Last year, around this time of August, I wrote a post about how infertile people experience "Back to School" time. I shared it on my personal facebook page last week, and upon rereading it, it is still rather apt. It is pretty hard to accept that another year has gone by, and we are basically no closer to being parents.
I've been googling a phrase over and over this week to see if any other infertiles out there were going through the same struggle this week that I am... I'm sure I'm not alone, but I couldn't find any other mentions of it. (2013 edit - found some more, will share).
Back to school STINKS! It stinks right up there with Mother's Day and Christmas! (Have you ever noticed how kid-and-parent-centric back to school commercials are? It's at least as bad as Christmas! The one I love this year is from Meijer, where the boy brings his mom - a nervous new middle school teacher - an apple and tells her she'll do great. I go back and forth beween beaming and wiping tears at that one.)I know that the above sounds like jealousy, but there's a perfectly good reason for that.
a professoran educator's wife, it stinks because my summer of not sharing my husband with the universityhis still-to-be-determined job is over (or will be soon... hopefully. As in hopefully, the job pans out. We still don't know). As an infertile woman, it stinks to log on to facebook and see all of the pictures of cute little kids with backpacks and excited faces, all of the moms talking about how much they miss their little ones during the days now, and especially the moms who CAN'T WAIT to send their darlings back to school. For people our age, facebook has been overtaken by back to school!!
It's hard to feel left out of the loop, to not get to participate in the excitement, to not even be able to rock our baby and say, "At least we have a few more years until this one starts." It's hard to realize that not only do our friends have kids and we don't, many of them have had kids long enough for them to be starting school. Not only preschool, older grades with homework and multiple teachers! Will we ever get to stand in a school supply aisle and debate the merits of purple glue sticks vs. plain white ones? Will I ever get to respond to a homework question with, "I have no idea, ask your dad"? When am I going to get to use all of the awesome "pack your kids' lunch" pins I've pinned on Pinterest?!
It's especially hard when parents are griping that they cannot wait to send their kids back to school. I want to slap them and tell them to CHERISH the summers -- and every minute -- with their kids, because people like us would do anything to be in their shoes!
Don't get me wrong.. I love my friends' kids. Several of them, I've even "adopted" as extra nieces and nephews. I love watching them grow up, and absolutely expect that their parents will post pictures of their milestones, as they should, and as I will no doubt do if/when we're blessed with babies. It's just sad.
Anybody out there? Can I get an "AMEN"?
But also, we are sad - so very sad - that we aren't yet able to achieve this dream we have both had most of our lives. We both love kids, we're both "educators" (he's an educator, I'm an educator-in-training, haha). We help/are learning to help mold other people's children... and we want to teach and train and nurture some kids of our own. We're gonna make mistakes, we know that... but we really think that we'll be great parents.
Fertile folks, please keep posting about your kids. I've been accused of making people feel like they need to walk on eggshells, but honestly... we don't expect that of you, and I highly doubt most other infertiles do either. But... when your infertile friend gets a little extra depressed, try on their shoes for a quick sec and try to be patient. They love you, they're just fighting their jealousy and grief.
Infertile folks... Tip number one: Netflix or DVDs. The whole month of August, probably most of September. If you can't go cold turkey, at least limit the time you're "captive" in front of commercials that are going to bug you. Mute the TV and go get a glass of water. It'll be REAL easy to get that super-healthy 8 glasses a day ;-) Have some sewing or knitting or something handy so you can look down at it and tune out commercials.
Tip number 2: Facebook has this amazing little feature that is saving what little sanity I have left... the ability to uncheck "follow posts" on a person's profile. I doubt you'll have time, patience or desire to do this with EVERY parent you know, but pick the worst couple of offenders (you know EXACTLY who I'm talking about, don't you?)... navigate to their timeline... up where it says "friends" (right-hand side, inside the cover photo), click on that, from that drop-down list, click on "follow posts"... the checkmark next to it should disappear, and so will their posts until you re-check that item. The posts should die down in a couple of weeks from start of pre-return-to-school angst to end of the "kiddo did great at school." Go back to their timeline, follow the above instructions again, except that you want to put the checkmark back next to "follow posts." I do this after every.single.pregnancy announcement I see. On good days when I'm feeling extra strong, I try to catch up on the most recent happenings with my pregnant friends, but at least I'm rarely subjected to, say, ultrasound pictures on the day Aunt Flo decides to visit. ;-)
Tip number 3: Um. There is no tip number 3. I'm just trying to hang on through another couple of weeks of this stuff, and hoping that this time next year I have a ginormous baby belly! Anybody else wanna give me a tip number 3.. 4... 5?
PS: Here are some other blogs on the topic. I was glad this year to be able to see that some other infertiles could relate and it was Not.Just.Me. ;-)