It doesn’t matter what age, what ethnicity, what country we hail from — we all desire respect, acknowledgment and acceptance.
This very human need manifests itself on playgrounds, in communities and in our day-to-day encounters. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture. In fact, it’s the gentle gesture that often leaves the largest impact. A friendly smile, a nod of the head, an extended hand or kind word can change someone’s day. It can also change someone’s life.
I know. I’ve been that timid girl on the playground. I’ve been that anxious young woman arriving in a new place unsure of what awaited her. I’ve felt, deeply, a sense of loneliness in search of a bit of empathy and kindness. I also recall each time someone else eased my discomfort. Made me feel whole. Truly heard me.
There are few things in life that can feel so exhilarating.
We have more ways than ever to connect with each other — a Tweet, a Like, a comment on a blog or a newspaper article. Each point of intersection holds the capacity to bring us together and remove great distances. Each allows us to express ourselves, to ask for help or to offer encouragement.
In August 2012, Jody Day was one such person. She told her story to the Irish media outlet, the Independent.
“Standing alone in the kitchen of my flat, the truth hit me: I would never have a child, would never be a mother. The noise of the traffic seemed to quieten, as if the sound had been turned down, as the realisation sunk in.”
Hers was a story that was rarely heard. And yet, in the nearly 10 years that I’ve been writing and hosting a blog, I’ve heard it echoed and repeated over and over again. It usually begins the same way as Jody’s did. It’s the photographic negative to the customary noisy milestone acknowledgment that accompanies the more widely recognized life-altering realization: birth.
The joy we feel when we’re heard, respected and acknowledged is no less potent. In some ways, it’s greater because it’s complicated and unexpected.
We don’t have graduation ceremonies, showers or membership kits. It’s more like the sweet calm that overcomes the child sitting apart from the others at recess when she (or he) sees a welcoming wave or an offer join in.
Acceptance is gold
That is something I’ll be writing about more in the next several weeks.
Why? In two weeks I’ll be in Vancouver with a group of women who have touched my life in a gentle but powerful way. Each has brightened and brought new understanding. It started with a few blog posts, comments and emails. Out of the once difficult, uncomfortable, and isolating experience that Jody wrote about we discovered new courage and toughness — and acceptance. We may, in fact, be the first gathering of women in history to come together, stronger and more whole because of what didn’t happen.
We will fly in from Washington D.C., NYC, Windsor, Ontario, Los Angeles and San Francisco to celebrate our resilience and all around pluckiness. This group of women who once thought we’d be mothers is representative of a much greater but still not well understood or accepted community around the world. Since my first blog post, I’ve connected with women in the U.K., New Zealand, Slovenia, France, Germany, Portugal, Australia, Canada, Finland, South Africa and many places in between. If you had told this seven-year-old girl (me) that many years later she’d be happily planning a trip with new-found friends — accepted just as she is with no judgement or questions — she’d be thrilled. I hope one day another girl or woman finds this blog post and sees that she, too, will be accepted and valued just as she is.
We women who have been ‘dissed’ in a noisy parent-centric world are gaining new respect and camaraderie, which is why I wish you could all be there. Perhaps one day this informal assembly won’t be a one-off but rather a regular gathering. Meanwhile, you are welcome to join us, virtually, in the comments section to share what you’d like to say on our hike, over a glass of wine, or as we settle in following a satisfying dinner. Either way, I’ll be basking in the joy of being among those who effortlessly ‘get’ one another.
33 thoughts on “The Exhilaration of Acceptance”
I can’t wait to meet you all in person. Please be prepared – I will cry.
The rest of you will be there in spirit.
I have a post coming out soon on this topic, the general lack of acknowledgement of our reality in the mainstream. It’s turning out to be a novel with a word count in the category of embarrassing – alas.
Pamela, thank you for this post, now I have something to share with the folks who stare at me cross eyed when I say I’m attending the first CNBC gathering ever.
Tears and laughter and lots of goodness await! So eager to meet you in person, Sarah! Our last conversation by phone and your blog posts make clear we’ll have much more to talk about…
I cried reading Jody’s article. I cried because it doesn’t need to be this way and yet it is the norm. Yes parenthood is difficult, but it is possible for it to not be all consuming and excluding. How terrible that so many refuse to recognize this.
I am glad there is a gathering happening. I think this sisterhood (and brotherhood) is important and long over-due. May it be a wonderful experience.
I know, Cristy! Like you, I hope this uneven cultural dynamic changes in our lifetime. You’ve been central in giving me and others a welcome seat at the table. Together we’ll make it easier for girls and women who face similar challenges to feel accepted and valued. Nothing would make me happier than knowing we can make a positive difference in someone else’s life.
I wish you all the best for your gathering. I too have found a similar group of women who have helped and supported each other over the past year so completely understand how special that is. A beautiful blog post.
Thank you, Connie! Would love to hear more about your in-person group. It’s wonderful to know you’ve found that special understanding…
I will be there in spirit, if not in person. :( Perhaps next time! I actually met up last weekend with a group of online friends — loss moms, including a couple of CNBCers — who were having their annual meetup in my city. (Perhaps they can provide a travel recommendation for the next CNBC meetup ) I haven’t known them as long or as well as I’ve known you ;) but there is an instant comfort level that comes from being with people who have lived through the same or similar traumatic experiences — and survived. Enjoy!!
You will be there in spirit for certain, Loribeth. I’ll have a Labatts or Molson in your honor. Perhaps you and Andrea can meet in Ontario later in the summer, eh? (That’s my best Canadian …remember I grew up across the Detroit River).
I just love your sentence:
“I hope one day another girl or woman finds this blog post and sees that she, too, will be accepted and valued just as she is.”
I am very happy about your Vancouver meeting! Enjoy!
I remember with great fondness how nervous we both were meeting in Slovenia. Thankfully your welcoming presence and excellent English language skills put me at ease — and led to several more fun adventures and great memories.
I wish I could be there, but wallets and knees and ankles have intervened and stopped me. I know the joy of uniting with internet friends who get it – my first such meeting was in January 2005, with a group of women who had been through ectopic pregnancies. We are still in touch 11 years later. So I am hopeful that there will be other such gatherings that I can join. I will be there with you in spirit, toasting you all with a glass of something from my wintry home here.
Maybe the next gathering takes place in New Zealand!? That would be cool. Just knowing you will be toasting brings a big smile to my face.
I’ll also be there in spirit & am gutted not to be there in person. Maybe next year?
I am extremely fortunate to have a group of childless friends who I’ve known for 10+ years so I know how helpful it is to be with those who ‘get’ you.
And this meet up is altogether different because we are women who are making a big difference to others, we are role models to those who haven’t yet found their voice, we show them that it IS possible to live a fulfilling life. We are stronger together.
So what I would ask is how can I help, what else can I do?
Have a wonderful time.
Yes, Lesley, we are giving voice to stories that have been too long stifled. In telling ours, hopefully, we are giving others the confidence to share theirs …
Yes, acceptance is so exhilarating! Whether through blogging, email, texts, or phone conversations, I’ve been accepted and and embraced as a member of this community! In April I met my first CNBC blogger friend in person and it was the easiest, most comfortable social interaction that I’ve had in years. Though I can’t make it to Vancouver this year, I’m definitely in for the next gathering. I can’t wait to meet the rest of you!
Isn’t it delicious, Kinsey, to be embraced and at ease? So glad you felt that firsthand and in person. Until we meet in person, I am grateful to have our friendship in cyberspace.
I long to find this acceptance…to even just meet one woman in person who is childless. Perhaps one day I will be able to join you and find some “in person” acceptance. Until then, thank you for this blog. It’s a little reminder to me that there really are people out there who are like me!
So glad you found us. You are most definitely accepted.
Will be with you in spirit. Too bad I can’t come, but who knows maybe someday? And yes, the acceptance of being in a tribe that understands is just priceless. I’m thankful for being able to meet several of these lovely women last year and I’m looking forward to meeting them again someday (wherever it may be). First thing first though: need to save moneyyy. :-D
I wish Finland wasn’t so far away — and that travel wasn’t so costly — so you could join us for coffee, drinks and/or a long walk and dinner. I have Finland on my list of places I’d love to visit so maybe one day our paths will cross…
We have been extremely lucky to have a very dear friend support us on our CNBC journey. This friend is curious about who we all are and how we actually are and also how we are perceived in the world. He wants people like us to be seen in a normalized way and our journeys acknowledged and valued for the difficult and life-altering experiences that they are. He is an activist for change and has spoken at his church several years running on Mother’s Day to raise awareness about CNBC. He encourages dialogue with equal measures of intellect and heart. This parent of three wanted Brian and me to convey this message to all of you:
“Very excited for you all … in-person meeting around matters of the heart is so much more powerful than virtual. I want you to tell the gathered that a growing group of parents have a (conscious) stake in what you are doing – getting so lost in (the) parenting (role and identity) that we don’t see or understand or care about those whose experience is otherwise is not good for us either … we are so much less than we are meant to be when we get stuck in that place. I am with you all in spirit and really look forward to hearing about the gathering.”
We need allies like this who not only speak but also act for positive change regarding this issue. I would love to hear more stories about allies and to actually read allies’ personal comments and or guest blog posts. I can’t wait to see the Vancouver group next week and I hope that in future more of us will be able to connect in person.
What a dear friend, Andrea! Extending my thanks for his support, big heart and curiosity. Can’t wait to meet you and Brian!
How wonderful that you will be able to meet in person! That’s great!
And yes, acceptance is so important. I am only just beginning to see and experience that… thanks to you amazing women all over the world! Looking forward to reading more on this subjet.
As I said to Amel, I wish Germany wasn’t so far away so you could join us for coffee, drinks and/or a long walk and dinner. Just know we will have you in our hearts…
There is a small group of Gateway Women who meet in Vancouver. We’d love to join your gathering. How can we connect?
Thanks, Shira, for reaching out. Glad we connected and will have a chance to meet.
I love the line: we may, in fact, be the first gathering of women in history to come together, stronger and more whole because of what didn’t happen. I wish I could be with you in person in Vancouver but my thoughts and solidarity will be. Jessica x