06 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.


  1. As I wrote in the comments, I view the response of children adding dimension as just being another way to minimize. It implies black-and-white thinking and an external limited world view.

    There is a growing number of people who are not parenting and though some are by choice, a huge number are not. To imply that their lives are not full because they are not parenting shows how far we have to go with this conversation,

  2. I love the list!
    Especially number 9: you did make a friend exactly on the opposite part of the Earth. So did I!

  3. Love it - you know that was the first thing that flashed through my head after she said it as I was looking at her as though she had punched me in the gut. All the grief, getting to know my new self, expanded capacities to listen and empathize, the list of ways infertility and involuntary childlessness have added dimension to my life could go on and on.....so I thought "Dimension?? I'll give you some freaking dimension!" Instead I replied "As does NOT getting to have them." As of now, she's in the intro to my book, so, either way I win.

  4. I love this list, so much. I think this would be a great exercise for anyone to do, but especially those of us who are fresh to the loss of a life we imagined but that didn't come to be. I feel like this is a good journaling/therapy thing to do! I loved your list. I am so grateful for your blog and your friendship, and especially your empathy for the people who hurt the No Kidding contingency, unwittingly or otherwise.

  5. This is a terrific list, full of dimension and richness. I like Klara's comment, too.

  6. Both your post & Sarah's are brilliant... I daresay the idea that "children add dimension" is a very one-dimensional response. They may be one way to add dimension, but they are far from the only way! Great post!!