Stranger in a Strange Land

Even before I started dealing with infertility, I was an outsider in the areas I have lived over the past six years.  I was and am an atheist Democrat living in religious Republican country.  As stark as this sounds, in practice, I like where I live.  I’m open about my leanings and lack of faith, although carefully, and I am usually accepted.  I also very much respect the choices of others and I’m not one for converting others.  In other words, I’m not treated like a freak. Most of the time.

pixel-addictBut, I see that I am different, both on the inside and out.  And while some relish the opportunity to stand out, I like to feel as if I fit in.

Becoming infertile on top of being an atheist and a Democrat (and a liberal one at that), in a state that espouses family and God above all, was a lot like adding that one last piece in the Jenga and watching the structure start to wobble.  You are just waiting for it to fail.

As luck would have it, we bought our current house before we were diagnosed with infertility.  This means that we bought into an area with excellent schools and lots of families since we were fully expecting that we would be expecting.  Fast forward three years and we are still the quirky couple with no kids living in a Chuck-E-Cheese world.  It sucks, to be frank.

It also happens to be an area that is very Republican and very religious, in addition to literally teeming with children.  I’d like to think that this kind of experience makes me a better person – more tolerant, more worldly.  And, to some extents it has.  I can appreciate the subtleties more and recognize that even though someone labels themselves as something I am not, we are not that different.  We can still find common ground.

But, being childless in a family oriented community is by far the toughest of the three, and I think that is because people don’t usually advertise their religion or their politics, but they definitely advertise their kids.  I can’t tell you how many SUVs and minivans I see on a daily basis with honor student stickers, soccer decals, and college mom stickers.  My complaint is not about their right to do this because if I had kids, I would have those stickers too!, it’s that there is no where I go that I am not reminded that I get the feeling that my community considers me to be a second-class citizen because I am not a mom. 

I know you are probably thinking, why don’t we move?  We like our house, we love our backyard and we have great neighbors (with the obvious exception).  But, perhaps more importantly, I want to think that I can overcome this, that I can rise above it and move on.  I can be happy even though I am so different than 95% of the people around me.  And, most importantly, that I am just as valuable and worthy an individual despite the fact that I am not a mother in the conventional sense of the word.  That is the one I’m having the most difficulty getting past.

image: Pixel Addict

9 thoughts on “Stranger in a Strange Land

  1. I have to say I admire your decision to stay even when it seems you are so different than those around you. I don’t know that I would have the same strenght that must take. I also love the fact that you can see past the differences & find common ground to establish relationships (otherwise I doubt you’d hang around my blog very often)!

    Mrs. X: It has been an education, but I also see it as an opportunity to counteract what we read everyday about the divisions in the country, etc. And, I really enjoy your blog because it is a look into a different life that I have never known, and I think that’s really cool.

  2. Thank you for expressing exactly how I feel… “a second class citizen.” Although I do not get it from my neighbors (they are all retirees…) I get it from my co-workers and *friends* with children.
    It sucks.

    Mrs. X: no matter where it comes from, it totally sucks. You are absolutely right.

  3. Even in the IF blogging community, it’s interesting to see all the differences. In a lot of ways, you and I are very different. I am a Christian republican with very conservative views, yet I really appreciate your perspective on the world (especially the IF world). I continue to be amazed at the bonds of all the different people stuck in IF land. I may disagree with many of the blogs I read, but I can always relate to the emotions and the desires of fellow IFers – that’s what keeps me coming back for more. I have found such incredible support and comfort in this community and hope to offer the same regardless of our differences. Perhaps the IF community can teach our nation a little something about overcoming differences and focusing on our similar desires?

    As far as getting past the difference of not being a mom, I totally understand. For me, it’s a difference that cuts deep. Ironically, it usually hurts the most when I am at church, surrounded by those who share my beliefs. I think it’s because I choose my religious and political views, but this is one difference I did not choose. I guess that’s the real bond between us IFers…none of us chose to be here. For whatever it’s worth, I think you’re quite valuable and worthy!

    Mrs. X: thanks so much for your perspective. IF, like any other major illness, doesn’t discrminate which means that you are going to have a lot of people from a lot of different backgrounds sharing and supporting each other when in other circumstances, they wouldn’t. I hate that any of us have to go through IF, but I am very excited to meet a lot of new people with different perspectives.

  4. Thank you for this post! Living here in the midwest, in a neighborhood where people seemingly worship their children and their kids’ and grandkid’s sports prowess (big signs that say…GO JIMMY!!!), it’s always interesting at gatherings where the first question is “Do you have children?”. And when I of course say no, oftentimes they have nothing else to say. On those occasions, I’m sure I seem like a very uninteresting person since I can’t relate at all to what they are talking about – when in reality, I think my life is very interesting and worthy. So thank you for voicing my sentiments on that front. You are very worthy and bring a wonderful perspective on infertility…a topic I can certainly relate to!

    Mrs. X: I hate to think that someone would find you uninteresting because you don’t have kids. We are all interesting, no matter what our uteruses have produced and I wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t see beyond whether you have children dictate whether you are interesting. After all, what you think about yourself matters a lot more than what someone else thinks.

  5. I wish a friend of mine could see this perspective. Her older sister has wanted to be a mom for over two decades but cannot due to health issues. So her sister has made up her mind to be a great auntie, but that still doesn’t make up for not being a mom. My friend only gets this on a tiny level, and couldn’t understand my hesitation when she brought forth the brilliant (not) idea of throwing a baby shower for me and inviting her sister. I may not know what it’s like to deal with IF, but I do know what it’s like to wait for over a decade to become a wife when everyone around me was getting married and entering into domestic bliss. When I shared my opinion on that and my desire to not inflict more pain, her response was, “Well, everyone has their cross to bear, and this is hers.” Geez. Just knock another nail or two in it, is what I wanted to tell her. Even though people outside the IF community can never fully understand what you feel or go through, it is our privilege to learn what we can and to be sensitive and understanding. I just wish everyone knew that and acted upon that, instead of being callous and unfeeling. Thank you for being willing to share your blog with us, and for showing us your heart on the matter. It teaches us more than you know. I hope these awkward words come through half-way coherently, and convey what I wish you could see in my heart.

    Mrs. X: Sara, thanks so much for your comment. It is wonderful to know that my blog and the experiences that started me down this road are helping others. And, I’m so sorry about your friend’s sister, but I think you are a great friend to her to remind your friend of how callous and unfeeling she is being. That’s really all any of us can do.

  6. I am someone who doesn’t typically mind being an “outsider” – god knows I’ve played that role enough times in my life. However, I am bothered by not being in the mommy club. The difference is that, in general, I don’t WANT to be a part of the sloven hordes. But I do want a child. So I think my desire to be a part of the club is really just some type of weird transference of my desire to have a child. It’s Friday after work and my mind is mush – I’m not sure if I’m making any sense or not. :/

    P.S. I’m atheist too and my family is from the rural bible belt – I don’t envy you that pain.

    Mrs. X: I too have that desire and I wonder alot if it is more about me winning than it is about me having a child.

  7. We did the exact same thing. Bought a house to grow into, safe area, good schools. There are so many SUV’s where I live, it looks like the secret service is rolling through. These families don’t have just one child, they all seem to have multiples, with the stickers on the back car window to show who’s a cheerleader, who plays football, little cartoon drawings of the picture perfect family all strung together holding hands. I swear I end up following those damn cars all the way to work on the days I am least equipped to handle it. People know each other through their kids, through sporting events and summer camps – soccer mom breakfasts. We know very few of our neighbors as our schedules are completely different. And I think, if we ever do finally have a kid, that I’ll still feel like an outsider. But I hope by then I won’t give a damn.

    Mrs. X: do you live in my neighborhood? Seriously, you have just described it and wow is it demoralizing sometimes. It’s so ironic that this is the utopian version of American suburban life and it makes me miserable. Go figure.

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