30 July, 2018

Some of "those" comments reinterpreted

Infertile Phoenix inspired this post by noting all the incidents and comments she heard mothers and pregnant women say this week, making me recognise how much they would have hurt me in my first years of recovery and healing, and how now I am able to look at them more objectively, thanks to the passing of time, and the ability not to feel them so personally.

When women talk about putting others lives before their own when they have children, I think of their lives, and know that they don't just mean that their children go first, but also that they put work before their own needs, and perhaps their parents or other relatives, or neighbours, and probably their husband's/partner's needs before their own too. This makes me incredibly sad for them, and I wonder if they feel anger or have regrets about what they are missing, or how their lives turned out, and this is the reason they turn to the stereotypes* of selflessness and sacrifice of motherhood to make themselves feel better.

The women who joke that if we had to look after their children or other people's children it would put us off having children, or make us feel better about not being able to have our own as make me wonder if that's a cry for understanding. Do they say that because they (understandably) want and need some acknowledgement that children aren't always little angels, or (like my mother) that they like their own children but don't want to look after anyone else's, or that maybe they don't always (or at all) enjoy being a mother?

And of course, we've talked many times here and on other No Kidding blogs about the parents who can only talk about their children, and again, these days I am more likely to feel sorry for them that they don't have wider interests and intellectual activities, and that they don't have the social abilities to pick up on that, and I am always so thankful for my friends who are parents but talk about books and politics and travel and society and the weather and plays and music and films, etc etc.

The women commiserating about their kids growing up make me roll my eyes a little, because I know people like this, people who have based their lives around their children and who get their sense of identity from their children, rather than being individuals themselves, and so look to the empty nest future with a feeling of "what now?" I can relate to this, as I think can many of us when we are faced with the finality of a future without children, and I hope that they too will learn that there's a whole world out there to discover and create (though I know many struggle to make that adjustment), in the way that my fellow No Kidding men and women have done with such courage, hope, and full hearts.

* yes, I know there is a reason for these, I'm not blind.


  1. Dear Mali, I love your post. I like to see how time enables you to reflect on such sentences which can be so painful at the beginning of the infertility journey. Thank you!
    PS: I had a look at your Instagram pictures, they are really beautiful. I recognised quite a few places from Iceland :)

  2. Great post Mali! I agree wholeheartedly. It is nice to know that how we hear other people's comments changes over the years. It goes from stinging hurt to often feeling sorry for them because they have no other life or identity separate from their children.

  3. True! I find that when I hear those comments these days, I mostly want to roll my eyes too -- whereas 15-20 years ago, I might have had to leave the room before I started crying. Some days are still harder than others, of course, & it's a lot easier to deal with the odd one-off comment than a roomful of women offering up one cliche after another...!

  4. Hi! I stumbled upon this blog and am amazed that this community exists (and that I haven't found it before!). I have felt so lonely in my childless life, so I am very glad to meet you here! I am still having a hard time with my own bitterness, and comments like the ones above are familiar to me, and I guess I still over-interpret many of them as directed towards me... Another difficult aspect for me is the fact that nobody ever asks me about it; why I don't have children. Not one person - including relatives - has ever asked.