24 January, 2022

I need a bigger a support network

Yesterday, it was announced that Omicron is now spreading within New Zealand. We were doing such a good job of keeping Delta away. Since everything opened up (particularly for those with vaccine passes) before Christmas, case numbers have kept low, with an R value under 1. But now Omicron* is here, and everything will change. As I saw a headline this morning, New Zealanders are in for a major culture shock!

In the announcement, the Prime Minister yesterday suggested people prepare for being isolated at home, and suggested we find “buddies” who might be able to go shopping for us. It wasn’t long ago (just over a year) that we were the ones going shopping for my father-in-law, so it would require a change of focus to think of others doing things for us. We are reasonably well stocked except for perishables (I’ve written on A Separate Life about my pantry hoarding instincts), but it got me thinking. Who would be our buddies?

Initially, I thought (rather melodramatically), “we have nobody!” And I felt very alone. My friends with grown kids in the city would probably call on them, or one of their many friends they made through their kids. Their priority would be their kids, their work, and not some lonely old couple out in the suburbs. (I may be doing them a disservice, but it is how I felt.) Of course, we don’t have grown (or any) children, and neither of us have relatives in the city we could call on. Closer friends live outside the city now, so wouldn’t be able to pick up some milk on the way home. Bamberlamb’s post this week about isolating when you don’t have family also highlights the issues we face these days if we are close contacts or COVID positive, and have to stay at home for an extended period of time. As she notes, we are both lucky to have someone to isolate with. Many don’t.

Then I got thinking. I guess we would probably call on a friend who lives in the next suburb, or on one of our neighbours (and we would help them too), or my husband’s golf buddies. That’s a reasonable number of people who live relatively close, and it would be highly unlikely that we would all be isolating at the same time. Now though, as I look at our network, I know that we are not alone. And it has reminded me to reach out to some friends who are on their own, and might need help as well as being able to give it.

Support networks are there, if informally. But thinking about this has certainly reminded me of my intentions to socialise more this year, with the hope of having a wider group of friends in this community. It's important for me in a way it isn't so important for those who are surrounded by their children or other relatives. It won't happen unless I make the effort. And COVID-19 is making the point that it isn't something I can put off until I am older. It's important now!


* Yes, I hear your sighing and eye-rolling. I'm sorry!

17 January, 2022

Turning trauma into art

"Writing about trauma is more than simply documenting experience—it's about illuminating life on earth. It's about transforming tragedy into art, and hoping that somehow that piece of art may help someone else who's gone through something unbearable and who doesn't yet see that there truly is a light at the end of the dark tunnel."

— Tracy Strauss, Poets and Writers Magazine, Sept/Oct 13

I found this quote some years ago and have been meaning to show it here. Not that I would describe this blog as “art!” But the idea of writing about our traumas, about our losses, and about our recovery definitely applies to this blog, and to the blogs of so many of my readers too. I love that it recognises that writing about our own traumas helps others feel less alone, that they can read our stories and see themselves in it, that they don’t feel quite so isolated.

I love too that it recognises that writing about traumas can provide hope that maybe things will improve. After all, when we find our lives are going to be spent without children, it is not a static situation where life as we had planned it stops. Where there is initially a vacuum because our lives are not filled with the children or grandchildren we had hoped for, life and light and joy will fill it. In particular, hope fills that vacuum, although it is directed somewhere new. There is, as the quote above mentions, light at the end of the tunnel, and we all find solidarity and friendship and joy through the third, feared and neglected door of Infertility’s Waiting Room.

I know all of us who blog in our No Kidding world talk about this – the pleasure of discovering that life goes on, and is good and rich and full. I apologise to those who find it repetitious. But I do think it’s worth repeating for anyone new who might find this blog. And it's worth reminding those of us who have been here for a while too, and may have the occasional lapse. It gets better. I'm not kidding.

10 January, 2022

Monday miscellany: No Kidding version

There are lots of articles/blogs/columns about the Pope's comment that people who have pets instead of children are selfish. I'm not going to go into detail here as others have responded to this far more eloquently than I could. There was a particularly good response here, and I have read others too. Lots of comments about the hypocrisy of a church that requires its priests and nuns to remain celibate and childless, whilst berating those without children. I am just frustrated that such a view continues to be repeated - it is at least the second time he has made the "selfish" comment about people without children.

I was at a gathering on New Year's Day. Meeting a new couple, and along with the hosts, we chatted about all sorts of interesting things. It wasn't until another couple joined us - who knew the first couple through school kids - that the question of children came up. The guy asked it, not to my surprise. I often find that men ask this question. Perhaps they think they're trying to bring the women into the conversation (though my feminist sensibilities bristle at this idea), or perhaps his well of conversational topics was running dry (though he didn't seem to be someone who would ever be lost for words). Anyway, I digress. What was interesting, I thought, was the response of his wife, who turned to me and said that she felt she was moving into a different stage of life, as her children are about to leave home. The implication was that she could relate to me more, and she was being kind to include me in that, even though the two states (empty nest and childless) are very different (as I have written before). I appreciated her sensitivity.

Finally, another snippet of a conversation with my BIL. He was talking about his adult daughter (from his first wife), who apparently has decided to "stop contraception and see what happens." I said that I wished her luck, but that at her age (late 30s), "seeing what happens" is not always the wisest idea and that he should ensure she knows that if she has been actively trying for six months without conception, it might be worth getting checked out. "I'm sure that won't be necessary," he said. "Look at (my sister) and I. We did that, and everything worked out." "Yes," I said. "And so did (DH) and I. It's not always that simple." I was so frustrated. He could say that to me, of all people! But more importantly, I didn't want his daughter to delay seeking help out of a false sense of security. So I gave him some info - statistics related to age, related to infertility in the wider population, etc. His daughter was visiting a day or two later. I wonder if he broached the topic. But I did what I could. I'm pleased about that. For her sake, I tried.


03 January, 2022

Looking back on the blog: 2021

Phew, we survived 2021 too. In so many ways, it has been a struggle. A struggle for all of us, all over the world, a struggle to survive, to maintain our patience and compassion for fellow humans, and for ourselves. And I've found it a bit of a struggle to blog here. Maybe I've said all there is to say about No Kidding topics? As the years have passed, the grief of not having children plays a smaller and smaller part in my life, even though ageing without children looms and requires more thought space too. So maybe the focus here is changing too. There are still things to say though. Still conversations that surprise me, either in a bad or a good way! So I intend sticking around in 2022. By now, it is just what I do!

So, back to the blog. I wrote 52 posts in 2021, seven fewer than in 2020. That's quite a drop, but shows there is still food for thought! It wasn't a stellar year for No Kidding in NZ though - no projects as I've done in previous years, or major new insights. But as I review my blogs from the year, I see some themes:

I talked about gratitude, the little moments, finding beauty in unexpected moments, all of which help us cope and enjoy our lives:

Beauty in the Weeds

And I wrote a number of posts where I was able to find shared experiences in other groups or individuals outside our No Kidding community. Whilst it is easy to focus on our isolation from the parented sectors of society, my experiences have also made me feel even more connected in other ways, which is a gift.

Shared experiences in beauty and grief    
Shared experiences (again)  
We're not so different

I continued to talk about the way we think and our attitudes towards not having children, our recovery and healing from that, and our approaches to life, in:

Accurate Thinking
Inaccurate Thinking
Rising from the Ashes
The Road to Ithaka
Grief, Attitude, and Hope

I touched on a few issues around Ageing without Children, and also similarities between infertility/childlessness and the pandemic, was very lazy when I was travelling in May and reposted a few of my thoughts. And I finished the year looking back at posts I'd written before, and looking way back to the days of my losses and infertility, beginning to walk this No Kidding path. In reviewing previous posts, it always strikes me how important it is to reread posts after all the comments, because they add so much to the conversation, to our collective wisdom, and to our sense of community. I am so glad you are all part of No Kidding in NZ.

Which brings me to the fact that the first week of January is blog delurking week. So, do leave a quick hello in the comments (I’m fine with anonymous comments if you’re shy) or send a quick email to me at nokiddinginnz at gmail dot com. I love to know who is reading here. 

I wish you all a safe and happy 2022!

  This is an annual nod to Mel, who used to run the Crème de la Crème, where we would list our favourite post of the year. It always provided inspiring reading. So even though it doesn’t happen officially now, I hope that you too will list your favourite posts from your own blogs, on your blogs, for us to enjoy again (or for the first time).