Life Without Baby

Filling the silence in the motherhood discussion

Guest Post: The Pretend Mommy September 27, 2012

By Quasi-Momma

It’s been mentioned here before, but I want to reiterate that Facebook just may be one of the worst forums for a woman who is trying to come to terms with being childless.   It’s all been discussed before:  the deluge of sonograms and cute baby pictures, the over-sharing over every detail, and the annoying mommy memes are enough to drive any struggling woman to tears, pulling out her hair, or both.

Perhaps, the best revenge would be to flaunt a more desirable status update about lazy weekend mornings spent lingering over coffee without a child to cart around to practices and recitals.   But not me, I am in the middle – I am stepparent, which makes me childless, but not childfree.

The strange in-between status finds me posting what I refer to as “pretend mommy” posts.  Case in point, in the swing of “Back to School” season  Mommies everywhere were posting pictures of kids sporting brand new backpacks or commenting on first day milestones.  I was not immune.  “I can’t believe that [enter Skid’s name here] is entering high school tomorrow,” my post read.  It was met with a handful of “likes” and good luck messages from family members, but to be honest the whole thing rang false with me.  Not that I underestimate my role as a stepmom, but I thought to myself, “I’ve contributed very little to this deal, why am I claiming it?”

“Pretend mommy” behaviors typify for me the yearning I harbor inside for some connection to motherhood. While I do perform parental duties, I seldom get the recognition for this role. And since I will never be able to tell the story of how I choose my child’s name or participate in the Groom/mother dance, I grab these little moments even if they are not completely mine.  They’re like a costume – a way to quickly try on what it might be like to be the one called “Mom.”

I’m not sure if doing this is necessarily good or bad.  Like most things that just “give you a taste,” it is never 100% satisfying.  I suppose there will come a time when I will grow to the point where I won’t feel as compelled to say or do such things, my relationship with skid will progress to the point where the behavior feels more natural, or both.  For now, I’ll take these little moments for what they are until they no longer serve me or something more authentic takes it place.

How about you?  What behaviors are you finding or have you found doing to try to make it through your transition?

Quasi-Momma 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.  

 

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.  

 

Duck, Weave, or Cover? May 10, 2012

By Quasi-momma

Around mid-April, my mind starts thinking about that scary little day coming up in May. You know the one. The one that makes us cringe ever so slightly. The one we might all like to avoid. Dare I say its name?  It’s Mother’s Day.

As a stepmom, M-day has always been tough for me. The first year after marrying Hubs, I had expectations that I would at least be honored in some small way.  After all, I did perform the duties of a mom, so I deserve a little something, right?  Wrong.  It came and went without even so much as a word in my direction from anyone: not my Hubs, not my in-laws, and not my Skid. It was like a jab to the face.

Add a couple pregnancy losses and several negative pregnancy tests over the years, and M-day packs a one-two punch. You can safely say that the day has lost its luster for me.

To give him credit, Hubs finally did get the memo last year. He took me on a special outing the Saturday before to thank me for all I did as well as to acknowledge what we’ve lost. It was quiet, private, and meaningful: enough to get me through the indignity of the next day.

But this year, a final uppercut has been added to M-day’s combo: there’s a pregnancy in the family. I will now be the only female not honored as a Mom. It’s threatening a knock-out. I need a strategy.

Right now, I’m in heavy negotiations to bow out of this round. I know my limits. I’m just starting to deal with the possibility that I may never have a child of my own, and I’m not up to this “holiday.”  Yet, I fear that my absence may bruise some egos, and the fallout may not be worth it.  So I’m turning to you, my dear community, for advice. How do you get through it? (Feel free to whine too. By all means, let’s vent!)

The one thing I do know for sure is that extreme self-care will be required. There’s been a lot of discussion lately about the urge we feel to explain or defend our situations, whether they are by choice or not. This day will have our guards up higher than usual.  So please be good to yourself.

Quasi-momma, also known as “Bruisin’ Susan” explores her thoughts and feelings on her own struggles with childlessness, pregnancy loss and stepfamily life on her blog http://quasimomma.wordpress.com. She prefers not to disclose her weight class. It’s no one’s business.