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.