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?"