26 June, 2017

My existence is not offensive

I’ve spent my life being considerate, polite, deferential, and was diplomatic long before I ever became a diplomat. It was ingrained into me, my gender, my culture and my family, to put others before myself, to be more restrained, to avoid confrontation, not to be pushy or loud, not to speak out, to mediate and to negotiate.

Some of these characteristics are essential in decent society, and can be beneficial in our business and social lives, but they can hold us back too, resulting in us being pushed around, interrupted, or ignored. I have to say that it really took until my 40s before I felt the liberation of a growing self-confidence, and I know I am not alone amongst women in this.
I think that’s why I am so sad (and yes, why I’m talking about this again) to continue to see – in blogs and comments, including comments here – how reticent* many people are about defending their reality as life without children, that they are worried that they will seem rude. But our existence is not offensive, our No Kidding lives are not discourteous to any others, and therefore having increased visibility as people without children – talking about the fact we have no children, whether in a casual one-line comment, or in response to others, whether correcting assumptions, or by refusing to justify our lives or respond to invasive questions – is not impolite either.

By suppressing our feelings and by brushing aside even small, unintentional slights, I worry that we’re reinforcing our invisibility, we’re giving the rest of society permission to ignore our reality or to feel superior, and essentially we’re contributing to a less diverse, more narrowly-focused society, and that doesn't help anyone.

Like anything, it’s all about timing, about tone of voice, about context, and with good and fair intentions; we simply don’t have kids, and it is not bad manners to acknowledge this.

* I am not talking about the early days, when we are grieving and, out of necessity, trying desperately to protect ourselves.

19 June, 2017

Those dreaded Days

As mentioned last month, I was in Iceland for Mother’s Day, and never saw any advertising or any mention of it (I think that I’d have figured out what it was, despite the language barrier), which was a refreshing change. Besides, I had rather more to worry about that day, because there was a close and rather violent encounter between some Icelandic rocks and sand and my face. (I’m fine now, though I did have some technicolour cuts and bruises and black eyes for about a week.)

There was, of course, the usual onslaught on social media, as there is today for Father’s Day, where the curse of social media is that people seem to place importance on being seen to recognise their parents or partners. I will admit that I was a bit fed up that my normal feeds this morning were clogged up with northern hemisphere people cheerfully wishing their fathers or husbands a good day, and even resented* those people who tagged on wishes for “those who find today hard,” and wondered why, if they acknowledge that today is hard for some people, do they post about it at all?

I guess I’m just thankful that my husband isn’t very active on Fb, so won’t even know that it is F-Day elsewhere in the world. Besides, as we don’t celebrate Father’s Day here (or in Australia either, I think) until the beginning of September, we’ll both have to go through it all again in a few months.

The world is both too small on days like this, but – as I’m still suffering a bit from jet-lag – not small enough!

* Though after a nice coffee and muffin at the local cafe, I was feeling much better!

13 June, 2017

Some No Kidding post-travel gratitude

I'm grateful today that I have no children, for reasons which may become obvious.
  • We have just returned from an amazing trip we couldn't have done with children.
  • I don't have to deal with my own jet lag at the same time as dealing with children with their own jet lag.
  • I could fall asleep on our dining table last night whilst waiting for my husband to get home with the Chinese food for dinner.
  • I can have an afternoon nap without guilt.
  • I don't have to cook tonight if I am not up to it.
  • It may take some days to adjust, so I won't stress if I'm wide awake in the middle of the night.

I hope to catch up with all my missed blog reading over the next week or so, and to do some blogging myself, but first priority is that afternoon nap.

05 June, 2017

We are now enough

This post is inspired by the following quote, written by Nora, in a guest post on Lisa’s Life Without Baby:
Somebody related the question of motherhood to a form of immortality, and said it is viable through creating children or something else of lasting value, like art.
Continuing the family line is a common reason for having children, and the feeling that our line ends with us is often a source of grief and loss for those of us without children. I’ve felt it, though I have to admit that (mostly) I don’t feel it any more. The need to compensate for this, ie, through the creation of art or something else of lasting value, is not uncommon, and goes hand in hand with the search for the Next Big Thing. If we can’t be parents, we figure that we have to do something else in our lives that has a similar impact – for a while.

Ultimately, though, I’ve realised how much of this quest for immortality is also all about ego, the selfish (but all too common) desire to have your particular DNA carried into the future, or to see your name at the top of a family tree. And this immortality only lasts for one or two generations, but rarely much beyond this. The truth is that what matters is now, and right now, we are enough, we are all enough, no matter what we create.