During my ChildDrenched years, the time in my life when I felt totally saturated with emotion about having another child, I remember feeling stuck in several virtual clubs. Unfortunately, they only existed in my mind. If they were real, I may have found comfort from the other members. I knew there were other women who were facing the same issues each morning when they woke up, just like me. Perhaps misery loves company? Or was I just dreaming someone else was out there willing to talk about it? This was before the Internet allowed you to connect with anyone anywhere with a click. I hope through the thoughts in this blog, women who yearn for a more concrete membership can find it. It takes courage to reach out for support but when you do it feels so much better to talk it out.
There were three clubs I “belonged” to, even though they were imaginary memberships. The feelings were very real in my mind and affected me almost every day. As I went about the daily task of managing my growing family each club brought mixed emotions for me. There definitely were times I wished others would publicly acknowledge their own feelings so we could commiserate. I assumed others, like me, were worried about the emotional impact on their lives. If I admitted my feelings out loud, would I still be able to move through my life with a positive attitude? What would others think of me?
I was devastated at the age of 33 when my mother and best friend died from cancer. We had been so close, especially when I became an adult, that losing her felt like a blow I would never recover from. I lost the person who would have been there when I needed help with my two young sons, ages 2 1/2 years and 2 months when she died. Her loss created an emotional and physical void that affected my ability to mother my two boys easily, which made it seem impossible to manage that third child I wanted eventually. Intellectually I knew other women had lost their mothers in the prime of their lives, but I felt very alone. Good friends are helpful, but they are not your mother. No one talked about losing their mothers and the loyal support that came with them. I was suddenly a member in an exclusive “young mothers who have lost their own mothers club” with no benefits whatsoever. I watched in sheer envy as my girlfriends appreciated the support their own mothers provided with their children. I also felt the pain for my own children that they would never know the love of their grandmother. Membership in this club was painful, lonely and permanent.
Before losing my mother, I had already felt part of the “moms of all boys club” with my two young sons who I loved dearly, right after my second son was born. This club was much more obvious to others, and the women I knew who belonged were special. Many of us felt that we were chosen to raise these wonderful boys for various good reasons. It was a club which definitely brought happiness (sports games, science projects, and campouts), as well as hardship and exhaustion (“Young boys are so busy!”). They seemed to just love dirt wherever we went and they always made us laugh. Again, women in this club didn’t really talk about the fact that they may have wanted one daughter, as well as a son, but I wished they did. I remained hopeful that the future held a daughter for me but talking about it with other women who felt the same would have made it easier.
Two years after my mother died, I joined another emotional club which was all about having another child. For me, I wanted a daughter. For other women who may not have had any children, and it was becoming more and more public by then, they just wanted any child. This is what I call being “ChildDrenched”; spending every day emotionally consumed with wanting a child, whether it was the first, second or third child in the family. There were more scientific methods of conceiving available as seemingly more and more people became infertile, which we all read about in health magazines, newspapers and now, the Internet. Even though there are so many options available to women in this club, which is extremely valuable to thousands of families, women rarely talk openly about infertility. I wanted other women to talk about it while I was going through it. I encourage people in pain to reach out to others for support.
At forty, I adopted my third child, my daughter, and until she was born, no one, not even my good friends, knew about my frustration. I was virtually alone in that club for many years. From my experience, I hope women join in this, and all the other, conversations about the “private clubs” in their lives. Sharing is therapeutic and gives us all the strength to keep moving forward through those ChildDrenched years.