December 24, 2010

A Message From Down Under

An unexpected email from a Purple Woman in Australia was the best gift I could have received this Christmas. It convinces me that just posting a new article once or twice a year is not enough effort to keep the content and value of this 2-year intensive blog project alive. My big task for the new year is to take steps to preserve it, so that it will continue to provide a measured, balance perspective on what it is to be a Purple Woman. It is empowering to be self-defined.

She has given me permission to share this letter to herself.

Madeline's Story: A Letter to Myself

Today is the beginning of a new outlook on life. This weekend we made the decision to not continue on the IVF path. Not next year. Not ever.

For me it is also a conscious decision not to continue on the ‘infertility’ path.  That may sound strange, because technically we will remain, by definition, ‘infertile’.  But today, and every day from now on, this is not how we define ourselves.

Spending our emotional energy, our time and our money trying to bring ‘something’ into our life implies that there is something missing.  And that is what has kept us on the IVF roller coaster and turned both of us – I guess me especially – into anxious and (if I’m being honest with myself) at times unhappy people. What I have come to realise this week is that there is nothing missing.

We have a loving, fun, deeply committed relationship and we have a choice to make.  So many of our choices have been made for us that I almost forgot the one we can still make – we can choose not to define ourselves by what we don’t have.  We can choose to get off the emotional rollercoaster that is ivf. We can choose to embrace a different life. Not a lesser life, but a different one…maybe even a fuller one.

Yesterday I read that ‘There is only so much time in a day, a week, a lifetime, and if we don't raise children, perhaps we "raise" something else.’  Something about this blog excerpt resonated with me because, deep down, I know that I have something significant to contribute to this world. And I know that we both can make a mark, as individuals or as a couple.  And that mark isn’t going to be children. But it will be something just as meaningful.  We might change the life of people less fortunate than us.  We might find a way to bring light into dark times that other people suffer through. And through doing this we will probably learn, in a deeper way than we now recognise, that we are so very lucky to be two healthy, bright, driven people.

Apart from leaving a mark on this world, there are smaller – but significant – ways that we can embrace our life and be happy that we have made this choice.  We will have a freedom that other people cannot.  We can have dinner at 9pm on a Tuesday night over candlelight and a bottle of wine. We can nurture our love in a selfish, indulgent way.  We can come home at midnight after a night out with friends… no babysitter, no guilt. I can pursue a fulfilling career without the guilt of having to divide my energies and time.  I can continue singing and musical theatre and the joy that brings without feeling overcommitted.  We can go on extravagant or adventurous holidays every year. Every year. No putting it off. No having to find ‘child friendly’ hotels.  No waiting until school holidays.  We can explore other cultures and learn new things. We can take a whole year off work if we want to and travel the world (well, maybe later when we can afford it). We can go for long walks holding each other’s hands, ending up at a cocktail bar on the river if that’s what we feel like. We can enjoy the simple things in life…good food, good wine, expensive restaurants, lazy Sunday afternoon wines.

We don’t need anybody else in our lives to be fulfilled. There are many things that can ‘complete’ someone and there are many expressions of our love for each other.  In the past, I was so sad that our beautiful love would never be reflected in a child. What I am focused on now is nurturing and protecting that love and having fun with it.   There are other things that our love will be weaved into.  We might volunteer overseas together… we might give something back in a way that others can’t.  Importantly, we can move forward without resentment of other people’s fortune. Because we are going to be fortunate in other ways. We are going to feel fulfilled and satisfied and free. We are going to make a difference. We are going to focus our energies on our marriage, on our own identities and passions, and on our friends – some that we have, some that we will meet.

Most importantly, we will feel whole and happy because we have a deep love that we can spend every day investing our time and energy into and nothing will compromise that.

[Editor's note: This Purple Woman's name has been changed to protect her privacy. 
Special thanks to Flickr member Wim Mulder for sharing his photo via Creative commons. CC]

For more information about the choice to be childfree, read through the archived posts on this blog (hint: you will find them sorted by topic in the sidebar), or visit Laura Scott's "Childless by Choice Project". Laura is an author and filmmaker and a former contributing editor of this blog.


Cammy said...

i loved this. thanks for sharing! i have nothing against having children myself, but i have seen couples succuumb to peer and societal pressure and have children and put their lives on hold. it takes a lot of financial and emotional energy, and not everyone has that. until today i was not aware that there were "purple women." a sensible choice, wonderfully articulated.

Lesly said...

Thanks for sharing the post! I don't see anything bad to be childfree. I agree you will feel a real "purple woman". But we won't be always so attractive and finally time will plunge us into age. Anyway Children are the flowers of our life. They can bring more energy and pleasure than luxurous hotels, adveturous holidays.

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