Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Living for the Ladders March 5, 2012

Courtesy: Wikipedia

Do you remember the game Chutes and Ladders? In the UK we called it “Snakes and Ladders” and I loved it. I had a nursery rhyme version with Jack and Jill happily climbing the hill on one ladder, and then tumbling down at the next snake (or chute). Humpty Dumpty, Rock-a-Bye-Baby, Little Bo Peep and her poor lost sheep were all there with their assorted joys and disasters.

In case any one is reading and has no clue what I’m talking abut, Chutes and Ladders is a board game. There are 100 squares on the board and you roll a dice and move along, trying to be the first person to reach 100. If you land on a ladder you get to follow the ladder up and jump ahead on the game. If, however, you land on a chute (or snake) you slide back down the board to a lower number. There’s no strategy involved in the game at all, and it’s pure luck as to whether you joyfully climb the ladder or careen back down a chute.

I woke up this morning thinking about this game and thinking about how much life can be like chutes and ladders, especially when you’re playing the “coming-to-terms” game.

Case in point: Mr. Fab and I had a great weekend. It’s the first one in a while that we’ve spent together just relaxing and enjoying one another’s company. We slept late, took a long walk, planned a vacation, and took a long afternoon nap. It’s on weekends like these that I realize all the positive things that have come out of us not having children.

But on Saturday night we had dinner with some friends at their home. They and the other friends who were invited have adult children, so the evening was spent talking about all kinds of other things not relating to the perils of parenthood. But in their bathroom were photos of their children as toddlers, sitting in the bath, covered in bubbles and laughing those infectious toddler laughs, and for a few minutes I found myself just staring at the pictures and thinking about all that I’ve missed with not having children. My happiness hopped on a chute and slid back down a few squares.

I think that my life is always going to be this way, that I’ll keep making progress and moving gradually towards that place of being 100 percent at peace with being childfree, but there are always going to be chutes thrown in my way: the cousin’s pregnancy announcement, the friends celebrating milestones with their children, those moments when I rethink the whole thing and wonder, “What if we got back on the train? What if that risky and expensive treatment worked? What if we adopted?”

But, for every chute that comes along, there’s a ladder that will take me back up. So, the trick to maintaining sanity and finding peace is to keep living for the ladders.


9 Responses to “Living for the Ladders”

  1. Klara Says:

    dear Lisa,
    I feel exactly the same! Most of the days I am OK. And then there is something unexpected that brings all of my infertility issue back.
    For example: I got new coworker last week, much younger as I am and the first thing that she did was putting a beautiful picture of her & her baby daughter in cute pink frame on her desk. All I could feel was sudden pain – realizing that I will never have a cute picture in pink (or blue) frame on my desk.
    But as you said …. there is a ladder for you and me and all of us… we just need the strenght to survive that day. The next day is then always easier….

  2. loribeth Says:

    Great analogy, Lisa!

    Here’s to chutes that are far & few between (not to mention short). ; )

  3. I think it’s a sign of being a rational person. If you’re the type of person who makes a huge decision and then never, ever has a “what if” moment later, I’d argue that you’re probably living a pretty unexamined life…and what’s the point of that? I bet if you stop and think about it, you probably have plenty of other what-if moments in your life related to your career, relationships, etc. There’s all kinds of chutes out there, so I guess we just need to keep working on the ladders.

    • lmanterfield Says:

      So true. I think the key is to not get hung up on the what-ifs. I know people who are so full of regrets about their choices and decisions that they can’t move on. I am definitely not interested in getting stuck in this particular place! 🙂

  4. Kathryn Says:

    I think this is the best analogy for life i’ve ever heard, but for infertility/non-child issues especially.

    Thank you.

  5. Mali Says:

    Chutes? Chutes? Really??? Yes, in New Zealand they are also snakes, and the snakes are drawn on the board and much more fun too!

    Good analogy! I’m better at dodging the snakes these days, or at not noticing them at all. But just when you least expect it, down you slide. Climbing back up the ladders gets easier too – sometimes climbing back can be a bit of an effort, but mostly they’re short, and I can get back up them without even getting out of breath.

  6. kris Says:

    OMG! This is exactly what happened to me last weekend! I was struggling to explain to hubby what was happening inside of me when I read this post. Thank you so much! I sent it to him and he said it really helped! As Mali said, I’m so greatful that the snakes are less venomous and the ladders are easier to climb!

  7. lmanterfield Says:

    I’m so glad this resonated with you. I think it can be hard to explain to someone else why you keep slipping down just when it looks as if you have the whole thing under control. And yes, Mali and Klara the chutes (or snakes) do become easier to deal with, or at least spot in the distance and avoid, and the ladders do keep showing up, too. Thank goodness.

  8. Laura Nye Says:

    Thank you, Lisa! I’ve been trying to come up with a name for my blog which I’m planning to start in April. And this analogy is perfect. It was one of my favorite games as a little girl, and yes it certainly works as a metaphor for life and the grief process. The name chutes and ladders was taken on blogger, but I chose “slides and ladders” since chutes are really ladders in my world.

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