and how those reminders can hurt …
Listening to the Archers omnibus this morning and (not a spoiler) seething at the oft-repeated cliche that being a parent makes your life ‘bigger’.
I’ve written a lot here about my experience of infertility, how not being a mother goes on, long past the time of trying (and failing) to become a parent, and still the daily reminders sting (prick, cut, burn, bruise, break, brand – like all usual pains, it hurts differently on different days).
Regularly, in the talk about parenting and the writing about parenting, the way parenting is CONSTANTLY presented :
a) as if it’s special/unusual/not common (when it is the MOST usual state of adulthood in every time and every place)
b) as if ONLY being a parent helps us to understand love/life/humanity. I grant that only being a parent helps people to understand what it is to parent their specific children, but all big loves, especially selfless loves, teach us a bigger life
c) it’s possible that without one (or seven, in my parents case) specific human beings to concentrate on, people without children might well be giving differently – and just as valuably – to the world, but that’s NEVER part of the story
d) I think it’s great that many of us are trying harder to include each other in our thinking and speaking, trying harder to be more inclusive and generous. I know I still get it wrong but I do try, in my language, in my work, in my thinking, to be inclusive. Yet day after day I hear myself excluded as a non-parent from conversations, from sweeping statements about what constitutes love and caring to thinking about what matters in the world – as if only those who (might) have grandchildren have a stake in the future of our planet. Actually, we all do, and surely the regularly-stated “I want a healthy and happy world for my children/grandchildren” is pretty damn selfish anyway? Shouldn’t we want it for everyone’s children?
e) so I’m delighted to be doing Fertility Fest Flight Club on May 13th