43 & Childless during a Pandemic

by Brandi Lytle
Black & White Photo of a woman wearing a mask while looking out the window on "43 & Childless during a Pandemic" on Not So Mommy..., an infertility & childless not by choice blog
SENSITIVE POST WITH POSSIBLE TRIGGERS…

Today is my 43rd birthday.  When I originally thought about my birthday post back in February, I had planned to publish a blog entitled, “43 & Uniquely Me.”  You see, my first birthday blog here at Not So Mommy… was “41 & Childless.”  The next, “42 & more than childless…”  And this year…  Well, I feel I’ve made great strides embracing my childless journey and discovering my authentic self.  So, “43 & Uniquely Me” seemed to be the perfect blog to publish.  Until…

Best laid plans…

Well, you know what they say about plans…

We all know that coronavirus had already reared its ugly head well before February.  By the end of that month, it had claimed its first life in the United States, where I reside.  And by the end of March, social distancing regulations had been extended through April here in the US.  Plus, the guidelines in my state were changing almost daily, with shelter-in-place being discussed.

Triggers on Social Media…

Of course, the pandemic was a trending topic on social media.  And on 30 March 2020, this came across my newsfeed…

Trigger Warning: Insensitive Social Media Meme…

“Those of you quarantined without kids, how is it?  Is it relaxing?  Are there naps?  Can you just do what you want all day?  Talk dirty to me, tell me about the good times…..”

And I responded…

As someone who struggled with infertility for 10 years, is childless not by choice, and now advocates for CNBC through my blog, I must say that memes like this can be quite triggering.  There are many who would give anything to have littles…

And I placed a photo of the olive green Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon below my comment.

I got MAD.

But I just couldn’t let this go.  The more I thought about this meme, the more it angered me.  Now, if you are a regular here at Not So Mommy…, you know that I’m all about looking at things with a different perspective and finding the bright sides.  Heck, I even wrote a blog entitled, “The Bright Side of Infertility.”  But the meme about the quarantine, about being childless during a pandemic . . .  Well, it angers me because it acts as if those of us who don’t have kids don’t have a care in the world, as if we are selfish and simply binge watching TV all day while those with kids are the ones having a hard time during all of this.  And that makes me mad.

You want to know what it’s like to be quarantined without kids?!  Well, here’s what being childless during a pandemic looks like for me…

Childless during a Pandemic . . .

Trying to adhere to social distancing…

As the spread of Covid-19 continued, I became more and more anxious.  Trying to follow social distancing guidelines, I placed an online order for groceries.  The next day, when I went to pick them up, they told me my order was not ready yet.  So, I went home.  Luckily, Dane offered to go get them over an hour later when they were finally ready.  When he arrived home, I realized that they had given me less than half of what I requested.  This put me in a full-blown panic, stressed that we wouldn’t have what we needed if we were placed on lockdown.

Trying to find the supplies we need…

The next day, I went to the grocery store.  (Which remember, I was trying to avoid.)  Five stores later, (including a trip to the pet supply store), I had almost everything we needed.  (I thought.)  Dane went to one more store to look for the few items I couldn’t locate, including toilet paper.  (Which he didn’t find, by the way.)

I felt a bit better knowing that I had enough supplies to care for my family.  That feeling didn’t last long.

Trying to manage anxiety and stress…

The stress of this pandemic has placed an emotional toll on me.  I don’t know how to support my fellow childless not by choice.  Anxiety creeps its way into me often.  Complete meltdowns have subsided, though tears still happen.  Washing sheets and towels and clothes.  Disinfecting doorknobs, phones, computers, remotes, countertops…  Washing my hands so often that they are dry and flaky.  Washing Maddie’s paws.  Wiping down the inside of our cars, including steering wheels, door handles, radio controls…  Cooking.  Doing chores.  Cleaning.  Checking in with extended family in Oklahoma and Brasil.  Praying for my grandparents, my nieces, my nephews, my loved ones…  Wondering when I will be able to travel and give them in person hugs.  And trying to ignore the dull ache that seems to have set up permanent residence in my lower back because stress makes my endometriosis flare.  And when my endo flares, I have pain.

So, is being quarantined without kids relaxing?  The short answer—NO.

SENSITIVE MATERIAL WITH POSSIBLE TRIGGERS…  Discussion of fertility treatments, being childless & single, and more…

Cancelled Treatments…

With tears in my eyes, I think about those who were in the middle of fertility treatment cycles only to have them cancelled.  All the memes about “quarantine babies” in 9 months…  Well, there are those guaranteed that this will not happen because they can’t complete their treatments.

Childless & Single…

I think of the childless woman who is also single, posting on social media that she has not felt any human touch for days, weeks…  So, she gave herself a hug because no one else can right now due to social distancing.

Childless during a pandemic . . .

And now, tears are streaming down my face as I wonder how long will this last?  How much longer will we have empty shelves at the grocery stores?  When will we be able to start making plans to spend time with others?  How much longer before I don’t need to meet my husband at the door with Lysol wipe in hand in order to disinfect his bag and phone and keys and wallet?  (Construction has been named an “essential service,” so Dane continues to go to work every day.  And this causes me a great deal of angst.)

I got SAD.

So, the memes about how relaxing a quarantine without kids must be…  Like being childless during a pandemic is a luxury vacation…  Well, writing this blog has helped me move past my anger.  Now, I’m just sad.  Sad that once again, too many in the world seem to believe we childless lead frivolous, selfish lives.  Too many who believe all childless are young.  Who believe those without kids are childfree by choice.  Too many who fail to realize that there are childless who cannot stay home because they are providing essential services…

43 & Childless

As I begin my 43rd year on this Earth, I will continue to show the world what it really means to be childless not by choice.  While there are bright sides to this CNBC life, it is not all fun and games.  We childless lead complex lives.  Like others, we feel pain and sadness.  We worry about our world, our future.  This stay-at-home, shelter-in-place, lockdown, quarantine is difficult for us, too.  It’d be great if the stupid memes would go away.  But I doubt they will.

Well, it’s time for me to get back to the laundry and dishes and cleaning and cooking.  The only one who’ll be napping in our house today is Maddie.

THANK YOU, Fabulous Ones…

Though much of the world seems to be focused on the traditional “family” unit, I want you to know that you are seen, too.  I want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to all you childless fabulous ones…

  • THANK YOU to those allowing us to get the supplies we need from grocery stores, pharmacies, & home improvement stores.
  • THANK YOU to those working drive-thrus and curbside delivery.
  • THANK YOU to those in the medical profession–from nursing homes to hospitals to doctor’s offices.
  • THANK YOU to the delivery drivers–from truckers to those bringing us pizza.
  • THANK YOU to those in construction.
  • THANK YOU to those in veterinary medicine who are taking care of our fur-babies.
  • THANK YOU to anyone and everyone who is leaving the safety of their home each day because they have to.  Because what they do is deemed essential.  Because they own a small business and can’t afford to close.
  • THANK YOU to the teachers providing e-Learning to our students.
  • THANK YOU to those staying at home even though they are alone.
  • THANK YOU to those sheltering in place because they have underlying conditions which put them at risk.
  • THANK YOU to those working from home in order to help slow the spread.
  • THANK YOU to those practicing social distancing.

Our childless lives are not frivolous!  Let me say that again…  OUR LIVES ARE NOT FRIVOLOUS!  We are ALL essential!  Please, please, please do NOT ever let anyone make you feel less than!  Because you are SO much!  You.  Are.  FABULOUS!

 

If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, please tell us about it in the comments. 
If you feel comfortable, let us know what being childless during a pandemic looks like for you…
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8 comments

Maggie April 27, 2020 - 10:45 am

Happy belated birthday! I relate so much to this post. I went on a binge a while back and commented every time I saw that meme that actually, being CNBC is not a party, that I was crying and anxious every day wondering if my spouse who is a physician working in the hospital would get sick and feeling guilty that he might die without children. I posted on my Facebook about fertility clinics being closed and added the following: “Think of this before you make off-handed comments about how “lucky” childless people are and how great their lives in quarantine must be. While I do appreciate that it is very difficult to be cooped up with children and having to home school and work from home, the fact that after so many years I gave up my hopes of ever becoming a mother will never be lucky or great or amazing or anything other than a tremendous loss.” People need to think of others instead of playing the game of who has it worse.

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Brandi Lytle April 27, 2020 - 12:55 pm

Thank you for the bday wishes, Maggie! Also, THANK YOU for speaking up for our CNBC tribe. I appreciate that you have been willing to raise awareness about what it truly means to be childless. And last, but definitely not least, THANK YOU to your hubby for being an essential medical worker (and to you for supporting him in this career). Hugs…

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Sabrina April 14, 2020 - 1:23 am

Thank you, Brandi, for being angry (the memes also make me unbelievably angry) and then thoughtful and most of all so kind-hearted and sharing of your experiences. It helps so many. And I can totally relate to the exacerbated endo pain due to new stresses that come about from the realities of a pandemic. I echo Janelle’s comments above about all the virtual meetings we have now where people are compelled to have their kids join. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the adorable kids for a moment but let them say Hi and then send them off to play. Being childless during a pandemic has been especially hard mostly because when we are going about our normal daily lives it’s easy to be distracted from reminders we are CNBC and that helps dampen the pain of it. During a pandemic every day is a constant reminder of how quiet a CNBC life can be. Still I’m grateful for the life I do have and grateful for your words. Happy 43rd! I’ll be joining you there in just 4 months.

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Brandi Lytle April 14, 2020 - 11:23 am

Thank you for your sweet words and thoughtful comments, Sabrina. I’m so sorry you are suffering from endo pain and having to deal with daily reminders of the quietness of a CNBC life. I send you loads of hugs and pray, for all of us, that life can get back to going to work, being around others, and less social distancing soon. And happy early birthday! I hope you get to celebrate BIG in 4 months… 🙂

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Sherry April 13, 2020 - 4:47 pm

So now my tears are flowing as well. I will never understand insensitive people who only think of themselves and their situation. My Heavens, didn’t someone teach them to just be kind? Obviously not. Well thank goodness there is you, Brandi, to speak up, to educate, to lift and prop up others because you know exactly how they feel. Your heart just couldn’t be any bigger, kinder or more full of love.??❤

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Brandi Lytle April 14, 2020 - 11:24 am

Awwww! Thank you for these sweet, sweet words. Sending you hugs!

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Janelle April 13, 2020 - 12:49 pm

Now that many of us are working from home we are having virtual meetings and that means being invited into people’s homes. And what do many people’s homes have? Children. And every week when I meet with my team my colleagues feel the need to hold their kids or have them involved on the call. Just this morning my boss showed us a blanket and hat she crocheted for her daughter who is expecting twins (she also previously sent everyone a text of the sonogram). At the call and talked about celebrations one of my colleagues told us that two people in her family are expecting. Every one of these people knows about my struggle with being childless. It honestly feels so heartless. I don’t think these people are trying to hurt me. Honestly, I don’t think they’re even THINKING about me and my feelings. People are so wrapped up in their own lives they don’t realize how they’re affecting others. It’s hurtful. It makes me think of a Tori Amos song where she says, “I guess on days like this you know who your friends are.” But just like the pandemic, we will get through this grief. One step at a time, one day at a time.

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Brandi Lytle April 14, 2020 - 11:28 am

Janelle, I’m so sorry that your colleagues are being so insensitive. Unfortunately, I think you are right… They aren’t thinking about you and your feelings. And that makes me both angry and sad, just as the insensitive meme did. (It was posted by someone who knows of my husband and my struggle.) You are correct, however. We will get through the grief. Because we are strong. And because we have this amazing tribe to lean on for support. Sending you hugs…

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