Friday, April 27, 2007

Surprised by Expectations

Interesting how I'm just going along, living my life in my post-LID, pre-adoption days, and run suddenly into those nefarious (or perhaps insidious) expectations of Bay-bee making.

Two different incidences:

* * * * *

I was hanging out with some acquaintances before a regular event we all enjoy, chatting and eating a bite of dinner.

Suddenly, Ms. Therapist turned to me and asks: Can I ask you a personal question?

Well, now, that's a big tip-off that something rude and intrusive is coming down the pike, right? I should said No, God! Spare Me The Nosy Questions, right then and there. Instead I grimaced wryly and said: People ask me personal questions all the time. Thinking to myself: But I may not chose to answer.

But I was truly surprised at her question: Do you and M ever think about having children?

LOLOL Well, I was so taken aback that I muttered: Well, that IS a personal question.

Pushing ahead obliviously, she continued: Because some couples decide to not have children...

I am surprised that this woman is a therapist or counselor of any sort. Where is her sensitivity? It's not like we are remotely close. She just seemed avidly curious. And if she was asking for herself rather than for her need to root around in our business, she could have asked me in private rather than in front of several of our acquaintances.

Meanwhile, it's flashing through my brain: Don't get upset, don't cry, don't get huffy, don't make a self-deprecating remark, don't tell them about any plans, don't give them anything to gossip over later... Don't you *dare* give *anything* to her!

And she continued: ... So I wondered if you all have thought about it...

I paused. I looked over at her with a controlled seethe, fluttered my lashes and said: All the time.

Dead silence.

This woman found a sudden interest in a completely different topic. No back pedaling, no apology. Maybe a sudden awareness that she was in deep shit and had to Get Out Now. Pretended like she had never asked.

Now she won't look at me any time I run into her in our regular group settings. I started wondering if I had been rude in my response. M reassured me that I had *not* been rude and had in fact handled it beautifully. I guess my semi-infamous "look" that is said to stop people in their tracks leaving wisps of smoke rising off their hair comes in handy now and again.

God knows I have had my share of asinine remarks and rude questions. I guess I should be happy that I didn't get any *more* pissy about it or start running my mouth leading to kicking myself later.

* * * * *

And then there's a conversation I had with a Korean woman from one of my classes, which had a completely different outcome.

We've always been friendly to each other. She's one of those people with whom you instantly feel a kinship with, although we have never had much time to talk on a personal level, given the nature of our evenings and days.

But leaving class one week, we walk out together chatting. She says she has to hurry home because her husband is taking care of their children and finds it hard work. I joke that it's good for men to sometimes experience how much work caring for children can be! Maybe they'll appreciate a mother's work more! haha!

Then, of course, she asks me if I am married and have children. Yes but Nooo, I say. Oh! You are still in the honeymoon stage! She says impishly. I don't have the heart to tell her we have been married for 5 years and together for 9 and have long passed out of the honeymoon stage.

But the hallway is clear, and I give in to the urge to confide in her (matter of factly )that we are adopting... Oohh, She says, nodding. I can't tell her reaction, really, and I don't know if she will start asking more or even if she approves, given some Asian attitudes towards adoption. We pause to mull this over as we continue down the hall.

I tell her my husband is picking me up to go out for a dinner date. Her eyes get big. It's like your honeymoon, she repeats with some humor. We never get to go out to eat any more...

She tells me that she and her husband get married, then three months later (she holds up three fingers), she got pregnant, and she was sooo sick... (shaking her head with the memory). So, they didn't have much time with just the two of them, she says. She's smiling, but wistful. I just nod and make wry sympathetic noises of acknowledgment, because what else can I really say? I'd trade my honeymoon for your children? No, I don't think that's the answer even if it were remotely true. Sometimes it's enough to be witness to somebody else's reality. Or to exchange respectful sharings.

Which is why this did not rub me the wrong way, I think. We each shared some personal detail of our lives and trusted that the other would be sensitive about it.

Then her other friend comes to pick her up, and we leave waving our good byes.

* * * * *

Later I was musing that there's something about the married state that implies child-bearing/child-rearing.

Rhetorical question: why do people automatically assume that when you get married you either have children or you are making some choice to not have children, or just, "you can't."

One way or another, the Bay-bee issue is right there in your face. Perhaps it's that the membership in the Bay-bee club can stunt or cement relationships or give or withhold the supposed worthiness or "belonging" of a given person. Like one of my sisters suddenly became buddy-buddy with many of our cousins again after she joined that club and learned the secret Bay-bee handshake sealed with bay-bee spit up. How freakin annoying. The club atmosphere, not the spit up.

For myself, I really wanted children. From the beginning with M, it was part of our conversations about our visions of our life together. It was important enough to both of us that we wanted to make sure we were in agreement about life goals and grand ambitions. Some of those grand visions have not come to pass, but our values are still in alignment. And we still want children.

But given that children, whether one has them or not, is such a personal decision (okay, we will ignore for the moment the countless relatives who have had oops Bay-bees which involved decisions of a different sort), what justification does one ever owe to others to justify any of those choices? Like about any other life choice. It's not decided by a blue-ribbon panel; it's your own life, yes?

I am a privacy freak, yes. People's private decisions are their own business and don't need commentary from others. I'm sure there are exceptions, but it drives me nuts to hear people talk about somebody else's choices as if they know all about them. If they did know all about it, they shouldn't be blabbing it.

And then there's the assumed right to *know* about other people's personal lives. Just because you are curious or "just wondering" does not give you a right to anybody's stuff. This always seems so much clearer when you've been on the receiving end of that assumption, naturally. I can't even stand it when some of our "friends" say they've been "wondering" about us. Eh, madam, git yer grubby mind off our business! It feels so invasive.

But a sharing, now, that can be appropriate. Not for passing judgement, but getting acknowledgment and witnesses to the challenges and joys of our flawed lives. It's all a work of art. Don't let the critics get you down. But I don't see the point in giving the critics anything to work with, either.

* * * *
Over and out...

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I cracked up recently reading Julie's rendition of her Instant Message Conversations With My ClearBlue Easy Fertility Monitor.

If I had to imagine my old basel thermometer personified, this is what I get:

BT: You never pick me up any more. You leave me lying here on the bedside bookcase doing nothing! Don't I mean anything to you any more? You never even wonder what your temp is. What's wrong? *snif* Don't you love me any more? (loud sobbing)

Me: Uhh. It was fun, but I'm afraid I've moved on... It's not you, really. Here, let me put you in the closet with my old sharps and ya'll can talk about old times...

That's all we need, a weepy BT or a sarcastic shadenfreudliche CBEFM.

Makes me glad I didn't cave to my first doctor's suggestion that we get one of those monitors. Of course, he cheerfully mentioned adoption in the same breath as an IUI, and claimed that any reasonable question showed I was too "anxious," so that shows how invested he was in my success... Here, let's spend some *more* money! 'Cause you'll probably have to adopt anyway... seeing how you're so "anxious"... A**hole.

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