Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

What’s Your Holiday Plan? November 7, 2011

OK, even if you’re still in denial, sooner or later you’ll have to face the fact that the holidays are coming at us. Halloween is over and Thanksgiving (for those of us in the U.S.) is just over two weeks away.

 

No matter which holidays you celebrate, odds are it will mean family get-togethers, maybe including relatives you see only once a year, and holiday parties where people drink too much eggnog and say stupid things.

 

Whether it’s your brother-in-law yelling across the dinner table to ask how the baby-making’s going, or great aunt Ethel fussing over your cousin’s brood and then turning her questions on you, or Bob from accounting unfolding a wallet full of toe-haired kids and grilling you about your family, the holiday season can be a minefield of awkward questions and inappropriate comments. So what are you going to do?

 

Granted, one option is to hole up with It’s a Wonderful Life and a box of Kleenex, but I don’t recommend it. Sooner or later, you’re going to have to go out in public and it pays to be prepared.

 

We’ve often talked about how to deal with those difficult, awkward, or downright rude questions. It all sounds good on paper, but then someone catches us off guard and we end up mumbling an almost apologetic answer and then kicking ourselves later (or venting about it on Whiny Wednesday.) So, let’s get prepared.

 

Think about all the events you’re going to have to attend this season. Think about who’s going to be there, and how informed they are about your personal situation. (If you see some relatives only once a year, word may not have reached them that you’ve stopped trying, for example.) Think about the questions you might be asked and practice your answers.

 

This technique is called Mental Rehearsal. Athletes use it to visual scoring points; people use it for job interviews to practice confidently asking questions; even the military use it to prepare troops for what they might face on the battlefield. True, you can never know what you’re going to face on the holiday frontlines, but if you’ve practiced an answer to “So, when are you guys going to have kids?” or “Why don’t you just adopt?” you’ll be prepared, even if someone throws out a variation.

 

Here’s an article with some suggestions on how to practice this technique. Try it now, before the holiday madness kicks in. Maybe you’ll even get to relax and enjoy the season, instead of dreading the inevitable stupid question.

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11 Responses to “What’s Your Holiday Plan?”

  1. Angela Says:

    Sooo….is it bad if I just tell people I don’t want kids? It’s sort of the truth, sort of not. I used to not want kids until I was about 30, then I met my husband and he wanted them, and I wasn’t against it, so we started trying. Then, we couldn’t get pg and then I had an ectopic pregnancy. We quit “trying” about 7 months ago. I think maybe I’m more angry that I wasn’t able to do something that “most” women can do and I feel left out….like I wanted to be able to produce a baby, but on the other hand I really like my life the way it is….being able to sleep, ride motorcycles, do what I want…So when people ask me about kids, the anger bubbles up, but I’m very private about my feelings, and while I don’t really want to lie (I’m an honest person except when it comes to talking to people about my personal feelings!) I also don’t want to sound like a bitter, sour person. Which is how I feel like I come across sometimes. But we did try, and I am upset that I wasn’t able to reproduce. It’s just that I don’t think that’s anyone else’s business. And honestly, if I got pg now I’d be uncertain how I felt, because I’m 36 and didn’t want to be starting this late in life. I don’t know…

    • Iris D Says:

      I sometimes think that a big part of it for me was also that “I didn’t get to do what other women do”. I always assumed I’d have kids, but distinctly remember after watching friends go through failed IVF attempts, thinking that I would not want to subject my body to that. I always had a very positive attitude about adoption. Then I hit my late 30sand people started asking, making me feel that I should have something to worry about in old age, openly behaving as though they felt sorry for me (even when I wasn’t concerned about it), and when I knew that we had MF infertility, and I said that I didn’t want to have kids (because our problems were noone’s business), insisting that I didn’t know what I was talking about. I think a huge part of my anxiety has been the social pressure and that feeling of being left out. The holidays for me only include close family, and nobody asks. Thank goodness. When I’ve had family reunions and people ask if we are going to have children. I just say “no” and hopefully leave it at that. If they ask in front of other people, I just insist “We’ll see,” (because adoption might still be an option, maybe?) and if it is just between myself and one other relative and they pry, I might just be honest and say we tried and it didn’t work out.

      • lmanterfield Says:

        I think you can give any answer you choose, because it really is no one’s business and you don’t owe anyone the truth. That having been said, I usually end up being honest, but sometimes I’d prefer to say, “Mind your own GD business!” 🙂

  2. Rerah Says:

    Sometimes anything you say is a “lose-lose” situation. If you tell someone you don’t want kids, they try to convince you how sorry you’ll be. If you say you tried and it didn’t work, they’ll quiz you on what you have and haven’t done–and they always know someone who “just relaxed and got pregnant….”. I usually tell people who are rude enough to pry that it didn’t work out. If they try to continue the conversation, I just say that it’s a private matter and I’m not comfortable talking about it. Usually, that reply shocks them into silence.

    By the way, I LOVE the “toe-haired kids” malaprop! (Tow headed, perhaps?) I’m going to imagine hobbit feet whenever someone insists I see pictures of their children!

    • lmanterfield Says:

      This is what happens when you use expressions you don’t understand. But now I’ve looked up “tow head” and understand what it means I’ll get it right next time. 🙂

  3. Rerah Says:

    Sometimes anything you say is a “lose-lose” situation. If you tell someone you don’t want kids, they try to convince you how sorry you’ll be. If you say you tried and it didn’t work, they’ll quiz you on what you have and haven’t done–and they always know someone who “just relaxed and got pregnant….”. I tell people who are rude enough to pry that it didn’t work out. If they try to continue the conversation, I just say that it’s a private matter and I’m not comfortable talking about it. Usually, that reply shocks them into silence.

    By the way, I LOVE the “toe-haired kids” malaprop! (Tow headed, perhaps?) I’m going to imagine hobbit feet whenever someone insists I see pictures of their children!

  4. Rerah Says:

    Sorry about the double reply–I don’t know how that happened!

  5. Keke B Says:

    I am pretty pumped because this year, as an added bonus, my brother is announcing his pregnancy this holiday… and I am the “last”… so I will be peppered even more now, because my old excuse was “oh, my brother was married first… so he has to go first.” Now that that is done, I guess I need a new story until I am ballsy enough to say “Sorry. Barren.” and then I have to spend the next 5 minutes consoling them on feeling bad. I am pretty excited about the whole scenario… haha.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      I love your attitude to this truly awful situation. Ugh. I totally understand having to console other people, too. It’s kind of funny, in a way. I think.

    • Kylie Says:

      I got to spend last Christmas with my brothers girlfriend who was 8 months pregnant and who had to keep telling everyone that next Christmas would be different with the baby! Seemed a little tactless not only to me, but also to her other 2 children (both in their early teens)! This year of course I get to spend Christmas as “the baby’s first Christmas”. My family won’t make any awkward comments but my Mum is the master of the pitying look everytime I pick up my nephew. I have to say I am planning my early escape already.

  6. Mali Says:

    Interesting. I’ve just written about saying “No” and leaving it at that.

    As for this Christmas, we’ll be with my mother, my sister and her kids, but probably no other relatives. Perhaps sadly, we’ve all drifted apart as my cousins and I have spread all over the country. They focus on their own families, and so I don’t have awkward questions to answer. I actually have no idea what they all think about my situation, or what my mother might have told people. And to be honest, I don’t care!

    I will admit though that the first few years after my losses and the realisation I would never have children were more difficult, and we planned Christmas holidays away and engineered some adults-only celebrations. They helped until I was ready to re-enter the fold, so to speak.


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