Monday, 22 May 2017

Healing and my Personality

I was thinking the other day about how our individual personalities affect how we heal after infertility, how they can both help and hinder us in the process, and came up with this preliminary list of my own helpful and unhelpful personality traits:
  • I don’t like failing.
  • I don’t like the feeling that I’m missing out.
  • I worry too much about what other people think.
  • I hadn’t spent my whole life wanting only to be a mother.
  • I never thought “things happen for a reason.”
  • I have always had strong feminist tendencies, and so have never defined women by their biology.
  • I was older, so was already learning to accept that I am the one who chooses what matters to me.
  • I am pragmatic, and so didn‘t (always) fall for society’s messages I was hearing.
I’d love to see your lists too - here in the comments, or on your blogs linked back here.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Happy being a stereotype

People often assume that the No Kidding amongst us can (and want to) travel the world, and that this  makes up for not having children. I’m sorry, but I know my existence just perpetuates this stereotype, and I apologise to those of you who resent being typecast. The fact that I think I would have travelled almost as much if we had had children seems to be irrelevant to the perpetuation of this stereotype; so too, is the fact that many of my most-travelled friends are parents.

This stereotype raises its ugly head less often for me these days, as - over the last ten years or so - I see my eldest sister and a number of friends also becoming free to travel wherever and whenever they are choose, as their children grow up and leave home. Our situation, where we were one of the few couples we knew who were free to travel unconstrained by the school year, is no longer unique.

Still,I remember a discussion last year with a former mentor of mine, who was envious of our three months in Italy in 2013 (and two months either side of it), noting that as she was now a grandparent, she couldn’t be away that long from the grandchildren. I realised this was very much her choice though, as I compared her with another friend who summers in France for six months with her French beau, and then returns in the NZ summer to see her children and grandchildren.

So maybe in the end this has little to do with stereotypes, and now is really all about choice. As this post is published, we will be a week into our northern adventure holiday, and I will feel okay that I am continuing this stereotype as the carefree couple without children - because that’s exactly what I plan on being for the next few weeks.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Refusing to give up my power

One of the advantages of being away at this time of year is that I will miss Mother’s Day. Mother’s Day somewhere else however hasn’t bothered me too much – I took great delight, for example, watching all the families out for lunch in Soweto, South Africa, on Mother’s Day in 2009 - and I’m pretty sure that it won’t bother me in Iceland either, as I generally find there is a real freedom being away from your own society and community and language.

Feeling separate from the rest of our communities can be an ongoing, underlying source of pain, one to which we become accustomed, but as the years go on, we don’t necessarily recognise this until we suddenly notice its absence (for example, when travelling). And of course, one of the difficulties of our ongoing No Kidding life is that we can never quite predict when those nasty “ouch” moments might appear. Doing something that makes us happy – for example, going for a walk or cooking a special meal at home with your partner or friends – can help alleviate the impact of this day, and so can planning in advance, which is why I've posted this a week early. It is an invented holiday, and within a few days it is forgotten, and I refuse to give it too much power over me.

That first day back at work though – all those discussions/competitions between parents around the water cooler about how they spent their day – can be painful, and it is fine to protect yourself and make yourself scarce during these conversations, or (perhaps useful in a one-on-one situation) use a standard response of mine that I hope makes them think, which is along the lines of “I am not the person you should be telling this to”  or "why would you be telling this to me, of all people?"

But I’d love to hear your own suggestions of how to deal with this in the comments.

Monday, 1 May 2017

My internal bad guys

Last year, Mel wrote a post about our internal bad guys, the voices in our heads that stop us living our lives, tell us stories that aren’t true, and steal our efforts at happiness.

I think everyone has these bad guys – I remember an “ah ha” moment when I was in my late 20s/early 30s when I saw a businesswoman on a documentary talk about imposter syndrome. I believe that it is much more prevalent amongst women ... or perhaps we just talk about it more?

I do think though that infertility emboldens these internal bad guys, when they say some terrible things to us, and additionally, in those early months/years of a No Kidding Life, they can really go over the top. Sadly, they learn their best material from stereotypes in books, on television and movies, by listening to politicians and radio announcers, or even from our friends and family, and then they know just when to throw these statements back at us, usually at our weakest, most vulnerable moments.

I’ve managed to stand up to the ringleader, What If Wanda, and as I told her in no uncertain terms to STFU shut her mouth, her followers Fearful Freddie, Sensitive Sally and Behaving Bessie quietened as well. Even though What If Wanda and her crew turn up again from time to time, they are actually easy to stand up to in the end, because all I have to do is ask, “are they speaking the truth?”

Now, if only I could get rid of Procrastinating Polly as easily!

Monday, 24 April 2017

A great example of knowing better and doing better

I’ve written a bit lately about how I feel some IF (and post-IF) bloggers react to some of our blogs; when we write about strong women, they see it as elevating No Kidding women above those who are still trying, and when we ask for a bit of sensitivity – asking people who know better to do better – we’re accused of trying to live in a bubble.

So I wanted to point out that not all IF and post-IF bloggers are like this, even though I know I am stating the obvious because many of those wonderful women read my blog and are very thoughtful in their own blogs, having learnt and grown from their own experiences, as have we all.

I was recently delighted however, to see a comment from a blogger (a mother, and currently pregnant) called mamajo23, who wrote a comment (on Different Shores’ blog) about whether having a child is the holy grail and delivers automatic happiness, as we all seem to assume when we are desperately trying to conceive. Her comment was interesting:
“I can now say first hand that a child(ren) do not make life happy … but rather the incessant pressure from society to procreate finally subsides.”
This comment alone would have sparked a blog post from me, but as I have more to say today and only eight sentences to say it in, I’ll simply point out that you don’t have to have a child to notice that this pressure abates as you enter your mid-40s and beyond, and along with the wisdom and confidence that comes with these years anyway, there is a real feeling of a burden lifting.

I then visited her blog, finding that she has recently been thinking about some of the issues I’ve dealt with here in recent times, in particular triggers (through pregnancy announcements) and the idea of “giving up.”

I found it totally heart-warming to read these posts from her perspective (knowing of course that when I write I could be accused of being over-sensitive or bitter), as she and her equally sensitive readers and commenters reinforce the importance of us all considering other people’s situations, and of trying to be kind in our everyday and blogging lives.

Thank you, Mamajo23, for knowing better, and doing better.