Monday, June 16, 2014
The Double Edged Knife: Guilt and the Small Family
One of the strongest emotions I've dealt with since officially realizing that we're on an "infertility" journey is guilt. There have been plenty of other emotions - the sadness, the anger, the loneliness and so many more, but the guilt is what lingers the longest.
I feel guilty for not being able to fulfill one of the bigger goals of my marriage. My husband and I got married, among other reasons, to have a family. We still muse about having "a brood" and cast longing looks at each other when we see siblings playing on the playground or that mother with a shopping cart overflowing with kids at the grocery store. Now six years in we've had a respectable number of children, except that life doesn't reflect that, my grocery cart looks sparse and our trips to the playground are a little quieter than they should be. And I feel guilty for all of that. I feel guilty for having a body that, while the doctors claim it's most likely perfectly healthy, doesn't function and fulfill these hopes and dreams.
Then there is the other side of the knife, the guilt that comes from not being able to relate to other mother's, from having it easier in terms of the demands of my time, energy and resources. I will be the first to admit that I think I have this parenting thing "easy" - I have one independent, healthy and reasonable three old. Of course he's still a three year old and we have our ups and downs, but it's different and I'm painfully aware of that. The reminders are everywhere. They come from the closest and most well meaning of friends and family and I feel guilty for it. I feel guilty for the clothes that have only been worn once, the toys the don't need to be shared and the time that doesn't have to be divided.
It's a digging sensation that tells you that you don't stack up next to the rest - the ones who make multiple PB&J's for lunch while you make one, the ones who deal with fight and meltdowns constantly while you're able to focus just the one in front of you, the ones who have to divide their dollars and stretch a penny further than you do,and the ones who have multiple unique personalities and preferences to consider while you're able to make faster, easier decision. It all ends up as guilt; the guilt that tells the mother of one or few that she's not good enough, that she's not doing enough, that she has no place at the table.
It's cyclical; we feel guilty about being infertile, being infertile changes how we have to parent and run our households, which we feel guilty about, which reminds us that we're infertile. I'd like to say this pattern is rare, and only comes up on occasions few and far between, but it's an almost daily cycle for someone in the middle of it all. We're reminded by our cycles, our grocery lists, our calendars, the number of bedtime stories or clothes in the closets. It's the little voice that tells us that when we mess up our budgets or loose our cool that we are failing that much worse because somewhere out there someone is doing more with less and being better with more.
I wish I could wrap this up in a pretty bow, with a lovely admonition about how I triumph over these feelings and tips and tools for those going through the same, but I don't. This is a daily struggle. It is the reality of the journey I've been given.