What’s Your Litmus Test?

The “why” didn’t fully dawn on me until I was in the final burst of last-minute packing for a Thanksgiving family visit.

Our direct flight was just under an hour and half. The destination: a picturesque part of the country, home to the world’s largest international independent film festival, a former winter Olympic site, and some of most breathtaking national parks on the planet. Our relatives, peers in age and interests and genuinely warm and lovely people, had lived there since 1998.

There was only one reason why it had taken us 13 years to arrange a proper visit. The why was so large and obvious as to be the elephant in the room.

Our trip would involve spending several days in one of the largest child-centered cultures in the U.S. — the greater Salt Lake City region.

How did it go? Surprisingly well. In fact, I’m chuffed to say that I didn’t break a sweat or find my dander rise even when the local hotel where we’d book a room, with its complimentary breakfast, was over-run with toddlers cooing over waffles, or when two new BFFs earnestly set up a Candy Land board game at the base of the one and only coffee station, or when I found myself in the midst of parents swapping stories about the upcoming holidays and plans to entertain their kids. If this was some sort of test, I passed it with flying colors.

Rather than feeling like I had to mask what has always felt like the equivalent of an “I” tattooed on my forward, I was at ease. As our trip came to a close, I found myself looking forward to a future visit — one where we could indulge in new discoveries in and around the area.

READ  The Globe and Mail Reports on Failed Fertility Treatments, Disenfranchised Grief

It’s not as though I achieved any sort of superhuman feat, but it did in some ways feel like I’d successfully arrived at the end of a marathon. Along the way I put some former infertility demons in their proper place — the past.

Now, what’s your litmus test?

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8 thoughts on “What’s Your Litmus Test?

  1. Pamela, you brave girl!! ; ) I’ve found Utah & the Mormons fascinating ever since my pre-teen vow to marry Donny Osmond (lol), & it does look like a lovely place to visit. Have you ever read the group blog Feminist Mormon Housewives? — they have addressed infertility & the unique pressures they are under to marry & procreate, preferably when they are young.

    I recently passed a litmus test of my own — you may have read the posts on my blog about my Parents’ Neighbours’ Daughter (PND), who had a baby girl in September (PNGD). We will be seeing them at Christmas, & while THAT will no doubt be the ultimate litmus test, I recently found myself at (wait for it) Baby Gap. Christmas shopping. I couldn’t go NEAR the place for years — & I didn’t even flinch — was actually feeling rather giddy & gleeful as I snapped up cute holiday-themed onesies and bibs & pink fleece outfits, & giggled over tiny shoes & party dresses. Nothing too good for this kid, lol. ; ) It felt good to be enjoying the experience, & not consumed by sadness and jealousy.

  2. Pamela

    Here’s to the ability to find new levels of zen! We’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

  3. I’m so pleased you had this experience!

    I can’t say exactly what my litmus test was – because I don’t think we pass, and never go back, I think we move back and forth across the line, depending on mood, exposure to children, etc etc. I can say though that when I realised I could be at ease with children, without those pangs, I felt such freedom.

    And like Loribeth, I’m now an addicted shopper at children’s stores, for my adorable niece (and knowing my sister hates to shop).

  4. Raissa

    I caught myself smiling at a picture of a cute little girl in a catalog the other day.

    It IS getting easier!

  5. IrisD

    I wonder to what extent I’m a bit odd. Being around kids has never heightened my grief over not having any. In fact, sometimes I sit down and play with them, talk to them, and then feel exhausted and ready to take a nap. I spent much time with my niece and nephew while they were growing up (saw them at least once a week, every week, and when they were smaller, every day). I loved spending time with them, not so much the same feeling with my friend’s kids. I like them, some of them, very, very much, but its kind of the same feeling I have with adults… some I love to sit around and spend time with, others, not at all. Not all kids make me go goo goo gah gah… some I worry that based on their bratty, spoiled behavior now, might turn into selfish adults. I think seeing adorable babies all dressed up in their strollers might give me that poke in the gut, but what I think I have a harder time dealing with is adults: going on and on about the miracle or birth, or the rewards of motherhood as the best job ever, or going to my obgyn and sitting in a crowded waiting room with expectant mothers and being asked by the first nurse if I am on birth control, and especially seeing an expecting couple with the dad eagerly awaiting his new son or daughter, feeling mommy’s belly. Those moments leave me feeling sad because they point to what is missing. I have to remind myself that if I had the life of a parent it is totally possible that I sometimes might also be looking at people whose lives were driven by work and then rushing home to cook, wash dishes, do laundry, chauffer the kids to a, b, and c activities, and wish for the possibility and time to explore other things in life.

  6. jps

    I just discovered this blog and would like to thank everyone for sharing their stories. I am just now beginning to face my reality and have to say I am nowhere near the stage where many of you mention “it gets easier.”

    On the contrary, I find myself withdrawing and avoiding (ha…as much as I can given I am a teacher and spend my days with middle school and high school kids). I know everyone’s path is different, but would love any ideas on how to move forward. Was there a defining moment beyond which it got easier??? Anyone out there in the “childless not really by choice because they happened to pick the wrong partners” category?

    I so appreciate this forum because, of course,I can’t talk about any of this with my friends, all of whom have children or who chose consciously not to.

  7. Kellie

    I too have just discovered this blog and now trying to face my reality. Just when I feel like I am moving forward a wee bit, major set back….girlfriend gets pregnant without really wanting too or trying too. Then the insensitive comments, etc. I also married into a Mormon family where there are many children and my husband just doesn’t understand why I would rather not spend Christmas with his family but would prefer to do it alone or with my family. Unfortunately, this seems to be tearing us apart at the moment. Very Hard!!!

    Anyway, I am so glad I found this website – I feel it will really help get me through the holidays and beyond.

    Much love to everyone.

  8. Pamela

    Kellie: Glad you found us…there are lots of wonderful women here who have walked in your shoes. All the best, Pamela

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