Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Childlessness: bittersweet and also invisible

This is going to be a little self-indulgent boohoo post. I don't post these often, because I don't need to these days. But even though we have grieved and accepted our No Kidding lives, it doesn't mean we don't miss what we might have had from time to time.

I've probably noted before, but there are a couple of children in my family that always make me think. On my side, I have a great-nephew. His mother (my niece, she was my flower girl at my wedding) and I were pregnant (briefly in my case) at the same time. On my husband's side, a niece was born just a few months before my first ectopic. As I was still bleeding and having HCG measurements taken I had to watch my BIL doting on his daughter. This last week, BIL and his family have been in town, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know niece K, now 16, a little better. It's been a joy - especially to discover she is a bright and thoughtful young feminist, something I did not expect given the views of her parents! But it's also been bittersweet, obviously.

Last night was Guy Fawkes. My SILs and I were out on the town, as we are hardly ever together at the same time. So my husband went out to his childhood home, and got together for an evening with his three brothers (we can't remember the last time all four of them were together - decades, probably), and with the niece and nephews. DH decided to pick up some fireworks on the way, and apparently they all - young and old - had a great time letting them off last night. I'm glad DH had that bonding time with his brothers, niece and nephews. It sounded like fun. But I'm sad too that he doesn't get to do it every year, with his own children, or even every year or so with nieces and nephews.

Finally, on Saturday we had a family function to farewell MIL. Oldest BIL made the only speech, and he did it very well. But twice it was as if DH and I were invisible members of the family, simply because we didn't "grow up and have our own families." Yet we are the ones who have been here, reliably, and very supportively, for the last twenty or so years, for MIL and FIL. But it was as if we didn't exist. The Invisible No Kids. I felt it keenly. But on the bright side, DH said he didn't even notice. I wish I could be more like him!


8 comments:

  1. Sending you a big hug. Sometimes I think it all piles up at once. Ugh, I hate when you feel like Invisible No Kids (today in a book club class after school a guidance counselor commented on the book by saying, "We're all parents, we all do what's best for our children" and it was SO HARD not to cough loudly). Especially in your case, where you guys shouldered so much of the responsibility and care. It's funny, Bryce doesn't notice things until I point them out, too...must be a husband wiring thing, their frayed ends aren't as exposed as ours maybe? I send you love and peace, Mali, and hope that this moment passes but abiding with you while you feel it.

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    1. I love the idea of their frayed ends not being as exposed as ours. It's perfect, given that DH is an Electrical Engineer.

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  2. dear Mali, you are very visible to me! Thank you for being there for me, for us. I can't imagine surviving the dark years of my infertility without your blog.

    And yes, I know how it feels... being invisible.

    sending you hugs from sLOVEnia,

    Klara

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  3. Those feelings are so potent and hard. It's even harder given that you and DH have been the ones tending to your in laws as the rest of the family has been away. Part of me wonders if there's some guilt from your older BIL about that, with him hiding behind the excuse of growing his family in order to make up for not being around as much? It doesn't make those statements sting any less, but I'm a firm believer that what people talk about is more a reflection on them than where they are directing their statements.

    You matter Mali. And you've been doing an incredibly hard thing with caring for your in-laws. Those that make you feel invisible are just trying to overcome their own guilt.

    Sending so much love to you.

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  4. I don't know what to say, but I get it. I wish I could give you a giant hug and then share pasta and chardonnay night with you!

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  5. Dear Mali,
    to me you are not invisible! I'm so grateful you share you thoughts on your blog :) I sorry to read you felt forgotten.
    I know this feeling of being invisible too. I guess it will always accompany me and get stronger on some particular occasions.
    xo

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  6. I'm sorry you felt invisible -- although I have certainly felt that way too. And I felt a bit of it at FIL's visitation & funeral -- so many people exclaiming over our tall handsome grownup nephews with BIL & SIL. (I volunteered to write FIL's obituary, specifically so I could make sure our Katie was mentioned in it!)

    I'm not sure what your BIL said in his speech, but childless or not, I would have hoped he/your BILs & SILs would have acknowledged/thanked you (privately, if not in a public speech) for everything you've done for their parents over the past several years. (Don't hold my breath, right?)

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