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.
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