31 January, 2014
- Those who have suffered loss mark the birthdays or due dates or EDDs of the children they lost, marking their lives that never were. My first child, lost to ectopic pregnancy, would have been 11 by now. My second pregnancy would have seen a 10 year old. They would have played with their cousins this Christmas, the ones of a similar age.
- Every Christmas, I decorate my tree on my own. I buy a Christmas cake rather than make mine to give to the kids to decorate. I gave away the knitted Christmas stockings I had bought in anticipation at a market in Thailand many years ago. Every Christmas, even if for just a minute or two, often when I put the special "ectopic" decorations on the tree, I miss my never-born children.
- Whenever there is a fireworks display, I feel silly going on our own.
- I know I'll never go back to Disneyland. I would, if I had children.
- I'll never teach a child how to bake, to knit or crochet or make their own clothes, how to high jump or long jump or play netball or tennis, or how to play the piano or flute, or to tap dance, or introduce them to the joys of lbooks and language and languages - Thai, French, Spanish, Italian, Chinese - or show them the world.
- I wrote here about some things I'd never do. Still, every time I bake a cake, I think about how much I enjoy baking, and how I would be baking more if I had children.
- My husband and I are about to celebrate a major wedding anniversary. We will celebrate it alone, rather than with children and grandchildren around us.
- It's harder to make friends, new friends, without children, a connection to school or to sports teams or dance classes etc. And often we lose our friends when they have children.
- We see our partners interact with other children, and wonder what they would have been like as parents.
- The house can be deathly quiet. And some times of the day, or week, or year, we can almost hear the sounds of the children we never had.
27 January, 2014
25 January, 2014
Mel also used the comparison of discussion in the media about weddings vs marriage. I can see her point - there are more magazines, features, etc about weddings than marriage. Weddings are big money. But how often do we hear about brides who are obsessed with their weddings, thinking more about them than about the marriage? How often do we see people marry in a big, fancy wedding that they spent a year planning, then a year or two or three later quietly dissolve the marriage? The obsession is with the wedding. How many people put the same effort into preparing for and planning their marriage, as they do the wedding. Rational people put their energies and desires into the marriage long term. But we're not obsessed with the marriage. It's an ongoing state (we hope) for starters. But we are obsessed with the wedding.
21 January, 2014
I've written about this before, in a slightly different context. I wish that everyone had a place where they felt they belonged, whether it is a family friendly cafe, a fine dining restaurant for adults only, a gay bay, a geeky store, or a shop for people with long feet! When I was grieving my ectopic losses, I found it hard to find a cafe where I felt I belonged. I had recently left my full-time job, so didn't feel comfortable in the CBD cafes full of people in suits having business meetings, but equally I felt miserable at the cafes clogged with mums, babies, strollers and toddlers, along with the brightly coloured playgrounds and heightened decibel levels and children who would come up to me at my table when I was trying to blank out the environment to take in some caffeine and a magazine.
But I am pleased to report that my husband and I have been lucky to find a place where we feel comfortable. Our favourite brunch place is run by two guys, and it has a pleasant, relaxed, but sophisticated ambience, great food and an excellent wine list. Clientele includes young adults through to 90 year olds from the old people's home down the road. And Saturdays, around 1 pm when we go, is the day and time for regulars. There's the multi-racial gay couple, the middle-aged couple who always have a bottle of wine, the grandson with his grandparents doing a good turn, a few families with older children, two elderly women enjoying a special lunch out (I love that), and usually two or three younger women enjoying a Sunday catch up. And, of course, us.
Gary and David who run the restaurant are consummate professionals, chatting to all the regulars, and making everyone feel comfortable. Children and babies are welcome, but rarely seen. Gary and David have just made a business decision not to make their restaurant specifically "family friendly." There's no playground, and the menu doesn't cater to children either. Two cafes just fifty metres down the road fill this gap, as does another one about a mile away. Everyone is catered for. And so they fill a niche - suburban dining in a calm and elegant environment, one that is blissfully child free.
This place has been our saviour over the last ten years or so. It has been somewhere we could go and feel normal, accepted, and happy. We're not deafened by children or babies at the table next door. We don't have to smile and be polite if a child decides to run around or come and play on the back of our chair. That doesn't happen here. Parents either don't bring their children, or keep them well-behaved while they're there. In those days when we were raw and in pain after loss, we knew we wouldn't have awkward encounters or painful reminders there. Even now, if we're having a bad day, it's generally a safe place. Here, we're accepted for who we are.
It's a place where we can relax and have a nice lunch, a good glass of wine, and a good conversation. It's somewhere where we make decisions, discuss family troubles or travel plans, where we sum up the week, and make plans for the future. It's somewhere where we can linger if we want, or dash off if we're in a hurry. Where there's always extra bacon, where summer salads are delicious, and where the winter mushrooms are to die for. And where the lemon tart "sweet treats" are so delicious, that I begged Gary for the recipe (and he gave it to me). When we go, regardless of what we order, it is always a treat. It cheers me up for the day.
I'm so glad we can go there (though we're having to cut back till we get more regular income). And I would be devastated if they closed. Do you have a special place like this?
17 January, 2014
* Here I'm using childfree as shorthand for childfree-by-choice.
16 January, 2014
* kudos to my husband, who made this point on a morning walk yesterday.
14 January, 2014
“To Women Without Children”
Thank you for your courage. Your courage to live in a society that will judge you for your decisions and your lifestyle (whether or not you had a hand in those decisions), a society that will condescend and exclude, sometimes consciously, often ignorantly, a society that will never value you as highly.
Thank you for being positive role models, showing that there are many ways to live a good life, and that you don’t have to fit in to accepted norms to be accepted, happy, and indeed, normal.
Thank you for loving our children, caring about them and for them, for being in their lives. Thank you for showing them that there is good in the world, that they can rely on more people than their immediate family, that more people love them.
Thank you for paying taxes that fund my children’s schools and cover their medical costs (including all my maternity costs), and the tax breaks given for families.
Thank you for taking up the slack at work and in extended families, neighbourhoods and communities, when everyone else is focused on their nuclear families and schools.
Thank you for being a good example of survival, of resilience, and of acceptance.
04 January, 2014
1. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Anyway, for 2014, my main resolution is to go to bed earlier, reset my body clock, and consequently be able to get up earlier. That might then have a positive impact on all my other, unsaid, good intentions.
2. What did you do in 2013 that you’d never done before?
Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Israel, Jordan, Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Slovenia, Poland, and the UK. And I saw the Russian border (but did not cross).
Officially I did enter the US too, but I was forced to go through immigration (and have the US collect fingerprints and other data about me), so I could go upstairs, back through security, and get back on the exact same plane (and seat) I'd flown in on from London, to continue my journey home. (Argh!)
Nothing serious. TGN raised its ugly head again, making several days in Jordan extremely painful and difficult, but by and large I dealt with it. And my toes and toenails were injured (also in Jordan, at Petra), and they're still recovering, but a travel injury like that is less an injury, and more a badge of effort and the wrong shoes.
On a less serious note, John Oliver (on The Daily Show) was a tonic as we were travelling, and I could download episodes. The only English language entertainment for five months.
Loribeth is right again. Politicians. Closely followed by members of the media. Though I have to say that the NZ media isn't nearly as partisan as the US media. But still, some of their obsessions and lack of understanding of certain issues is very frustrating, and hampers efforts to raise the level of political or social debate..
Travel and accommodation, food and wine, in the countries I mentioned above.
I'm not sure any song will. Maybe "Blurred Lines." But the years all blur together these days!
I was going to review that, given that in the last month or so, some creep at Comedy Central geoblocked The Daily Show and we can no longer download it in New Zealand, despite the fact that we can't actually watch it on TV (including Comedy Central NZ) here. Except that, I discovered today, we can watch it again. Yay!
24. What was the best book you read?
Songbook for Haunted Boys and Girls, by my friend, Wayne McNeill.
Good health in my mother, and my in-laws.
32. What kept you sane?
My husband. Though he's also capable of sending me insane at times!
Does that mean "fancy?" If so, there's the perenially fanciable George, of course.
I admired a number of public figures. And I was very moved over the passing of Nelson Mandela, even though the world lost him a while ago. His very presence made the world a better place, and taught us to be forgiving and inclusive and collaborative, instead of vengeful and petty.
I was disappointed though by many more so-called "celebrities. And by the "Cult of Celebrity" most of all.
I've become used to missing my Dad. I still miss (from time to time), those babies that were never born. But with the wonders of internet, I didn't have to miss anyone else.
Though at Christmas, I missed my Californian nieces, who couldn't make the trip home to meet some of their aunts and uncles and cousins for the first time.
Hmmmm. Not sure. Met an amazing young woman in late 2012. And a fascinating man in Poland telling the story of the reconstruction of Warsaw.
When life hands you lemons, you can indeed make lemonade. (Or drink limoncello.)
I'm not good on song lyrics. But Lorde's lyrics make so much sense, referring to celebrity and riches:
It don't run in our blood
That kind of lux just ain't for us, we crave a different kind of buzz"