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15 May 2011

Drivel and debris

I think part of the reason that i've had more trouble writing recently is not that i don't have anything to say, but what i have to say seems to be so inconsequential and insignificant.  Still, i have always written since i was a teen, and i need to write, even if it feels rather empty to me. 

One of the nice things about being sick is that i actually saw a 5 pound weight loss.  I didn't manage that last fall with 5 weeks of doctor-approved dieting.  It is short lived, however.  I think i've already seen a couple of those pounds return.

One of the not so nice things about this illness it is that while i had a food reaction, it may have activated some infection that i thought was not contagious but may have been.  Duane has been sick for a couple of days now.  He thinks it is different because he doesn't have the headache - but THAT may have been related to food where as all the rest was a quick-onset infection that i did pass on.  I hope not, i may have passed it on to others, too, and i hate to think anyone is ill because of me. 

It is interesting the way that blogs are not only part of "the web" but create a web of their own.  

Mali of No Kidding in NZ wrote a post on privacy and about people asking if a child was born by IVF.  That had been pinged off of the post of someone else, who had pinged from Mali to begin with.  An interwoven web.  The other post, Random Thoughts on No Kidding:  Totally stolen from folks i have no right to steal from by Bridgett, touched on a number of different thoughts.  One of the themes in both of these (my interpretation) is on curiosity and gossip and privacy.   

But what struck me in the post by Bridgett was a comment about folks who already have children and the questions they get asked:  Are you going to have another?  Do you want a boy or a girl?  Possibly even more intimate or critical questions. 

One of the things that those of us in "childless/infertility" circles deal with is about questions and criticisms.  How to deal with these?  When someone says, "Why don't you just adopt?" there seems to be an unstated criticism behind it.  Most people hear the word "just" as "simply" and the implication is that it just isn't that hard to do.  (Misconception!)  "Have you considered adoption?" seems to imply that we have not really considered all the options or given it enough thought.  And a couple of bloggers, Pamela of Silent Sorority and Lisa of Life Without Baby, have done some public work.  Both have written books and been vocal about infertility and childless/childfree lives.  

Pamela has had articles or interviews published in some fairly well known venues.  The vitriol in the comments, caustic, hateful, hostile comments, is just staggering to me.  Pamela doesn't give a full history of why they made the decisions (not to adopt) they did, but simply says, "It doesn't work for us."  And there are people who flay her open for that simple statement.  

But there is so much more behind that simple statement than anyone could begin to understand.  Duane and i have spent hours and hours looking at options, how they would effect us, if we could afford them, if we were able to parent an older child (having no experience and "older" almost always equals some emotional or other challenges), if we would be able to change our current lifestyle to take older children, if my health would allow me to function, if an agency would even consider us now that we are much older.  There are so many, many, many parts to the equation.  How do i begin to explain this to a well-meaning person who says, "Why not adopt?" or "Have you considered . . . ?"  "It doesn't work for us" is, of course, the most direct and simple way to explain it.  But people want more.  "Why - ?"  And they seem to want to criticize the reasons, too.

So, how do i distill those hours and hours of heartbreaking discussion into a simple explanation of our choices?  It isn't that i'm unwilling for the person (people i know to honestly care and aren't simply being nosy and questioning us and our choices) to know, and part of me thinks that it is good to explain and help someone else know of the complexity, but frankly, i usually just don't want to take that long and go into so much detail of something that has already seemed to last for years for me.  

How do i explain that we have come to the decision that makes the most sense for us and for our reality, but i still ache that this has to be the reality in which i live?

However, the web of which i mentioned earlier, made me aware that we live in a culture, shoot, maybe even just being human causes it, where folks can be critical about almost anything.  Yes, the childless (for me it will never be "childfree") folks come under fire for making poor choices or not adopting or being selfish.  But parents come under some harsh criticisms, too.  Have one child?  Well, that's not good.  "Why do you only want one?  Don't you know that you're going to raise a selfish child who doesn't know how to get along with the world?  Don't you know that your child will never have true family connections?"  Have more than two children, especially larger numbers?  "Why would you do that?  Don't you know that you are causing over-population on the earth?  You are being very selfish and over using rapidly decreasing resources!"  All kinds of things can be criticized or questioned:  The number of years between children, whether or not you're going to have another and whether that is a good choice for your family, your world, etc.  Child rearing is often criticized, too.  Whether or not you choose to spank or use another form of discipline.  The behavior of your kids.  

In short, i think we live in a world that likes to question, disparage, and condemn others for a multitude of reasons.  Bridgette's post made me remember that it isn't just folks without children who raise the ire and abuse of others.  

In my case, i just happen to be super-sensitive about the issues around our own choices.  I was a bit offended a few weeks ago when a cousin of Duane's said, "I sometimes think you were right in choosing not to have kids.  There are times i question our choice to have them!"  

I didn't respond, but i was a bit offended by the idea that we chose not to have children.  Sometimes i think that people confuse choosing not to have children and not wanting children.  In our minds it was not a choice, simply that we are not able to have them naturally and it is not possible for us to utilize other methods (IVF, adoption) due to my medical issues.  So it doesn't feel like a choice to me, but of course, it is.  I know that the other avenues won't work for us, so therefore i have chosen not to take those paths.  

I feel like this is a long and pointless analysis that is losing focus.  So, let me end with this:  

Lisa, of Life Without Baby, recently was part of an "Expressing Motherhood" performance.  She (and indeed, the childless community) were excited to be included in this opportunity.  She did a fantastic job. 

Here is the clip of her performance:  Expressing Motherhood  It is just under 10 minutes long and is very well done.  If you know of anyone in your life who does not have children but wanted them, please take the time to watch.  

Hope you're having a good weekend.  :)


This has been edited a number of times trying to get it to look right - and it is very long.  I'm done.  If it doesn't look good, something is wrong with Blogger!


lisa said...

I don't think anyone that is not in your situation can ever know what it is like and I could not even begin to want or give an opinion because only you know what it is like and I do not! You have to always do what is right for you!!! You is what matters!

Mali said...

Very thoughtful. I enjoyed that - not pointless at all!

Interestingly, three other readers of my everyday blog (the link is on my IF blog) posted after that first one of mine. And now you too - it's a real conversation, and obviously a topic that gets us all thinking.

And yes, wasn't Lisa great?!

Rosemary said...

This definitely wasn't pointless and I found it quite tender-hearted, kind of like it's author. :-)

No one can understand or judge unless they have walked the exact same path. It isn't something I'd wish on anyone.

But there are people in this world who choose to judge - judge whether you have one kid (too few, selfish), six kids (too many, think about your carbon footprint), or none (epitome of selfish - and they have no idea whether it is by choice or not) and we should pity that they have to be so judgemental.

Sending hugs - sorry I haven't been around but I haven't been around much anywhere. I hope you are better.

Kathryn said...

Lisa - You are right, we each have to decide for ourselves what is the best path. And we can't really know the experience of another, but some are better at imagination and empathy than others. Thank you for being so supportive. :)

Mali - yes Lisa was great! And it is funny how one idea pings off another and we do form a web.

Rosemary - dear friend, good to see you. I've not been around as much, either.

You are right, we can't know the experience of another, but somehow a lot of us think we can still criticize it! I work at not being critical, but it is a job. I try not to be. Negativity is so easy! Hugs to you.

Amrita said...

Dear Kathryn thank you for coming by my place.

Just like you spend time with little ones, we try to do that too. This week we celebrated Simran 's birthday in our home. It was so good to see her happy and smiling that was a reward in itself.

Hope Duane is feeling better.

Take care.

Love, Amrita