This comparison and subsequent question came to mind after a recent email exchange with Tertia at So Close (http://www.tertia.org/so_close/). As a side note, Tertia recently published a book about her journey with infertility. She's working on getting it distributed internationally, but for the time being, you can go to her website and purchase it through a supplier in South Africa. Great work and I can't wait to read it.
There are many comparisons between waiting for a baby and waiting to get married. The uncertainty (though everyone tells you to relax and it will happen. Or, even worse, they insist that it will happen for you even though you know enough about life to know that sometimes it doesn't). The lack of control: you can't force someone to be your soul mate, and it's out of your hands when you meet them. The happy couples around you that remind you of what you don't have.
But here's the question--when singlehood ends, you're married and unless you're longing for the single-life again, you never look back. I don't call myself formerly single. I don't identify with that life anymore though I can certainly empathize because I went through the dating, the longing, the waiting. People who get married at 40 are not considered in a different category from people who married at 20. They're just...married. You may still carry your own personal baggage or insecurities or unhappiness about the journey, but for the most part, people don't still check the singles boards or feel stung by comments about being single. They leave it at the door when they step over the threshold on their honeymoon.
So why do people who went through infertility continue to identify as infertile even after they've had children? Why is there a division (however subtle) in motherhood between those who have used A.R.T./adoption/surrogacy and those who have had their children without assistance? It's not a division that exists amongst good friends, but one that rears its head in the casual talks on the playground. And sometimes it's a division you feel when you are speaking to a mother who stands on the opposite side of the chasm. When you feel like the motherhood bond should be enough, but at the same time, you know that while she says she understands, she really doesn't. Even close sisters, like Tertia and her sister, experience this when the other one truly can't understand why things didn't bounce immediately onto a different plane once they were both ensconced in motherhood.
Is it because everyone is single until they're married? And once you're married, you're just...married. There isn't a heirarchy of marriage. Someone who eloped to Vegas and someone who had the big, white wedding are both still just married. Our ways of getting to marriage are different, but in the end, are we all on the same playing field? But journeys to parenthood lead us to stand on different platforms when we emerge on the other side? At least in the eyes of general society vs. the people who love us. I'm making generalizations.
I'm not sure. I'd love to hear other opinions. Am I totally off--is there a heirarchy of marriage? People who carry their scars of singlehood over into marriage?