Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Shedding My Skin June 28, 2012

By Quasi-momma

I going to start off by saying that I realize that this might not be the most popular post I will ever write, simply because in it I am referencing tarantulas. (I know. Creepy!)

I never in my life thought that I would ever compare myself to one.  I’m never been afraid of common household spiders.  If my Skid were pressed to say one positive thing about me, it would be that I am the spider killer in the house.  However, exotic spiders like tarantulas give me the willies.

My brother had one as a pet when we were teenagers.   It was given to him as a gift, much to my consternation.  Just knowing that it was in the house had me on guard.  I would frequently poke my head into his room to make sure that that top of its cage was securely weighted, so it didn’t get loose.

One day, I got the scare of my life when during one of my periodic checks I found a spider perched atop the weighted piece that held the cage shut.  Once I got past the flush of sheer panic, I noticed that there was also a spider in the tank as well.  Did he get a second one that got out?!?  No.  When I stopped seeing spots, I realized that the “spider” on the top of cage was simply the spider’s old exoskeleton that had been preserved.

The spider had recently molted, but my brother decided that it would simply be more fun to scare the holy heck out of us than to tell us about it. (He almost had his sister’s skin to add to his collection because I nearly jumped out of mine.)

In my recent decision to accept that my fertile years are through and that I may never have children of my own without divine, medical, or financial intervention, I am tripping over every stumbling block imaginable.  I had a vision for my life and clear expectations of being a mother, and those expectations are very difficult to release. I described this struggle on my blog as “shedding my skin,” which got me thinking about that darn spider.

After doing a little research about the molting process, I discovered that it makes these creatures very vulnerable, even to their usual prey.  To protect itself, a tarantula will make a cradle-like web to lie in while it goes through its changes.  When a tarantula has emerged from its old skin, it will be extremely soft, tender, and sensitive until it has developed a new protective layer.   I’m now feeling strangely sympathetic.  I know the feeling.

So as I continue to “molt”, I will be thankful for what my spider experience has taught me.  While I don’t have the luxury of hiding away, I know that I must protect myself and treat myself gently.  I also can hold onto the hope that one day I’ll be stronger, and be secure in the knowledge that growth requires vulnerability at certain times in our lives.  While the changes ahead remain uncertain, there are things I know sure: change is always inevitable and sometimes painful, and I hope to never live in a house with a tarantula again!

Quasi-Momma (aka: Susan the Spider Killer) is living a childless, but not childfree, life as a stepmom.  Her blog, Quasi-Momma, is a collection of her reflections on pregnancy loss, childlessness not by choice, and not-so-blended family life sprinkled with a little gratitude and lot of heart.  

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4 Responses to “Shedding My Skin”

  1. RuralRabbit Says:

    A really great post. Thank you. What are some ways that you all take care of yourself and protect yourself while your vulnerable?

    • Quasi-Momma Says:

      Thank you. You ask a great question! I know that recently I’ve discovered that establishing boundaries for myself is vital. I can’t tell you how many times in the past year I’ve felt obligated to “grin and bear” it when it comes to family events. I’ve started stating my needs to my Hubs prior to these events, and asking for what I need based on what I feel I can handle (whether that’s bowing out of the event altogether or having special time for me or us before or after the event in question).

      I also find that I have to take it easy on myself. Going through this kind of transition is not easy. I don’t always behave the way I’d like, then I get hard on myself for not being “an adult” about things. I’ve learned to accept that this is difficult and I make sure I don’t beat myself up and give myself credit for weathering what I’ve been through.

      Writing helps to process my thoughts, and any care taking behavior – even if it’s just going for a run allows me to get some release and see things in a different light.

      • Kellie Says:

        Having boundaries is so very vital at this time in your (our) life. I too felt obligated to attend family events, but I ended up losing it before we went or directly there after. I would sit in the corner and not show my face as they were so difficult. I finally had to stop and realize that I had to take care of myself first – period! It was very difficult in the beginning as I felt so guilty; but it has gotten easier. My DH has been extremely understanding and if I do attend something now, he has the car keys close at hand if he sees that look in my eyes of having to get the f*** out of there.

        The hardest part for me now is being around my in-laws when my husbands bff is around with his baby. I start feeling bad about myself for not being able to give them a grandchild with their son. I can’t handle these events AT ALL….so I am doing my best to bow out of them. It has created some friction with my SIL’s and MIL’s, but they will get over it…and if they don’t – so be it.

        Take care of yourself – and know that it will get easier. Don’t push yourself to “get over it” – do it in your time and don’t let anyone tell you differently!

  2. Mali Says:

    That’s a lovely analogy. And – having gone through it – I can say it’s a very accurate one. I think that the acceptance phase is actually very painful. To me, it was the most painful part of my infertility and loss experiences, because it meant that hope had gone. So I’m feeling for you right now – and telling you that it does get better, and hope for a new life comes back.


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