Saturday, December 17, 2011

What shall we tell the neighbors?

"When are you going to have kids?"

"When you have kids, you'll understand..."

I'm 34.  My husband is 33.  By pretty much everyone's standards (most everyone we come into contact with, at least,) we should have children or be on the verge of having children.  Heck, by our standards we should be having children or be on the verge of having children.  All of our friends are, by the bushel full, it seems.

It follows, then, that people would be curious about our child-free status.  When we first got married, people would pretty much just ask when we were going to have kids.  It didn't seem nearly as painful then, just sort of nosy.  But who hasn't asked a couple when they're going to have kids or when they're going to get married or one of several questions that you probably shouldn't ask, because if you have to ask, they most likely have a reason for not telling you.  We've all done it and we've all been asked these questions.  I digress.

My point in that now, with us being married a whole 4 years and all, and with both of us rapidly approaching our *gasp* mid-thirties, people have stopped asking and started sort of dancing around the subject.  Comments like "when you have kids..." and "pretty soon you'll know what we're talking about" are pretty common.

And what do you say?  Do you stop the entire conversation and explain that you may never have children?  Do you say why?  Do you then list out all the reasons you've come up with why it might be nice to not have kids?  (You get to sleep in on weekends, you don't ever have to deal with a screaming child that you can't hand back to his/her parent, etc.)  Or do you just sit uncomfortably and nod and smile and hope the subject passes reasonably quickly?

We chose the last option last night at a gathering we attended.  There were several of us having dinner, talking, laughing, and generally having a good, kid-free time.  (Everyone at the table but us has multiple children; they were not in attendance last evening.)  They were talking about kids and telling funny stories, and it was entertaining and I was not thinking about not having children at all until "the comment" came.  "You'll see when you guys have kids."

When put in this situation, what in the world are we supposed to say?  Should we try to explain what is really happening in our lives, something that is deeply personal and hard for us to talk about with even each other?  We do talk about it, but it is not fun and it is not easy and it is honestly pretty crappy.  So do we bring that crappiness to the party, in this case literally?  I think not.  No, we nod and smile and pray to ourselves that the topic changes quickly, that people jump back to talking about themselves.  It usually does, but a part of me stops.  From the point that it comes up, a part of me remains with that frozen smile on my face, fearing that someone will see that something is wrong and at the same time almost hoping they will.  Because at least then I could talk about it.  I could stop trying to hide it, to smile over it like it is a shameful secret.

More than anything I wish people wouldn't have to hint or ask or assume, that they would just accept us as the people we are.  And the people we are would like you to know that if we want to talk about it, we will bring it up.  And that if you want to know something, you should ask, not hint.  Hinting is rude.  And if you ask, be okay with the answer, even if that means a crying girl at a table in the middle of a dinner party.  Then give her a hug.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The First

I have been considering starting this blog for a while.  Felt compelled, even, but something always stops me.  Actually, I think it's probably many somethings: fear of being judged, fear of being called names or worse, fear of not being real, fear of hurting someone inadvertently.  Perhaps it is one thing stopping me: FEAR.  And still I feel compelled.  Maybe the compulsion is just to get my thoughts and feelings out, to put them somewhere other than deep in my gut, which can't take much more.  But then, why not just journal?  Thoughts onto paper from a pen still get out.  I think there is something deeper.  I don't want to feel so alone in this.  I want SOMEONE to identify with what I am thinking, with what I am feeling, and with what I am saying.  I want someone to understand.  And maybe I can understand for someone else.  If there is anyone out there who feels as isolated and helpless in this, then perhaps I can encourage that person while being encouraged myself.

I am a thirty-something married woman without a baby.  Without any children, for that matter.  My husband and I have been married for over 4 years and stopped using any sort of birth control about a year into our married life.  No baby.  Never even a hint of a baby, other than the occasional half-second late period that was less of a hint and more of a punch in the face when the period actually came.  I think I will go more into our "story" later on, but you get the gist - no baby.

Tonight I was perusing Facebook - which I do entirely too often - and yet another friend announced her pregnancy.  Click on "2 New Posts" and WHAM! picture of a sonogram with a caption about welcoming the newest member of the family.  To me, Facebook is supposed to be a mindless distraction and a nice way to keep up with friends who I may or may not ever see in-person again.  I am discovering, however, that for a baby-less person who wants a baby, Facebook is a minefield.  "Oh," you think, "let's see who is frustrated with their job or who posted a funny graphic or whose child just got potty-trained."  And then there's yet another post about someone having a baby.  And it's only the beginning.  Because after the announcement of the pregnancy comes updates about the baby growing and baby showers and doctor's appointments and kicks and things you may never get to experience, things that you are losing hope of ever having. 

When I read these things, I AM happy.  I am happy that there is new life, happy that people are blessed with babies and children and LIFE.  But I cannot stop the sad, or the tears, or the anger.  WHY CAN'T IT BE ME?  WHAT DID I DO WRONG? 

There is no answer, you know.  I don't know why it can't be me.  I may never know.  And I didn't do anything wrong.  Sometimes life is harsh.  Sometimes it's not how we imagined it.  And sometimes we're confronted with the idea that Someone knows better than we do.  It's there, staring me in the face.  Do I believe it?  I hope I do.  I think I do.  But I am fickle, and doubt creeps in again and again.

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life." - Proverbs 13:12