24 June, 2019

More Perfect Moments

I’m writing this before I leave, and it will be posted when I’m almost on my way home. I’m hoping I have a number of Perfect Moments on this trip, and if I do, that I will either jot them down here (if I have time to post from afar) or that I can tell you about them when I get home. Today for example, I will be at the beach, and a common “perfect moment” for me is when I’m in the tropics, floating in the sea or a pool with my eyes closed, weightless, free of worries and – temporarily – responsibilities, enjoying a calm, peaceful moment. I was thinking about that today, hoping that there will be plenty of moments of swimming-related freedom in my future. I may not be able to wear a bikini anymore, but that’s not going to stop me entering the water!

In the meantime though, it’s the perfect moment to repost this Perfect Moment post, written almost seven years ago. I needed to read it, because I had forgotten the joy of this situation, and recently focused a little more on the inconvenience. Here is the heart of the post:

A lot of my posts on A Separate Life are about perfect moments. I like to enjoy the little things in life, to celebrate the joy when I feel it, to be "mindful" and in the moment when I can.

Just now, I had a tiny Perfect Moment. I'm listening to a regular programme on national radio. And three panellists were chit-chatting about life. Turns out all three are parents. And the winter school holiday (vacation for the North Americans) break is about to start this weekend, for two weeks. All three of them were sighing and bemoaning the fact that they had to deal with school holidays. Not one of them sounded as if they were looking forward to it.

"So my perfect moment was what?" you ask.

I am smiling, realising that in my No Kidding Life, I never have to groan at the thought of school holidays. I can be thrilled by the lighter traffic in the morning. I have an excuse to avoid the big malls (not my favourite places anyway), and the child-friendly cafes (I do anyway). I don't have to travel during school holidays. (In fact, I avoid it like the plague - higher airfares and screaming kids = torture in a tin tube). And best of all? I never have to feel guilty that I'm groaning at the thought of the school holidays.

May you all have a Perfect Moment today.

17 June, 2019

Finding a balance: empathy and open debate

As I mentioned last week, over the last year or so my posts have been developing on a theme. The theme was first mentioned in one of my Gifts of Infertility series, where I talked about developing Compassion and Empathy.

So now, when I talk often about how thinking about my own situation, and about hurtful comments or attitudes towards me because I do not have children, I realise that this process has helped me better understand others. It has reminded me, when it is easy to forget, to be more compassionate to and strive for empathy towards others. I’ve been a bit concerned that my posts might have become a bit preachy, although really, what I have been sharing is how my own thinking has developed. And reminding myself to step back, be open, and be kind.

I've been thinking about this too, because I’m very conscious of discussions throughout society in recent years about increased sensitivity, of avoiding triggers. The questions about freedom of speech* and how far we should go to try to consider others, about how to have hard discussions that are still respectful, and about when it is unkind and unnecessary to do so are not completely resolved. A conversation in the comments of a previous post here were an example of this debate.

I’m trying to find a balance between my own indignation at attitudes about parents and non-parents, or comments that might trigger (a loaded word in itself these days) my own hurt, and my wish to keep dialogue open. I want to keep a dialogue open, because I believe that is how people learn - how we learn about others, and how they learn about us. I haven’t quite been able to reconcile the two in my mind, except for saying that I want everyone to feel they can have open, honest, discussions, ensuring at the same time that these need to be kind, considerate, outward-looking and open-minded.

Wishful thinking?

And have you been able to reconcile this?

* in the broad sense of the phrase, not the US Constitutional definition.

10 June, 2019

What's funny, and what isn't

I’ve written before about Hannah Gadsby’s special on Netflix before. But I didn’t include a comment that she made that has stayed with me. She was talking about making jokes about herself, and why she wants to stop.
 “Understand what self-deprecation means for someone who already exists in the margins. It’s not humility. It’s humiliation.”
I’ve mentioned before - here, or perhaps as comments on another blog - that I don’t think that jokes about people without children are very funny. I was told, by members of the infertility community, that I had no sense of humour. What they – the women who were now raising their post-infertility children with their oh-so-hilarious senses of humour – failed to realise was that we, the No Kidding childless, are on the margins. Even as they laughed that childless women were "extraneous!" They failed to think that it isn’t funny for the minority to be laughed at by the majority. That they were happily, and willingly, humiliating us. Clearly, it still irks me!

So I think it’s worth stating again for those readers who have come out of infertility with children, or for those who are reading this to learn more about those of us who don’t have children. We get the jokes. We just don’t think they’re funny.

And perhaps again, to continue a recent theme, it is a reminder to me to think before I tell jokes to someone or about someone, or even before I'm being self-deprecating about myself. Is this funny, or humiliation? Would I want someone suffering to hear this?