An LDS perspective on moving from childless to childfree living.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Beautiful Thanksgiving

Life has been going along so smoothly. DH and I hosted his family and my mom for Thanksgiving dinner. DH made a delicious turkey and stuffing, and all the food brought by the others was tasty as well.

I realized I have so much for which to be grateful.

I am grateful for:
-my sweet DH, his health, and his family
-my mom, her ongoing support, and her raising my siblings and me
-my dream house in a great location
-my career as a teacher and association leader
-my eternal sealing to my DH
-my nieces who invited me to see them perform in "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."
-my nephews for playing Seinfeld Scene it with me
-my brother got for having my mom and me FaceTime with his kids
-the opportunity to go to Nashville for a conference next week

As you can see, life is good!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Watching a Birth

I went visiting teaching yesterday.  Visiting Teaching is a program for the women of the church where two women are assigned to go visit other women in the ward.  You get to know them, offer assistance, and bring a short spiritual message. 

This is an area of the church where I don't fit and where I'm sure the Relief Society President has a hard time figuring out where to put me because I don't have children.  My companion has four children and is expecting her fifth grandchild in a couple of weeks.  The woman we visited yesterday has five children and is expecting her 11th grandchild in a couple of months.  Both of them got talking about having witnessed the birth of one of their previous grandchildren and how they will probably get to do so again.  They went on and on about what a wonderful experience it was to watch a baby be born.  I had nothing to add to the conversation and felt very uncomfortable.

Am I missing out?  I have not witnessed a birth.  I don't expect I will ever be invited to witness a birth.  I will not give birth.

Any suggestions on what I could have said? 

Friday, September 26, 2014

Conversations with Family

My brother and his wife were in town last weekend, because my SIL qualified for the Xterra National Off-road Triathalon.  It was great to see them and spend time with them.  They haven't come to Utah for a couple of years, and we haven't been to Ohio, because it doesn't seem like a destination.

My sister pulled my brother and I aside to talk to us.  Conversations about any topic always come back to her.  When she started to complain about how hard her life is and how she can't do the things she wants, I said, "Everyone has their own struggles.  They are just different.  No one's struggles are any worse than anyone else's."  She didn't like that much and went off about how I wouldn't talk to her, because she didn't know what to say when we were TTC and trying to adopt.  My brother defended me by saying that no one could understand what I was going through unless they had been through it themselves.  I appreciated that.

I called my mom today to see what they did the last day they were here, since I had to work.  That was all fine, then my mom started talking about some of her friends, their health problems (my mom is 70), and how grateful she is for her situation.  She told me about one of her friends from high school who is raising her 1, 5, and 8 year old grandchildren, because the dad is in jail and her daughter is on drugs.  I listened about the struggle to raise these young children at age 70.  I wanted to say, "Why didn't the daughter place the children for adoption?"  I understand that would be difficult and the grandparents still want a relationship with the children.  While we are done trying to become parents, I know there are people out there aching for that opportunity.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

To go to a Baby Shower?

My youngest cousin, who is 27 and married last September, is PG and the baby shower is next Saturday.  I am debating about going.  I have only been to one baby shower in the last 7 years.  It was a coworker and the shower was at lunch, a drop-in, open house style.  I gave money to another coworker who bought the gift.  I only had to stop in, pick up some food, greet everyone, and leave.

This new invitation is for my youngest cousin.  Her three other sisters have children.  I went to baby showers for the oldest two, but we were in the midst of IF TX when the third one had her shower.  I just couldn't go.  I'm not sure if I can handle this yet.  My mom offered to buy a gift and said she understood if I didn't want to go.  I truly appreciate that.  I'm leaning toward not going.

DH and I have actually been talking a bit about our CF life lately.  Things people have said recently are bugging him.  Our neighbor said something to him like, "Well, since you decided not to have kids . . ."  DH was mad!  He said, "How dare he make that assumption."  He was also very bothered with a recent news story of a baby found in a dumpster.  He doesn't say much, so we have talked about these incidents that have happened recently. 

Anyway, that's what is happening in my CF world right now.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

A Funeral and A Wedding

In the last week, we attended the funeral of my uncle and the wedding of DH's niece.  Both of these events bring out thoughts on being childfree.

My uncle never married nor had children.  He died young from cirrhosis of the liver.  He was not active LDS, but he did appreciate good music, and I had the opportunity to play the piano for the funeral.  My mom and her other brother had to make all of these arrangements.  My mom and my sister have been cleaning out his apartment.  He left no will and did not have enough money for his final services.

I have thought a lot about this.  I am most grateful that I have DH.  He is my rock!  After all he has been through, his love and friendship is so important to me.  Because of his leukemia, we have all of the final documents and preparations done.  We have money set aside for those services.  We have outlined who of our nieces and nephews will receive certain items and what we want done with the rest.  We have a trust so as to avoid probate. I feel we are more prepared than my uncle was, but only because we made those preparations 11 years ago when we thought DH was going to die.

Oquirrh Mountain Utah Mormon Temple

A wedding of someone in the next generation just means there is a greater chance of my becoming a great-aunt sooner rather than later.  I just don't know how I will react to that!  The sealing ceremony in the Oquirrh Mountain Temple was beautiful, and DH's niece and her new husband looked so happy.  They will be good for each other.  This time was different than when another niece got married two years ago and when my cousin got married last year.  Then, "multiply and replenish the earth" hurt to hear.  I enjoyed the ceremony, because it brought to mind when DH and I were married 18 years ago.  This time I remembered the excitement, love, and joy from our sealing!

I have to be grateful for where DH and I are on our CF journey.  In the past year and a half, I feel we have made great strides toward acceptance and even enjoyment of living CF.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Neighborhood Party

I haven't posted in a long time! I spent a week in Denver at a national conference. DH and his nephew came with me to go fishing while I was in meetings. It was nice to have them there in the evenings.

I came home to a city in our large suburban school district wanting to split from the current school district. We went through a school district split 5 years ago, and I spent the month of July attending meetings to speak for teachers against another split.

The school where I teach was moved from a traditional school calendar to a year round calendar, so my new school year started July 28 with 33 sixth graders!  I'm already looking forward to my first break in October.

To the neighborhood barbecue. We are in a new and growing area where there have been several families move in over the past few months, so it was good to go meet all the new neighbors. Everyone had kids, except DH and me and our next door neighbors who got married in May. Two were pregnant. I found it interesting that of the 17 kids there, 13 are boys.  The thing that was great about the get together was that no one asked us about kids. This has been true of our ward as well. I was so grateful for this! It made me feel valued as an individual and a couple. I also enjoyed communicating with one 18 month old as she shared her blueberries with me.

I feel like things are improving in how we face our childfree life.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Family Pictures

Back in 2005, I was working on writing my grandparents' history and organized an extended family picture.  The studio we used was great!  They did all the separate smaller groups:  my grandparents, my cousins with their spouses and kids, my brother with his wife and kids, my mom with her children and grandchildren, DH and me, etc. That was the last time DH and I had a professional picture taken.  We didn't have pictures taken in those 9 years, because I thought we would have them done when we added a baby to our family.

Last year when we closed our adoption file, I wanted to have a picture of us done to signify our moving onto CF living.  DH wasn't interested.  I finally convinced him to have pictures taken, which we did on Tuesday at a different studio.  It was awkward.  The photographer kept posing us like we were having engagement pictures taken.  Some poses were just too cheesy that we told him we didn't want to pose that way.  It is like the photographer didn't know what to do with a middle-aged couple who came for pictures without children. 

We picked out three poses that were nice, two were close ups, to have printed.  We will give them to our moms for Christmas and keep the other for us.  It will be good to have a more current picture on display, but it was not a great photography experience. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Our Agency Closes

We closed our adoption file over a year ago now, but the adoption services part of LDS Family Services will no longer match birth parents with adoptive parents.  This was in the news here yesterday.

The news article states, "LDS Family Services, however, was set up on a different model, she said. "It was designed toward the 16-year-old who got in trouble and went to her [Mormon] bishop," Pope said. "That doesn’t happen anymore. They don’t place. They parent."  Maybe this philosophy, that was not disclosed to us as hopeful adoptive parents, is part of the reason we were never chosen.  I know they tried to adapt over the years to the changing demographic of birth parents. 

When DH's aunt and uncle adopted through LDS Family Services over 50 years ago, they were put on a list, and when their name came to the top, they received the next baby to fit their criteria.  Adoptions were closed.  It was not birth parent choice.  We know this wasn't the best way to handle adoptions either. 

With over 600 waiting couples and between 200-300 adoptions per year, the article states that many couples have waited more than three years.  We were on the list for four years and NEVER had contact with a birth mom that came through them.  Maybe it is best that LDS Family Services does not handle adoptions any more.  I try not to be bitter, but we really didn't have a good experience.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

License Plate Frame

Work has been so busy, and I just wanted to get through Mother's Day.  I was not very wise and went shopping on the Saturday before Mother's Day.  I went Sam's Club, Target, and the local grocery store.  When I was wished, "Happy Mother's Day" at the first two, I tried to smile, said nothing, and walked away.  I am in the grocery store regularly and know many of the people who work there, not closely, but by name.  The guy helping me at the meat counter said, "So are you excited for Mother's Day?"  I said, "It is the hardest day of the year for me."  He didn't say anything else.  I went home!

For me it is IF that makes Mother's Day hard.  I know for others who have lost their mother, it would be a hard day too.  I know my mom didn't like it when I was growing up, because it reminded her of all the things she wasn't doing as a mom. 

We did not go to church on Mother's Day.  We took my mom to lunch then made dinner to take to my MIL.  It turned out to be an okay day.

I really hadn't intended to write about Mother's Day.  It was a couple of days ago when I saw a license plate frame on a car that said, "Only the best moms get to become grandmas."  This is one I hadn't seen before, and I took offense for several reasons. 

My mom is a grandma thanks to my brother, but what if he couldn't have kids either?  That doesn't mean my mom wasn't a good mom.  I also have a couple of friends who did not marry until later in life, both marrying widows who had children and grandchildren.  My friends are now grandmas and love it!  I know that whoever was driving that car did not consider that there are women in this world who never become mothers despite many years and tens of thousands of dollars. 

I'm pretty much over it now, but at the time, it sure ruined my day!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Gratitude

The LDS Church holds General Conference twice a year, the first weekends in April and October.  This is the weekend we don't attend regular church meetings, but we listen to speeches by leaders of the Church.  Living in Utah, the headquarters of the Church, we are able to watch the Conference on local television.  DH and I always try to watch, though it is most of the weekend. 

My favorite speech was given by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf titled "Grateful in Any Circumstances".  In the beginning of the talk he mentions those "facing the end of hope . . . of bearing children."  So often, I feel like I am the only one in the Church who has passed through their childbearing years without a child, biological or adopted.  Because he started with this, I listened intently. 

He states:  "When we are grateful to God in our circumstances, we can experience gentle peace in the midst of tribulation. In grief, we can still lift up our hearts in praise. In pain, we can glory in Christ’s Atonement. In the cold of bitter sorrow, we can experience the closeness and warmth of heaven’s embrace.  We sometimes think that being grateful is what we do after our problems are solved, but how terribly shortsighted that is. How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?  Being grateful in times of distress does not mean that we are pleased with our circumstances. It does mean that through the eyes of faith we look beyond our present-day challenges.  This is not a gratitude of the lips but of the soul. It is a gratitude that heals the heart and expands the mind."

I realized that there were so many time I was grateful when DH was battling leukemia.  I was grateful for competent doctors, modern medicine, the support of family and friends, a job with insurance, his bone marrow donor, Clorox wipes, and time.  I don't think I have looked to be grateful through our IF.   "How much of life do we miss by waiting to see the rainbow before thanking God that there is rain?"  I did miss a lot of life in the seven years we spent trying to become parents.  I skipped opportunities at work.  I skipped baby shower's for friends and family members.  I spent a lot of time alone in my pity for myself.  


Now that we are on the other side and living CF, I can be grateful.  I am grateful DH and I could spontaneously go to the Monterey Peninsula for a few days to celebrate our 18th anniversary!  I am grateful we found a beautiful, adult-only bed and breakfast to stay in.  I am grateful for the job opportunities I have been able to take advantage of in the last three years.  I am grateful to not cry when someone asks me about having children.  I am grateful for a healthy DH!

Even if I had heard President Uchtdorf speak about gratitude when I was in the midst of TTC or working on adoption, I don't know if I would have been able to choose to be grateful.  IF is so all-consuming!

I am grateful to finally be solidly on the CF path!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

"Why Didn't You?"

I am a mentor to a new teacher.  While he is new to the profession, he is 40, so he does have some life experience.  We were talking on Friday about a training he attended and how he would like to share that information with the other teachers on the staff.  He was asking my advice on how to approach our principal.  We talked for a while, then he asked if I had ever considered becoming a principal.  I told him that quite a few years ago (like 7-8), I did look in to the administrator programs at three local universities.  I told him which one I liked best. 

He then asked, "Why didn't you?"  I paused for a moment to consider my answer.  I realized and said that I did not pursue an administrator certificate, because I was waiting for the baby that never came.  He, of course, asked if we had thought about adoption.  I explained that over the course of seven years, we had spent tens of thousands of dollars on treatments to become PG and on becoming approved for adoption, a failed adoption, and renewing our adoption HS.  He then said, "I'm so sorry.  I had no idea." 

We closed our adoption file a year ago this week.  Since then, I have been approached about running for president of my state education association in two years.  I have had to adjust my life to reflect my CF status and think that taking advantage of this opportunity in my career would be great!  I could go back to school to become an administrator, but I feel the association path is the right one for me at this time.


Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Consolation Prize

DH and I went to the dentist for our 6-month cleaning.  He hates the dentist, so the hygenist who knows him and has worked on him takes care of him.  I get the new hygenist.  She is trying to make small talk, which always bugs me at the dentist, because you can't respond.  Anyway, she asks about what I do (teacher), how long I've lived in the area (my whole life), etc. She then proceeds to tell me about their move here from Idaho for her husband's job, about her teenagers, etc.  Then she says, "So are you a mom?"  When I replied with, "No, I'm not," she goes on and on about how I can be a mom to my students and influence them.

Teaching is my career, and one that I love!  While it is true that I am an influence on many students each year and have been for the past 22 years, it is not the same as being a mom.  I assign homework, but I don't get to help with homework.  I help students handle the bully on the playground, but I don't see how they use those skills as they go on in life.  I watch kids grow for a year, but I rarely see the adults they become.  I have stayed in touch with a few students over the years as they have matured in life, but their children are not my grandchildren.

I wish people would not see my career in teaching as the consolation prize for not being a mom. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Destined to Live Without Children ???

The Relief Society and Priesthood lesson on Sunday was on the Plan of Salvation.  Both DH and I heard similar comments about how we chose or are given certain trails to help us grow.

In Elders Quorum, a member said he and his wife have a daughter who has had a couple of brain surgeries.  He said that God gave them this daughter to help them grow spiritually.

In Relief Society, a member said that we either sat with God and decided together, or He decided, what trials we would have and that trials are not random.

DH and I talked about this.  In the premortal existence, did DH really chose to have leukemia?  Did we really chose to face infertility?  We don't think so.  Both of these experiences are mortal experiences that happen because we live in a fallen world in a fallen state.  This doesn't make sense in relationship to my patriarchal blessing, which mentions "your children" 19 times!  If my patriarchal blessing was personal revelation from God, why would he talk about my children so much if I had chosen the trial of infertility in consultation with Him? 

This goes to a discussion I heard on the radio a couple of weeks ago between the DJ and a psychic.  The psychic said that the end result is already determined, but the path to get there will vary based on individual experiences.  Again, if we were destined to live without children according to this psychic, if DH hadn't had leukemia, something else would have been wrong causing us not to be able to have children.

I guess DH and I are more realists.  We are mortal and have experiences, because we are mortal.  It is believed leukemia happens due to environmental factors.  Infertility for us was a result of not trying to have children before DH had leukemia.  I know we both grew spiritually through these two trials, but we don't believe these trials were specifically designated for us.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

An Apology

With the ward split that happened, our church time changed to 9:00 Relief Society followed by Sunday School and then Sacrament Meeting.  Last Sunday, I arrived in Relief Society a little early and sat by myself.  A lady I had not seen before came and asked to sit by me.  I asked her name.  I said, "I'm your visiting teacher!"  Then I asked how long she had lived in the ward. She said only three months.  I had been assigned as her visiting teacher when I was recovering from surgery, so I had not yet gone to visit.

She then asked me, "Do you have any children still at home?"  I said, "We can't have children and have decided to pursue life without them."  She proceeded to tell me that she was adopted (my guess is 50+ years ago).

I went to visit her on Wednesday afternoon. After we sat down in her living room she said, "I need to apologize for the question I asked you at church on Sunday. I usually ask that question when I meet someone new, but I have never had someone respond as you did. I learned a lesson on a question not to ask."  We then had a great discussion on an appropriate question and an appropriate response.  She was kind and understanding.  I told her I try to be matter of fact in my response to that question and explained to her that the better question to ask first is "Do you have children?" Since the other question assumes everyone does have children.  She thanked me for calmly teaching her something new.

I was very grateful for her receptiveness to understanding my situation and learning a better way to make small talk with someone new.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Ward Split

In the LDS Church, members are divided up into Wards and several Wards combine into Stakes.  These are geographic areas from which leaders are called.  Members in Wards attend church together every Sunday and work together to run the Church.

We live in a growing area where there are a lot of members.  Being in a suburb of Salt Lake, where the LDS Church has its headquarters, means there are a lot of members.  We recognized this when we built our home and moved in about 20 months ago.  Our Ward was very large and had a lot of energy.  We really like that!

Our Stake had 9 Wards of which they realigned boundaries to make 11 Wards.  Basically, our Ward went from around 600 members to about 350 members.  Because we haven't lived here very long and still don't know a lot of people, the boundary line meant little to us.  An IF friend ended up in the other Ward.  Other than that and it being a lot smaller, DH and I were fine with the change, that is, until we went to Church.

Sacrament meeting was so loud with screaming and crying children.  I don't know why we had not noticed before when the Ward was twice as large.  I have been wondering if it is the time change.  We used to have Sacrament meeting at 1:00 in the afternoon.  Now it begins at 10:45.  Could it have been nap time for all those children before?  The children have made it very hard to concentrate the last two weeks.

I like kids.  I'm a teacher.  I wish these parents, most of whom are much younger than me, would take their kids to the foyer when they are fussing so the rest of us can listen!  I shouldn't criticize.  After all, I don't have children.  It just seems that the parents are not doing a very good job of teaching their children how to behave at church and then helping them behave appropriately.

I was called to be the ward organist, which is great!  It is an easy calling for me.  No prep, no mid-week meetings.  The counselor in the bishopric was very kind and said they would be calling an assistant, because they know it is difficult for me to attend church on Fast Sunday when there is a baby blessing.  Thank you for being sensitive to my situation!