We went out to Ben and Jerry's for an ice cream cone this afternoon (and not to bitch, but my daughter ordered a kid-sized cone and I ordered a medium-sized cone and her's was twice the size of mine. But I felt childish going back into the store and whining, "you gave my daughter more than me. That's not faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaair."). My son likes ice cream and picks at it very neatly (always in a cup). My daughter loves ice cream, loves getting it on her face and hands, loves narrating the entire cone experience.
Afterwards, I was not letting her back in the car in her sticky little dress so I had her stand on her chair while I took off her clothes and searched the diaper bag for a clean shirt. "I'm naked," she exclaimed to everyone walking past. "I'm a naked Tallulah bird." Which is a reference to one of her favourite Maisy books where her friend, Tallulah, enters her house, runs up her stairs, strips, and jumps into the bathtub. It's an amusing tale that child and adult can enjoy on so many different levels.
She danced on the chair telling one and all, "it's nice to be naked. I'm naked. Mommy, get naked." I explained to her that once you're old, no one wants to see you naked in public. And it's actually a crime. Which I know because police once came when I was sunbathing topless up in my old state of Massachusetts.
We're finally ready to leave, with my daughter dressed in one of her brother's shirts and no pants (which she also has to call out to everyone as we walk past--"no pants! I'm not wearing pants!"), we had to walk past a couple about our age sitting at an outdoor table at a nearby restaurant. The woman watched us walking towards her, with my daughter chirping loudly about her pantslessness. She watched us for the entire walk to our car, not speaking to her husband. I tried to shake my wrist a bit, show her the pomegranate-coloured string, but I'm sure she just thought I had a nervous twitch. Regardless, she wasn't watching me. She was watching my kids.
And then we got into the car and I saw her bring her head close in to her husband's forehead. And she started to cry. And I felt like ass even though (1) I had been there and knew how she felt, (2) I was back in that infertile space again, and (3) I cannot hide my kids waiting for the entire world to not be infertile.
Brad Pitt (this is becoming quite the celebrity site) recently said that he wasn't going to marry Angelina Jolie until everyone had the same right to marriage. And I would love to say something similar. I'm not going to bring my kids out in public until every stirrup queen has access to fertility treatments or adoption. But even having access isn't enough. Having access doesn't mean the problem is solved. It just means the financial headache goes away. It still isn't a guarantee that the path you want will be available to you.
I am pretty sensitive about parading my children. Back when we went to synagogue, there was a portion in the service when they invited all the kids to go onto the stage and sing the prayer. One or two kids would actually sing the prayer. About twenty toddlers would run around on the stage, crashing into each other. And then a handful of mothers would bring their infants to the stage and hold them like trophies. Like they had just won the U.S. Open (and believe me, there was a big part of me wishing the kids' heads would fall off like the top of the trophy did for Maria Sharapova. Made me feel great being that petty in synagogue).
And I promised my husband I would never be one of those women bringing up their child who obviously couldn't participate. Those women brought up their kids to show them off. And I promised I would never treat my kids like that. We never parade them or bring them to events just to show them off. There are other people in our life who would like us to do this, but I won't allow it because I know how it feels to watch a mother parade her kids. And it makes you feel like shit. And you never know who is around and what they're going through. And I'm just not going to make someone feel like that on purpose. If we bring them to something, it is either because it's for them or because we need to take them because we're going ourselves.
But what do you do with the fact that even if you don't parade your kids, you end up making a woman having dinner with her husband feel like crap just by walking past? Which was the whole point of the pomegranate-coloured string. Except unless you read this blog or someone who has posted it on their blog or had a friend tell you about it, you don't know what the string represents.
Which is my question: how do we get the word out there? A newspaper article? A forwarded email? Because the reality is that there is an entire world of stirrup queens who are not going to a clinic or reading blogs or visiting bulletin boards. So while it needs to go out through infertile venues such as bulletin boards, clinics and organizations, it also needs to get out there to the general population. Which is where someone like today's woman exists. Perhaps not yet part of the openly diagnosed infertile world, but hurting nonetheless when a pantsless girl walks by her.