The “ah ha” was crystallized by another post about friendship by Deathstar (she is tapping into my subconscious left and right these days!)
So the “ah ha” is this — and there’s a bit of irony, too: when I’m with other infertiles or friends without children I never ever think about infertility.
In fact it’s the most blissful time I ever spend. It’s like gaining access to a very special sanctuary. I’m fully at peace. There’s no anticipation of baby talk, parenting talk or unexpected pregnancy announcements. There’s no likelihood of little ones tugging on my heart strings running up and planting a big hug or kiss on their mommy or daddy followed by a cuddle and gaze that communicates a deep, deep bond. There’s no awkwardness, no need to be on guard. The conversation flows without the pressing need to change subjects or to sit quietly when the topic goes to a place about preschools, the skyrocketing cost of tuition or the challenge of juggling multiple children’s activities and school commitments. It just doesn’t enter into the equation.
My dear friends and family who have crossed into the realm of parenthood (most effortlessly) do their best to keep the topics of conversation relevant when we’re in the mix, and in the same way, I make the effort to talk about our areas of mutual interest. I’m not asking for special treatment nor are they. Yet it’s inevitable that talk veers to the challenges of parenting and kids. How can it not? It’s a huge, huge part of their existence.
By contrast, during a visit with some German friends (also without children) we filled an entire day with wine tasting, passionately debating politics, strolling happily through the winding streets of a university town, comparing our favorite books and movies in a coffee house, and later over dinner comparing the advantages and disadvantages of living in different places. It was HEAVEN!
It was a little like being a kid again myself — not a care in the world — just living in the moment and reveling in the feeling of being totally understood, and not once did that weird feeling of being an outsider lurk around the edges. I can only imagine that it’s the same feeling for new mothers and fathers who find enjoyment and relief in sharing a different kind of communal experience.
Our day of hanging out was memorable for a whole bunch of reasons, but also for this lesson: our childfree life after infertility today is not better or worse, it’s just different and it can be its own sort of special.
A look at some souvenir snapshots of the trip can be found here.