Oh well, here’s hoping you’re having a happy Halloween!
Oh well, here’s hoping you’re having a happy Halloween!
I’ve been sick this week. Not sick enough to fully take to my bed, but sick enough to cancel appointments, push non-urgent work projects to another day, and crash down for a deep, drooling sleep in the afternoon.
I have the luxury of doing that.
I have the flexibility to adjust my work schedule. I have the luxury of a quiet house. I live with people who can fend for themselves if I’m not up to cooking. And I can allow myself the time to take care of myself. If I had kids, it would be a different story. While my head was pounding on Tuesday, I tried to imagine the noise of a two-year-old added to the mix. While I was sipping herbal tea under a blanket, my friend with two boys in preschool, would have been up, feeding, entertaining, changing diapers, etc.
Being sick is not how I choose to spend my life, but if it has to happen, it’s a lot easier to manage without kids.
We saw it earlier this year, with Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination, but now the issue of motherhood as a qualification has raised its ugly head again, this time in Oklahoma’s race for governor.
NBC News reports that Republican candidate, U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin, claimed her experience as a mother made her more qualified to run the state than her single, childless opponent, Lt. Gov. Jari Askins. Fallin said:
“I think my experience is one of the things that sets me apart as a candidate for Governor. First of all, being a mother, having children, raising a family…”
Really? While I can see how coordinating lunches and settling tantrums could certainly be useful in state politics, I curious…HOW does being a mother really qualify a person for the job of running a state? How dare she suggest that a childless woman couldn’t possibly be up to the job?
Sorry, but it smells to me like another attempt to use “family values” as a selling point, suggesting that a woman without children has none. Shame on you, Mary Fallin, for playing the motherhood card. As a woman, you should know better than that.
Monica Wiesblott just closed a beautiful exhibition of her artwork in her show Barren: Life on Infertile Soil. If you didn’t make it the show, you can view it in her online gallery of the show.
I didn’t go to the show, even though I wanted to meet Monica and the gallery is just a couple of hours from my home. My mum is still here with me and I just wasn’t ready to take her with me nor was I able to get away alone. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that, although my mother knows about my infertility, we don’t really talk about it, and I’m okay with that. I get to talk to you about it instead. J So I wasn’t ready to open up that Pandora ’s Box with my mother by taking her to the show. Maybe one day, maybe not.
But I did view Monica’s show online, in the privacy of my own room. It’s beautiful and frank, sometimes even raw, but most of all it is courageous. Monica has put out there in photographs and sculpture, what many of us who have dealt with infertility, or who are otherwise childless-not-by-choice, have felt and experienced.
Monica told me:
“I have received a lot of wonderful positive response from the show, many people have cried in the gallery and many, many others have trusted me enough to share their stories of loss. I am usually approached with the words, “I have never told anyone this….”
It’s my hope that if people like Monica keeping talking and showing, fewer women will have to say, “I have never told anyone this….”
Please check out the show online. Monica is hoping to take the show to other galleries, so if you happen to move in artistic circles and can help, please let Monica know.
It’s happened to me a few times over the years. The first time an ex resurfaced was pre-Facebook through a site called Friends Reunited. He was my first true love and it was fun to see his face and remember the good times we had when we were way too young (and thankfully smart enough) to do anything more than fantasize about getting married and having kids together. When he told me about his wife and two little girls, I felt a little melancholy for the life I could have had, but knew I made the right choice when we broke up and I pursued a different life.
The next run-in was in-person with the ex-fiancé who had never wanted kids. I ran into him with his new wife and daughter when I was right in the thick of my infertility madness. That time I was livid, furious, jealous, feeling that the world had done me wrong, thinking how he’d wasted five years of my life and frittered away my chance to have children of my own. Fortunately my husband was with me at the time and I was instantly reminded that my ex’s lack of desire for children wasn’t the only reason we were no longer together.
This week another ex resurfaced on the dreaded Facebook. He was a high school boyfriend and we “went out” for a few months, as I recall. Nice guy, but I think I was probably about 15 at the time. He friended me on FB and I accepted, and of course went straight to his photos to look for evidence of his current life. There were photos of two little blonde girls and him playing board games with them, and I felt…nothing. No envy, no sadness, not even relief.
We all choose our paths in life. Sometimes the path choses us, but even then we still have choices to make about how we walk that path. I didn’t plan to have a life without children, but I always planned to have a good life, and I do. When I look at the lives I might have had with the men I might have had them with, I realize that they weren’t the life I wanted. I like my life, it’s a good life, and even if it’s a life without children, it’s still the life I want.
I’m sick today. But I’m now a blogger and bloggers blog, so here I am. Trouble is, my head feels as if it’s about to explode and every time I raise my hands above the keyboard to type another sneeze hits me. So now it’s 11:15 here on the West Coast and, even though I’ve been “preparing to write” since 7 this morning, I still can’t think of anything interesting to write about.
So will you help me please?
What’s on your mind today? What are you thinking about? What issues are you dealing with as a childless or childfree person?
Please share your thoughts with me as I have no clear ones of my own.
According to our local radio show host, celebrity Mario Lopez was “so inspired” by the birth of his daughter Gia on September 11 that he proposed to his girlfriend, Courtney Mazza, shortly after she delivered their baby.
I haven’t been able to confirm this online, but I have seen reports that Mario is planning a new reality show about how he’s going to juggle his career and fatherhood, so maybe he’s saving the details for a ratings sweep. Anyway, it got me thinking…. Didn’t he want to marry Courtney before they got pregnant? What was it about having his baby that made him want to marry her now? And, the question that keeps nagging me: Is marriage primarily for having and raising children?
Next year, I’m getting married for the first time. In my mind, our wedding will be a celebration of our success at finding love and a joyous reason to bring family and friends together. But not everyone agrees with me. Almost every ceremony I’ve attended has included words about welcoming children into the world. Because we are in our 40s, well-meaning friends ask if we’re going to hurry up and have children. On the flip side, other friends suggest that, since there won’t be kids, we skip the legal part of our commitment to avoid the “marriage penalty tax.” And Project Marriage, as part of the appeal process defending California’s Prop. 8, which specifically outlaws gay marriage, defined the “true purpose of marriage” as “responsible procreation and child-rearing.”
So where does this leave me—and us, the child-free adults? If you got married with the expectation of children, then discovered it wasn’t going to happen, do people make you feel you’ve broken vows? Is marriage only for making families? What does getting/being married mean to you and how has it changed since you learned/decided you wouldn’t have children?
Kathleen Guthrie is a Northern California–based freelance writer. Her articles have appeared in AAA’s Westways, GRIT, Real Simple, and 805 Living magazines. Read “How to Be the World’s Best Aunt Ever” on eHow.com.
I was at a cocktail reception last night. A couple of times a year I dig out my high heels from the back of the closet, assume the role as Executive Wife, and spend the evening shaking hands, eating things on sticks, and trying to remember the names of people’s spouses (and in some cases the names of the people themselves.) When stuck for small talk, I always turn to the subject I know will get people talking; I ask about their children or grandchildren. In many cases, I’ve known these people for many years, and I’m glad to hear updates; in others it’s a ploy. In know that all I have to do then is sit back and let them talk instead of having to come up with anything new and witty to say.
Most of the people I knew in the room have children. Some of their grown children were there. At one point in the evening, I glanced around the room of maybe 80-100 guests and spotted three visibly pregnant women (and spoke to another, although I didn’t know it at the time.) It wasn’t until I bent down to admire the shoes of a little girl toddling around that I was suddenly aware of my childlessness. I wondered if people who knew me well enough to know about my situation noticed me and thought, “What a shame she can’t have children.” But I shook the thought off quickly and got on with my job of working the room.
At the end of the evening, one of my husband’s employees found me. She pulled me aside and told me that she had seen this website and that she got what I was all about (I’m paraphrasing.) She told how she loved children, but had never wanted children of her own, and she told me about the amazing volunteer work she does fundraising for a local children’s organization. Talking to here was like finding a lush tropical island in the middle of the sea of parents. It was like being a part of a secret underground organization and hearing someone else speak one of the code words.
So maybe we childless and childfree women need an identifier so we can find one another at social gatherings. Maybe we need our own secret masonic handshake, or a piece of jewelry with the Life Without Baby crest subtly showing. Because wouldn’t it be great when we find ourselves at mixers and receptions and other social gatherings to be able to find just one person to talk to and not have to talk about their kids?
Over the summer my husband and I went with a group of friends to see one of our favorite bands in concert. We’ve seen them several times in that last couple of years, but this concert was a small outdoor venue at a winery in Sonoma County, the heart of California’s Wine Country.
It was a beautiful, sunny day, the wine flowed, the picnic we brought was delicious, and when I suggested to my husband that we get up to dance on the lawn, he said yes. We danced through the entire show, until I was perspiring in a most unladylike manner and we’d just about worn a bald spot on the grass. Our other friends (who all have children) have “husbands-who-don’t-dance” and the wives, I’m sure, coveted my husband for a couple of hours. After the show we bought a CD, got it autographed by the band and even chased down the drummer, who I have a small , strange crush on. And we laughed. We danced and laughed and ate and drank. It really was a perfect day.
Two months have passed and I’m still thinking about that day. We’ve been to other concerts and events since and had a good time, maybe even been to better concerts, but that day sticks in my mind. That day my husband and I were the people we used to be before we were an infertile couple. Somewhere along that journey, little bits of who we were chipped off and we forgot why we ever got together and wanted children in the first place. That day reminded me.
If you’re childless-not-by-choice (or even not-exactly-by-choice) has the experienced changed who you are? And when was the last time you did something with your partner that made you both happy? If it’s been a while, can you plan something in the upcoming weeks that will break you out of your “infertile couple” state and remind you why you got together in the first place?
Earlier this year, Vicki at A Woman Without Children wrote about a hiking adventure with her husband. Maybe this will give you some inspiration, too.
Sparked by a suggestion from Jennifer on yesterday’s post, Happily Childless, Not-So-Happily Infertile, I’ve decided to cut my body some slack. So, it didn’t do exactly what I wanted it to do. Like Jennifer said, maybe it did the best it could. In truth, my body has been good to me and even it would never win a medal in the Reproductive Olympics, it would at least make the team in other areas.
Here are my top ten things I love and appreciate about my body:
Be good to your body. Tell it (and us) what you love most about it.
Here's what others are reading:
Chero: Marilyn Monroe
The Ticking Clock
Chero: Mary Cassatt
"Getting Over" Infertility
Childless Women and Breast Cancer
Childless by Marriage and a Man's Point of View
Locked out of the Mommy Clubhouse
It Got Me Thinking...About My Issues
10 Childfree Celebrities
Bold Facial Hair
~ "a raw, transparent account of the gut-wrenching journey of infertility."
~ "a welcome sanity check for women left to wonder how society became so fixated on motherhood."