I ask the cold air, “What is the word that frees?”
The wind says, “Change,” and the white sun, “Remember.”*
You all know how it goes – someone in blogland brings up a new topic, and it slowly makes the rounds. Mental mapping has been winding its way through our collective consciousness for the past few weeks, and it finally got to me last night.
To understand what happened, one thing you need to understand about me is that I window-shop as a way of relaxing. I particularly like visiting one large chain craft store with the initials “H-L”. Flowers, fabric, thread, scrapbook paper, Christmas-decorations-that-I-swear-I-haven’t-bought-any-yet – just visiting them refreshes me and lets my mind wander through all the possibilities they represent. Last night, as I was passing the section of baby’s first Christmas ornaments and feeling sorry for myself again this year, I had the thought, “I feel like a fraud because my mental map never included children and now I’m trying to force that emotion.”
Unlike most of the crap that flutters through my brain when I’m wandering the craft store, I held onto that thought and delved a little deeper. Through my teenage years and my early 20’s, I quite seriously didn’t want children. I was an only child until I was 8, and then I very much resented my siblings’ intrusion into my life. Over time, that resentment morphed into a generalized dislike of the idea of being a parent. When I sat down last night and tried to remember ever dreaming of a family and of being a mother, I couldn’t. As far back as I can reliably remember my own feelings, I can’t come up with any time at which I really wished that I had my own children. Instead, I most certainly DO remember negotiating with Manly when we were getting serious that although he wanted four children, I would only commit to having one and we would see how that went before adding any more.
Traveling the path of infertility is a journey for anyone. For me, it’s had some very unexpected emotional twists and turns. Last Christmas, I was dealing with the realization that I was indeed going to have to seek treatment from a RE in order to get pg. It was a massive blow to my ego, the idea that I wasn’t “good” enough to have kids of my own, that I had failed at something that is so simple for the masses of women in the world. I spent a lot of time crying between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. I was so unhappy that I went to a friend of mine who is learning to be a healer and asked her to make a comfort for me. And what she sent back to me did the trick – her words made me realize that it wasn’t being infertile that was the problem, it was changing my perception of myself from someone who could easily have children to someone who needed assistance.
It’s the same problem now. My perception of myself is the issue that I have to deal with. I’m feeling lousy about myself because I’m trying to force myself into a mental mold that never really existed in the first place. I am not a woman who always dreamed of being a mother; I am not a woman who ever defined my future as the need for a house full of children. I am, indeed, ambivalent about having children in the first place. I probably will continue to be ambivalent up until the moment I have a child in my arms. And maybe even after that. But that’s okay – it’s who I am, and I have to accept it.
Do I want to be pg? Yes.
Do I want to have Manly’s children? Yes.
Will my life always be defined by my experience of infertility? Yes.
Will my life be worthless and unfulfilled if we don’t have children? No.
I can live with that.
*Thalia wanted more of a challenge, so here you go. This is from a poem that was later used as an epigraph in a book (by a separate author). I’m looking for name of the poet, author of the book, and title of the book for 30 points. I have a couple hints if they’re needed.
Update: Okay, nobody’s even taken any guesses, so I’ll give hints:
1) the book won the Nebula award in 1966 and was nominated for the Hugo award in 1967
2)the poet and the author were married at the time the book was published