A funny thing has been happening. People keep asking me, “What are you DOING with yourself this summer?” Now, this question alone is not unusual. It’s a semi-annoying question addressed to most teachers who have the summer off. It never really bothered me much before. Most people who ask me this are friends and family with a genuine interest in my life. Of course I have, on occasion, been asked this question by people who DO want to denigrate my profession or insinuate that my life is easy. But, the other 99% of the time? It’s just a friendly way to start a conversation.
However, this summer, this innocent question has been infuriating me.
Over and over again, I am asked: “So, what are you doing to stay busy this summer?” and “What did you do today?” In trying to answer, I end up feeling like a lazy, friendless, incompetent loser with too much time on her hands.
No one seems to realize that constantly asking me to justify what I’m doing with, “all my free time this summer” is like ripping the scab off the just-healed wound that is my miscarriage. Is it that much of a stretch to realize that I should have given birth to our first child in June? By incessantly pointing out how much free time I have, people constantly remind me of that empty place in my heart and in my arms.
No one is asking my Mom Friends & Coworkers what they could POSSIBLY be doing with themselves this summer. That would be stupid. Clearly, these Moms are busy being MOMS. It’s a 24/7 job. My Mom Friends have been taking their children to zoos, farms, play dates, indoor playgrounds, story time, and children’s museums. Their schedules are jam-packed. I also realize that a large chunk of their life is consumed by the less-Facebook-friendly toddler tantrums, cleaning up poop & vomit, sleep deprivation, and a constant soundtrack of Daniel Tiger or Angelina Ballerina or whatever kids watch today.
Do people realize that I should have been doing all of those things too? Sometimes I just want to scream. Fuck the lack of empathy that comes from NEVER having to make the kinds of decisions that infertile couples have to make every day. I know, logically, that no one can ever fully understand what it is like to be infertile or to miscarry unless she has experienced it herself. Actually, who am I kidding? If in some parallel universe, I was able to get pregnant easily, I’d be the one asking the same stupid questions to infertile women and prompting them to write bitchy blog posts about it. I’m only knowledgeable about this one tiny corner of human experience because I’ve lived it. I know that, and should probably just get off my high horse. But, I just wish that the people around me could understand this without having to go through it themselves.