Free To Be You and Me

I’m not sure what possessed me to write it. Was it my cumulative annoyance at People magazine for devoting so much editorial real estate (for instance every week!) to celebrating all aspects of parenthood (hey – how about some equal time, People editors)? Was it the veiled tone of pity, the whiff of judgment, or the implication that there is only one happy ending to the infertility story?

But write I did, and I’m glad for what came next…

Dispatch from “hell:” It’s not all bad became an Open Salon Editor’s Pick and made the “cover” for two days, with thousands of views and more than a 100 Facebook Likes at last count.

Speaking of Facebook, the Silent Sorority Facebook page also generated a good response — and some nurturing comments, along with more of the same on another password protected site. Here’s an excerpt from that forum:

I found it really refreshing to read something that is about celebrating and affirming life, after one has been forced to reconsider how to live it. I love that you rejected labels and divisiveness.  What I took from your blog post was the idea that we all have our own unique paths, and no one choice can make you a ‘hero’ or a ‘goat.’ It is up to each of us as people to dig deep and come out of this experience better, stronger and more compassionate.

YES! Bingo! That’s exactly the message I wanted readers to take away. The essay also prompted an email exchange between me and my mother who had this to say:

I’ve never understood why people automatically think that because a couple doesn’t have a child of their own, they will, of course, adopt. It’s like expecting a man or woman who never married to become a priest or a nun. Becoming an adoptive parent is a calling, just like the religious life. Not every unmarried person is drawn to religious life, nor does every woman without her own child want to adopt. I don’t mean to equate the religious life with being an adoptive parent; just that adoption should not be considered the default position for everyone. It was good that you pointed out that there is another side.

Well said, Mom, (and thanks, as always for your support — and for taking the time to reflect with me).

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I also found this comment on Open Salon refreshingly honest:

As the father of an in vitro child, I can relate to the pain of infertility. As the father of an in vitro child who is now a stay-at-home 23 yr-old, I can also attest that parenthood is no bed of roses either. Parenthood, like marriage, is far-too romanticized in our culture. Baby’s — from a distance — are irresistible, and I suspect that was part of God’s plan for peopling this planet. And no doubt it is a great pleasure watching your child grow — up to a point. But as I’ve said here many times, if the second ten years came first, there would be no second children.

Perhaps, though, what I found most encouraging (and, yes, surprising) was the willingness exhibited by all who engaged in various discussion to be open-minded, supportive and non-hostile. This may be the first time I’ve witnessed such good behavior on a topic that usually devolves into name-calling and second-guessing. Have we reached a new level of civility? I sure hope so!

Vive la difference!