Welcome

We always thought we would have kids. We started trying when we believed we were ready. A month went by, then two months, six months, a year. Nothing happened.

Something was wrong, but nobody could tell us what - and they still can't to this day. We tried IVF three times but our results were not good. We were devastated.

Eighteen months after our last IVF cycle, we knew we would not be having our own children. And, somehow, we have moved to a life that is much different to the one we thought we'd have.

This blog is about what we do now we know we won't be having children - the thoughts, dreams, realities, sorrows, and joys that have become our new life path.

I hope you will enjoy what I will be sharing, and I hope that if you are at the point where life without children is a reality for you, that you might find some hope and inspiration here.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Cleland and children...

There is a wonderful place in South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills, called Cleland Wildlife Park. Whenever we go there, or anywhere where there are animals to be truthful, my inner child comes out to play. I love animals and quite often ask random strangers if I can pat their dog.

A few weeks ago Kirby and I took the daughter of our friends, Jess, and one of her friends from school, Georgina, to Cleland. It was for Jess’ birthday, which was actually in June, but the year was so unexpectedly busy for all of us that we were only able to find a day to go recently.

I love spending time with the children of our friends and family. The children are all different ages – from six months old to thirteen years old. The stages they go through, the interests they develop, the characteristics they have, are all so fascinating.

It is true that we would have loved to watch our own children change, develop and grow over the years. I often think about what they would be doing now and one of them, the child that would have come from our first cycle of IVF, would have been starting school next year. I can never forget our children and I wouldn’t want to. As the years pass I will think about them and how they would have been turning thirteen, eighteen, forty, and sixty. I will wonder what they might have done with their lives and what they would have been interested in. I will always wonder about them and keep them in my heart.

We are so fortunate, especially because we can’t have our own kids, to have so many children in our lives – children that we love so very much.



Jess and Georgina absolutely amazed me with their imaginative play in the car on the way to Cleland, with their tender attention to the different animals at the park, with their humour, with their sense of adventure, and with the knowledge they have about wildlife and the environment.






Both girls are nine years old, but they quite capably told the koala keeper, when they were getting a photo with a koala, what koalas eat and how they only eat certain eucalyptus trees, and how koalas use their noses to know which leaves they should eat. The koala keeper looked at us and said “Well I guess my job is done!” I think she was pleased with how much the girls knew.

I don’t know what our children would have been like or what they would have been interested in, but I suspect they may have loved animals if they took after me even a little bit. Whoever they would have been, I would have been delighted if they had the loving, interested, compassionate, and funny characteristics that both Jess and Georgina have.

I would have been absolutely delighted.

I love you Jess and Georgina.







Tuesday, December 16, 2014

A tune up...

I’m not sure what people in other countries call a car service, but here in Australia we often refer to it as a tune up. A tune up can apply to people too.

Earlier this year I was down hearted about many aspects of my life, and these feelings carried through over the following months. Minerva had died, my trip to Thailand was over, and new health issues had arisen. In October it was ten years since Kirby and I met and where we are now, with no children, is not what we expected when we first met. My self-talk told me I was not good enough – I don’t have a nine to five job, I couldn’t have children, I have stupid health issues that require numerous appointments with doctors and specialists, I couldn’t even keep our house clean and tidy as I thought it should always be, and Kirby could have done so much better than me.

I was a failure, failure, failure.

In Australia we have a great program where if your mental health is not good you can go to a general practitioner and get a referral to a psychologist or counsellor for six free sessions in a year – with the option of six more if needed.

I didn’t want to go to a psychologist – I just wanted to feel better and I thought that I should already know how to do that. But, I started seeing a psychologist in July, if anything to get Kirby off my back about going.

It seems I had fallen into the trap of thinking that I could reach a place where my life was sorted out once and for all. That I would reach a place where the hurts of the past would fade forever, and where I would accept my limitations or, even better, I would overcome them to live life exactly as I wanted to.

I know that there is no such place. Life is a series of peaks and troughs and it always will be. I know this, but I forgot. And my psychologist helped me to remember what I already knew. She helped me to realise that I had grief to work through still, and that grief is not a set process with a defined end. I may be ninety years old and still grieve for the children we never had and the life I didn’t lead for various reasons. This was my tune up.

After the first session I told Kirby I wasn’t going back as I didn’t like it and I didn’t think the psychologist would be any help. Deep down, though, I knew I didn’t want to go back because my psychologist was challenging me, and I didn’t want to be challenged. I didn’t want to think about certain things and I didn’t want to admit I didn’t have it all together.

My psychologist recognised that I tried to be strong and positive all of the time – even to the point of excusing the behaviour of people who had hurt me. Even when I talked about issues that bothered me I was set on convincing my psychologist that I was strong and could deal with it. The truth is that I am not always strong – I was putting up a front.

The most important thing I learnt is that the life I thought I wanted, in terms of a nine to five job, a big social life with lots of parties and lots of people, and a perfectly clean house, wasn’t the life I actually wanted.  I like my work at home, I like being with one friend or a small group of friends, and I love my pets so I will never have a spotless house. I’ve been working through my anxiety, particularly around house work.  I consciously left the dishes unwashed overnight and, lo and behold, the world didn’t fall apart!

I can sit with anxiety much more easily now and I can be honest with my family and friends when I’m not okay – I don’t feel the need to put up that front.

What has this all got to do with not having children?

Not having children is a major life crisis. It brings up so many fears, feelings, and uncertainties about what life is going to be like. You’re not going to be a parent. What does that mean for other areas of your life? What are you going to do?

There will be grief.

There will be times, long into the future, where you doubt yourself and whether you are good enough.

There will be times when you think all the pain and grief should be done with already.

There will be times you need to talk to someone and get some direction.

And, everyone needs a tune up every now and then.

It’s okay.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Socially introverted...

I think I’m an introvert. Actually, I know I’m an introvert.

Even as a child I preferred my own company, or the company of one or two friends, rather than being with large groups of kids. My Mum was worried about me until a psychologist told her that this was just my personality.

Still, in this modern era the attitude is that we must all be extroverted, be out there in the happening world, and show how confident we are – all the time. We should be comfortable in large groups of people, be able to do the small talk with people we don’t know, be fine with dressing up in whatever is considered appropriate for the occasion regardless of how uncomfortable we feel, and keep up the appearance of having it all together.

Since we knew we couldn’t have children, and particularly since I’ve started working from home, I’ve become quite distanced from the expectation that I will be extraverted, and the pressure to be, or at least act like, someone I am not. I don’t see a lot of people really, whereas pre-2012 I worked in various office settings with a large number of colleagues.

Being on my own, working at home, and being an introvert suits me very well. It is my personality, but I’ve also realised that it keeps me away from certain reminders about how my life is so different from what I thought it would be.

This realisation came to light over the weekend. Kirby’s work held an end of year dinner for employees and their partners on Friday night. I got dressed up in my green wrap around skirt with a purple leaf embroidered on it, a purple top, black tights, and blue flat shoes. I put on my home-made make-up and let my hair dry naturally. I felt good before we left home. I was dressed in what I wanted to wear. I was who I was and I was comfortable with that. Although I admit I was nervous as I had only met a few of Kirby’s colleagues before, and there would be over seventy people at the dinner.

So, we got to the restaurant which overlooks the River Torrens in Adelaide. I met a few people and they were nice and welcoming, and we chatted as we were served hors d'oeuvre and drinks out on the balcony. Then we were ushered into the restaurant and we chose where we would sit for dinner. I followed the people I had been talking to and sat down with my back to the window, which meant I could see all of the people in the room. I regretted my choice of seat.

While there were people of all ages at the dinner, many of them were in their twenties or very early thirties, and among this group there were about five women who were obviously pregnant or had recently had children. And most of them were dressed up in cocktail type outfits, with heels, and with make-up and hair perfectly done.

My feelings changed from being fine, to being confused, to being sad, to wanting to leave, and back again.

Then the left side of my face started spasming and there was a slight dribbling from the corner of my mouth. I’m not sure anyone noticed, but to me it felt like my face was jumping up and down so much that people on the other side of the room must have seen it.

Then I looked at the menu and there were no vegetarian options (although in the end there were, but I had to ask specifically).

I felt so out of place and awkward.

I was sad that I was once where they were, where I dressed up like they did, was looking forward to having a family and to having a career. I once went into a workplace, and got involved in the politics, and enjoyed the feeling of comradery that existed (at least in most of my workplaces). I spent time with large groups of people with champagne glass in hand.

I was confused, as I sat at the table, as to where that confident, modern, and social young woman went.

And I didn’t want to hear the women and their partners being congratulated on being pregnant or on recently having a child. It was a reminder of what I would never have.

Over the weekend I was irritable and I cried a few times. I had not achieved anything in my life – at least that’s what my thoughts kept telling me. I could not compare to these amazing women who had a career and were preparing to have children as well. I couldn’t even keep up with simple household tasks. I have had one health issue after another, and now have the prospect of brain surgery next year which, although not extremely invasive, has some pretty significant risks.

Who did I think I was to even consider that I was anybody? What made me think I could have even a snippet of what I hoped for?

Then last night, after I talked to my beloved Kirby (he truly is the best man), I realised that I was wondering about the “me” from all those years ago who wasn’t actually, truly, me.

I don’t like dressing up all fancy with heels and perfect hair and make-up. I never have. I’m not the life of a party, I’m not an extrovert, and I don’t want to be. I don’t want a career where I am required to be in an office during certain hours, let alone a career which is fast paced and where I aim for promotion after promotion.

I like being in tracksuit pants, I like working with my cats and dogs nearby, I like to be able to go out to my fishpond in the middle of the day, and it is handy to be able to put a load of washing on when I have a break mid-morning.

I like my solitude.

My thoughts of not having achieved anything and not being able to keep up with basic household tasks were rubbish. I have achieved many things in my life, and our house, while not show home spotless, is fine. Sometimes things get a bit messy, but so what?

Not having children and having health conditions, which include clinical depression, epilepsy, burning feet at night, and now Hemi-facial Spasms, are real. These things are part of my life. And these things have changed the path my life has taken.

If we had had children I would likely have continued in the field of work I was in and not moved to writing and editing. If I hadn’t had health issues I would probably have done the same, but because my health issues mean I cannot always work nine to five I have had to find other ways to be employed and working for myself from home works well.

When I am on my own at home, pottering around, editing, and writing, I am happy. I enjoy life and I feel good. Then there are times when I go out and mix with people who are living the life I thought I would have and my confidence diminishes and I wonder why I am not like them. Why don’t I have a traditional career, and why, most significantly, can’t I have children?

It’s easy to not think about all of this when I am at home, or when I am spending time with just a few people, but in situations like Kirby’s work dinner it is impossible not to put those thoughts aside.

What I need to do is remind myself that I don’t, and never will, have children. That is the way it is, it’s not fair, and there is no explanation as to why it is so. I also need to remind myself that my life, how I have it now, suits me. It reflects who I am, and have been since I was a little child, and therefore why do I feel the need to try and be like other people?

The other thing I also need to remember is that people generally like me as I am. Well, not all people like me, but that is okay.

My twenties and thirties are gone. My forties are here and life is for living. My life is for me. And reminders of our much wanted children, the person I tried to be in previous years, and the level of health I wish I had, will still arise, but they don’t have to diminish the satisfying life I have now.

Monday, November 24, 2014

An unwanted child...

There has been a story in the news this past week about a woman in Sydney, Australia, who dumped her newborn baby boy into a drain pipe. She intentionally dropped him into the drain, where there was a 2.5 metre drop, expecting that the fall would kill him. The baby survived for six days (nobody knows how!) and was rescued after passing cyclists heard his cries. He has been taken to hospital and is reportedly stable.

The “mother” is being charged with attempted murder – and yet it seems has been allowed to name the baby.

The Department of Family and Community Services has said the act was one of desperation.

I know I don’t know the facts and maybe I’m being overly unsympathetic – but there is no justification, no circumstance, and no level of desperation that makes what this woman did anything but evil. I know there are such things as postnatal depression, but what she did – which was premeditated and with full understanding that the baby would likely die – is inexcusable.

You only have to look at the location of the drain and the structure of the drain to know that this was not a spur of the moment, impulsive act. She had to go to the drain which is quite isolated off a major road. Once there it would not have been easy to put the baby into the drain given that its entry was low down and quite small.

Why, why, why can someone like this have a baby and I can’t?

Most of the time, now, I am okay with not having a baby. I have a good life and I pursue all sorts of interesting things and I spend amazing times with the children we have in our lives. Then something like this comes about and I cry for hours wondering whether there is any fairness in the world at all.

And why should she have any right, whatsoever, to name this tiny, precious, baby boy?

God?

Got any answers?

I didn’t think so.

New Story from Sydney Morning Herald

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Don't tell Hugo...

My parents have jetted off to New Zealand for a bus tour around both of the beautiful islands that make up that country. I am somewhat jealous!

Before they left Mum said to Hugo that they would send him a postcard. He thought about this and suggested that perhaps they could put a postcard in a bottle, and then lower the bottle down to the ocean using a rope so it didn’t break, and then the bottle would float here to Adelaide. Mum and Dad are going on a boat tour for a day, but recently Hugo went to New Zealand and went on a cruise ship, and therefore he believes everyone who goes to New Zealand must be going on a ship.

Obviously putting a bottle in the water in New Zealand doesn’t guarantee it will float to the shores of Australia (although you never know!), and that Hugo will be down at the beach at the exact moment it arrived (again, you never know!).

Mum and I believe in letting children have the joys of imagination and adventure and letting them believe in things that might not be real. Some people may think this is “lying” to children, but some of my best memories from childhood are those that I now know my parents, or other adults, set up for me to have some magic in my childhood days. To me the effort they went to is a show of love.

So, we have a plan. When Mum and Dad get back from New Zealand we are going to find a bottle and put a postcard in it that Mum and Dad will bring back with them from New Zealand. It is nearly summer time in Australia and so the beach is the place to be. We will take Hugo down to the beach one day, and attempt to put the bottle somewhere along the water line without him seeing. I say “attempt” because he is very observant and generally doesn’t miss anything. One idea I’ve had to meet this challenge is for Mum and Dad to put the bottle under the jetty near a pylon before Kirby and I arrive with Hugo. We’ll then let him find it.

It will be magic to see his face when he discovers the bottle that has traversed the seas to him from a faraway country. He will be so excited. So very excited.

I think I will be too – I tend to get wrapped up in the excitement and imagination that the children around me experience. After all, I still believe in fairies and also that plants talk to me. Though that last belief may be supported by research soon – check this out!

I’ll let you know how it all goes, with photos of course! But, in the meantime – don’t tell Hugo!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Convoluted arteries and crowded nerves…

You’ve probably noticed that I haven’t been as regular with my blog posts lately. It doesn’t mean I’ve forgotten about you!

In the last couple of months I have been diagnosed with a condition called Hemifacial Spasms (HFS). My neurologist, before he saw the spasms first hand, thought they might be a form of epilepsy, but I actually had them while I was in an appointment with him and he immediately recognised them as HFS.

So, what is it? It is a rare condition where an artery in the base of my brain is pressing on nerve/s that control facial movements on the left side of my face. The pressure is making the nerves misfire and I am having spasms on one side of my face. At first they were only every few weeks and were minor (i.e. a small twitch near my mouth, kind of like an Elvis impersonation, for a few minutes at a time), but they have steadily gotten worse in the past couple of months and now I am having them most days, they are contracting the entire left side of my face (and sometimes go over to the right side a bit too), and they can last up to a couple of hours.

Initially I had Botox (yes – I was a celebrity for a while!) to try and stop the spasms, but that hasn’t worked and it left me with the side effects of not being able to open my left eye completely and of having facial droop.

The next option, one that is scary and has risks, is to have surgery. I won’t go into that right now as I have to talk to a neurosurgeon to find out more. I do know the recovery time is lengthy and can be very difficult. Activities after the surgery can be quite limited and are gradually reintroduced over a period of four to six weeks.

Anyway, the spasms make me very tired and I am having trouble getting a lot of things done at the moment. But, I promise I will do blog entries whenever I am able to.

I have been thinking lately that looking after children would be very difficult after the surgery. In some ways it is better that I don’t have children if I have the surgery, but that makes me sad. I am sad to think that not having children could be a benefit in this circumstance.

I also feel angry sometimes. I could have much worse health conditions to be sure, but I sometimes wonder why I have HFS, as well as major depression, as well as a rare skin condition, as well as epilepsy, as well as unexplained hot feet at night that stop me from sleeping, as well as infertility. It just doesn’t seem fair – but then who said life was fair…

Well – that’s enough of me sharing my despondency.

I will finish on a lovely note. I was outside by my fish pond having a cry the other day and my dog, Ari, came to comfort me. Sometimes pets make the best therapists.


One of my three boys...Ari...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Grandma...

I’ve recently reconnected with one of my best friends from school.

We spent many hours in our teenage years walking to and from the local grocery store in the country town that she lived in singing Guns n Roses, The Beatles, and AC/DC songs – well, sometimes they were our versions of songs. Instead of “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock n roll” we sang “it’s a long way to the shop if you want a sausage roll.”

We were cool… At least we thought so at the time. Our fashion, when not at school, consisted of basic t-shirts, checkered flannel shirts, and jeans which were ripped at the knees. We didn’t bother with fancy hair or makeup. We adopted a dog from the local fair and brought him back to her place, where her parents begrudgingly let her keep him.  I’ll never forget Ben!

My friend played guitar and sang amazingly well. I sang too, but amazingly terribly.  But that didn’t matter.

We went to another school when our school was closed for the day. Our teachers and parents thought that it was wonderful that we came up with the idea of attending another school for the day to experience what it was like.  Ummm…our intention wasn’t really to experience another school…we just wanted to meet boys…

We chose a mechanics class for one of our school subjects. Once again, so that we could meet boys…

The first time I went to the city without my parents was with her. We ended up not coming home when we should have. It wasn’t our fault…really…  Our parents got together to try and work out what they were going to do with us, and we were out in the backyard deciding that we would run away to the sand hills near my home to live. Surely they’d never find us in a 0.325 km2 conservation park about a kilometre away from my house!

My friend has just become a grandmother to a little boy.

It is so unbelievable to think that the little girl who led me astray in the 1980s is now a grandma. Okay – maybe we led each other astray…

I gave her some things (cups, bibs, etc) that we had here for Hugo when he was a baby to have at her house for when her grandson comes to visit. I also gave her two romper suits. These romper suits were ones that I bought for our babies in 2008. Ones that we never got to use for our children.

I am so grateful that my friend has come back into my life and that a part of what I had planned for our babies can become a part of the life of her grandson.

She asked me whether I would like to come up with her and visit her grandson in the next few weeks.

Gee…let me think…

YES!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Leaving baby behind...

There have been two stories that are similar to each other in the news in the past two months. I have cried at reading both and I have felt a powerful anger while reading both.

The first is about a little boy named “Gammy”. Gammy is the twin of a little girl called Pipah, but they don’t live in the same house, or even in the same country – thanks to their selfish “parents”. An Australian couple used a surrogate from Thailand to have their twins for them. Pipah was born healthy, but Gammy was born with Down Syndrome.  So his “parents” left him behind in Thailand. 
Little Gammy has been adopted by his surrogate mother and will be raised in a loving home. I have to wonder what is in store for Pipah – will her “parents” expect her to be a certain way? What happens if she gets sick? Will they give her up too? Will they think she is not good enough if she doesn’t meet their expectations and standards? The Thailand story...

The second story, which came out this week, is about another Australian couple who used a surrogate in India. They had twins – a boy and a girl. They brought the girl home, but left the boy in India. They didn’t want him because they already had a boy. It seems they may have sold the baby to another family in India, but nobody really seems to know. The India story...

I wonder how many other times children have been abandoned by their Australian “parents” in other countries because they weren’t wanted.

Frankly these people make me sick to my stomach. I do not understand how any parent could leave their child behind. How could anyone decide their own child is not good enough or does not meet some ridiculous criteria?

A couple only wants a baby of a certain gender. Responsibility is withdrawn for a child because they have a medical condition. These type of people do not deserve to be nor should be called parents. They are pathetic.

And it makes me angry that such people have children when there are so many of us who cannot. We would have loved our babies no matter what because we know how precious they are. We would never have left them behind.

How could they?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

A monster maternal instinct…

SPOILER ALERT: there are some small spoilers in this post about the movies “Cloverfield”, “Aliens”, or “Jaws 3”.

There’s a movie called “Cloverfield” that I really enjoyed when I first saw it. It is about a group of young adults who are having a farewell party for one of their friends in New York when a huge monster starts attacking the city. The movie is filmed through a home movie camera which is held by the boyfriend, the guy who’s a little be annoying but everybody kind of likes, and the guy who turns into a bit of a hero in turn.

I’ve watched the movie a few times and with each viewing I became more uncomfortable and realised I was feeling sad for the monster. This was despite all the death and destruction it was causing in Manhattan.

It seemed to me that the monster was really frightened. It wasn’t meaning to hurt people – it was just hungry and curious about these things were that were running all over the place. I realised that I didn’t want the monster to be harmed and wanted people to understand it rather than to just try and kill it. My maternal instinct was kicking in and I started to think, by what the monster was doing, that it was actually an infant of its species. It was scared, alone, hungry, and wanted its mother and/or father. When I told Kirby about my thoughts he looked at me like I was crazy.

Well, it turns out I was right. While some viewers of the movie do not believe the monster was meant to be a baby, the producer, J J Abrams, indicated that the monster was an infant, and the director, Matt Reeves, has stated that the monster is, indeed, a baby. It does what infants do – they have separation anxiety and cry for their parent/s, and they are curious about things and put what they find in their mouths to see if they can eat them (hence not leaving small things such as marbles and pieces of Lego within reach of human babies and toddlers).

So it seems I have a great maternal instinct. I can recognise an infant in another species – even if the infant is 20 stories tall (there’s some dispute on this, but basically it is huge!)

Perhaps my maternal instinct is going a little bit overboard, but I wish the monster baby could be reunited with its mother and that they could go back to wherever it is that they came from, whether that is the depths of the ocean or another planet. Though I guess that probably wouldn’t make for a very attractive movie to those who like a good monster flick.

There are two other movies that bring out the maternal instinct in me in a way that they probably wouldn’t for most other viewers.

One is Aliens which stars Sigourney Weaver. Humans go to a planet and start killing baby aliens – what did they expect the adult aliens would do? Go the aliens I say!

The other is Jaws 3. When you accidently trap a baby shark and don’t release it – the mother is going to come looking for it and is going to be pretty mad. At least in the movies but not in real life as Great White Sharks don’t actually care for their young at all once they are born.

Well, now you know I have a ramped up maternal instinct. I wonder how protective of my own babies I would have been if I lean towards protecting a massive infant monster, the young of a scary looking alien, and the ferocious baby of an even more ferocious White Pointer shark!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

When You Can't Have Kids...the book...

I haven't written any entries since last month due to health issues, but also because I've been working on getting my book "When You Can't Have Kids" ready for sale.

And it's ready and available through Amazon!



For the paperback version please click here.

For the Kindle version please click here.

And I promise I will be writing some blog entries over the next few days...I have so much to write about!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Hair...

I always pictured myself as one day being an old woman who had grown old gracefully and embraced grey hair and wrinkles as part of being a crone.

Now, what I have to share with you today is not really a big deal in terms of serious life problems, but it has brought up for me another of those “Really, life? You’re throwing this at me as well?” moments.

One of the loveliest parts of growing old was that I thought I would have long grey hair which was in a plait down my back, or in a bun on my head, or even free flowing over my shoulders. I even have some of those grey hairs now – although being honest I still hide them under a covering of henna from time to time.

During these past few weeks I went to a dermatologist to have some dodgy looking moles taken off and assessed in case of skin cancer. Fortunately there was nothing to be concerned about. But, in the process of looking at my other moles for any suspicious ones the dermatologist mentioned that my hair was quite thin at the crown of my head. I knew it was thin, but it wasn’t until I came home that night and looked at it with a mirror that I realised just how thin it had become.

The dermatologist did a puncture biopsy of my head and a week later we had the results. I have alopecia, which is a genetic thinning of the hair over time, and another thing which I can’t remember the name of where my hair follicles are dying and I will lose my hair.

The dermatologist was keen for me to go on medication – like three lots of it – to try and stop my hair loss, but I have decided not to go down this path as I am already on five medications for epilepsy, clinical depression, and high blood pressure. I don’t want to add to that mix really and the side effects of the hair loss medication and the monitoring of levels of different things like potassium are fairly full on. Instead I’m going to use scarves and hats, a thing called a topper that would go on the top of my head and blend in with my own hair to create the look of a full head of hair. And eventually I guess I may use a wig.

So, what has this got to do with not having children? Well, it is a reminder that I am getting older, albeit in a way I hadn’t expected. It is true that some women have babies in their forties, but the chances of this are very, very slight through both natural conception and IVF.  And for Kirby and me it is particularly remote.

I have realized that somewhere in deep down I believed I could still change my mind and we could try IVF one more time. We were young. We were still in that “baby bearing” age group.

The reality has hit that this is not so. We are being taken out of the realm where trying IVF one more time is a choice we truly have. The choice is gradually being taken away from us.

Even though we know we won’t ever try IVF again it is still hard to come to terms with. We have not got as much control as we once did, although I guess we never did have that control. Does this sound all mixed up?

I feel like I am entering another stage of having to say “farewell” to our children. I could hold them here, my fingertips could grip theirs and keep them here, but now letting them go completely is on the horizon.

I don’t feel ready to get older. I don’t feel ready to have grey and thinning hair. I don’t feel ready to accept that the choice, that perhaps we never really had in the first place, is being taken away from me, from us.

There is a scar in my heart from not having our children, and this sudden certainty that I am moving beyond child bearing years, is a splinter that has wedged its way into the tissue that lightly covers the wound I have. And I feel like I am bleeding.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Just popping by...

Just wanted to let you know I haven't forgotten about you...I've had a nasty cold this past week and my brain remains a bit foggy so I thought rather than writing a post that nobody could understand I will wait and see if the fogginess lifts by the end of this week...we shall see!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The garden…

There has been a lot of progress in our garden since I last wrote about it in the entry of 4th March 2014. The baby plants have grown steadily, the creek beds are finished on both sides of the drive way, and we finally have mulch!

It has been a stop and start process, but I am really pleased with the oasis that we have created in our front yard.

The last time I wrote about the garden I had just put in the plants – a wattle, a knobby club rush, a black anther lily, and a pig face. They were tiny, as you can see by the photos below. I was quite harsh on them. We had a week or so of hot weather (around 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit)), but I didn’t let that deter me from strengthening up the plants. I watered them three times a week for about two weeks and then they were on their own. And they thrived! All of the plants are indigenous to our area and so they are perfectly suited to growing on their own with little assistance from us.

I ordered the mulch about a fortnight ago. When I ordered mulch for our front yard at our old house, before we sold it, I made a mistake and ordered enough for three gardens…so this time I gave the dimensions to the supplier and asked them how much we needed. Two metres cubed of mulch was delivered to us on a Thursday afternoon. I had ordered forest mulch instead of bark chips as I want our front yard to be as natural as possible. The first thing I noticed when I went out to greet the delivery person was how much the mulch stunk. I thought I had made a big mistake.

Not to worry though – the smell was due to the mulch being compacted and in the sun when stored at the garden centre. The smell went away once the mulch was placed over the garden.

I set about mulching on the morning following delivery. I thought I would get it all done by lunchtime and then I could do other things in the afternoon (like take a long bath with Epsom salts in it!). I have a tendency to underestimate how long things will take. I started at 9.30am and finally finished at 4.30pm…

Laying newspaper under the mulch took the most time. Newspaper is brilliant at stopping weeds growing, and along with the mulch I do not envisage much weeding in the front yard in the near future. Yay!

It was quite an enjoyable day. It’s nice to get out in the sunshine and do some physical work when most days I sit inside writing or editing. Our neighbours were having pavers laid on the same day, and mid-morning I wanted coffee so I offered them a tea or coffee too. They didn’t want to be a bother, but I was putting the kettle on anyway, so they accepted. One of the men is from Vietnam and the other is from Afghanistan. The man from Afghanistan was hesitant to tell me where he was from when I asked. I find this very sad as it is very likely his caution comes from negative experiences he has had here. To me, he is a person, but I know there would be people who would immediately assume because he is Muslim and from Afghanistan he must be a terrorist. It’s ridiculous. I said how sorry I am about what is happening in Afghanistan. He said that most of the people want peace, but there are men who like to fight and he doesn’t understand it.

Later on, when the man from Afghanistan was having a break, he came over to our yard and offered to help me for a while. I had no expectation or even thought that I would get help from him, so it was a pleasant surprise. I have only recently learnt to accept help from others and realised that I don’t have to do everything by myself. It has been a tough lesson because it has meant letting go of the need to try and control everything and also letting go of the belief that I have to do everything on my own to prove that I am good enough. So, I accepted his help. I laid the paper and he brought wheelbarrows full of mulch to the sections of the yard I was working in.

It was a lovely time of neighbour helping neighbour and neighbour sharing with neighbour.

So, the garden is looking great, if I do say so myself. Have a look at the photos below which show the changes from August last year to March this year to now. We have created a place for life from the dreariness that our front yard once was.

I can’t wait to go to the nursery and buy more plants this weekend. Yay!

The creek bed August 2013, March 2014, and August 2014

The side creek bed and ponds August 2013 and August 2014

The front yard August 2013, March 2014, and August 2014

At one stage I thought we would lose the Black Anther Lily, after planting it in March, but it is a determined little plant

The Knobby Club Rush was barely visible in March, but now it is a healthy grass and has tiny flowers on it

The Pig Face has grown from a spread of just a few centimeters to more than one meter since March

The Wattle now almost covers the stick that dwarfed it in March. I can't wait til it flowers...




Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Puppy love...

Time really does pass by quickly! I thought I’d only missed a week of blog entries, but it seems it’s getting close to three weeks…whoops!

The truth is that I haven’t been feeling well lately in terms of mental and physical health. Struggling is a word that comes to mind. I won’t go into all of it as the blog entry “Where I am…” on the 28th of July says it all. The feelings and thoughts I wrote about in that entry became more intense in early August and I’ve been to see a psychologist who has helped me immensely. I do want to share with you my revelations and the changes in my thinking…but not today…
Today I want to write about a little puppy who has kind of broken my heart this week.

Three good boys...Odi, Ari, and Charlie
We have been looking after my sister-in-law’s puppy, Charlie, for the past ten nights. Charlie is ten months old, extremely wriggly, and very, very cheeky. Our dogs, Ari and Odi, adore him. Our cats, Felix and Frankie, on the other hand, aren’t so impressed with Charlie being in the house. Frankie taught Charlie all about claws when he got too close to her. Luckily Charlie is smart and went out of his way to avoid her from then on.

As the nights passed I realised that I was regularly counting how many more nights Charlie was staying. It was six nights, now five, now only four. It was going way too quickly. I didn’t want to give Charlie back. It wasn’t “Oh, Charlie is so cute – I want to keep him” in a joking way. I couldn’t even think about giving him back. I didn’t want to and I feared my heart would break if we did. I tried to think of ways that we might be able to keep him, while knowing all along that it wasn’t an option.

Even the thought of Charlie not being here with us made me cry.

I couldn’t understand why I felt so passionate about keeping him and so desolate at the thought of Charlie going home. It wasn’t like we would never see him again and we had our four fur-kids to look after and love.

It was in the psychologist’s office, after she had asked me why I was feeling sad, that I had a revelation.  I burst into tears and said that I didn’t want to give Charlie back because it made me think of Minerva and losing her (see blog entry "Sweet Dreams..."). I miss her so much and giving Charlie back, while not the same as Minerva dying, brought up intense feelings of loss.

Charlie in his bed...
Then there was the realisation about how nice it was to have a baby in the house. Okay, I know Charlie is a dog, but he is also a puppy. He needed to be comforted more than Ari and Odi (who are seven and eight respectively) and he wanted to come inside and go to his bed to have naps. Charlie has a bed that has zippered flaps to keep him in, but he’s managed to chew a hole through the front flap. As such we put the front of the bed to the wall and put him in his bed using the flap at the top of the bed. 

When I picked Charlie up and put him in his bed it felt like I was placing a baby in its cradle.

So, Charlie filled some of the missing pieces in my heart from losing Minerva and wanting a baby. It was comforting and I didn’t want it to end. I feared that the feelings of sadness, loss, and even the anger, associated with these two losses would rise again.

It seems we never truly “get over” any loss that we experience and that grief can return, even if only slightly, with every loss that occurs in the future. And this loss might be as simple as having to give a puppy back to his owners after ten nights of caring for him.

Charlie's close up...
Charlie went home last night. I miss him so much, and Ari is very lost without his little minion, but it was heart-warming to see Charlie so excited to see his (human) mummy and (human) brother after so long. It was as it should be to take Charlie home.

And now I know that my grief about Minerva and my grief about not having a baby linger still.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Yet another update on my book…

I am currently at the mercy of the IRS. In my blog entry of the 12th March 2014 I wrote that the publication of book would be delayed due to having to contact the IRS regarding some tax issues.

I filled out the relevant form (to obtain a Taxpayer Identifications Number (TIN)) and sent this off along with supporting documents to the IRS. But, my application has been rejected – with no real explanation as to why. So, I need to stay up late one night and give the IRS a call to find out more.

It’s frustrating, but it is important for me to get this all sorted out before I publish the book.

I’ll keep you updated!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Where I am...

I’m struggling. There’s no other way to put it. Every day I think about my life and how second rate it is, how I have done nothing, how I am nothing. I cry one or two times a day. I do feel sort of happy if I don’t think too much. I feel like the day is mine – at least before I get out of bed.

I look at my friends and family and I think about my life.

I never thought I would be in the situation that I am in now. When I was a kid I thought life had a certain trajectory and that I would follow that. I learnt in my twenties (through having serious illnesses) that this trajectory is not accurate – life doesn’t go from A to B to C etc. for most people. Still, I thought there were aspects of life that would be mine.

This expectation was amplified when I met Kirby. I had met my soul mate and I was in a job that I loved. So from then on I foresaw that I would have a career and my children would come along very soon.

That was almost ten years ago and life, at least in those two aspects, couldn’t be more different. I watch my friends and family having children and/or succeeding in their careers. I have neither. I have no children and I have no career.

What am I then? Who am I?

Honestly, I feel like I am nothing.

I know life isn’t perfect for anyone and that everyone goes through times when they feel like they aren’t worth anything – even if they have a career and/or children.

I also know that comparing my life to others is pointless as nobody knows the reality of another’s experiences and feelings. I know this, but I can’t seem to shake the feeling that I am not good enough, and I don’t even know where to start to try and find some meaning and purpose for me in the way that I can.

I’ve just turned 40, but I really don’t think my feelings have anything to do with this. I think it is more to do with Minerva (my fifteen year old cat) dying in May. It doesn’t seem like that long since I brought her home as a nine week old kitten and now she is gone. Fifteen years of my life with her and now she isn’t with me anymore. Maybe much of what I’m feeling right now is my grief for her.

Minerva
It’s also because there is a possibility that she could still be alive today. I took her to a vet last year who didn’t diagnose her kidney condition, and should have, and also prescribed Minerva with a medication that should not be given to cats with kidney problems. Minerva, if diagnosed then, might have been put on medication that could have helped her live a longer and healthier life. I feel like that is my fault. I didn’t research what was happening to her. I didn’t find out for myself what her symptoms could mean. I let her down. At least I feel like I did.
Ten years ago...

The tenth anniversary of when Kirby and I met is coming up in October. I think this has a great deal to do with how I am feeling as well.  There was so much excitement about our children. But, they’re not here. They’ll never be here.

Dreams coming true...
I don’t have a career and I don’t have children. What am I doing with my life? What is the point of it? I am so confused right now. I get up and I think about what I could do and then I feel like a car that starts, but then just keeps on stalling on the driveway. And even if I got onto the road – I have no idea what direction I would, could, or should drive in.




I am utterly and completely lost. Am I not moving because I don’t know what direction to take, or am I not acknowledging or taking the direction I know is for me because I am afraid?

I’m in a pit. But damn it if I’m going to stay here. I’m going to find footholds, no matter how tiny they are, and I’m going to reach for the love and hands of other people to help me climb out again. I don’t know when, but I have to hold onto the hope that it will happen.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The curse of the boys…

Last week ended up being busier than I expected and I didn’t manage to fit in the extra blog entry I had hoped to write.

So, here it is now!

Our family has many more boys than girls. When my Mum was pregnant with me she never entertained the idea that I might be a girl as the chances were I wouldn’t be. My Grandmother on my Mum’s side had eight children with only two being girls, and my Grandmother on my Dad’s side had four boys and no girls. Mum and Dad were thrilled and stunned when the doctor told them they had a daughter.

My cousin and I share my Grandmother on my Mum’s side, and until the girls were born last week there were five boys amongst my cousin and his siblings.

So, again, there wasn’t a great deal of expectation that the twins would be girls. But, they are!

My cousin announced the birth of the girls on Facebook and the comments that followed were congratulatory and full of love for the entire family. But, there were a couple of comments that I found hard to read.

They were “Yay you broke the all boy curse!!!” and “yay not more boys”. I realize these comments were made in partial jest, but I still don’t see the need to write them for two reasons.

The comments were directed at me – however, it is difficult to hear people inferring that having more children of one particular gender is part of a curse. No baby, regardless of gender, is part of a curse. Every baby is an incredible miracle – regardless of whether that baby is the sixth boy in a family with no girls, or a baby brother for a first born girl.

I would have been incredibly happy to have children of any gender. They could have been girls and boys, all boys, or all girls. It wouldn’t have mattered to us. I wouldn’t have seen any of our children as part of a curse. They would have each been special regardless of gender and we would have treated them as individuals with their own personalities and interests. After all, children can be the same gender, but that doesn’t make them the same as each other.

This leads me to the second concern. I wonder how the second, third, fourth, etc. child who is the same gender as their older siblings feel s when they hear or read comments that infer that the birth of a younger sibling of the opposite gender is the end of a curse. Do they feel they were not good enough because they were just another boy or just another girl? Do they think they are not special and unique? Do they feel that they weren’t really wanted? How many boys or girls in one family does it take to form a curse?

This bothers me. No child should feel they are less valued because of their gender.

It doesn’t take much for a child to feel insecure – and these kinds of comments put a child’s security, self-esteem, and happiness at risk.

Perhaps I am being too sensitive in thinking other people should be more sensitive in what they write and say, but these are my thoughts and concerns and I believe they have value.

To end on a humorous note – one of my friends was pregnant a few years ago. She and her husband already had a daughter and some people they know asked my friend if she was hoping for a boy. She replied that she was actually hoping for an elephant…I love it! 

Monday, July 14, 2014

What happened to my baby?

My cousin and his wife welcomed two gorgeous little girls into the world this past week. I haven’t met them yet, and I am very much looking forward to lots of cuddles!

I often dream about our own baby or babies around the time that a friend or family member had a child. This week was no exception.

I dreamt I was holding my baby boy. He was about six weeks old and we were in a temple-like building. There were a lot of people there and I didn’t recognise any of them. A group of about six men were standing on a platform next to an altar. The best way to describe these men was that each of them was a mix of a monk, a druid, and a grim reaper. They were dressed in dark brown robes with hoods that covered their heads and faces. I knew they were very old.

A ceremony started in which I was to hand over my son to the men so that they could take him to their monastery (for want of a better word) to teach him their “ways”.

I felt I had no choice in giving up my son, until a grey haired old woman with plenty of wrinkles and age spots quietly glided up to me and whispered “run”.

As often happens with dreams my son and I were instantaneously in another place. It was a road that actually exists and links the town I grew up in to one of the neighbouring towns. I was running up the gravelled verge of the road and trying to wave down cars. I held my baby boy out to get people to see that he needed their help.

The men from the temple were following me, but they were gliding rather than walking. Their robes were so long that I couldn’t see their feet, but I knew their feet weren’t touching the ground. I was terrified.

As they drew closer a yellow car pulled up to help us. I’m not very good in identifying cars but it looked like a Buick from the 1970s but it had four doors instead of two. The back door opened. I couldn’t see any of the occupants, but I started to get in the car anyway. It was the only option my son and I had left. The men from the temple were extremely close to us now.

That is where the dream ended. I don’t know if we made it into the car or whether the men caught us. I don’t know who the occupants of the car were. Were they dangerous? Were they going to help us? Were they part of the monastery and actually deceiving me? Was I going to lose my son?

I woke up in a state of panic and unsure where I was for a moment. Then, like all dreams about our children, I was sad and my arms felt empty.

I’m still not completely sure what this dream means. It wasn’t a conglomeration of things that had happened in recent days or weeks – I certainly haven’t met any men recently that are a mix of druids, monks, and the grim reaper. I haven’t driven, let alone walked, the road between my home town and its neighbour.

The most obvious interpretation is that with the birth of my cousin’s daughters my mind is once again processing our loss and I still hold onto the wish that I could do something to keep my children from harm.

But I’m not sure that the dream is only about that. Lately I have been struggling with my work and my creativity. I have been wondering if writing is really what I want to do, and I’ve been close to giving it up and trying something else – something that might be easier. Is the baby perhaps a representation of my creativity?
I’m going to leave this entry here rather than ramble on about it. I will be reflecting on the dream some more, and will write about it again next week.

I would be very interested on any ideas you may have regarding what this dream could mean.

Later this week I want to write about another aspect of the birth of my cousin’s daughters.

So, til then…


Sunday, July 6, 2014

She keeps on growing…



“Slipping through my fingers all the time 

I try to capture every minute 
The feeling in it 
Slipping through my fingers all the time 

Do I really see what's in her mind 
Each time I think I'm close to knowing 
She keeps on growing 
Slipping through my fingers all the time 

Sometimes I wish that I could freeze the picture 
And save it from the funny tricks of time
Slipping through my fingers all the time”

“Slipping Through My Fingers” - ABBA


I love this song. It provides a beautiful picture of a mother watching her daughter grow through the years – changing all the time. And it echoes just how quickly childhood goes, especially from the perspective of an adult watching a child grow.

If I had been blessed with a daughter I would have wanted, as much as I could, to teach her to be spiritually and physically strong, to be comfortable in her self and her skin, and to dare to follow her own path. I would have wanted to celebrate the milestones that come with passing from one stage of her life to another. One of the most important rites of passage that I would have liked to celebrate with her would have been her first cycle of menstruation.

Does that sound crazy? After all, a woman’s monthly periods can be annoying, painful, and can sometimes get in the way of life – such as stopping a woman from going swimming or wearing light coloured pants! What is there to celebrate?

There is much to celebrate. In many tribal cultures a woman’s first cycle is celebrated with rituals, with the gathering of women (mothers, grandmothers, aunts, female friends) to share advice, stories, and women’s wisdom. In the West we have lost that. The natural monthly cycle of a woman has been relegated to something that is annoying at best and abhorrent at worst – and definitely something to keep hidden away. I have even heard stories of girls believing they are dying when their first cycle began because they knew nothing about menstruation. It saddens me.

Obviously I don’t have a daughter and so I can’t organize a celebration for her with a group of women who are important to her. I can’t give her a gift from me to commemorate her change from a little girl to a young woman.

But, I do have many nieces, and one has recently started her menstrual cycle. I decided that I could do part of what I wanted to do for my own daughter for her. I wrote her a letter and I bought her a blue moonstone pendant.

Blue moonstone pendant
The pendant and photo is from Village Silversmith on Etsy

I chose the moonstone because there is an amazing connection between women and the moon that many people do not know about. The moon’s cycle, and most women’s cycles, are 28 days long. Many women will find that their period begins on or about the new moon or the full moon, and ovulation will occur on or about the new moon or the full moon. Unfortunately, because we use artificial lighting now, some women will find this is not true for them. There are “researchers” who deny that this link exists between women and the moon, but I don’t really care what their “research” says. I know it to be true for me and many others. And the ancient Greeks were onto it – the word menstruation comes from the Latin words menses (month) which comes from the Greek word mene, which means moon. So someone at some time realized there was a connection between women and the moon.

Well – now that I’ve explained all that I’ll get to the real meaning of this entry. I don’t have a daughter, and I can’t do the things that I hoped to do with her.  But I do have other children in my life that I can do these things, albeit adapted, with – such as giving the pendant to my niece and sharing some thoughts I have on menstruation.

I could give up and not do anything because I don’t have my own daughter, but I’d rather look at what I do have. I have so many opportunities to be in the lives of these precious children and to support them and share stories and wisdom (what I have thus far anyway) with them, and encourage them to share their stories and wisdom too. I’m very fortunate.

I just got a text from my niece thanking me for the pendant…she is my smart, wise, funny, and beautiful niece.

I don’t have a daughter, but I still feel the meaning of the song “Slipping through my fingers” when I think about my niece and the many other wonderful children in my life.

I’ll finish off with two more lines from the song…


“I'm glad whenever I can share her laughter 

That funny little girl.”

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Realization and my weasel…

The subconscious mind is powerful. It can bring up old feelings and pain without actually letting you know that this is what it is doing. You feel anxious, sad, unsure, and sometimes angry, but you don’t know why.

That is how I was feeling last week. All I wanted to do was run to get away from the feelings of inadequacy and pain that I was experiencing. I couldn’t picture how I could be happy.  And I didn’t know why. Life is good – I have a wonderful husband, I have the opportunity to follow my dreams of being a full-time writer, I have amazing friends and family, and I have just been to Thailand and fulfilled a dream.

Last week I felt quite pathetic. I had intended to experience life with more gratitude and simplicity, to remain inspired by what I experienced in Thailand, but last week I felt far from where I hoped I would be when I came home in May.

One of the dogs from BLES died in the last month, but I only just heard about his death this week. The news that the dog had died opened the way for the realization that my subconscious had been pushing something important up and I just wasn’t receptive to it. July is a wonderful month as it is the month in which Hugo was born. But, it is also the month of anniversaries of some losses. It is the month in which my beautiful Nan died three years ago and it is the month, six years ago, that we started IVF with the expectation that we would become parents. It’s true that no embryos were created from the first round of IVF, but with the cancellation of that cycle came the beginning of the death of hope that came more real with each cycle.

Anniversaries of deaths, in particular, bring with them memories and feelings about other losses that have happened as well. One of the most obvious is the loss of my cat, Minerva, just this past May. There is also the memory of my cousin who died in a motorcycle crash when I was eighteen and he was twenty one. 

There are other losses throughout my life, just like there are in everyone’s lives.

And, so, onto the weasel…

I have a weasel that turns mutant sometimes. Okay, not really, but I do have a part of me that when I am feeling melancholy and unsure seems to sense my weakness and rushes over to me to make sure I know just how useless and horrible I am. That is what was happening last week.

I felt fragile and with it came the thoughts of “you are stupid”, “you can’t do anything so why try?”, “anything you do will fail”, and the big one – “you can’t even have a child.” There was also one that relates to my concern that some treasured friendships seem to be falling away and I have no idea why.  Communication from their side has stopped. So, there were also the thoughts of “people don’t really like you”, and “you are not likeable – people just pretend to like you.”

I used to fight these feelings. I put all my effort into trying to overcome them, but all that happened was that the thoughts got stronger. There was no way I could defeat these kinds of torments and when I failed it just gave more ammunition for the thoughts that I am useless and no good.

I now have a strategy that I use where I imagine that there is a weasel in my mind. Normally it is well behaved and even useful, but every now and then it goes crazy and becomes a mutant that pours forth negative and unfounded judgments about me. If I try to make it go away completely it just gets more out of control. I have now given it an imaginary place where it gets a “time out” until it calms down. I imagine it as kind of a dog bed in the corner of the room.

This really does work for me. It’s like dealing with a child that is having a tantrum. I give it space, I don’t engage in its attempt to bring me down even though it keeps trying, and I ignore it until it calms down. Sometimes I even thank it after my thoughts return to being healthier.

Why would I thank this mutant weasel? Because sometimes it can be helpful. Telling me I am no good at anything is not a good thing, but helping me to recognize when I need to let go of something that I have tried and really have little talent for (and am even not enjoying) is beneficial. Saying people don’t really like me is something I don’t like, but helping me to think about whether I have done something that hurt someone can be a positive step in rescuing a friendship that is important to me.

Sometimes there is nothing positive that I can find in what the mutant weasel is saying. “You can’t even have a child” is one in particular. All I can say to the weasel then is “yep – that’s true…so what?”, or, even better, I ignore the weasel as it plays up in the corner.

While the weasel has its tantrum I get on with life.

With time the weasel calms down and stops the negative attacks. Then it returns to being a helpful and quite cuddly little creature.

I forgot about all of this last week. Life isn’t all rainbows and unicorns now that I have remembered, but it is certainly better…and I am free to think of the people and animals that have come and gone in my life with love and tears and laughter, and sometimes anger, without feeling that I am no good.

And I am free to think through the concerns of last week without being overwhelmed by them, and I can move forward instead of being stuck.

Me and Nan on the last day I saw her

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nothing is sorted…

I remember a Facebook post by a friend of mine that said something along the lines of one of the best things about turning thirty is that you’ve gone through the turbulent years of your twenties and that in your thirties you will know who you are and what you are about. You’ll get your life sorted out.

I replied that the best thing about turning forty is that you realize you have very little sorted out. You still aren’t too sure about who you are and what you are about and that you probably never will be, but that this is actually okay.

For me this is true. As I mentioned in my last post, the past ten years (my thirties) have been very different from what I expected. While I thought I would probably meet my life partner and this happened, there were also many unexpected twists. Not having children when I thought I was destined to be a Mum was one of the biggest. I’ve also lost not just one but three jobs (two through organizational downsizing and one through quitting because I couldn’t stand the bullying anymore), been diagnosed with a few major health conditions, and, of course, lost my darling cat, Minerva. I won’t go into the other twists because I’ve already listed them in last week’s post.

I thought, at the beginning of my thirties, that I would have it all sorted out by the time I turned forty, but as that age drew closer I realized the only thing I could be sure of was that nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, will ever be finally and for always sorted out. This realization has set me free from striving to be in a position in life that is actually a mirage – the closer you think you are getting to it the more it disappears.  It has enabled me to look at life differently – where nothing is set and there are opportunities everywhere. I normally find this a very good place to be.

But, some days, I hate it.

When I got back from Thailand I planned to live more simply and do more for the community and animals. I planned to live my life with more inner strength and personal integrity. This isn’t opposed to knowing I will never have everything sorted out. It is a philosophy I want to live whilst moving with life instead of against it.

Just one problem – I am feeling really, really overwhelmed right now. There are so many things I could do with my life that I am stuck doing nothing because I don’t know which way to go.  I have no idea how to go about my forties. What do I want to pursue? Do I really want to write novels? Is it too late to have a career change? What causes do I want to support? Do I want to do volunteer work? If nothing is sorted, everything is an option, and it’s unbelievably hard choose between them – and I do have to make choices because I can’t do everything. But because I can’t make a choice I am stuck in one spot and doing nothing. Why can’t I make a choice? I just don’t know.

Maybe I’m not as comfortable as I would like to be with not having my life sorted out– and I am afraid I will make a choice that will take me further into uncertainty.

Sometimes I think it would be easier if I had children. I would be a mum before anything else and my life would revolve around my kids. My choices would be limited to those that were in line with my role in being a mum.  

I know this is utter rubbish, of course, because mums have many, many choices they have to make all the time and not just for themselves but for their children too. It is not easier for them than it is for me in terms of making choices about their lives. And being a mum isn’t necessarily a life-encompassing role either. Many women are mums and pursue careers or causes or hobbies or other things as well.

For me, though, being a mum would likely have been the major role in my life. If people asked what I did I would be able to answer “I’m a Mum.” Of course, being a mum would have been in the context that nothing in life is ever sorted. Even now it hurts my heart that I will never be able to say that – although I do consider myself a mum to my fur-kids.

Am I rambling? Maybe I am. Maybe that’s a reflection of how confused I am right now. I think I’m going through another stage where I don’t know who I am if I am not going to be a parent. I don’t know what to do or what path to pursue. I don’t even know if I am happy right now.

That’s life I guess.

I’m reading a book at the moment called “The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can't Stand Positive Thinking” by Oliver Burkeman. It was given to me by one of my friends for my fortieth birthday. I’m half way through it. I think it might be a book that will give me a new perspective on life that might help with where I am at the moment. I’ll let you know.