Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Thank you for being a friend....

From the theme song to Golden Girls to Lean on Me to You've Got a Friend, songs about friendships are just as popular as love songs.  Having friends and a strong support system has become a cliche', an overused statement and to me had really no meaning.  Sure friends were important.  Friends make life fun.

Then a few weeks ago my life took an unexpected turn.  I am not ready to publicly talk about it in this blog, but it has been devastating. I think of myself as a strong, independent person and yet with one action, I was so weak I could not function.

I called my friends.  I wanted them to know what was going on so they were up to speed.  I thought they would say some standard pleasantries and then go about their lives while I sat in a pool of my own tears.  But they didn't.

Every single friend I told rallied around me.  From coming by with food, beer, sleep aids, chocolate, to calls, texts, to manual labor, I had an outpouring of love that I never expected. In one of the worst times of my life, I felt lucky and loved.

I am so used to being the giver that it feels odd to take from these people. I am trying to not feel guilty for asking so much right now.  I would for sure turn around and do the same for them, but somehow me needing it feels weak.

I just read a letter from a friend that filled me with this warm sense of peace and hope. It has been a long time since I felt that so strongly and it reminded me of how wonderful that sensation is.

I could not have gotten through the last 3 weeks without a host of very close friends. For those of you that are reading this, you know who you are.  Thank you doesn't seem strong enough.  You have saved my life. You have supported me when I could not stand on my own. Your love and help has made me a stronger person. I am forever grateful that at the moment that I could never have imagined happening that you rushed by my side and helped me through.

I am lucky.  I am loved.  I hope that I can be half the friend to you that you have been to me. Thank you.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I Wish I Had A Time Machine.....A Dear Me-from-7-years-ago Letter

Something happened last night that has never happened to me before. We had our kick off event for Tri It For Life session 1 athletes and mentors and it went well.  Afterwards a small group of us went across the street for dinner.  I always have such a fantastic time with fellow TIFLers Wendy and Beth.  I end up laughing til I cry and just walk away smiling.  So last night there were just five of us gals, ranging in age from 30-50.  Topics ranged from crazy family members to clothing to dating...regular girl talk really.  Then all of a sudden Beth noticed that out of the five of us, only  one woman had children.  We all stopped and looked around - yep only Julie had kids.  We talked about how rare that is and how usually we without the children are in the minority.  How strange to have a group of women of all ages and only have one of us with kids.  How refreshing.

I wish I could go back in time and tell this story to the me from when I was 28-32ish.  I had such a hard time being the ONLY PERSON WHO DIDN'T HAVE KIDS.* It made my decision not to have them seem odd and unusual.  I felt unconnected to everyone I knew including people with whom I had once shared every thought. I hated myself for not wanting kids, wondered if I was making the right decision and worried I'd regret it.  I asked everyone how they KNEW they wanted kids, looking for some sign of their answer in myself. I joined group after group looking to connect with someone where the first line of conversation wasn't "How old are your kids?"  I stood shocked after a woman, upon learning I didn't have any kids, simply turned and walked away from me, as if I would have nothing else to contribute. 

I am lucky that due to Miller, I can talk kids with the best of them. I have childbirth stories, tales of infant cuddles and cries, daycare dramas and silly sayings as the once little baby turns into a spunky boy.  I can hang with the moms as a well informed tourist in their town.  But I'm not a resident.  Last night, I was.

So to the me that wondered if I was wrong, sick, alone or if I should have kids "just to fit in", or any other women who might have found this blog as they, like me, went online to find childfree support, stay the course.  Know that there are women out there who made the same choice you did and you will find each other. Know YOU ARE NOT WRONG OR SICK for not wanting kids, just as they are not wrong or crazy for wanting them.  Focus on you - look at what makes you happy and seek that happiness out.  When you find that passion, the childfree will be there too.  Find older women, who either never had or have grown children, for they know that you have value outside of sharing kid tips.  Those women exist and can help you find your way.  Choosing a non traditional path is never easy and unfortunately even today, a woman choosing to not have kids is still an outlier.  Don't let societal pressures get you are stronger than that.  You might not know it or feel it, but you have value and worth and can make a difference in the world and have a fulfilling life without having a child.

Oh yeah, and that lady that simply walked away when she found out you didn't have kids?  Well, she's just a bitch.

*I wasn't the only person who didn't have kids, but it sure felt that way!