Sunday, January 6, 2008

BEWARE: Ranting & Raving ahead!

In Afrikaans we have a saying: "Dit gaan reën!" (It's going to rain!) and it usually means something that hasn't happened in a very long time has finally happened again.

Well, you can expect a hurricane of sorts: I caught up on about 2 months of comments on my blog by visiting yours! My sincerest apologies for neglecting you so long. No excuses, but my sincerest gratitude for not writing me off totally :)

One of PJ's recent posts made me decide on this post of mine, #99 on my blog. It's a discussion on the book
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood. The last paragraph is about how Fertiles sometime "assume that couples without children chose that path freely and deserve any downsides that might come with it." She said the following that struck a very sensitive cord in me:

"I admit that I resent fertiles who make wrong-headed assumptions about my life. (Yes, I drive a nice car now and shop at my leisure but that’s because I don’t have any college funds that need tending.)" Go read the rest of her post, it's really great!

Further on in that paragraph she talks about what she is able to afford to do since they decided to live child free. It gave me the courage to write this post.

Why do I need courage? Because this post is going to step on some toes. Those of my sisters and mom. And believe me, I don't want to hurt anyone, but this has to get out of my system ASAP.

Lately, both of my sisters and my mom have dropped statements like the following:
  1. "I wish I could have just one night to myself. Must be heaven!"
  2. "A friend of mine got divorced recently and she's having a fabulous time! Going to clubs, doing exactly what she wants, when she wants. *sigh*
  3. "The day you decided to become a mom was the day you decided to put yourself in 2nd place. Always. That day you decided to think of yourself lastly. Responsibility is the name of the game!"
At first I ignored it and tried to understand their side of the story, why exactly they felt that way. The comments didn't stop. They continued and increased. Yes I'm sensitive about what they imply. But I really, REALLY tried not to take it personally.

I failed miserably. Any continued attack on the strongest of reserves gets through the barrier of defense eventually. Mine broke down the last day of our family holiday. I held out for 6½ of the 7 days of constant (not all of them intended) bombardment.

This was extremely difficult:
  1. Watching everyone with their partners, even though it wasn't the most idyllic of times for them, while I'm doing the being single thing.
  2. Seeing my dad and mom enjoying their grandchildren so much.
  3. Watching these kids I love falling asleep on their parent's lap.
  4. Listening to conversations reminiscing about their cute sayings & doings, seeing the utter joy on my parents faces.
  5. Keeping on smiling and acting as if nothing bothered/hurt me at all.

What makes the whole thing even more difficult to comprehend is the fact that these people are my family. They are very important parts of my support system. They were there for me during the worst of times. I've been there for them during their dark days.

And now it looks as if they think despite everything in my story, I got the best deal imaginable. On top of that: even the parts of this deal of mine that hurt me terribly in the past is now forgotten/healed/not-so-bad-anymore.

Maybe not all of you understand why I'm upset. After all, I'm not sharing everything that happened during the past few months on my blog. I really tried (and I'm still trying, daily!) to rather see the positive side of every sad situation. I really tried to be happy for them, tried to be part of conversations that centered around the kids. The last thing I want to be is the bitter, sour faced, spinster aunt. (None of the boys can remember my ex-husband - they haven't seen him since July '99 when the eldest of them was only 2 years old)

Maybe the following will help you understand me better, or why I even posted this. Maybe not. I still need to say the following to my family and friends in real life:
  1. The fact that I don't talk about not having children and how it hurts me doesn't mean I'm over being Infertile.
  2. The fact that you don't get to meet my boyfriend doesn't mean he is a figment of my imagination / that there is something seriously wrong with him / that I'm ashamed of him or you.
  3. Being single is NOT fun. I've paid an extremely high price for the evenings I have to myself. After the 4 th month of having them when you don't want them their novelty tends to wear off. You either have to start telling yourself you like onely (not always lonely!) nights very much or go insane.
  4. The fact that I don't have children of my own does NOT mean I don't have the faintest idea about discipline and child rearing. I just need about 1 year's study to have my degree in educational psychology, that should count for something doesn't it? Not to mention the 12 years experience being a teacher.
  5. Not having children does NOT make me irresponsible or free of any responsibility or worse: not knowing what being responsible is all about.
  6. Not having children or a husband does NOT mean I'm having the time of my life and that I'm able to do what I want when I want.
  7. I DO have life. The fact that you don't know everything there is about me does not mean it doesn't exist.
  8. The freedom and fun you think I'm having, comes at a very high price, one you won't ever be able to pay. No, you will NOT choose a child free life now that you have/know your children.
  9. Don't say it must be fun without the responsibilities of children EVER again. Not in my presence. Please.
  10. That's it for now, but I reserve the right to open this list up again in future.
To the innocent ones, my blog friends, thanks for reading so far through a ranting and raving post.

PJ's words are the perfect ending to this post:

"What I hope is that some day there’s greater awareness that infertility is not self-inflicted and that its effects last a lifetime. Motherhood and infertility share one very big thing in common: sacrifices. "

18 comments:

sariel & shlomit said...

And rain it did!
Wow...you are a very strong woman and I really appreciated this post...it made me cry for you but also because it resonated so much with me...obviously the IF parts, but also, I was single until my late 30s and so lots of the other parts ring true as well...
i hope this has helped you and i hope the bombardment abates...
peace
shlomit

Kami said...

Amen sister! Good for you for writing the truth and for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

I am sorry that you are infertile living in a fertile world AND a single living in a coupled world.

Don't tell me you don't have courage. You obviously do.

Pamela Jeanne said...

Well said! (And thanks for the shout out and multiple comments today -- I missed hearing from you!)

I truly want to think that there will come a day when insensitive comments will roll off my back. I'm definitely getting better when they come one off but, dang, when they come rapid fire and in such a continuous, concentrated fashion as you experienced, well, a girl can only take so much!

You were right to vent and get it out of your system. We all need to know that we're not completely alone in our thinking and, in sharing what you did, you certainly will help others who find and visit your blog. Now, be sure to do something nice for yourself. After the verbal battering that you endured, you've earned it!

Lori said...

Excellent 10 commandments.

Good to have you back, Karen.

Dreamer4agift said...

Wow, I'm sorry you're having a rough time with family, but know that the IF world supports you.

I can't imagine dealing with what you do, so I know you are a stronger person than everyone may know.

P.S. I like PJ's post too. Very true, very true.

Bea said...

I get it.

I especially like your list. There's a lot about responsibility, hardship, not having control over your own life, and yes - even about parenting - that you can learn without ever having your own kids. The Mummy Martyr act really rankles.

I hope you can gently express this to your precious loved ones, in such a way as to clear the air for everyone.

Bea

loribeth said...

Oh, bravo!! I get so tired of the "must be nice" snide comments & subtle digs from dh's relatives. I know they all think we're rolling in dough & have oodles of free time because we don't have kids. I think a lot of it comes down to jealousy & a complete inability to realize just how hurtful those wrongheaded assumptions are.

Deathstar said...

Your family loves you and doesn't want to hurt you, so maybe you should consider really letting them know how you feel about some of their comments. It's tough cause it may appear as if you're accusing them of hurting you, but by hiding how you really feel, it's misleading them into thinking they understand you. And they don't. They don't know the truth of how you feel because you pretend nothing bothers you. We out here get it, but sometimes our loved ones need to know you're not made out of steel.

Char said...

Dear Karen0

Oh how I feel your hurt in this post. I'm glad you wrote it!!! It's good to open the bottle after a good shaking and release some of the pressure building up in there.

We are sometimes very misunderstood by the fertile community, yes. But I dare say that some of the hurt we feel is totally self-inflicted too. [By "we" I actually mean "me" ok?] I used to DWELL on what others said. Think it over and over and over again in my head. Stay awake all night thinking about it. Then think about it some more when I awake the following morning feeling like a train rode over me. I eventually just wrote it off. All of it. I am now in the place where I tell people off when they say the wrong thing, so that I don't carry it around me with all day. But I also hold some things back. Because as much as I need to vent, I need the love and support of those people I need to vent at! It's a hard balancing act.

You are so much braver than I am, me thinks. Hats off to you Karen0. There are bunches of us out here in cyberspace who love you and would love to see you get your happy ending too! Hang in there. Easier said than done, I know.

I applaud your decision to choose to see the "happier" side in sad situations. The alternative is a dismal one. And we could all use a little more joy in our lives couldn't we?

Lots of hugs for you!
xxx

Carole said...

Karen...so very well said. I'm so sorry for the hurt of these statements. I don't know why people even say stuff like that. I used to try to come up with reasons...but now just want to dole out boots to the head for all of them.

Thinking of you...
~Carole

Geohde said...

Welcome back to blogland, I've missed you.

And very well said.

J

Schatzi said...

Right on, my dear.

I am so glad to see you back, although sad to hear it has been a rough go for you. Sounds like it was one thing after another. Sometimes a good vent is "what is needed".

I know when I hear such things from family, they probably don't intend it to effect me the way it often does. Sometimes, though, it would be nice to have family acknowledge our pain instead of telling us how lucky we are...

Trish said...

amen sister!
I was married relatively late (nearly 30) and went through a fair bit with all my married friends as well. "Must be nice to not have to answer to anyone." when really I was thinking "it would be nice if someone wondered where I was.."

Perhaps we should come up with our own lists.

"Sure must be nice to have have to worry if you fall and die at home, how long it would take for someone to notice you're missing and find your body."

"Sure must be nice to have someone to pass the remote to you when you're comfortable."

?

Furrow said...

Karen,

It's good to see you around again. I've been a bit AWOL from blogs, myself, yours included.

I've been both the recipient and the giver of such stupid comments. It is very instructive to see them all pulled together in one place.

Lori said...

Hi, Karen.

Just a note to let you know I have been thinking of you.

I bought a South African cabernet at the liquor store the other day. Each night when I have a glass (for the health benefits, of course), I wonder how you are doing.

Portraits in Sepia said...

This was great thank you.

Dagny said...

Amen Sista.

Well said.

Lady said...

This brought me to tears because I'm there too, and it still hasn't quit hurting, and I'm tired of the insensitive comments and the land mines. I wish there was a way to make them stop, but short of dropping out of life, there doesn't appear to be one.

It's so, so, so hard not to be bitter.