So often in life the grass seems greener on the other side of the septic tank (that was Erma Bombeck’s line, not mine). I’m sitting here right now totally envious of my single girlfriend who just jetted off to the Caribbean to go scuba diving. She can do that stuff—she’s not tied down by miniature people. Then again, how many times has she showed up to David and Katherine’s Christmas pageant wishing she had a kid of her own singing “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on stage? Possibly more times than I’ve wanted to go scuba diving south of Florida.
Moreover, just as postpartum issues and the stress of raising children can compound mood disorders, the sadness of not having children—and especially not being able to have them–can also trigger depression in middle-aged and older women. As Peter Rabins explained in Friday’s interview, women tend to define themselves more in terms of their role as a family member and as part of a social network than men, who, more often than women, attach their self-esteem to their workplace. It’s not surprising, then, when some women encounter fertility problems, they feel as though they have failed on a very basic level. And our culture—given its fascination with celebrity pregnancies and births, as evidenced by all the tabloids filled with perfectly round bellies and Gerber babies in tow–certainly doesn’t help.
I try to be as sensitive to this type of pain as I can. Because so many of my friends have had trouble conceiving. And I thought I’d bring it up today, the day before Halloween, because sometimes this holiday can be rough for those without kids to dress up.
Here is a heart-breaking comment from reader Suzanne that was on the message board of my “16 Ways Depression Is Like a Pumpkin” post:
Halloween has ALWAYS been my favorite holiday; I used to dress up (as an adult!) and hand out candies and check fingers for plumpness for the “oven,” as a witch (a beautiful one, at that!). But now, I live in a gated condo; children are NOT allowed to come in and go trick-or-treating. But I haven’t let that stop me! I dress up as Elvira (yes, I spent BIG money on the costume and wig!), and carve a pumpkin with my boyfriend (who never carved one before, and he’s 63!), and we take pictures and pretend we’re having fun. But – I miss the kids. I’m 59, with bipolar disorder, and I’ve NEVER been able to have kids. There is an emptiness in my womb that will never disappear, and it seems Halloween only makes it emptier. When I’m “ill,” it’s always the “manic” side; but reading your blog, and the others, I feel a sort of melancholy that won’t break.
Please, SOMEONE, write a BRIGHT lesson on this blog; I need some sunshine today before I turn into a blinking, snarly jack-o-lantern, and cover my head with my blanket!!
HAPPY HALLOWEEN – don’t let the bedbugs bite…