I've written two posts in the past 48 hours on the topic of childlessness. Since then I've had phone calls, a flurry of kind emails and comments, one kindly meant but obscene suggestion and an anonymous accusation of bitterness.
First of all, thanks for the loving concern.
Second, I want to assure you all that I'm fine. Yesterday I wrote my post, did some shopping and then rushed out to babysit the Youngest Member of the Parish so his parents could go to a concert. I invited a the Newest Single Gal of the Parish to join me, and we had a great time.
The YMOTP grinned at us (he has 2 teeth) like he couldn't believe his luck. First I build towers for him to knock down, and then I fed him a bowl of baby stuff. Next the NSGOTP read him story books, and then I changed his yucky diaper and put him in his sleeper. Then, according to instruction, we sang him the Salve Regina and put him down to sleep. He yelled for 10 minutes and then was out like a light.
His babysitters helped themselves to glasses of wine and yakked solidly until the parents came home. Indeed, it was awesome. Baby, girl talk and wine. All good. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: some scientists believe that women (unlike men) outlive their reproductive potential for decades because we are necessary to help other women with their babies. If a saber-toothed tiger chomped a mother-of-three, the other women in the village would rescue the babies and bring them up.
I love babies, so I enjoy caring for babies. I'm glad I sometimes have the opportunity, and I exult that one of my nephews and my niece are still in the baby stage. (Well, my nephew sort of is...)
Third, when I talk about the badness of bitterness, I am not doing this to insult people. I well remember that in high school "She's just bitter" was the most damning insult we could come up with. But that's not my purpose in talking about bitterness.
The problem with bitterness is that it makes you a less attractive and therefore lonelier and unhappier person. It works solidly against your chances of making new healthy friends and attracting healthy potential suitors. When I tell you to look out for bitterness, it's the equivalent of telling you to wrap up warmly on a cold and rainy day. It's not an insult. It's caring common sense.
Bitterness can also hurt a woman's chances of hanging out with babies. No mother in her right mind wants Mrs Bitter to keep an eye on her kids. And although I have failed on at least one occasion to keep my tongue between my teeth when a mum made comments about my oh-so-enviable child-free life, I think I've avoided becoming Mrs Bitter.
To speak up for the feelings of childless-not-by-choice women is not necessarily to give vent to bitterness or to make war on women with children. I have a mum, she has five kids, and I have no interest in beating up on mums. I hope I never have.
To stand up for the childless-not-by-choice is emotionally risky if you're in the same boat, but I deem it worth it if it helps other childless women feel less alone. What I don't like is having my words used against me to point out I'm not all that and a bag of chips, especially by a reader who has temporarily chosen anonymity.
I know I'm not all that and a bag of chips. I'm one gal who drags her sorry butt to confession. But I'm also a gal who lays her heart on her webpage to help other gals feel better. So just as you would think twice before admonishing a woman 20 years your senior in person about her sorrow, please think twice before you click the comment button.
Bottom line: if you're afraid to sign even your internet name, you shouldn't send the comment.
Update: Anonymous, stop having kittens. You wrote something dumb, you hurt my feelings, I flirted with the idea of shutting down the blog, and by tomorrow I'll have forgotten the whole thing. None of the readers know who you are.