Editor’s Note: In the early weeks and months after stopping infertility treatments I craved access to happy and fulfilled women who had managed to survive the infertility experience. I needed to hear from someone who could tell me that everything would be okay, someone with the wisdom and experience to know what I had lived with and through. Women like Rosie, who wrote the following guest post from an island in New Zealand. Kindred spirits like Rosie (and many others I’ve come to know) didn’t materialize right away so I stumbled forward. Eventually I learned I’d be okay, that my life would take a new but no less meaningful direction. For those just starting to find your way, I hope we can help you stumble less.
I’m now 60, but reading some of this blog reminded me of the pain and grief I suffered for 20 years. I rather glibly say these days,
“I spent my 30’s trying to get pregnant and my 40’s getting over it.”
But, it does get better. It really does. Now as my friends struggle with the hurdle of adolescence, or watch their adult children muck up their lives, I have moments of genuine relief. And, in retrospect, I wouldn’t have been an easy Mom to have. I’ve also avoided having a daughter (or son) tell me where I have gone wrong.
Yes, I never got called Mommy. Yes, the little kids I once wanted to love and hold and keep didn’t want me, they wanted their Mommy, but now that they are older? Well, they don’t want their Mommies anymore they want an sympathetic non-Mommy to talk to.
I have come into my own.
Time has had as much to do with healing my pain as anything else. But, in my mid-to-late 40s I created a ritual that I found very helpful. The minutia escapes me now, but essentially I gathered together a group of close friends, some parents, some not. The ritual involved changing the creative energy of making a life into the creative energy in my life. I even buried a small teddy bear I had hand stitched. It made a difference. Soon after doing it I bought a creative glass slumping business. I moved on from that, but everything I have done since then has had a strong creative element. I am now an artist. I have been able to chop and change careers, travel, live and sail on a yacht for four years and move countries because I have the childless freedom to do it.
I admit that I still occasionally get side swiped. Advertisements on TV can play havoc, or seeing a lovely kid playing with their Mom on the ferry ride into town (I live on a Island in New Zealand) can bring tears to my eyes, but the grief is gentle and I recover with little or no down time. I am relieved to be 60, and 20 years on from my moment at 40 when I finally just KNEW it wasn’t going to happen for me.
A few years ago my friends started having grandchildren. I anticipated another whole area of pain and grief, but I seem to have found a way to distance myself from it. Writing that, I question if it’s true or have I just closed down some part of me. A bit of both I think. I do having a loving relationship with my 26-year-old step daughter (Rebeh) and she might have kids one day. But, I know it’s not the same, just as I know I don’t love Rebeh in the same way her Mom and Dad do.
My family lives in other countries. I don’t have nieces and nephews around, so I cultivate kids. I “adopt” them. I have a God-daughter and son, I’m aunty Rosie to a toddler and that is now enough. I can go to birthday parties, baby showers, and these days embrace others’ pregnancy. Sometimes, in my 30’s, another pregnancy could put me into an almost murderous jealous rage. It did hurt, a lot. But it doesn’t anymore.
“Do you have kids?” Is a question still asked. I no longer say “No, I am infertile.” because I wanted to upset them for upsetting me. Now I just say no.
It does get easier, I promise. With love to you all, Rosie
4 thoughts on “An Artist Shares Decades of Wisdom”
thank you for your post. It is really helpful to read, that it does get easier.
Rosie — I recently turned 50 and I’m so with you on this. The kid question ruined my whole thirties and some of my forties, but now I feel, for the most part, home-free.
And since I stopped making decisions based on what was best for the child that didn’t happen — from pursuing soul-deadening corporate jobs to trying to drab myself down enough to fit in with other Moms (I know, as if what I wore and how I carried myself mattered!) I feel I can really be myself, and my creative life has blossomed in all directions.
Recently when people said, Happy Mother’s Day — I said, I’m not a mother, but I’m happy!
Thank you for sharing this. At this point i’m not sure i believe it, but i’ll trust you & hold on to the hope. :)
Good to know that someone found life after.
I’ve been trying to just say “no” to the question “do you have kids?” instead of making the asker feel uncomfortable too. As long as they don’t push the issue, it works pretty well, you know, as long as there’s no follow-up “why not?” or “you totally should!” Reading your post made me realize that I was doing that, and I also realized that I often want to ask people if they have kids when I first meet them too (although I’m hoping the answer is no now). I’m realizing now that it’s a VERY common get-to-know-you question, and it’s not asked to be mean or insensitive.
I can see that things are slowly getting better for me, and it helps to read about people who are much further down that path of improvement to know that it does, indeed, continue to get better. So thanks for your support!