Childless and Misunderstood

by Brandi Lytle
Photo of a dandelion pouf on Childless and Misunderstood on Not So Mommy..., a Childless Blog

In mid-December, I was feeling positive, even excited.  There were new adventures on the horizon, and I couldn’t wait to tackle them.  After arriving back home from our Christmas visit to Oklahoma and quietly ringing in the new year, however, I was left a bit depressed, unmotivated, feeling flat.

What happened?

As I pondered this question, I began thinking about my New Year’s Resolution, goals I want to achieve, and the word I would focus on during 2019…

Infertile and Alone

During our ten-year infertility battle, I felt so alone.  It seemed that no one, not even my husband, understood what I was going through.  Despite reaching out to him, friends, and family, I still felt completely and utterly alone.

That awful feeling of isolation is one reason I started this blog.  I never want anyone to feel alone on this journey.

Because we are not.

Since starting Not So Mommy…, I have discovered a vibrant group of amazing childless.  Some suffered through infertility, others arrived by chance or circumstance.  No matter the path to this unwanted destination, we all know what it feels like to dream and hope and wish for something that is not to be.

So, this feeling I was dealing with…  It wasn’t the dreaded isolation.  This was different, and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what it was…

I knew, however, that I needed to shake it before a big wobble set in.  So, I continued to try and figure out what perspective I needed in order to move forward…

A flashback to my 2014 resolution…

That thought brought me back to my 2014 resolution, the resolution that changed my life.

At the very end of 2013, I wrote the following:

“Stop trying to convince everyone else I’m a mom.  Just accept it myself.”

I’m infertile.  I’m childless.  So, accept that I’m a mom?!  You might be wondering if I am also delusional.

In fact, I am not.  (Well, at least, I don’t think I am.)  I am a dog mom.  And to me, that means I am a real mom.  After all, “dog,” in this case, is simply an adjective.  Drop the adjective and you are left with the most important part of the description, “mom.”

Fulfilling my 2014 goal…

Asserting my dog mom role as a real mom role allowed me to move forward in joy, embracing my infertility and accepting our childless life.  This also allowed me to open my heart to the opportunity of becoming a host mom to a foreign exchange student.  (Those of you who follow along here regularly know how absolutely amazing that experience was for us!)

So, I fulfilled my 2014 resolution.  I know who I am.  I am a wife, dog mom, aunt, host mom, infertile, childless woman who is redefining momhood and living this imperfectly perfect life!

So, why, oh why do I feel down?  Why can’t I pull myself out of this funk?

Christmas 2018 Struggles…

There were some struggles this Christmas.  I thought the difficulties would be because my best friend was not there, having gone to Heaven in September.  I spent so much time ensuring that her memory would be kept alive, planning new traditions and fun experiences, that I was not prepared when other triggers happened…

Our family is fairly accepting of Dane’s and my childless life.  They seem to get that Maddie is our kid.  In fact, several of them even buy her Christmas presents, and they let her come to the various family gatherings.

So, I was surprised (and a bit disappointed) when not one, but two family members did not know Maddie’s name.  How is that even possible?!  She is five years old, for goodness sake!  And not one, but two family members did not want Maddie to give them kisses.  And then, one of our nieces exclaimed, “Ewww!  You let her give you kisses on the face?!”  And then, there are “the rules.”  No dogs in the dining room.  Except Maddie isn’t a dog.  She’s our kid.  And, as long as she sits quietly next to us, not bothering anyone, she is welcome in our dining room at home.  So, how can we explain that today she is supposed to stay out?

Oh, it was all a bit exhausting…

Childless and Misunderstood

And that’s when it dawned on me.  I am no longer infertile and alone.  But I do feel childless and misunderstood.

Crap.  This is year six of accepting our childless life.  How can I possibly be so sure of who I am and yet still feel childless and misunderstood?!  What am I going to do?!

And I thought about my 2014 resolution again…  “Stop trying to convince others that I’m a mom.”

I have stopped trying to convince them!

Unfortunately, though, I now want them to understand…

And that is an unrealistic expectation.

Because just as I cannot fully understand what it is like to be a full-time mom of two-legged littles, others cannot fully understand what it is like to battle infertility for ten years to ultimately let go and accept your childless life and over-zealously embrace your dog mom role.

And if I continue to allow their rejection of puppy kisses or desire that dogs stay out of the dining room to trigger me, then every family function from now on will leave me feeling childless and misunderstood.

Well, that sucks!  Can I get some good news here, please?!

Why yes, yes, you can.

The good news is…

But the good news is that just like I was in control of believing that I am a mom, I am also in control of feeling childless and misunderstood.

What do I mean?

Well, I can explain our situation, my deep and intense and true love for Maddie to others, but that doesn’t mean they’ll understand or fully get it.

But that’s okay.

My being Maddie’s Mom is not dependent on others believing it.  It is dependent on my believing it.

And my understanding of our childless life is not dependent on others understanding it, but on Dane and me understanding, accepting, and embracing our life.

My 2019 Resolution…

Just as I am no longer infertile and alone, I am committed to no longer being childless and misunderstood.  So, my 2019 resolution is…

Stop expecting others to understand my childless life.  Just embrace my life and live who I am authentically and with joy!  -Brandi Lytle

Here’s to 2019 and the next step on my journey…  Committed to not feeling childless and misunderstood.  Committed to not just accepting my childless life, but embracing it.

 

If anything I wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
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Featured Photo: Danielle MacInnes on StockSnap.io

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4 comments

Ings January 8, 2019 - 12:17 pm

This resonates with me so much. Ten years after my “I’m done” decision ( the day I put the ‘phone down after the last bad news call from the fertility clinic) I still get the urge to make my loved ones understand. My dog is the child I never had. I got him (and his little sister, who died three years ago – another opportunity for people to not understand!) during fertility treatments when the desperation to hold a warm, live little being in my arms threatened to crush me. Over the years he has fallen asleep on top of me, licked away my tears, sat up close to me when I needed it, been the constant presence that keeps me from hearing the silence of the empty house. I hang out on dog FB groups where we all talk about our “children.” Dachshund Lovers is my favorite. I feel that my close attachment to my dog is accepted and understood there. We all post proud photo’s and share stories and give and receive validation. I love how they always use Jock’s name in comments. Such a small thing, but as you said, so huge for us. If you lived nearby, I would arrange play dates with your lovely Maddie and we could talk about them all day! Hugs to you

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Brandi Lytle January 8, 2019 - 2:45 pm

Oh, Ings, you made me tear up and smile all at once! I so wish we could have play dates with Maddie and Jock! I am very grateful that you have found a group of people who “get it” and with whom you can share your love for your fur baby without fear of judgment. I recently joined a closed FB group called “Parents of Paws (Childless not by choice)” and am loving the interactions I am having there. 🙂 Like your Dachshund Lovers, we post photos and share stories and enjoy a positive environment.

I am so sorry for your loss of Jock’s little sister. Two of our fur babies, Prancer & Valentine, have crossed the Rainbow Bridge. We still miss them every day. Like you, they helped me so much during our infertility battle.

And I love that you said, “My dog is the child I never had.” I think that is a bold and brave statement that we childless not by choice who are fur parents are sometimes scared to state for fear of what others will think. I am committed to living my authentic truth this year, however, as you know from reading this blog post. My fur babies have allowed me to be a mom, and I feel so blessed because of it!

Despite the circumstances, I’m so glad that you are here. Thank you again for commenting! You made my day! Hugs back…

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Sherry Stout January 7, 2019 - 8:56 pm

Stop expecting others to understand, just BE! That is a very powerful statement that can apply to lots of situations. I am so very proud of you. And p.s., I adore Maddie kisses anywhere, anytime.

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Brandi Lytle January 8, 2019 - 11:15 am

That is because you are an amazing Mammo who has fully embraced her dog grandma role. I am beyond blessed to have your support! Maddie and I send you kisses… 🙂

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