When even the family doesn’t get it

J here for my quarterly post. As T said, we’ve been spending lots of time with her family (our family really), especially her sister and new baby. I must admit that I’ve been having lots of feelings I don’t quite know what to do with regarding her situation. I love sis and new baby, but it’s really, really hard sometimes too–seeing T hold a baby with such ease like its the most natural thing in the world; holding her myself and thinking “yes, this is what it should be like” only to realize this is not my baby and who knows when I’ll get to do this myself. Blah, blah, blah. Yes, I feel sorry for myself and a bit jealous sometimes too. However, I’m learning to deal with those feelings and to enjoy being an aunt.

Still, there’s this hollowness that permeates my soul, this space carved out for our baby and no little one there to fill it. We’re childless mothers, and boy does it hurt to the core of my being. T has been so good about it, though I know she feels that emptiness in her as well.  We talk a lot about being mothers and what kind of mothers we want to be. There’s a friend of a friend of ours we recently saw on a visit to our old hometown. She has several children, and she yells at them–a lot. Neither of us is fond of yelling at children, but any time we have been around this woman in the past, we have kept our mouths shut about it. We know that parents don’t like advice or criticism from others about their parenting. In fact, it seems uniquely American to defend one’s parenting skills while requiring no help from anyone, not family, friends, or experts. But what Americans really hate is anyone offering advice who is not or has never been a parent. HOW DARE WE!

I guess then what happened the other night shouldn’t have come as any surprise. Not long after we discussed this experience with these people on our trip, T’s step dad made an off-handed comment that pierced a very sore spot. He was doing this weird thing with the baby where he would put her pacifier in her mouth, and as soon as she would start to calm down and fall asleep, he’d pull it out, and sure enough, the baby would start howling. He did this several times even though the baby was fussy and cranky. Then he turned to us and said, “See, this is where non-parents like you would accuse me of being abusive.”

Thud.

The only thing I could think to say was “I don’t think you should refer to us as “non parents.” But before I could even get that lame statement out of my mouth, T was off the couch and running out of the room in tears.

Non parents. Wow. That’s what we are to those in the parenting club. Not “aspiring parents” or “parents-to-be”, but non-parents, non-entities who have no right to even talk about child rearing. God, that sucked.

So, I went after T, and we had a good cry. Her mom came in the room and she cried too because she was reminded in all of her bliss over being a grandma that there was one of her children who was miserable and needed some understanding. The step dad apologized, though I’m not sure he understood why his statement was so hurtful. We went to bed that night and cried for a good hour. You know, that kind of crying that has no bottom and doesn’t make you feel good afterwards? Yeah, sometimes even the people you love the most just don’t get it.

We are not “non” anythings. We’re childless mothers walking around with big fucking holes in our lives–gaping empty vortices that ache and throb every second of every day. I ended the night with a plea:  “Please God, give us our baby.”

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10 Comments

Filed under childlessness, crappy days, family

10 responses to “When even the family doesn’t get it

  1. vee

    Nasty. You two have probably given more thought to how you will parent your future children than most bloody parents have, and yet that counts for jack-shit when it comes to the Parent Club. My mum has done this too, many times though not quite so bluntly and painfully. The old “you don’t know what it’s REALLY like to be tired/busy” comments (i.e. how could we possibly know what it’s like to be REALLY tired/busy as we don’t have kids).

    The Parent Club is nasty and elitist and hurtful at times. I don’t know why people feel the need to bring others down like that. Especially not loved ones, people who know about our baby-shaped holes.

    Hugs to you both.

  2. tbean

    What a horrible, mean, insensitive-doesn’t-even-begin-to-describe-it thing to say. I’m so sorry you too.

    It doesn’t really help take away the pain, I know from my own experience, but I understand everything you are writing and feel the same way myself. So, you are not alone. I feel like a childless mother with a huge gaping open wound in my life that gets salt rubbed in it on a daily basis and it is hell. And those are on my good days.

    Day by day. One day we’ll get there. Somehow.

  3. My eyes are filled with tears for you. I’m SO sorry for what he said to you. You ARE mothers to be. You are you are you are. Big hugs, I’m so glad that you have each other.

  4. I’m so sorry you had to go through that with your step-father. *sigh* They just don’t get it sometimes, do they? You are going to be mothers and you’re not a non. You just aren’t there…YET. But you will be.

  5. So sorry that people are ignorant and unaware and then hurtful on top of that. You are wonderful mothers and I can’t wait until you have beautiful baby in your arms!!!!!

  6. jay

    Gawd. I echo the above sentiments. And I guess it’s often the people who aren’t meant to / expected to be nasty who hurt the most, possibly because they aren’t supposed to, or because we aren’t expecting it, right? I don’t know if I have explained myself very well, but I do know that when I read that, I felt myself bristle in defence for you both. You are totally NOT non anythings. HUGS!

    MEN!!

  7. Clemency

    I’m so sorry you had to hear that. When you think about it, calling anyone a “non” anything is incredibly rude and hurtful. Non-person, non-entity, non-citizen. None of them nice. I love your term “childless mother” much better, and think I might co-opt it myself.
    I get what you felt about this, exactly. We’ve been trying for the same amount of time, haven’t we?
    Childless mothers do have something that parents don’t, though, and that is objectivity about the many children in their lives. We don’t compare other kids to our own or other mothers to ourselves, we are much better able to step back and consider the different parenting styles we are exposed to. I think that is a valuable thing to have before you parent yourself, if you know/spend time with young children. Many parents don’t even hold a baby until they hold their own.
    Regardless, you both clearly are on the same page as each other and that is the best thing ever.

  8. Oh my god, that is such a horrible thing to say. I just want to wrap you two up and hug you – that sounds awful. The story totally brought tears to my eyes. It’s so hard to be trying so hard and not there yet.

  9. Oh J, I’m so sorry. Thanks for speaking up for yourself and T and sharing. It’s got to be such a hard thing to go through and then to relive. It’s so fucking unfair how cruel and inconsiderate people can be. All the love in the world to you both.

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