Monday, 15 January 2018

Ageing without children (again)

The last few months have been busy caring for my rapidly ailing in-laws, and it is leaving little time for us to do much else, let alone look for work, travel beyond an overnight trip, work on our own garden and home maintenance projects, or – for me – no opportunity to even get out with my camera to complete some challenges in my photography course.

This last week, my in-laws Wills and POAs were updated and finalised; of course, my husband did everything, organised the lawyer, provided the drafts, talked it through with them, etc, based on his parents’ wishes.

With my MIL ailing over the last few months (she’s 94, and went through a course of chemotherapy!), we have been at least part-time carers, thinking of things they don’t think about (the chemotherapy affected MILs mental ability(, or don’t see (my FIL is going blind), and doing as much as we can without taking away their independence.

As a result, the issue of who will care for us in our old age hovers over me, although I try not to ask that question, as I’ve accepted that there will be no-one in particular we can rely on; though I hope one or two of my nieces might still be in the country.

Once again though, it is a reminder that we will need to get organised early, and live in an environment with plenty of support. We won’t have the luxury of leaving our decisions until we are in our 90s, when ultimately someone else has to make the hard calls. But in retrospect, watching my in-laws, I don’t think that is at all luxurious, or lucky.

Making positive decisions for our own personal care and welfare when we are younger and more lucid will mean that when we are elderly and vulnerable, we should already be somewhere we are comfortable (physically and emotionally) and don’t have to worry over decisions we are no longer capable of making. Maybe there are advantages to knowing that we have to do it all ourselves?

Monday, 8 January 2018

How to love well

I read a beautiful poem the other day. What struck me was the first 25% of this long, but compelling poem, Hymn by Sherman Alexie. The first three lines captured me:

Why do we measure people's capacity
To love by how well they love their progeny?
That kind of love is easy. Encoded.

They express a sentiment I’ve often thought, but could never articulate as beautifully as the poet has done. Read the rest, the author elaborates on this idea.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

2017: Looking back on the blog

I know it is 2018 already, but I didn’t get around to doing a 2017 year in review. Thanks to Loribeth for reminding me by writing her own!

Travel, travel planning, and travel photography and editing got in the way of blogging in 2017, but I still managed 63 posts, so I'm pretty pleased with that. (Especially as I managed 65 posts on A Separate Life too.)

Once again, my plan to get in guest posters from my ectopic days foundered, but I haven’t given up on the idea yet. I was delighted to see one of these women, bamberlamb, start to blog at It’s Inconceivable. So every time she posts, I think I can take a bit of credit!

I added one more post to my “Gifts of Infertility” series has languished for over a year now, but there is one more to write. Finishing a series is hard, though, because what if I think of something else? lol.

I continue to find things to say, or find things I want to say again, with a slight update. My No Kidding life is the rest of my life, so I think I’ll always have things to say. The last two years I’ve spoken out in public too, and that was a big step for me.

To write this post, to be able to list my personal favourites of the year, I have spent the afternoon re-reading my words, and have actually found it quite useful. I’ve realised that I need to take my own advice more, and to apply what I have written here to broader areas of my life. Another of the gifts of infertility.

I wrote a few about how we see ourselves, and how our thinking changes:

There was the occasional rant too:

And thoughts about being an aunt:
Being a Childless Aunt

But my favourite is simply because it quotes my husband:

This is an annual nod too to Mel, who used to run the Crème de la Crème, where we would list our favourite post of the year. It always provided inspiring reading. So even though it doesn’t happen officially now, I hope that you too will list your favourite posts from your own blogs, on your blogs, for us to enjoy again (or for the first time). 

Monday, 1 January 2018

It's not all about me

When we think about the impact we might have on others' lives, it's never the things we think about. For example, one of my adult nieces recently posted on Fb about a favourite old movie, tagged her sisters, and remembered that it was a movie I had given them. One of her sisters has separately talked about some of the things we had brought them from our overseas travels, none of which I can remember.

One of my 17-year-old nieces commented that on her last trip to New Zealand, she remembered the most amazing (her words) dessert I'd made them, with chocolate trees (it was a chocolate mousse, with chocolate palm trees as decoration). To her it was important, yet until now, I have always remembered that mousse as an embarrassing failure, as it was the one time I couldn't get the egg whites properly mixed in, leaving little flecks of white through it.

We can't control how others will remember us, and they remember things we have often forgotten. So it just reminds me to be me, and not to try too hard. Because they'll remember the funny things, the small things, the things that mattered to them, not the things that mattered to me.

Saturday, 30 December 2017

Being a childless aunt

I’m enjoying having our twin nieces and their parents in town for the first time in over eight years (see my post Scattered Families on A Separate Life). I’ve bemoaned the fact (many times!) that we have no siblings living in this town, and my husband has no siblings in this country. It makes it harder as we have sole responsibility for caring for his parents, we won’t have the companionship of siblings here when we age so will be faced with decisions (friends vs family – perhaps another post to come), and we lose out on relationships with nieces and nephews too.

I was keen to spend as much time with them as I can. And then got thinking the other day about the depth of feeling I have around spending time with and getting to know the girls during the all-to-brief time they’re here in New Zealand. Mostly, in the past, I’ve put this down to the fact that they live so far away. After all, missing them and wanting to see them is a perfectly normal emotion. It’s not just on my side either. I know they feel the loss of not having any relationships with their father’s side of the family. Aside from us and their grandparents, the girls have never met any of them, including their cousins, and I find that really sad.

Then I stepped back, and thought about it some more. Do I feel this way because I don't have children? Or because I don’t have the luxury of having many other children in my life? If I had children myself, would I feel this real need to get to know them, and for them to know me?

I know that I would always want to get to know them, to +an extent. But I doubt that the need would be the same. If I were a parent, my primary relationships with children would be as a mother. But my primary relationships – actually, my only relationships – with children are instead as an aunt through my nieces and nephews, and through a few children of my friends. (Though as friends’ children grow, their parents’ friends see them much less. With nieces and nephews, that relationship always exists.)

And so I feel the loss. I’m not so much mourning the loss of my own children, because I’ve come to terms with that. But I do feel the loss of the relationships with nieces and nephews. They’re my only connection with the next generation, and I value that, when I can get it. They’re the only people who will remember me when I’m gone. I’m not sure that worries me too much – being forgotten, I mean. But it is nice to know that there will be some people after I’m gone who might have valued having me in their lives.

Still, I can’t do much about it. And I know to try to fill that void by pressuring myself or the girls (or other nieces and nephews) to intensify our relationships wouldn’t work for any of us. The best is to take it naturally, and enjoy it when it happens. Which is what I’ve been doing over the last few weeks.