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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resolutions (Children Mentioned and an Explanation of That)

There are children mentioned in this post.

Why do I always do a "children mentioned" disclaimer at the top of the post or in the title line? Someone asked me that recently. She wanted to know if I felt like I had to apologize for having children. She is not (as far as I know) a regular reader. Regular readers know that I don't apologize for having children--having children is the single goal we all share (there are other goals too, but you know what I mean). Even if I hadn't worked hard and conceived the twins through fertility treatments, I still would never feel as if I had to apologize for them.

Children are not apologies--even in the IF world.

This is what it's like: children exist. I know that children exist and I will see them daily. I know people will get pregnant and have to tell me their happy news. That's life. People are going to get pregnant and people are going to have children even when I can't.

When someone has a pregnancy announcement to give me, I expect them to tell me. That is the way life works--sometimes people give you news when you're not in a space to hear it and you have to listen and respond. The reality is that I haven't been in a space to hear it for the last six years. I know, I know, logically, I thought I'd be in a different space with it once I had the twins. But that didn't happen for me. I still dread pregnancy announcements. Call me small and petty--it's fine. I own that.

It is never the fact that they have to tell me the news--I get that I live in a world where people will have to either let me know they are pregnant or treat me like a pariah. Since I prefer not to be treated like a pariah, I will hear pregnancy announcements. It's how they tell me. I am desperately in love with people who send me an email that gives me their news and maybe even give a nod to the fact that hearing that news may be hard for me for a moment or two. After I get those emails, I take a moment to think and then I pick up the phone and call that person with genuine excitement. It's really simple to get me quickly over my hump and into the land of congratulations.

Not so much loving the people who wait until we're face-to-face and then drop the news on me while handing me sonogram pictures and then spending the rest of the time telling me about the pregnancy while pointing out how freaked out they were about trying because of my story but how it wasn't hard for them at all. I wish I were joking, but I actually heard this speech a few times this year with my favourite being the friend who told me that she was so lucky that she didn't have to do treatments because if she ended up with twins she would "shoot herself in the head" and I had to politely tell her that we didn't consider our twins to be a horrific burden and if she could excuse me for a moment, I had a bathroom I needed to cry in.

I used to teach business writing and part of what I tried to convey to students is this concept of a "you" attitude which is that you go into every piece of writing trying to make the receiver feel as if their feelings are more important than your own (even if internally you know that your freakin' feelings are more important). There are ways to word things--even unpleasant things where you need to tell someone that you can't give them what they want--where the focus and thoughtfulness is on the "you."

It all goes back to power. We all have power--regardless of whether or not we believe it. Every business has the power to make the customer feel as if they aren't being dismissed and every person has the power to make the person they are interacting with feel as if they aren't being dismissed.

The problem with a blog is that you don't know who is reading. You could be happily pregnant or you could have just received a negative. I don't know. So you could make the argument that it is impossible to have a You-Attitude with a blog. And beyond that, this blog is my own thoughts and my own reactions so why should I take anyone else's feelings into account?

Because we're human and we can.

So I put "children mentioned" at the top of the post or in the title line so you know that I am mindful that not everyone is in a space to read about children. It is no reflection on my children; it is merely a fact of where you are in your life. And I put that label out there so you can skip over what you need to skip. Hopefully, if you do skip it, you come back to read it at another point, but perhaps you can't, and that is okay too. You need to do what you need to do to get through this and I need to write what I need to write so I don't explode. And these two ideas can co-exist peacefully with one another if we keep that level of mindfulness in our interactions.

A long explanation to get to the point except the explanation is part of the point.

The ChickieNob learned a little while ago how much power she has through her words and when she is not getting what she wants, she will lash out by saying what she knows will hurt the other person the most. She had just finished shouting out the thing she always shouts at me and we were having a talk about how we express our anger.

I said to her: "I want to raise a daughter who uses words that help because she can; and not a daughter who uses words that hurt because she can."

The operative words, of course, are "because she can." Because we can. We all do have that power to make another person feel wonderful with our words or make another person feel terrible with our words regardless of the news we have to impart. Pregnancy announcements are like injections. There are some that are given with care and thought and while they may sting for a moment as they go in, they are over with quickly and life moves on. And because life moves on, you think about that injection in a certain way--you're proud of yourself that you made it through it. You're relieved that it wasn't as bad as you feared. You can even laugh at it and turn the Follistim vial into a work of art.

There are other injections--either because the giver doesn't know some piece of information (like allowing the alcohol to dry before you inject) or because they're given carelessly, that not only burn while going in, but burn emotionally afterwards.

So all injections sting--but some remain on your mind long after the needle is in the sharps box and others are forgotten because they caused no lasting damage.

No one has it in their power to be so skilled with the needle or words that they never cause pain. It just isn't feasible. But we do have it in our power to try to be skillful. Because we can. I recognize that every time I open my mouth to speak or set down my fingers to type, I have this unbelievable power to make my words help or hurt. Or remain neutral. But usually, help or hurt. As does everyone else who interacts with me, including the ChickieNob. They have the power to produce words that help or hurt. New Years Resolution this year: to go through the year, regardless of my personal mood, with a "you" attitude in my interactions and the mindfulness to use my words to help because I can. A tall order, but resolutions are supposed to be tall orders. If not, what would we have to bitch about come February?

And on a larger note, since I have come to be extremely frustrated during the month of December by people who were obviously raised by people who didn't teach them this lesson, to impart this way of interacting with people to the ChickieNob and Wolvog. It is more than teaching please and thank you. It is teaching a child how much they can affect another person's life and to guide them towards bettering the world--not just in the recycling cans or helping a little old lady cross the street sort of way. But a simple mindfulness before acting or speaking with a consideration of how your actions or words may affect the other person. If I do that, if few people will say later in life that the ChickieNob or Wolvog hurt them, I'll feel like I did a good job.

I am terrible with goodbyes--even if I'm saying goodbye to some inanimate and a human construct such as time (or in this case, a year). But goodbye 2007. You were this really strange mix of the sublime and the suckage. And I'm just grateful for the time; grateful for all of you; grateful for what I have and for what will come.


Denise said...

That is a wonderful resolution for 2008! If only more people adopted it. I think I will.

chicklet said...

I for one appreciate the "children mentioned" cuz there's days I don't want to read about kids, think about kids, or even consider that they exist. So for me, it works. There's days like today however, that I can read about it, but at least I'm not blindsided by it and it's my choice to read or not read - like the email announcements, it's just better.

Carrie said...

This is such a beautiful concept. It gave me loads to think about.

Dreamer4agift said...

What a wonderful post. I really appreciate everything you've said and done over the past year. Your words are encouraging and give me a chance to contemplate things. This post spoke volumes to me. I never want to be the one to hurt someone and I try very hard to think before I speak. There's a musical that I did with the children's church at my church and one of the songs was titled "tame your tongue." So true. Thank you for that reminder and may 2008 prove to be a great year for you and everyone else. Thank you.

Sunny said...

Good word my friend.

Susan said...

Here here!! I agree with you whole heartedly. I like your sentence at the top of your Lost and Found Connections Abound-- "In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." It is nice that our blogging community is sensitive to other people's feelings.

Lori said...

I love this post.

You are a master of the metaphor. Words = injections. I will carry this with me into 2008.

Julia said...

I agree-- sensitivity is a learned skill, and practicing it requires mindfulness. We talk about that a lot too.
About other people being complete asshats-- I was wondering the other day what makes them that way, and a friend pointed out that they just do things mindlessly. Intellectually that makes sense to me, but I just can't fathom living like that, you know?

deanna said...

Best wishes for an awesome 2008! I think your two-fold resolution is a very good, admirable one.

And, I think you're a teensy bit psychic. There's a pregnancy-announcement-related post that I need to write, but I don't want to write. But, I need to write it. It's been needling at my for a whole week now. Reading your thoughts on it felt like another nudge from the universe. Thanks for the nudge. =)

Paz said...

I like how you mother. inspirational.

Anjali said...

You make way too much sense.

Thank you for that.

Faith-Hope-Love said...

I love your blog! I just recently stumbled on your blog while searching for IF info. I haven't been officially diagnosed with anything but reading your blog has given me the strength to pursue some answers. Thanks!! You don't know how much you have helped me.

Aurelia said...

I'm so glad I read this today, and so very glad you wrote it. I think you just may have written it for me!

I am (and always have been) the type of IFer who lusts after babies and children and except for a very few circumstances, want to be around them and hear about them and see them endlessly. I have been known to hate an ungrateful parent or two, but usually not the kids.

But yes, even me, once in awhile, has a hard time hearing about babies and pregnancies.

One person in particular has been truly awful to me and to a lot of women who have gone through difficult pregnancy decisions and she has just announced her pregnancy, and that she is having a lot of nausea herself.

And it's all I can do not to wish her disaster...which is terrible of me and I CAN'T do it. I.must.stop.

But damn I wish I'd never ever read she was pregnant. I have to try and be extra good and less bitter now.

I suck at that.

Stacie said...

Here, here! What a great resolution for 2008! We should all practice more consideration of others every day.

I often read your posts and talk to my husband about the ideas you present. Thank you for that! I have learned so much from you!

loribeth said...

Another brilliant post. I think we could all do with a little more "you" attitude" in our lives (not just in infertility-related matters). So much of modern life is all about "me, me, me," all the time.

ms. c said...

Oy, now that my tears have stopped...

Thank you for all your words. They have helped so very much. Yuor children are lucky to have you as their mom.

Fertilize Me said...

Brava! You are always so thoughtful, clever and inspirational. I wish we could bottle up this post and send it in liquid form to a few of my family members that NEED to grasp this concept!

Thank you for being you and wishing you more happiness and much much more in 2008

Anonymous said...

Mel Mel Mel. Just when I think you've written all of the insightful things that anyone could ever come up with, you're at it again.

Kissupmuch? Not intended, really.

I appreciate the 'children mentioned' portion too. I have a non-bio kiddo, but rarely mention her in my writing. Because my current non-fertility isn't about her. Not negatively or positively. It's just not.

My real 'take home' , though, is this:

"... this blog is my own thoughts and my own reactions so why should I take anyone else's feelings into account?

Because we're human and we can."

My own blogorific navel-gazing can take such negative turns, turns that could be hurtful to someone who would love to have the 'problems' I complain about.

Thanks, Mel, for the reminder that I can be sensitive. I can be mindful. And I can warn people when I'm about to be neither.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for putting "children mentioned" in your titles. Some days I may not want to read them, some days I won't. Just like there are some days when I am in a department store and I stay on the opposite end of the baby / child clothing - I won't even look in the direction - but on days when I am feeling good and positive, I will actually walk and browse through the isles. People in situations like this don't know how they are going to feeld day to day.

Samantha said...

Goodbye 2007 and all that jazz indeed!

You are always so conscientious. It is wonderful that you are raising your children to be the same.

Bean said...


What a great post. This is one I'll carry with me for a long time.
Happy New Year!

Kathy V said...

I know that I have not always been sensitive to other people's feelings. I usually try but you are right sometimes no matter how we phrase something, the audience is just not ready to receive it. It is helpful somedays to be treated with an extra sense of gentleness. It makes sense that people can read it or not, but they have the choice in their time to accept it. I certainly will try with my blogging but also to people I meet in IRL to show a bit more sensitivity, compassion, and just plain niceness in 2008.

Anonymous said...

as usual, there is so much here to chew on... first I love the analogy to injections, so true. how words can be handled with care but the sting may just be unavoidable. and I think the concept of mindfulness is so critical in our daily lives, both in our interactions with others and in the way we treat ourselves. yes, because we can. and of course to end the year with a note of gratitude is fitting. as shitty as life can be sometimes, there is always something I am grateful for, and finding you all in the blogosphere is certainly one of them. thanks again mel for all you do. ~luna

Crockpot Lady said...

what a beautiful post.

Ann said...

I have always appreciated how sensitive you are to other people--and how you remember what it was like to read gushing posts about other people's children when you were having such a hard time getting to that place yourself.

Bea said...

Well said.

And yes - not an apology, just a warning.


Celeste said...

beautifully-put, as always. since becoming a reader here, i've appreciated your "children mentioned" label. it's been a nice preparation and very considerate. just one of the reasons your blog is so fabulous.

Happy New Year, and may 2008 bring more joy than pain for us all.