me an outlet for nurturing, thinking about our food and our environment, our planet and our bodies.
  11. Curiosity and learning – There are some people who take little interest in the world around them, who are not interested in discovering new information, in having new doors opened to them, who don’t want to explore the world or the world of information, and the delights held therein.
  12. Being an aunt – Understanding better what my sisters and friends are going through, the sweet along with the bitter, and – whatever my level of involvement might be – playing a unique role in my nieces' and nephews' lives.
  13. Travel – So many dimensions are added here (I dealt with them in a series of posts on A Separate Life), from collecting anecdotes to be shared or simply remembered, to always increasing my sense of wonder at the world, to encouraging a better understanding of different cultures and people from all walks of life, to a curiosity into why things are the way they are, and to appreciating home when we get there, and looking at it with different eyes, along with many many more. 
  14. Living a No Kidding life – Having children might be a dimension to life that I will never have, but not having children, living our whole lives without children, also brings a different dimension to life.with all the gifts it brings, along with the challenges, just as having children brings gifts and challenges and a different dimension.
  15. Being on the receiving end of comments like “Children add dimension to life” – It might add a painful dimension, but it also adds a dimension of understanding; that people are narrow and insensitive and self-involved and frequently cruel (intentionally and unintentionally), and that they see first-hand their emotional limitations to understand others, or perhaps simply that they have been hurt recently, and their response to us will always say far more about what’s going on in their heads than how they actually feel about us. 

The list is endless really – every aspect of my life (from my family structure and my place in it, my height and skin colour and where I grew up and my talents and flaws and all my experiences, etc) and the infinite number of interactions between each of those aspects, makes me uniquely me. They all add dimension to my life, just as they do for all of us.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Childless articles and their comments

The last few weeks I feel as if I’ve been one step removed from a lot of things, and the last week – suffering from an end-of-winter lurgy – even my brain shut down. But this morning, it returned momentarily, and so I read an article in the Guardian, featuring Jody Day and other UK childless writers and bloggers, and another article written by a writer Bibi Lynch (though I found it on a NZ site), a childless-by-circumstance  woman who listed some ideas of what not to say to childless women.

Yes, I read the comments, and yes, I knew what to expect, but whilst there were some very sympathetic and understanding comments from childless, childfree and parents alike, some still surprised me with their insenstivitiy (perhaps deliberate) and their vitriol, so if you’re not feeling up to it, don’t read them (though I am pleased to say that the comments on the NZ site were marginally kinder than those in the Guardian comments section).

The negative/unhelpful comments could be largely separated into two categories: the “suck it up” category, and the “just adopt” category.

The “suck it up” category are, I feel, those people who don’t have much empathy, who don’t recognise their own privilege, who don’t feel that people should talk about their challenges, only their victories, and who make no effort to understand those challenges or to put themselves in anyone else’s situation. I roll my eyes at them, and feel a certain degree of superiority, knowing that they lack something basic that should be, but isn’t, a core of their humanity.

The “just adopt” category are, perhaps, those people who have never learned how to react to other people’s grief, are uncomfortable with it, and who think that by proffering solutions such as adoption that it will help us, and that if we don’t take up their brilliant ideas (as if we hadn’t thought of them), we shouldn’t complain. I wonder how many of their own friends they’ve previously offended when, for their own comfort, they blindly shut down the hurting and grieving, and I feel for them too, because they don't know how to respond, and don't realise that a simple "I'm sorry" is enough.

Finally, I need to finish with a shout out to both Jody Day and Bibi Lynch, being prepared to put their own opinions and lives out there, knowing in advance what kind of reaction they might receive. Brava, ladies!