Category: Angry/Frustrated

The Day that changed the world

Published / by sandymichelet / 3 Comments on The Day that changed the world

When I was a kid I dreamed that I would do something to change the world. I wanted to be one of the first female astronauts or I wanted to create a new type of math (I knew it would be called “subvision’ but didn’t get a lot further than that).

Somewhere along the way I got an inkling that those things would never happen. Strangely, my debilitating fear of heights and poor math skills never deterred me in either goal…..I was still forging forward.

At ten years, old (you know…. when I was creating new mathematical formulas), I didn’t really know what changing the world meant. Now I do.

I first met Jody Day while walking into a Cleveland hotel. We were both in town for the Not Mom Summit. She was the keynote speaker and I was the lunatic fan who ran up to her like she was one of the Beatles. For many years I had been overcome by grief…..feeling like I was immersed in pudding, drowning more every day. Then her book arrived.

Welcome. Pull up a chair.

Grab yourself a cup of tea or something stronger and make yourself comfortable.

Things are about to get a whole lot easier – Jody Day

Stalking Jody without her knowledge

The morning of her keynote she came to sit at our table. (Craig warned me to “be cool and don’t act like a goofball when you meet her”). I think Exhibit A Stalking Picture proves I didn’t listen.

She started her keynote and the room went silent. Her reputation is well known as someone who started speaking for the childless when no one else was. We were all anxious to hear what she had to say.

The numbers are staggering. Twenty percent of the women in the US will make it to their 40’s without having children. Jody acknowledged the heartbreak. “Yep. This sucks. It really, really sucks”. But then she asked the game changer. Very simply. “What’s next?” How did we want to live our lives?

Back then, I hadn’t gotten that far, honestly. I was still knee deep in refusing-to-acknowledge-cry-on-the-inside-like-a-winner grief. But, I’ll bite. How DO I want to live my life? Was the baby story going to be my only story? Was that my legacy?

She acknowledged that unwanted childlessness was painful and horrible… but she went far beyond that.

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Childless Women are the biggest diversity issue HR hasn’t heard of.

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Those in the room looked around inquisitively. What!? Wait. What is happening? We had all been focusing on our individual internal grief (as we should have been) that we never even realized what was happening to the collective “us”. As a society, are childless women treated differently? Do company policies uniformly impact their employees or do they lean toward benefitting those with children? She tossed out a few examples that most had never considered. Unfair utilization of PTO? Are benefits equal? Does a company contribute more money toward healthcare for a family than they do for a childless person. Is that right?

This really got those in the room spinning. Nahhhhh, this isn’t a thing, is it!?

The story, all names and characters, and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, building or products is intended or should be inferred. <ha! This is what they put after Law & Order.

  • Susie needs to leave work at 2pm because she just learned her child broke his arm at school. She packs up her things and walks out the door…. everyone wishes her well and says “I hope little Johnny is ok”.
  • Jamie doesn’t have any children. She just bought a new house and needs to leave work at 2pm because she just learned her contractor is having an issue with her countertops.
  • A few weeks later, Susie’s son is in a holiday program at school. She needs to leave at 3 to get him dressed and ready for the evening. He will be dressed as a cow. Her co-workers say “Awwwww..a cow”
  • A few weeks later, Jamie needs to leave at 3 because she is going to meet with a decorator. Her co-workers say “Uh, why doesn’t she schedule this after work?”.
  • Susie’s daughter was accepted to cheerleader camp. Rah! Rah! Sis Boom Ba! Susie has a lot of work to do before the camp starts…buying outfits, getting lunch money for her, etc. She missed a few hours of work this week. Her son reinjured his arm and the project she’s been leading is starting to fall behind schedule. She is starting to feel overwhelmed. “We need to take Susie to lunch. She is juggling 20 things right now”.
  • Jamie started painting her kitchen and bathrooms a few weeks ago. She is still fighting with the contractor about the countertops. She missed a few hours of work this week . The project she’s been leading is falling behind schedule. She is starting to feel overwhelmed. “Jamie’s project is not on schedule. She needs to get her priorities in order. She took off a few weeks ago to go meet a decorator and now she just missed again?!”

Who is a better employee? Susie or Jamie? They’ve both missed the same amount of hours. Both of their projects are falling behind. But does your company’s leadership or the office gossipers consider these scenarios to be the same? Or….is Susie a “working mom trying to take care of her kids ” and Jamie is considered “self-centered and not a team player”.

What about this?

  • Susie sends an email “Attention company. Abby in accounting is having a baby soon. Let’s shower her with love! If everyone on this email gives $10 we can buy her the <insert random baby crap available at Babies R Us>. Yay!”
  • Jamie sends an email “Attention company. I am saving for a trip to Italy. If everyone on this email gives $10 I can buy my ticket before the rates go up! Yay!”

Huh. Not really the same, is it. Is it more socially acceptable to ask co-workers to donate to a baby gift as opposed to donating to another co-worker’s dream vacation fund? In fact, in some places (every southern place I’ve ever been) it would be considered tacky.

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This conversation is about awareness and action. Things like the above are happening in our workplaces and it is up to us to stop it. Because we now know that childless women may get treated differently…..(In all fairness, companies may not even realize it….which is why we need to talk about it.)

This conversation is NOT about asking people to donate to childless women. If you believe it is, then either you missed the entire point or I explained it poorly. Over the years, I’ve happily donated to a zillion baby showers and bridal showers and will continue to do it.

The Day who changed the world

A great keynote will make you think differently, act differently, feel differently….expand your thinking. Jody Day is a great keynote. She has impacted countless women from around the world. And now, she will make an even bigger impact….and I am THRILLED and honored to be a part of it.

Early next year, I will join 9 other women from around the world where Jody will teach us to facilitate her Gateway-Women’s Reignite workshop. This is the same workshop I attended in February and experienced the 10 most powerful minutes of my life. This workshop had a massive impact on me and helped remove the heavy feeling I had for so long (like drowning in pudding)…and now, she wants to expand the reach and by extension, the healing. She is giving us a chance to impact other women’s lives. THIS will be our legacy.

Gateway-Women.com describes Jody Day as the Voice of the Childless in the UK. She is much more than that. She is changing the world. And, she is a pudding remover. That is a big deal, people!

I find myself getting immersed again…but this time, not pudding….but in the excitement of Living. This. Life. The childless life.

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For more information about the Reignite Workshops or the NEWLY launched Baton Rouge Childless Women Meet Up (1st Saturday of every month), visit Gateway-Women.com.

GUEST POST – Childless & Childfree – Two Peas in the Same Stigmatized Pod

Published / by sandymichelet / Leave a Comment

Below is our first guest post written by an incredible author….. Grab a glass of wine, sit back…and read a different perspective. In her own words: 

I have worked with Sandy for several years, and anyone who knows anything about her will know she is one kick-ass party planner. I’m sure she has planned her own funeral because honestly, she wouldn’t trust anyone else to get it right. I can just hear her voice from beyond the grave, “Those chairs with those tablecloths?! What kind of monster…”

That’s why it came as no surprise when three months into my engagement she informed me that my unborn child’s first birthday party was already planned – theme decided and Pinterest board full.

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“Every party needs a theme and deviled eggs”

                                      –  Sandy and every other Southern woman, ever.

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I am used to having this conversation now, but I still tense up when I have to tell someone what I told Sandy that day. “We don’t want children.” [Enter collective, audible gasp from audience here]

Did you know there are actually two types of women in regards to having children?

  1. Childless  – these are the women and couples who want children but are biologically unable to bear them due to a plethora of reasons.
  2. Childfree  – the women and couples who do not want to add children into their lives due to a plethora of reasons.

The more Sandy and I talked, the more we realized how mainstream society stigmatizes the childless and childfree in similar ways. Let me be perfectly clear: I don’t pretend to understand the burden and heartbreak a childless woman feels. No one can possibly understand until they walk that walk. I am certainly not suggesting that our journey is the same – only that when it is all said and done, we get lumped into the same group.

Don’t believe me? Let’s compare using the Five Stages of Grief, DABDA, aka the Kubler-Ross Model. This model is typically used to describe the stages of coping with the death of a loved one but isn’t it metaphorically perfect? Our families and friends must cope with the death of their expectations of us as mothers.

During a woman’s prime child-bearing years, she’s likely to hear these things from friends, family and even strangers as it becomes more and more clear she won’t reproduce:

1 DENIAL

  • What society says to a childless woman
  • What society says to a childfree woman
    • You’ll change your mind.
    • You’re still young! You don’t know what you want.
  • What they really mean
    • You’re not taking this seriously. I’m not taking you seriously.

Both responses imply that the woman has put little thought into her current situation and what she wants in life. The truth is, these two types of women actually think about, research and defend their situation more than anyone else.

This is the most hurtful stage for the childless woman. For the childless woman, this is the stage they are pouring the most effort, emotion and money into their dreams of being a mother. By saying “just relax” you’re actually saying “you have control over this situation and you’re mucking it up somehow.”

For the childfree woman, this is the stage they have arrived at after endless conversations with their partner/friends/mothers and deep self-reflection. For me, I have spent countless hours reading books by women who have bypassed motherhood (like this one) as well as lengthy conversations with my fiancé. To be told I will simply change my mind one day is laughable. This decision was not made by me solely or on a whim. I don’t say I don’t want children in the same casual way I say I don’t want pickles on my burger. My life partner and I arrived at this decision after serious consideration. If we do change our decision (not likely), it won’t be from influence from anyone else but us.

Recently, a coworker asked me if my fiancé and I would have children right after the wedding or if we would wait. “Are those my only two options?” I asked. From my perspective, this is like asking someone at their retirement party if they will move to Florida right away or wait a few years. “I don’t want to move to Florida…” Sure you do! Everyone wants to retire in Florida. You’ll change your mind when you’re older.

2 ANGER

  • What society says to a childless woman:
    • Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?!
  • What society says to a childfree woman:
    • Not having children is selfish. You only care about yourself!
    • You HAVE to have kids. It’s a life experience you can’t miss out on.
    • Who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?!
  • What they really mean:
    • I’m uncomfortable with what’s happening because my expectations of you are not being met in reality.

Selfish is a word that gets thrown around a lot when people hear someone has chosen not to have children. Even the ultra-cool and modern Pope Francis called us out. A person living their life the way they want to is not selfish. Being mad that someone isn’t living their life the way YOU want them to, is. Creating a human simply because it’s a life experience and (potentially) would add to my happiness is not a good enough reason for me. My decision is not a personal attack on your lifestyle and it’s ok if you feel differently. That’s YOUR life… you see how this works?

Ah…  the infamous who’s going to take care of you when you’re old question. Nursing homes are full of people who had children. Are our fates really that different? Also, having children as a deposit for future care sounds kind of, dare I say, selfish?

3 BARGAINING

  • What society says to a childless woman:
    • Why don’t you adopt?
    • Have you tried IVF?
    • Have you tried unicorn tears?
  • What society says to a childfree woman:
    • Just try! If you don’t conceive, it wasn’t meant to be. But you can at least TRY!
    • You’ll feel differently when it’s your child.
  • What they really mean:
    • I know what’s better for you than you do.

Again, they’ve tried. Again, we’ve thought about it. I will handle my own life decisions, but I’ll be sure to file your suggestions appropriately.

4 DEPRESSION

  • What society says to a childless and childfree woman:
    • I feel bad for you. You’ll never know true happiness. Being a mother is the greatest joy in life.
    • I’m sad for your parents. They would’ve been great grandparents.
  • What they really mean:
    • Maybe one last guilt trip will help you get pregnant/change your mind? No? Then I’m just plain sad. This is something I wanted for you and wanted to have in common with you.
    • I do believe that mothers feel a different kind of love. I won’t ever experience that and that’s ok. There are a lot of types of love to experience in life and mothers don’t own love as an emotion. I am not less loving because I am not a mother.

5 ACCEPTANCE

  • What society says to a childless woman:
    • .
  • What society says to a childfree woman:
    • .
  • What they mean:
    • We have not evolved enough to understand this.

We still have work to do. Blogs like Sandy’s and articles like this one from Time Magazine are helping to create an American culture where women and couples aren’t seen as unfulfilled, depressed failures if they don’t have children. Forbes magazine even did a piece on “Otherhood” and the change of casting the 19 million+ childfree women in the USA as frivolous or desperate.

I never dreamed I would have so much in common with a woman who wanted children so strongly, but Sandy and I have become advocates for each other’s cause. I am now hyper aware of and sensitive to situations that isolate the childless women and I am amazed at everything I didn’t notice before. Yes, there are pregnancy magazines at the foot doctor and even while Pope Francis was shaking his pope finger at the childfree, he managed to isolate the childless by talking about what a holy gift children are and how lonely a marriage will be at the end without the joy of children. I’m aware of these things because Sandy decided to speak up about her daily life through the eyes of a childless woman.

To my childless friends, when you cross the bridge from the battle of infertility onto the other side of “what the heck happens now,” know that there are more women here in your corner than just those who struggled with infertility. There are the childfree women who are also being asked “who’s going to take care of you when you’re old?” Behind that question is a choir of childless and childfree women who are all answering in unison “We will.”

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THANK YOU to this incredible guest post author…I hope we can have many more from her! I’ve read this post 20 times and love it more each time. The conversation has started. Let’s keep it going.

Am I going to hell if I am mad at God?

Published / by sandymichelet / 5 Comments on Am I going to hell if I am mad at God?

For 99% of the week I am unbelievably happy. Great husband, great family, great job, great friends. My family is healthy, we have a roof over our head, we have food to eat and we feel safe everyday.

But for that 1% of the week when I am in complete silence and stillness I…ooooooo…..I. Am. Mad. In another post I shared that there is no explanation as to why I couldn’t get pregnant….so it just kinda hung out there…..with no answer or resolution.  Medical science and all of your miracles, kiss it.

My anger is usually directed in one of two places. My body who betrayed me. And God.

Some people turn to the church in times of sorrow…I do the exact opposite. If things are rocking, then I never miss. Absolutely nothing is expected of me during that one hour a week. Except to sit. To think. To listen.

But after 15 years of sitting in church every week while horrible things were happening around me…one after another after another I started asking WHY?

Knowing my struggle Craig convinced me (after about 20 conversations), to go see The Shack….even after I realized that there were no car chases or gun battles (my two usual requirements to see a movie).

The main character, after a personal tragedy, had a lot of questions…and asked them over and over again…..

I am sure there are people who would never question God….who would never admit they are angry at God…who would think that the mere thought of either of those would send them straight to hell.

Is that right? Or wrong? I have no idea….but the movie seemed to bring me some peace….which, other than a baby, is really the only thing I’ve ever wanted.