May 11, 2013

A Crystal Ball Maybe?

Posted in Journey, ME/CFS tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 9:41 pm by Reva

Tonight I was at dinner with some colleagues. Towards the end of the dinner one person “shushed” the rest of the group and when everyone was quiet she asked “when do you girls plan on becoming mums?” I find this to be an inappropriate question to ask a group of people that are colleagues, not close friends. And to be honest there were probably only one or two people there that I’d consider to be friends. I’m not sure if it’s just because I didn’t know how to answer, or at least I didn’t know how to answer in the company of this particular group, but I think it goes further than that.

I think that this is such a personal thing. I hear friends who get frustrated being asked the question “so when will you have kids?” when they’ve barely finished walking down the proverbial aisle. How do people feel it’s their right to know? How do they know that the couple haven’t made the decision that having a child isn’t for them? Or even more awkward, they have been trying for years and been experiencing heartbreak for years.

A few years ago my friend went with her mum to an afternoon tea. She took along her young son who played quietly. One of the ladies, innocently I’m sure, told her how wonderfully behave her son was, then asked when she would be giving her mother another grandchild. My friend had a difficult pregnancy and didn’t have an easy time when her son was an infant. On top of this she has her own chronic health problems. Even if this wasn’t the case she was well within her rights to respond as she did. She told her mother’s friend (and everyone else in the room who’s ears likely pricked up at the question) that she in fact had been going through IVF, and until the week earlier had been pregnant. I was so proud of her putting up this response in the hope that maybe, just maybe these ladies might think twice before asking such intrusive questions to other women in the future.

This evenings question has made me think that maybe I need to come up with my own response to these questions. What’s a concise way of saying that I’m single and in my 30s? I have chronic health condition that seems to send men running. I don’t really get out much and when I do I don’t tend to meet many new people anyway (meeting new people is EXHAUSTING). Sure you don’t need a man to have kids these days, and it’s crossed my mind to go it alone. But I also don’t think I have the capacity to go it alone. I’m sure I could emotionally, but what about those days that I can’t move from the couch? I can ignore the dog crying at the door but I couldn’t do the same to a child. I know some amazing people who have similar medical conditions to me who do have loving partners and families, so I know it can be done and I’m absolutely not ruling out becoming a mother. But if I am to have children, first I need to find a man who loves me, and who I love. I don’t need a perfect man but I do need that man to be supportive, one who sees bringing up children as a joint role, not one left entirely to the mother (yes I have met men who still believe that it’s the mother’s job). I’m almost certain that if I have children I won’t be able to work so that man would also have to be prepared to live a single-income lifestyle, one where money and possessions aren’t everything. I need a man who can accept that sometimes I can’t always follow through and do the things I want, that sometimes I have to cancel plans at the last minute, that I can’t always be as spontaneous as I might like.

So when will I become a mum? I’ll become a mum when and if I’m ready. And if that window of time passes before I meet that man, or I meet that man and we decide not to, or can’t, have children, or I never meet that man, then maybe it wasn’t meant to be. I’ve been assured that my Goddaughter will be coming to live with me when she hits the rebellious stage so it looks like I will be lucky enough to have the experience of dealing with a difficult teenager (or preteen if she follows in the footsteps of her cousins) even if I skip the infant/toddler stage. In the meantime I’ll appreciate my quiet morning breakfasts spending hours reading the paper over coffee, I’ll appreciate being able to come home and reheat leftovers if I can’t be bothered cooking, or can’t find a vegetable in the house, I’ll appreciate watching what I want to watch because hopefully one day I won’t get to do it anymore.