Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Not a Member? The Club Snub

"You are a less relevant human being."

This is the message that society sends (repeatedly) to those of us without children.

We, the childless, are apparently incapable of understanding, feeling or giving "real" love. We are apparently selfish, self-centered and unable to sacrifice for others. We have never felt a deep human bond. We are not members of The Club, and those who are members never let us forget it.

One day, several years ago, I was at a friend's house for a summer dinner party. By then I had already been a practicing RN for several years. My specialty, by the way, is pediatrics. As several of us stood around visiting in the kitchen, my friend's five month old daughter was getting fidgety in the baby swing. Another female guest scooped the child into her arms and began patting and bouncing the baby in an attempt to pacify her. My friend turned to the woman holding her baby and said, "You sure can tell you're a mother! Only a mother knows how to hold and calm a baby!"

I did not say a word. But I knew that as a pediatric nurse, I had done more things with, for and to babies than my friend ever would in her life. I simply was not anyone's mom.

Somehow the rest of us - we NON-mothers - are put into a lower social strata by members of The Club. The army of non-mothers who are educated, successful, intelligent, kind, generous, creative, funny and who are productive, contributing members of society, are forced to hear and remember that we just don't measure up. We are not members of The Club and our lives are apparently meaningless without children.

Can I tell you that this mindset angers me to no end? If it turns out that my dreams don't come true, if I never have a child....well, pardon me.....but my life will still have mattered.

We all have the power to impact the lives of others in positive, meaningful ways. We change the world from what it was to something better. We deeply affect others, and lives are forever changed because of us. Don't give into to the mantra of The Club. Know who you are, know your worth, and know that you matter!


Anonymous said...

Isn't it just amazing the comments people make without thinking? We should put together a book of stupid things FPs (fertile people) say. While I *am* in the club, I feel like it was a fluke and I shouldn't really be there - and I can't tell you how many people have said "Now that you guys are done having children..." little knowing that I'm popping pills and shooting up every night in a desperate attempt to procreate! I'd rather be in a club with you any day.

IVF 40+ said...

i think it's clear you've been nurturing children all your adult life and as such you've more than contributed to society. I also feel you are nurturing us through your blog and comments.

Best When Used By said...

Thank you MMM for willing to be in a club with me! I LOVE your idea about publishing a book of stupid things FP say.

And I want to say (and should have said in my original post)that I know many members of our IF community are already parents...get pregnant...and/or adopt. Certainly they (you!) are sensitive to our issues, and I would not intend to suggest that any of you are members of The Snub Club. Rather, you will have your babies and be sensitive too!

Anita said...

I remember feeling exactly this same way before we adopted/during the IF days~it WAS infuriating!
Now as a mom, I do try to remain sensitive to those things, but I do have to admit that as a 'member' I do still get irritated by the moms who have no lives outside of their children & still do feel a bit left out when I don't want to ONLY talk about my child with them.
IF taught me that I need to cherish my son & the gift that he is, but also still be my own person too!

Happy ICLW!

P.S. Never doubt the many, many lives you have touched through your pediatric nursing career-many of our families are forever indebted to you & your colleagues :)

Lorraine said...

Why is it so hard for people to figure out that someone might not be childless by choice? It seems so obvious that it might be a delicate situation.

I think a lot of it has to do with what women have to give up to be mothers - it's just sad that they have to replace those feelings of loss with that "club" membership attitude.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I went through infertility, and I remember all of the things that people would say that pre-IF seemed innocent, but during IF it just held a magnifying glass up to me and my feelings and made me feel so inadequate. (hugs)


Scrambled Egg said...

What an AWESOME post. I can completely relate. We're in similar fields and from so many moms I hear "So do you have children?" And then when I say no, "Why not?" I'm THIS close to responding with something snarky. And add to that many people think that folks that don't have kids are incapable for caring for kids. Ick.

Anonymous said...

I just want to say, as a mother, that I am so sorry people have made you feel that way. My personal belief is that there are mothers and non-mothers and some mothers just haven't met their babies yet, that's all. As far as I'm concerned, you ARE in the club.


Anonymous said...

Hi... I wanted to post a comment, albeit a late one. I am a mother. I do NOT naturally know how to calm a crying baby. I have seen women (and men) who are more at ease with children than I am. Blogs like yours and other women struggling through infertility have really opened my eyes to these things. I always new I was lucky to be a mother -- but reading these blogs reminds me more. I'm sorry you've been excluded by other parents. I often marvel -- as I'm sure you have -- by those that ARE parents, and those that ARE NOT. The sheer unfairness of it all.