I remember talking with a friend who is transgender and she was expounding on all the things she missed growing up the wrong gender, and her description made growing up female sound like a Pretty in Pink/John Hughes perfect life. I thought of all the mean girls who teased me, the way I felt isolated, the way I saw the boys cruelly treating all the girls, including the pretty ones, especially the pretty ones; and I thought, “You’re assuming this perfect movie ‘hot girl’ life. None of that reflects reality.” I get that you romanticize shopping for dresses with your mother, but our mothers are pretty similar and I remember HATING dress shopping with my mom. (I mean, when I was 10, it was awesome, but when I was 15? Not so much.)
But isn’t that what we all do? We romanticize the experiences we don’t have. I’m no less guilty of it than she is. When I imagine being pregnant, even though I’ve experienced miscarriage, I don’t long for that ending, even though it’s reality for a lot of pregnancies. When I imagine having a child, I don’t imagine a stillbirth, even though I have friends who have experienced it. And I don’t imagine that SIDS will steal my child, even though I have friends who have experienced that. My fertile friends have had more miscarriages than I’ve had children, and I don’t envy them any one of those experiences.
Like my friend, I only want to experience the joys of the experiences I never had, not the sorrows, the loss, or the pain. My fantasies of a relatively trouble-free pregnancy followed by a VBAC resulting in a live-healthy baby who lives a full and happy life are no more grounded in reality than her fantasy of shopping with her mother for the perfect prom dress.
And all this is by way of saying that over the weekend, two of my daughter’s friends lost their 5 month old baby sibling. And I’m grieving for the family.
I was talking to a friend who was TTC for five years before she had her first child and she told me that some of her friends don’t consider her infertile because when she did finally give birth, she did so without any medical interventions to conceive.
And I thought to myself, “I’m one of them.” Because when I think of being infertile, the first thing that comes to mind isn’t all the waiting, although, to be fair, that’s mostly what it consists of, it’s the humiliating, embarrassing, and sometimes heartbreaking experiences with the medical professionals.
But then, when you think about it, that’s not the only horrible experience that infertile people experience. Even without interventions, there’s still the cramming to become a uterine expert, all the research, all the psychological games, and the blaming. Sure it’s cheaper infertility that doesn’t have to buy medications, doctor visits, and procedures, but it still has to buy Mucinex, Macca, Pineapple juice, a gym membership, or whatever home remedies one might try.
I had a point, but I forgot it. Just, don’t be a judgy jerk, I guess. As I said to a friend the other day, “You can keep your evil thoughts, as long as you keep them to yourself.”
Shortly after I published my last, something happened. One of the children I used to babysit sent me a picture of one of his children with a finger mustache.
You remember that child’s skit, “You must pay the rent?”
We used to act it out when I used to babysit. Finger mustache for the villain, hair bow for the helpless heroine, and bowtie for the hero.
Maybe I’m not as useless as I feel then.
I doesn’t feel like very long since I started this blog, but then something happens like last night, another pregnancy announcement by a friend who’s previous pregnancy announcement was part of earlier blog posts, which were preceded by her infertility complaints. Those are the things that make one realize how much time as past, and for me, how little has changed.
There’s nothing like a permanent viewable record to make show you how stagnate and stagnating your life really is. I said all the right things, but on the way home, this song came on, and it felt oddly apropos, even though it wasn’t written for that.
The first verse felt like my relationship with the Divine:
I hear the ticking of the clock,
I’m lying here, the room’s pitch dark,
I wonder where you are tonight,
No answer on the telephone.
And the night goes by so very slow,
Oh, I hope that it won’t end though,
The next verse to the children I’ve never had the opportunity to meet:
You don’t know how long I have wanted,
To kiss your lips and hold you tight,
You don’t know how long I have waited,
And I was gonna tell you tonight.
But the secret is still my own,
And my love for you is still unknown.
I wasn’t sure whether to write on the topic of guilt or consequences today, but I’ve selected consequences. Last couple of entries on this topic have been large-scale impact, this is a small scale impact. It also intersects with some of my posts on judging.
Someone does something you don’t approve of. It’s not really your call, but you’ve decided you’re going to hold the line here and strike silently for the opposite of that decision. So, without telling anyone, you un-invite one of the members, the offensive party, from a thing. But the problem is that the uninvited member is responsible for the driving for the child who is invited to thing. Unintended consequence, on the day of the thing, uninvited person can’t get to the electronic invitation to get the address. Delays ensue while uninvited person scrambles to get location information and event time. Inevitable result: invited person is an hour late and misses half of the event.
Justice served, though, right? Feel morally satisfied that you took a stand against evil, even though the one who suffered had nothing to do with the decision to which you objected? Guilt by association and whatnot.
I’m not saying we have no right to judge decisions that we aren’t a part of and that don’t affect us. I’m judging this decision which I observed from a distance and didn’t have any part of, so I’m not exactly speaking from a place of moral authority here. What downstream effect will my judgement have that I can’t see yet?
As you may have noticed, Constant Reader, sometimes I like to tip my toe into deep unnavigable concepts with no answers. Today is another one of those type of days.
I’ve been thinking about names. wondering where the difference between cultural appreciation ends and cultural appropriation begins. It started simply enough, through a conversation about a word in Yiddish that has no English equivalent. Is it okay for a non-“native” speaker to use that word to refer to a thing that is equivalent, but not the same. To give a representative example, if I throw a lavish party for a 15 year old girl, can I call it a quinceanera? A quinceanera has real meaning, far beyond what is conveyed by the term “birthday party.” It has a culture and a background and importance.
I read a joke about assimilation, where the punchline was that “Sean” was named after his grandfather “Shmuel.” The joke itself wasn’t that funny, but there’s a real trend in Irish and Scottish names among people who don’t actually claim that ancestry. Is it cultural appreciation or cultural appropriation. When the English who spend years oppressing the Irish claim their names, what does that say? When you name your daughter Aliyah but you have no Hebrew or Arabic cultural background, do you know what you’re conveying with that name? Do you understand the nuances? When I was in college, a Jewish friend of mine named his son Christopher. Its a powerful name loaded with nuance. He claimed he was naming his son after his favorite author, and he may have meant it, but I find it hard to believe even now, as I did then, that he wasn’t doing it to thumb his nose at his abandoned religion. Maybe it’s me, but when you name your son Christopher, it doesn’t feel like artist appreciation, it feels like theft. And I realize that it’s crazy to say that names belong to the culture, but we say that certain words belong to certain cultures all the time. And maybe it seems harsh to take the “stay in your lane” philosophy on names. After all, if all parents felt comfortable naming their child Moana, maybe we could start ridding the universe of prejudice and racial bias and hatred. So which is it? Preserving and celebrating different cultures. Or absorbing and eliminating culture?
Another hard week with lots of people ready to give birth and a few pregnancy announcements. I’m trying to stay focused on me and not worry so much about what other people are doing, even if they are doing what I wish I was doing.
A bunch of points came to a convergence about people who are living the dream when my friend lamented this weekend he wasn’t living the dream, and I read an article from people who were living the dream, but decided it wasn’t quite dreamy enough to make them truly happy. And it’s genuinely difficult to feel sorry for those people. Like, um, leave me alone with your imaginary problems. So you have a good life, possibly even a great life, but you’re sad it’s not better? Well, welcome to the club. (And I admit that people might place me in that category too, but at least I have some awareness of it.)
But actually that’s not what I wanted to talk about . What I wanted to talk about is that I’m doing things for me, right now. I’ve gotten together with a girlfriend who has lost a shitfuckton of weight and I’m starting to work out with her. I joined a kid-friendly gym so I can bring the child and I’m getting back to basics.