This week’s Whiny Wednesday topic needs no introduction or explanation, so I’ll just put it out there:
This week’s Whiny Wednesday topic needs no introduction or explanation, so I’ll just put it out there:
This hot-button whine was sent in from one of our readers.
When you read an interview of some celebrity or hear someone say:
“I never knew what love was until I had a child.”
So…is she saying that because I’m childless I’m not capable or “real” love or that I will be denied the experience of the highest expression of love?
Whether this makes your blood boil or cuts you to the core, whine away, sisters!
And if you have another great whine you need to get off your chest this week, here’s the place to let it rip.
This is such a difficult and emotional time for everyone, and I’m not sure there is anyone who isn’t facing some sort of challenge right now. So I wanted to provide a space to talk about the challenges we’re facing as we’re on lockdown, facing the loneliness of social distancing, or perhaps once again feeling marginalized because we don’t have children.
What challenges are you facing in this era of Covid-19?
A TIME magazine cover story awhile ago, “The Childfree Life,” came with an image of an attractive (and color-coordinated) couple lounging on a tropical, white sand beach, seemingly without a care in the world, resplendent in their designer sunglasses. That image prompted this week’s Whiny Wednesday topic:
The assumption that if you don’t have kids you have money to burn
Whine away, my friends.
I love the Internet for the breadth and depth of information it provides, and for the opportunity to read so many varying opinions on one subject. But sometimes I just have to walk away.
Case in point, I was doing research for a post and came across the following comment on an article:
“I take care of my parents. My children will take care of me. You want to force my children to take care of you too, meanwhile you arrogantly and selfishly live a much richer life style. Frankly, every GINK I’ve met was an arrogant, self-righteous, elitist. You should apologize for not adding to the future of our race.”
So after I ranted to myself about not expecting anyone else’s kids to take care of me, how our race of almost 7 billion people doesn’t need much adding to, and how narrow-minded this woman was to tar us all with the same “arrogant, self-righteous, elitist” brush, I stomped off and took a long, hot shower.
This woman was clearly on a mission (she posted about half a dozen comments to the same article) and I can’t believe I let her anger get under my skin.
It’s Whiny Wednesday. What’s under your skin today?
I’ll admit I do get a degree of pleasure trying to figure out how I got onto some of the more obscure mailing lists. But I also want to know why I get so much kid-oriented marketing material. Someone clearly has not been doing their demographic homework.
Which bring me to this week’s topic:
People who assume you have children
It’s Whiny Wednesday, so feel free to air your grievances.
With Thanksgiving just around the corner here in the U.S., and seasonal goods already moving off the shelves, the holiday season is well underway. I’ve been hearing holiday music in stores for weeks, and know of people who’ve had their Christmas trees up since the beginning of November!
For many of you, the festive season might not be such a fun time. Traditionally, whichever holidays you celebrate, they include family gatherings, which might mean facing insensitive relatives and prying questions about children. It can be one of the most difficult times of the year, with social gatherings, kid-oriented activities, and constant reminders of the many ways we don’t get to celebrate the holidays.
I love that this community includes new readers and seasoned pros, so let’s help one another out this year by sharing ideas on getting through the season with our hearts intact.
What are some of the issues you know you’ll face this holiday season? What events are you dreading? What’s going to be hardest for you?
And perhaps most important of all, how to do plan to get through the season with minimum emotional damage?
If you’re looking for some guidance from those who’ve walked this path before you, make sure to add yourself to your gift shopping list this year. Here are some books written by members of our community. Please consider supporting their work, so that they can continue supporting all of us.
Lesley Pyne’s Finding Joy Beyond Childlessness: Inspiring Stories to Guide You to a Fulfilling Life shares real-world experiences of infertility survivors alongside Lesley’s gentle guidance. Lesley is a role model for redefining yourself after infertility and finding peace with a childless life.
In Living the Life Unexpected: 12 Weeks to Your Plan B for a Meaningful and Fulfilling Future Without Children, Jody Day takes you by the hand and leads you through her process of facing grief, letting go of lost dreams, and rebuilding a new kind of life.
Jessica Hepburn has two books on offer. Her first, The Pursuit of Motherhood tells her own heartbreaking story of her quest to become a mother. In 21 Miles: Swimming in Search of the Meaning of Motherhood, Jessica tells the “next chapter” of her story, her quest to find meaning in her own life and shares inspiring conversations about motherhood with some female powerhouses.
And I’d be remiss if I din’t include my own books on this list: Life Without Baby: Surviving and Thriving When Motherhood Doesn’t Happen, and Life Without Baby Holiday Companion, a compilation of stories and advice to get you through the holidays, written together with Kathleen Guthrie Woods.
We’d have a bonfire in the backyard, and my dad would bring home a box of fireworks to set off and a couple of packets of sparklers. We’d have baked potatoes and roast chestnuts, and my mum would make parkin and gooey, delicious bonfire toffee. It was an evening spent outdoors, clustered around the fire. It was about friends and food and a little bit of danger.
It’s one of the many things I miss about my homeland, and it’s one of the traditions I would have enjoyed sharing with my children. And that’s the topic for this week’s Whiny Wednesday:
Traditions you won’t get to share with your children
Happy Bonfire Night and happy whining.
Before I was even pregnant, I imagined my children vividly. I laid out a smorgasbord of family traits and handpicked the best of them.
My son, Valentino, would be named for my husband’s favorite uncle, and he’d be a chip off the old block. He’d have his daddy’s good looks—the profile of an Aztec Prince—paired with Grandma Tilly’s curiosity and great-grandpa Aureliano’s piercing green eyes. I pictured my Valentino to be charismatic and creative; he’d love music and art, and of course, he’d adore his mother.
My daughter, naturally, would take after my side of the family. Sophia would be named for my dad’s mother and would inherit her spirit of survival and her generosity, and she’d get my straight hair, so I’d know how to deal with it. I could picture Sophia easily, and I’m sure you’ll understand when I tell you that I knew she would be beautiful.
Before they were born—in fact, before they were even conceived—I imagined my children to life, and they were absolutely perfect. And why wouldn’t they be? Does any mother really imagine her future offspring any other way?
But here’s the thing. My children are perfect. Sophia and Valentino could never be anything but perfect, because they never got the chance to exist anywhere but in my imagination.
I was 38 years old, and four years into trying to conceive my children when my doctor pulled out a notepad and drew a lopsided oval. “Imagine this is your ovary,” he said.
“You have one producing follicle.”
It just takes one, I thought, but the doctor looked at the wall just past my eyes and I could tell this news wasn’t going to be good.
He explained what was going on in perfectly logical, unsentimental, doctor speak—I assume—but what I heard was:
“A normal ovary should have 6-10 good follicles, but you have mumbo-jumbo-icky-sticky-messed-up-insidy-bits-itis, so you have a snowflake’s chance in hell of having a baby.”
The actual math worked out like this:
Mr. Fab (my hubby) plus Lisa (that’s me) to the power of love, equals big fat nothing, no baby to infinity.
Mr. Fab plus Lisa times IVF times unknown X equals approximately 25 percent chance of conception.
Mr. Fab plus egg donor minus Lisa minus love, all to the power of voodoo times big bucks squared equals a 50-50 shot, maybe baby, maybe not.
I can’t move on from this particular part of the story without mentioning that up until this point, IVF had been sold to us as the silver bullet, the sure thing, with glossy brochures showing healthy bouncing babies and glowing parents. There was no mention of the outrageous expense, the painful injections, or the emotional toll of the slippery slope of hope, expectation, and disappointment. The odds quoted covered the vast spectrum of all women, all ages, all scenarios and were not calculated for one Lisa, one set of dud ovaries, one desperate attempt. Instead we were simply told, “It will all be worth it when you get your baby.”
I’m sure the doctor expected us to say, “Where do I sign?” But his glossy offer wasn’t nearly good enough for me to bet my money, my body, and, most of all, my heart on, so we said, “No thank you,” and left.
There’s a lot more to this story of course, enough to fill two books and more than 1,500 blog posts. Suffice to say, my husband and I, armed with information from every possible source, explored all the avenues available, but ultimately our children, a pregnancy, even a near-miss, eluded us. We made the hardest decision of our lives and started trying to figure out how to build a life that didn’t include Valentino or Sophia.
It’s been a long road of acceptance, filled with a lot of tears, much stomping around being furious at the world, and yes, I’ll admit it, a fair bit of glaring at mothers who don’t fully appreciate the children they’ve been given, and griping about the unfairness of how life’s blessings are sometimes doled out (see any Whiny Wednesday post for details.) But I’m doing pretty well at this childless thing now.
That said, my wounds have scabbed, rather than healed, and I have yet to put myself through the torture of accepting a baby shower invitation. The last one I went to was for a baby boy who’s now in middle school. I’ve sent gifts and visited every friend’s newborn, but I just couldn’t face all that comparing pregnant bellies and passing around impossibly tiny onesies, or the smiling faces saying, “You’re next!” I knew I’d just end up hyperventilating in the guest bathroom again.
But if a well-meaning, but stressed-out mom tells me, “You wouldn’t understand; you’re not a mother,” I can now simply grit my teeth and try to put myself in her shoes. I’ll suggest that maybe because I’m not entrenched in the child-rearing wars, I could offer a different perspective, and that perhaps my four decades of preparing for my own children, might give me some grounds for an opinion.
And when this mom tells me how perfect her children are, I’ll just smile and nod, because I know that mine are perfect, too. My daughter, Sophia, is whip smart and beautiful, and has never slammed a door or yelled that she hates me. And my son, my Valentino? He’s just so handsome, with those gorgeous green eyes, and oh, how he loves his mother.
I know every mother thinks her children are perfect, but in my memories and in my heart, mine really are—and they always will be.
Tomorrow is Halloween, which for many of us means streams of cute children knocking on our front doors.
Love it or hate it; it’s hard to avoid it. So the discussion topic for this week is:
How do you handle this difficult holiday?
As it’s Whiny Wednesday, there’s room for your gripes here, too.
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