Nevertheless, I’m devoting this year to making huge leaps and bounds in managing my infertility and its legacy. For the first time since my IVF failures I am going to look to the future no longer handicapped by confusion and ambiguity. If all goes well, I expect to exit the cul-de-sac I’ve been navigating aimlessly once and for all.
In Search of Role Models
Among other pursuits this year I’m going to actively seek out new role models — women who couldn’t or didn’t have children (this subtlety is hard to tease apart as most don’t willingly label themselves infertile, barren or the gentler term “unfruitful”). More often than not it is left to us to speculate. In either case they offer a road map of sorts that doesn’t revolve around motherhood, and provide useful lessons for building a fulfilling life of a different kind.
Where to begin for these role models? Well the local library for starters. I checked out two books to help me on my way. The first is Katharine Hepburn‘s autobiography called simply: Me. I eagerly consumed the first 100 pages last night and am impressed by her independent and yet still nurturing spirit. She was clearly devoted to her younger siblings and fostered closeness within her extended family. She unambiguously wrote that “visiting and adventures [with her younger sisters] I’m sure that this was why I never had children of my own.”
Nurturing Comes in Many Forms
As I’ve grown closer to my nieces and nephews I’ve learned that nurturing is not solely the province of mothers. After spending the afternoon with my California niece (11) and nephew (8), it was clear they didn’t want me to leave. Calling later to tell them I was home safely, my sister-in-law said my nephew had something to tell me. His little voice came on the line:
“You know, Aunt Pam, we continued playing games after you left, but it just wasn’t as fun as when you were here with us.”
Ah, music to my ears. I love the little ones to pieces.
The other book next to my bed requires a little more work on my part and won’t be easy. Called Healing Through the Dark Emotions, it’s written by psychotherapist Miriam Greenspan and offers a process for unlocking the healing power of grief, fear and despair called the “alchemy of dark emotions.” She argues that they:
“are neither positive nor negative, but simply human emotions and that it’s our attitude toward them that’s negative. These dark emotions can be our best, albeit most demanding spiritual teachers when we get beyond the compulsion to control [or deny] them. By learning to attend to and surrender to the energies of grief, despair and fear we create the conditions for something new to arise in ourselves.”
Strong Women Who Are Not Mothers
Well, it’s a tall order to be sure, but I’m not above taking a new look at these demanding emotions that come packaged with infertility and loss, and I am eager to emulate strong women who are or have contributed to the world around them in meaningful ways outside of the much celebrated role of mother.
I’d also like to thank Mrs. X who nominated me for a Thinking Blogger award. If you haven’t stopped by her blog, you’ll be rewarded when you do. She, like many of the pioneering bloggers writing about infertility’s impact, is a role model to me. She writes beautifully and thoughtfully about her experiences trying to conceive.