Trigger Warning: Real, honest talk about infertility, the inability to get “p,” labels such as “infertile” & “barren,” childless/childfree holidays, and more…
So far during this “Finding Peace in Childlessness” Series, we have talked about physical acceptance, emotional acceptance, and acceptance of your entire journey… That gets us the P-E-A in PEACE. Today, we’re going to discuss the “C” and “E,” which stand for the Courage to Embrace what is . . .
Now, in my humble opinion, “accept” and “embrace” are two different things. As I often do, allow me to use my journey as an example about what I mean…
The Courage to Embrace What Is . . .
Accepting & Embracing Infertility…
I’m not 100% sure when I accepted my infertility. But I know that by 2013, I had realized my husband and I couldn’t get pregnant. And I accepted that scientific truth. (In fact, it even brought a bit of comfort knowing I didn’t do anything wrong… Relaxing wasn’t going to help me get pregnant! But, I digress…)
As I look back, I think I started to embrace my infertility in 2014. In December 2013, my hubby told me he didn’t want to try anymore. So, in 2014, I fully embraced my dog mom role. And in 2015, I eagerly embraced the role of host mom to our foreign exchange daughter. Though I had embraced my infertility, I was only beginning to accept my childless life…
But I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Before I start talking about trying to embrace childlessness, I want to discuss infertility–and the “labels” that go along with it…
You know, I state that I am infertile. Honestly, I have found power in that word. For me, being able to matter-of-factly tell someone, “I’m infertile,” has allowed me to take control. I’m not embarrassed by it nor do I feel my infertility is something to hide. (Obviously, since I’m publishing a public blog about my journey!) Yup. Can’t get pregnant, battled infertility, we are infertile… I openly use this language with others–those I know and strangers, alike.
The word I can’t get on board with, though–barren. I literally just made a face as I typed that word. I loathe the word “barren.” Yes, it technically describes me… Oh, I made another face. And rolled my eyes. But I do not identify as barren! I will never describe myself as such. I will never use that word to tell others about myself. So, despite the fact that it is scientifically true, I do not accept “barren” as part of my identity.
Labels have power.
Why do I tell you this? Because words have power. Labels have power. And that power can strengthen or weaken…
Embracing the word “infertile” gives me strength. But using the word “barren” makes me feel weak and ugly and like something is wrong with me. So, you know what? I don’t use the word “barren.” And if someone else described me as such, I would kindly tell them that I am infertile, but I do not wish to be labeled as “barren.” Yuck. It’s such an ugly word!
And you, fabulous one… You can choose which words you want to accept, to embrace… You can define yourself! But before I go on a tangent, let’s talk about how I moved from simply accepting my childless life to beginning to embrace it… (Something I never thought I’d do when I started writing this blog…)
Accepting & Embracing Childlessness…
Yes, in 2014, I was beginning to try and accept a childless not by choice life. I had reached physical acceptance about my infertility. I was working through the emotional acceptance of it all–continuing to grieve, but also trying to find the bright sides to this childless life…
As I connected with other CNBC, tried to look at things with a different perspective, searched out bright sides, and committed myself to redefining, I have slowly begun to embrace this childless life… And for me, that means I accept (and even embrace) some childfree aspects of my life.
ChildLESS vs. ChildFREE
Notice I said childFREE… Using this word holds high significance for me.
If you follow along here at Not So Mommy…, you know that I state, “I am childless, not childfree.” I have many kiddos in my life–both two-legged and four-legged–who are SUPER important to me. Because of that, I have chosen to call myself “childless not by choice.” Because, to me, “childfree” sounds as if my life is “free” of children. And that simply isn’t true.
Now, there are some who have embraced the phrase, “childfree after infertility.” This group has found strength and power and peace in this path. And I think that is phenomenal! It’s simply not the right phrase for me…
But, as I stated earlier, embracing my childless life is starting to happen as I embrace some of the childfree bright sides… What do I mean?
A Childfree Thanksgiving…
Well, in 2017, my husband and I went to New York City to celebrate Thanksgiving. This meant leaving Maddie with our puppy sitter… Now, this took a bit of time for my heart to agree. You see, it’s important to me that we celebrate holidays with our fur-baby. In fact, Thanksgiving is one of Maddie’s favorite days because it’s “Turkey Day!”
But I also know that Maddie doesn’t realize that Thanksgiving falls on a certain Thursday in November. So, my husband and I took advantage of the fact that we do not have a two-legged little at home and went to NYC to see the Parade and take a dinner cruise out to the Statue of Liberty on Thanksgiving Day. It was glorious!
And when we got back from our childfree Thanksgiving… Well, we embraced being childless and cooked a full Thanksgiving at home so we could celebrate with Maddie and give her some turkey… 🙂
A Childfree Halloween…
I feel like I really embraced a childfree bright side in October 2018…
That year, we went to New Orleans and celebrated an adult-only Halloween! An Ed Sheeran Concert, Bourbon Street, and more… There was nothing kid-oriented about this holiday! Before and after our trip, we were so busy trying to finish our upstairs remodel (since family was visiting in November) that I really didn’t do anything with Maddie to celebrate. I know we visited the Pumpkin Patch and snapped a few pics. But it was a very subdued Halloween with our fur-baby. She didn’t seem to mind, though!
The Courage to Embrace What Is . . .
As you’ve probably already figured out, the courage to embrace what is . . . Well, it is not a straight path! Just as we discussed in Acceptance of Your Entire Journey, there are twists and turns, ups and downs, highs and lows… And though I can embrace a childfree Halloween, I’m not at the point of being able to accept a childfree Christmas… Though my hubby and I are beginning to talk about what it would look like to travel over Christmas… We shall see… But I digress again!
Acceptance of your entire journey and the courage to embrace what is . . . Well, this looks differently for everyone.
For the last day this year’s World Childless Week, I published a blog about just that entitled, “Moving Forward: So Many Paths to Acceptance…” You can read it here.
Quite a few Not So Mommy… community members have shared their “Good Things Stories,” explaining how they found joy despite struggle… You can read their stories here. (And if you’d like to learn how to share your Good Things Story, just click here.)
Others in the Not So Mommy… tribe have shared their CNBC Stories, telling how they are Creating a New plan Bravely & Courageously. (You can read those here.)
Forgive me. But I must digress…
The Redefining of CNBC…
You know… I’ve wondered if I should change my “redefinition” of CNBC slightly… I mean, brave and courageous are the same thing, right? So, aren’t I being a bit redundant?
Maybe I should say “Creating a New plan Beautifully & Courageously.” But creating our Plan B, accepting, redefining, embracing… Well, it isn’t always pretty.
How about boldly? Creating a New plan Boldly & Courageously… But often, we take timid steps, little steps, frightened steps as we try to accept this life we didn’t plan, as we try to embrace what is . . .
So, bravely & courageously? Yes. It takes a double dose of bravery, a double dose of courage to accept and embrace a new plan. Yep. Bravely & Courageously. It works.
If you want to share how you are Creating your New plan Bravely & Courageously, just click here.
And if you are thinking, “Share my plan?! I’m nowhere near embracing this life I didn’t ask for!” Well, that’s okay. You can start finding peace by accepting… Accept where you are. Be kind to yourself.
And now, we are…
Back to Finding Peace…
Accepting, embracing, finding peace… It’s a journey. Just remember. You aren’t walking this path alone. There is a vibrant childless community ready to love, encourage, and support you. Reach out when you wobble. And be willing to lend a hand when others struggle…
Our tribe is fierce, fabulous one! Though you may feel that you are taking the timid, little, frightened steps we talked about previously, remember that You Are Worthy! So, be bold this holiday season! Walk into those holiday gatherings with your head held high, knowing there are literally hundreds of childless standing with you… Hundreds of fierce fabulous ones who are accepting, redefining, embracing, creating a new plan bravely & courageously, trying to find peace in childlessness, trying to find the courage to embrace what is . . . Just like you.
If anything I wrote resonates with you, please tell us about it in the comments.
As you try to accept, redefine, embrace, find peace… You might also like to read the following:
- The Bright Side of Infertility
- 17 Bright Sides of a Childless Christmas
- 18 Beautiful Moments from a Childless Life
- Celebrations as a Childless Family
- The Childless Not By Choice Awareness Ribbon
If you are struggling this holiday season, I encourage you to read the following:
- How to Survive Childless Holidays
- 4 Strategies to Survive Mother’s Day & Other Triggers
- Childless And Misunderstood
- Not So Helpful: Things You Shouldn’t Say to the Childless
I realize the holiday season can be quite difficult for we childless. Please, feel free to contact me if you need a listening ear. I don’t ever want anyone to feel alone on this journey.
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