Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Not a Mama at Menopause

Apparently I have some “inner work” to do. Lately my brain is whirling like an Oklahoma twister. Lots of debris swirling around, transforming, shifting the old ideas about who I am.

Scary stuff, sometimes, but apparently necessary. A new phase of life has been forced upon me, whether I like it or not.

Now that I have officially passed the ability to have children without having any children, I am second guessing my childfree life.

I did not see this little “gift” of the Big M. coming, but here I am, feeling a bit bereft.

For the most part, I am content that birthing and rearing a child has not been part of my life. Of all the many reasons, (some under my control and some not) why I am not a mother, perhaps the strongest reason is that I don’t have much of a mother-instinct.

Not every woman has a strong mother-instinct. To put it mildly, this isn’t a popular sentiment to voice. I like babies and children; I never had a strong urge to have one of my own. This may seem bizarre and unnatural, but I always kind of smugly congratulated myself for realizing this lack of motherly feelings and then not fighting against these feelings and having kids anyway.

There were sweet moments when I enjoyed cuddling other people’s babies, truly marveling at the mysteries of birth. But when I handed the babies back, I was fairly happy to do so. Some women have an almost unbearable urge to have children, and motherhood is the fulfillment of a dream for them. They are meant to mother.

I respect that mothering need enormously, even if my childlessness has made me an outsider to a lot of what is central to most women’s lives. Childlessness makes me a bit defensive, too, as if I need to justify why I’m childless, or explain that I’m not evil, or emotionless because I’m not a mother.

For instance, I feel obliged to note that by teaching college students, I have had a turn at being a mother figure. Our student population here is a vulnerable one that often needs a shoulder to cry on, parental advice and motherly encouragement. There’s more than the typical amount of tears, tragedy, and trauma on this campus in a military community.

Maybe this is the mothering I was meant to do? Maybe if I had children of my own, I wouldn’t have as much energy to give to these students who do really need me, although I know plenty of teaching mothers who also boundlessly love their students.

I have had a fulfilling ten years giving myself to my students, and they have given back to me, too. Maybe I can be okay, knowing that I have loved these students, some who did not have loving biological parents to sustain them.

This does not change the revelation that I do have some grieving to get through, now that the door to motherhood is closed.

Even though I am still mostly content with an official end to my fertility, I have some truly unexpected, startling, sadness. I felt confident that I had already worked through my feelings about not being a mother prior to the final knell menopause brought to my fertility.

In reading about menopause, especially Magnolia Miller’s wonderful The Perimenopause Blog, I’ve found that grieving associated with this time of life is not unusual, whether one is a mother or not. Magnolia says we must acknowledge we are “mourning a loss" and "coming to terms with a new life on the other side of that loss.”

But the feeling of permanent loss, of no chance of a do-over, of not ever having the photogenic kind of family life that dominates social media, tv, and magazines does sting. Facebook, in particular, is soul-sucking for the childless woman. Some non-moms have deleted their Facebook accounts after it became too painful to look at other people's babies and children.

Even when we are savvy enough to realize that Facebook is mostly how people want to present their lives under best case scenario conditions, we still tend to buy into the seeming perfection. How can my childless life measure up?  Because that photo-shopped gourmet meal at the rustic table with the clean, smiling children, Dad carving the turkey, that's what family life is really like, right? At least some of the time.

I do grieve what I have missed and will never have, and I need others to understand that they can make me feel like an alien
Unfortunately, my grieving won’t be rushed, no matter how much I want to shake it off and move on to this new life ahead of me.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

We're Going Indie-- This Includes You!

Something creative is in the wind with my indie family and friends. Something freeing, liberating.

I must pause and think about it, since I’m swept up in it, too.

My brother John is making an independent horror movie, F.U.B.A.R., in Michigan.

My nephew Will, in San Antonio, is making an independent kids movie, Fields Afire.

My friend R.K. Ryals is pumping out indie novels faster than I can edit them.

A little over a year ago, I leaped out in to the great independent blogging universe, where I’ve made friends with an incredibly inspired, intelligent, and literally award-winning group of bloggers. They’ve rocked my world.

We’re independent.  Hey, yo.

We’re taking it to the streets!

We’re not waiting for the man with the checkbook to tell us it’s okay to make movies, to write books, to blog our thoughts out to the great universe. 

We’re not waiting for the agent to call. We’re not waiting to be discovered. 

We’re discovering ourselves.

Exciting? Hell, yes.

New frontier. We’re at the beginning of a revolution in creativity and its distribution.

Where is it all leading? Who the heck knows?

Listen up y’all. It’ll be the ride of our lives.

This is getting good. Really, really good.

Polish up your crystal ball and tell me what you see coming.