25 September, 2018

Miscellaneous No Kidding issues

One of the advantages of time between those initial years of infertility and grief, and today, is that perspective begins to set in. I find I'm better able to have a more global outlook, to see comparisons, and not to react sharply, and personally, to ignorant or insensitive comments.

I find too that I'm better able to stand up for myself, and for my No Kidding sisters (and brothers). I recently mentioned that motherhood is glorified in western societies these days, and was surprised when a friend I hadn't seen in a long time was completely disbelieving. It was clear she'd never had to think about it before (because they are in the majority), and consider how biased society can be.

It has also made me really sensitive to other insensitivities, which I observed this month when two sisters of someone I know cheerfully posted a Fb meme answering questions about their happy relationships. At exactly the same time, their third sister was splitting from her husband and leaving her home.

And right now, I'm trying very hard not to think about what our own ageing and demise will be like, as I deal with an elderly relative's last weeks/days, and try to provide support without resentment.

17 September, 2018

Some repetition, worth repeating, I hope.

I did a bit of writing over the weekend for World Childless Week, here and here. So I'm a little short on inspiration now, especially for something that would fit into Microblog Monday's eight* sentences. So I thought I might be lazy, and just highlight some previous posts around those themes of being worthy and dealing with some of the nasty comments.

Probably my favourite post emphasising that we are strong, and worthy, is my post The Real Success Stories, which I then revisited earlier this year. (Apologies for the repetition.)

In terms of comments, here is my post from five years ago - Those Comments. Instead of going over examples of some of the awful comments, I hope this gives other people hope that they won't always hurt, and that they can be brushed off as we learn how to cope with them.

And finally, I will admit that - like Pamela here - I have cringed a little the last couple of weeks having to use the word "childless." I discuss it here, and share Pamela's desire to find a word that might explain us without emphasising what we are not, and what we don't have.

* Though I think I am the only person who still adheres to Mel's original suggestion of an eight sentence post for Microblog Mondays, except perhaps Mel herself. Note: Footnotes don't count as a sentence!

15 September, 2018

World Childless Week: We Are Worthy

Why me? What did I do to deserve this? Am I not worthy too?

The single thought that erodes our confidence is this one. Am I still worthy if I don’t have children? Because I didn’t have children, does that mean I’m not worthy?

And perhaps the single thought that helped me change my thinking was acknowledging the inherent flaw in that earlier thought.

I looked at women who have children easily, who don't have losses, who have never lost their innocence in pregnancy. They have not been judged to be worthy, just as I have not been judged to be unworthy. I look at women who get pregnant when they don't want to. Why does this happen?  Well, just because it does. It doesn't mean that they are better than me. It doesn't mean they are luckier than me. They don't feel luckier, if the pregnancy wasn’t wanted. Those who struggle to cope physically, or financially, or emotionally, with a(nother) baby don't see the baby as a gift, even if that is how we would have seen one. I look at women with children who neglect them, abuse them, or abandon them, who expose them to violent or abusive partners, who pay more attention to their own needs than those of their child. Clearly, the biological act of having a baby is not evidence of their good character, or their good behaviour. These women are no better than me, or you. A child is never a reward for good behaviour, however much some of us might have wished that were so. Not having a baby is not a punishment, however much it might feel like that at times.

This whole idea that only the deserving get what they want is really dangerous. I could discuss its implications in wider society and even geopolitics, but I won’t. I’ll just say that it is wrong, and accepting this makes us see things differently, and see others differently.

It can though, take a while to reach acceptance. Women are very good at blaming ourselves. We search for answers. We expect answers. These days, when so much can be cured, solved, calculated or discovered, we can't understand why some of us can have babies and some of us can't. We get angry, and often, because there is no-one else we can blame, we blame ourselves. Pointlessly. Painfully. Sometimes destructively.

I've lived and travelled around the world. I have seen wonderful people in difficult circumstances. I have seen awful people with family they don't value, with riches they don't appreciate or do anything good with. I have seen beloved, kind, good friends die young, I've seen those who have been tortured, and I've seen the selfish and even the downright evil live till they are very old. None of this is justified or right. None of this happens for a reason. None of this is because one person was judged to be worthy or not. None of this is because they were or were not being rewarded. It just is.

No Kidding women and men are worthy. They are valued members of society. Their contributions to the world are different to those of parents, but are not lesser. Their very being shows that not everyone is the same, but that is okay. Being different does not mean less worthy. In this world we need to understand that.

Finally, I’ll leave my system of banishing negative thoughts (below) that always reminds me that I’m a decent person, deserving, worthy. We are worthy. Don't forget that.

World Childless Week: Comments that hurt

This year’s World Childless Week’s Comment that Hurts is: "You never know true love until you have a child."

The thing is, anyone who makes this comment, or other similar comments, is saying it to raise themselves up. Perhaps they’re feeling overwhelmed with love for their children, and speaking mainly about themselves. That seems reasonable, but still, the choice of language in this very commonly used sentence is thoughtless. Or worse – perhaps deliberately unkind. Maybe they are feeling defensive for some reason, and need to retaliate. Maybe they are feeling jealous or insecure, and need to make themselves more important, and so figure that the best way to do that is to belittle someone else. Maybe they’re just feeling smug, and self-important. But whatever their motive for saying it, this comment is not accidental, not casually thoughtless. It is putting us in our No Kidding place – our (in their view) inferior No Kidding place, where we don’t (apparently) know true love.

But that’s the thing about my No Kidding place. It isn’t where the speaker might think it is. And it is certainly not inferior. It’s in a good place, a more compassionate place, a place full of love – for ourselves, for what we lost, for others in similar positions. My efforts and love is spread wider than my nuclear family, shared in multiple places, for the elderly, for my No Kidding community, and for children who are not my own. It's not a selfish love, but is still love, still protective, still nurturing. That is not the same No Kidding place that the speaker was before they were a parent either. No, my No Kidding place is a place of growth, wisdom and confidence.

So from the start, I do not accept the premise of their comment. That enables me to take back some power, the power that is stripped away when we first hear comments like this.However long it has been since we knew we wouldn’t have children, such comments can still hurt, they’re still judgemental; they imply that we are selfish, or not mature enough to be parents, that we are not fully developed human beings. Ultimately, they imply that we are lacking somehow. Those comments bite into us, and leave scars.  But my scar tissue is pretty well healed these days, and I recover quickly. I might say, "I'm glad you got to feel that love." Or perhaps I'll ask, "did you mean to be so unkind?"

There are many types of love in the world, and none of us can judge how another feels. Who is to say what true love is? No, I have never known and will never know the love that a mother feels for her child as she raises them. I knew the love I felt when I was so briefly pregnant, and the love I felt for my unborn children when I was trying to get pregnant, but I know that anyone who makes those comments will not count that love. I do, however. 
But to end on a positive note, so do others. Not all parents feel this way. I’m going to go back five years to this post, where I link to a post by a woman who was parenting post-infertility. She noted that infertility defined how she felt, and that the hardships of parenthood were similar to those of infertility. More particularly, she acknowledges that those of us who were unable to have children know love. Just in a different way. These were her words, worth repeating:
"When my love for my daughter literally steals my breath and makes my heart feel like it's going to explode, when the fear of something happening to her rises to the level of spiritual warfare ... I remind myself that my infertile friends do know that love and that fear.  Many of their worst fears have been realized.  They love their miscarried and stillborn babies every day of their lives.  Many others know the agonizingly ambiguous loss of their dreams.  They love the children in their imaginations.  It is a real, powerful, mama bear love that should never be dismissed or minimized."

Note:      There has been a post topic every day this week, but I have been travelling and busy, so haven’t been able to address every topic. You can find the topics here, and the links to posts from No Kidding women from all over the world.

11 September, 2018

Caring about the future

A friend on Fbook was bemoaning the stress-inducing state of her country the other day, and said, "... it would be way less so if I didn’t have kids and didn’t have to care about the future of the country/world/etc ..."

I didn't say anything, though I was sorely tempted, and I am still tempted to message her and call out her comment. No, I have not raised the next generation, and no, I don't have my own genes going into the future, but it is a huge presumption to say I don't have to care about the future of the country/world/etc. I of course care deeply for my nieces and nephews, and for any children they have/well have, and I grieve for the future they will inherit, more so it seems than some of their parents, or the parents who are doing their utmost to divide and destroy.

Furthermore, perhaps precisely because I don't have children who will inherit my name, my genes, my outlook on life, my legacy is the legacy of the country, of the planet, of the human race. It is not focused on my own progeny, but on everyone else's progeny, including hers.  I can't shrug my shoulders and focus only on my children, forgetting about wider issues. Leaving the planet a better place - kinder, more aware, more thoughtful, for example - is my only legacy.

03 September, 2018

I am childless; 100% Me

Okay, World Childless Week is coming up - 10-18 September - and I'm completely unprepared for it, and unfortunately, I'm unlikely to be able to do much for it given other commitments.

However, one thing that people are doing is to post an image on social media, either of themselves, or something that represents them. How cool would it be for the No Kidding amongst us to be visible for at least one week in the year?

The hashtag for this is #IAMME, as well as #Worldchildlessweek. The the ones I have seen so far also include a list of things we are, as well as the thing (No Kids. childless) we are not. It's hard narrowing it down, given that I once wrote a post of 100 things that emphasise who I am, rather than the things I am not. You don't have to show your face, and you can just write on a card or paper who you are.

This is mine, taken last year in Iceland: it is 100% me.