30 January, 2023

Carrying it well

I thought I was taking the easy way out today, when I decided that I would tap into scribblings I’ve made in my notepad apps for future blogs. I did it on A Separate Life here, but got stuck in a quagmire when trying to write this blog, perhaps because the issues are a bit deeper, less trivial, and speak to me more. But I’m still taking the easy way out, because this song speaks our truth. I am not someone who usually listens to song lyrics, and I’m probably not telling you anything new, but this is worth checking out.

Of course, it reflects so many people’s feelings. And it is appropriate for my No Kidding friends too. It can be hard. We hide it well. And it will turn out okay.

Carry it well, by Sam Fischer

“Just because I carry it well
Doesn't mean it isn't heavy and I don't need some help
I know I keep it locked down, but all I want now
Is somebody who can tell me how it's gonna turn out
'Cause I thought I'd be doing better by now
I thought I'd be doing better by now
But don't I carry it well?”

Go look for the rest of the lyrics – I don’t want to get in trouble with copyright – or listen to it here:


24 January, 2023

Empty nest friends

We often bemoan the fact of having different lives from our friends with kids. But you get to an age - usually in your 50s or 60s, but sometimes earlier - when you friends’ and families’ children have left home and are living their own lives. And then we have a lot more in common with our friends. I’ve been very lucky that one of my best friends had children relatively young, and so she’s been free for fun for a long time! But not everyone has this, and I know it can be really hard.

Still, eventually it will come to us all. I had a reminder of this the other night, at a barbecue with old friends. Their kids flew the nest quite some time ago, but due to their overseas travel (living there) we haven’t socialised very much in recent years. They noted that they’re going to take a break in February, once all the kids are back at school, but the summer is still in full fling. Which is exactly what we are considering. They don’t have grandkids (yet), their children are independent, capable adults, and – like us – they are free and easy right now. Their kids hardly came up in conversation (thankfully, my husband remembered to ask after them!), not because we’re not interested, but because they’re not part of their day-to-day lives now. They’re not childless, and their children are still in the country both as supports and potentially needed support. But day-to-day their lives are as a couple, not as parents. Just like ours. 

I guess I’m saying this just to give some hope to those of you who aren’t here yet. You get your friends back – some sooner than later. And that makes you feel as if your network is that much wider.

16 January, 2023

Realities of No Kidding childlessness

I have a good friend here who has no kids. We socialise together quite a bit, and it is a relief to go out with her and her partner, and not feel we have to deal with the kid issue. That said, I'm interested in the kids of most of my friends, and like hearing about their adventures, as they've almost all left home, or at least are finding some independence. That's a freedom of age, when our friends and family who have children once again have time (and inclination) to focus on something other than their offspring. But I acknowledge too that I'm very lucky, and all of my friends have always been able to focus on the wider world, as well as their children. 

Still, there is something about socialising with other No Kidding people that brings a quiet understanding. However, not all No Kidding people are the same. We like talking about our siblings' (and in-laws') children, and their children. But my friend's family lives mostly in the same city. I've met some of them, been to plays and dinner together, and have celebrated when they've achieved milestones. I popped over to her house before Christmas and the kids were showing me the gingerbread houses they had just made with my friend, a family tradition she has been doing with her relatives that is now in its second generation. Her wider family is very close, and she is an integral part of that. She won't be moving any further than the beach.

I don't have that. I have one adult niece who still lives in New Zealand. All the others, on both my side and the Husband's side of the family, live overseas. I have one teenage niece and one adult great-nephew in the country. That's it.  So our present, in terms of relationships with children, look very different, and a lot lonelier. As do our futures, despite the fact that we are all childless.

Too often, you'll hear people suggest that we volunteer with children to fill the gaps in our lives. But this doesn't work. I'm not someone who could work with children, I have no skills to do that, and I'm not sure it would be good for them, or me! I wanted kids, but I didn't want to work with them! Besides, it doesn't necessarily create lasting relationships.So my involvement with children is and has always been very limited. And because of geography, it will continue to be limited. I can deal with that. But from time to time, it is a painful reminder.

I know I am not alone, that many of you may not have siblings, or other children that you live close to and have relationships with. There are no simple solutions. No real solutions to this at all. It's just a fact that reminds me of my situation occasionally. It reminds me that, as a result, I have greater independence to choose what my life will look like, but that independence has both benefits and burdens. We have the freedom to choose where and how we might spend the rest of our lives, and there is no obligation to stay close to family (or no feelings of rejection if we choose to move). But we also know that our choices are the only ones we will have to live with, that we will have to choose what our ''old old age" will look like, and we have to cope with whatever life throws at us on our own. Just another reminder that I can't stick my head in the sand and pretend everything will be okay. But I can plan to make it that way.

09 January, 2023

Self-knowledge beats fear

I had a bit of a wobble at the beginning of the New Year. The blissful isolation of Christmas Day dragged on, and I felt alone. We weren’t doing fun things with a wider family, or friends. The entire country seemed to be having fun, and we weren’t. I knew of course, realistically, that I was not alone, and that others were having harder times than I was. But for a while, I felt cast adrift.

One of the things that was bugging me was a relationship that has changed over the last 20 years - as I had pregnancy losses and forged a childlessness path, and they became a parent and socialised with other parents more and more. I know we’ve drifted apart, and I had been wondering if I was ready to let it go. But we’d never had a falling out, even though we weren’t as close as we had been (and will never be), and so I wondered if there was still value in the relationship. Those negative thoughts had been doing their evil thing, telling me that we hadn’t been in touch because they were ready to let me go. That it was always me reaching out (which wasn't quite true, but ... negative voices were convincing me it was). And that may have been the truth, and if it was, then I was ok with that.

But I decided I wasn’t going to let those negative thoughts have their own way. Not without one last challenge to them. So I reached out, tentatively, but openly. And was received with open arms. We made a date. We met, and talked for hours. Even if we don’t do it again for another year, or even ever, then I can live with that. The relationship has been worth holding on to, even if it is different now. If they don't reach out to me in the future, I can handle that. I've made the effort. And it seemed to be appreciated.

Of course, if I hadn’t been through loss and childlessness, then the relationship may never have changed. But equally, if I hadn’t been through those losses, and all the years of readjustment and thinking about who I am, and my place in the world, then I might not have recognised those negative voices in my head. I might not have been able to dismiss them. And I might not have been able to have come to a place where I was at peace regardless of what would happen, and so was able to reach out without fear. And for that, I’m grateful. 


03 January, 2023

Looking back on the blog: 2022

So, back to the blog. I wrote 55 posts in 2022, a few more than 2021, but still fewer than 2020. There is still food for thought, but as I joked to a fellow blogger the other day, I am not afraid of repetition! But as I review my blogs from the year, as usual I see some themes:

I began the year thinking about needing a bigger support network, and talked about community and support at different times through the year. It's still an issue for me.

I need a bigger support network
A wealth of community wisdom
Community and Support Groups

I had a few lonely moments, moments of regret that were worth mentioning, if only to let others know they were not alone:

When we're the only ones to remember
Bread and Childlessness
Pros and Cons of a Childless Easter
The Day that is Not For Us 
Christmases Future
Just the Two of Us

I posted on perspective, and noted that wanting something we couldn't have needed to be left, so we could make way for something new:

Yearning on a shelf 
Route to Madness 
Finding Common Ground 
Pathways, not Barriers

I think my favourite piece this year was the post My No Kidding Rules for Conversation. It gives me permission to take a full part in conversations, and to ask for change.

As I noted last year, 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.

Finally, in going through my 2022 posts, I noticed that in January last year I recounted a conversation with my BIL about his daughter (from his first marriage) who was throwing away the contraception and would just "see what happens." I asked him to make sure she sought help if she had no success, being in her late 30s. There's a wedding planned for this year, if I recall, but so far, no baby, or - as far as I am aware - no pregnancy. I'm sad for her, and wonder if my advice was ever passed on. I must ask my sister.

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'd love to know who is reading here.

I wish you all a safe and happy 2023!

 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).