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Thursday, November 20, 2008

In Defense of Self-ASSvice

Greetings, Lovelies!

Two seemingly unrelated stories: A while back, Murgdan posted something about Grandma giving infertility-related, unwanted ASSvice (which I guess is, by definition, unwanted), and her post was - like most of her posts - hilarious, honest, and sad. Later, I was talking to a TTC friend about things - especially ASSvisory things - NOT to say to people who can't seem to produce living breathing babies. You know, things like:

"You weren't meant to have kids."
"You're better off without kids."
"Just relax and it'll happen naturally."

In both cases, I initially thought to myself, oh yeah! I get those bits of assvice all the time! But then, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that in fact, I don't get those all the time. At least not from other people (maybe that's a hidden blessing of stillbirth: people just have more of an intuitive, tangible, dead babyish reason to know better).

Still, why were these things so eerily familiar? Is somebody whispering assvice to me in my sleep? Finally, I realized who the unsolicited assvice-giving culprit is:

And that got me wondering if ASSvice is okay, when given to oneself. Is it sort of like how I imagine it must be to criticize one's own kids? You can dish it yourself (yeah, my daughter is a total shit), but can't take it from others?

It wouldn't be possible for me to recount all of the self-assvisory conversations I've had in my head the past year or so, during which K and I have been trying without success since last summer:

K and I pulling up on our bikes in the town square of a Slovakian village, downing two 15%-alcohol bottles of chilled beer, checking into a guest house, and enjoying some loud vacation sex. Self-assvice:

It COULD happen right now, but honestly, I'm better off without kids.

Money in our "fun savings account" that wouldn't be there if we were paying for childcare. What to do? Next year's vacation, a kitchen remodel, a new puppy. Self-assvice:

We SHOULD still build up a kiddie account, but I'm better off without kids.

Thinking selfishly about my own needs for attention, puppies, nap time, espresso, happy hour, rainy days for writing, cartwheels in the living room, overseas flights, dance parties blasting profanity-filled hip hop.

I'm a selfish person. Not meant to have kids.

Absolutely hating the obsessed, depressed, ever-pining-after-baby-making-success person that I sometimes fear I'm in danger of becoming. Pitch the thermometer.

Relax, and it'll happen as soon s you stop wanting it so bad.

Maybe I should smack myself for being insensitive toward my own wants and needs. Maybe I should quit self-assvising. Maybe it's all a psychological safety net, as aforementioned hoardable friend pointed out it might be, and I should really be self-angstigating instead.

Maybe I should constantly reassure myself that I'm most definitely NOT better off without kids; that I'm meant to be a mother and I'm just pretending I should be a writer instead; that I absolutely LOVE the smell of poopy diapers; that I'd readily and ecstatically I'd give up any and all personal and financial freedoms if I could only have this one thing, a baby; that I'd better not relax or it'll never happen; that the power to write a twenty-bazillion dollar check for IVF-gender-selection-whatever is in my hands and I'd better grab a pen and get going; that if K and I don't emphatically engage in intercourse every other day for the next eight years I'll be doomed to reproductive failure and my ovaries will turn into shriveled cantaloupes; that all I really want is a baby to fill that spare bedroom and why the fuckity-fuck-fuck can't I have it.

But I can't, and won't (at least not in public, except for rare moments of painful, licking-the-computer-screen, brutal honesty that make me even cringe).

Why? Well, if I say those things enough times, I start to believe they're true, and feel as though my inner core is literally melting away into a blue blob of unrecognizable goo, forever altered by my KuKd status into an unhappy and angry and victimized-feeling person who can no longer live in the moment, accepting, zen-like, Martha Stewart, calm. Not the Mom that Zachary would want or hope me to be. I can practically hear Zachary's wise voice from the Mad Cool MTV RealWorld Penthouse for Bitchin' Stillborn Babes asking me:

"Yo Mom! Where you at? What happened to the old Mom you used to be?"

I withhold the urge to correct his grammar (he'll learn the hard way when he doesn't get that first job he applies for because of a missing auxiliary verb on his resume), and take my cue to start self-ASSvising again.

We all deal with hardships in different ways, and I suppose self-ASSvising is my own way, my only defense against my own self-angstigational attacks. If I DO surrender to sadness and longing, then in the highly plausible event that I never DO have kids, I fear I will have sold my soul to my own losses, consumed by them, ever-doomed to a life of wishing I had something more. To that kind of life, I say: HELL FUCKING NO.

I'm pretty sure Zachary approves, for now anyway (although I'm waiting for the day when he's like, 'wait, are you saying you're better off without me?')

Don't worry - I've got all my defenses and brilliant answers set up for when that question comes, along with other hard ones, like "since you smoked pot in high school, why can't I?"


'Murgdan' said...

Ohhh...and my mother just called to remind me, "Your grandmother is coming to visit this weekend!" YAY. I'm sure I'll hear it again (she can't resist).

And, yes, I do reserve the right to self-assvice, but no one else can do it for me! Luckily, having a concrete thing (crappy sperm) to blame IF on, I no longer have to dish out as much self assvice of the 'just relax' category...or the 'stop temping' category. I can relax and ovulate till the end of time and never make a baby.

Oh...and as for the "Mad Cool MTV RealWorld Penthouse for Bitchin' Stillborn Babes" <---you are so awesome for thinking of that phrase at all. Love a sad twisted sort of way (I have no dead babies and therefore am not permitted to make dead baby jokes, and I'm not sure if I'm allowed to laugh at them either).

Monica LeMoine said...

Murgdan: You are allowed to laugh at dead baby jokes, for the record. Sometimes, it's all we can do, really.

Michelle said...

You make me laugh all the time. Thank you.

I think self assvising is ok, like Murgdan said no one else is allowed to do it for you. I try to give myself assvice but apparently I don't listen to myself either. We all have to do what we have to do that gets us through each day the best we know how otherwise I think, at least for me, I may be in a looney bin some where so whatever works I say go for it!!!

B said...

you crack me up (as usual). bTW: where can I get 15% alcohol beer? What brand is that one?????

Monica LeMoine said...

Michelle: Happy to make you laugh. Any time, dahling.

B: Only in the former U.S.S.R. The brand is Baltika - and talk about a buzz, man! Five sips and BOOM - that crimson-cheeked, happy-as-a-clam feeling!

cori said...

hello friend -
you are as good as you are (imho - pretty amazing) with or without kids. while i can't speak from experience, i think having kids just makes you a different person. similarly, owning a dog, or being a spouse, makes you a different person as well.

i have no doubt that you would be a fantastic mother, but only because you are a wonderful person...and whether or not you are currently a mother doesn't change that.

meanwhile, keep fighting the good fight...holding onto hope can't be a bad thing.

Sara said...

How can you NOT give yourself Assvice until you have settled on one path or the other? I mean, I can see clearly that happiness lies in either direction, right? to have a baby or to not have a baby - either path has fulfillment, either path has a life I could embrace. But right now the "to have a baby" direction isn't in my control - I only have the option to keep "trying" to have a baby. And while I keep "trying" to have a baby I'm stuck in a world where I have to give myself assvice to get through it. I guess I feel like this "trying to have a baby" direction isn't really a concrete direction - it keeps me in a weird state where I have to constantly pump myself up somehow, to deal with disappointment, fear, longing, uncertainty, yada-yada-yada. Does that make any sense? Until I've actually accomplished the "having" of the baby - I feel like I'm just going around and around in circles - not in any direction at all. . . hmmm. . .

This is how I start talking myself into having an only child. . .

Rebecca said...

Sara makes total sense - I read Monica's posting about saying HELL FUCKING NO to a life of ever wishing she had something more, and all I can think of is, "when will I get to the point of living the HELL FUCKING NO part??" Until then, its self-angstigating all the way....

Monica LeMoine said...

Cori: I agree, hope is a good thing. I just don't want ever-hopeful to trump living the (good) life that I have now, in a state of basic satisfaction. I will keep up the good fight, though! Two four six eight, hurrah!

Sara: You're right, I think both paths are worthy and most excellent. And yes, I too feel directionless when I'm in that state of pining for a child.

Rebecca: Wish I had a clear-cut route to HELL FUCKING NO, if that's even a good goal in the first place. For me, it's: 1) my man; 2) my dog; and 3) international travel, among other things. Rest assured, however, that if I ever DO become a real mom, it'll be HELL FUCKING YEAH.