I felt very compelled to write in regard to the letter from the mother-to-be (In a Tight Spot / Chronicles 6-5-09), about saying the wrong things to childless couples or individuals. People are at a loss as to how to deal with singles who are either divorced, never married or widowed, not knowing when to hold back or how to handle this touchy subject. They feel they must say something, and often their comments are hurtful.
As a divorcee, I have heard it all, again and again. “Oh, you are too picky… bitter… selfish… too demanding… too independent… too smart… do you want to be alone forever?” If I had a dollar for every comment that has come my way, I’d be able to pay my bills, give to charity, and have plenty left over.
I am personally stung by these words – and if that’s not enough, my son has taken to repeating them to me as well. What a great example for an impressionable young man!
So, I thank you, Rachel, for addressing this subject. And if I may elaborate on your advice: Those of us who are single or childless are well aware that we have been given this special challenge in life by Hashem and can do without the constant reminders. There are enough of them at semachos and at holidays (grateful as we are for the opportunities to celebrate them).
Just as you would not blame someone who is tackling a physical or mental illness, we should not be blamed or made to feel shame over our childless or single state.
Contrary to what some may think, I am not at all bitter. Whenever I am tempted to feel sorry for myself, I turn my thoughts to Hashem’s brachos and the son he has blessed me with through the marriage that was not meant to last.
By the way, remaining in a hostile marital relationship could have much worse consequences than does severing ties and going our individual ways.
Thank you for your chesed in helping our community deal with this sensitive issue.
Respect me as I respect you…
It may come as a shock to many of our friends, family, and even strangers, that some of us “infertile” couples have long past gotten over the pain, made peace with Hashem’s will, and (surprise!) have a life – a fulfilling and satisfying one, the likes of which many know nothing about.
The reality is that Hashem is in charge of our destinies, and though prayer has the power to alter one’s mazel, each of us is meant to overcome challenges that are beyond the scope of human understanding. Let’s just say that Hashem has benevolently blessed me with a wonderful spouse who is also an outstanding talmid chacham, one who mentors countless of bochurim and others.
As for myself, I juggle both a successful career and our very busy home. To be perfectly candid, by this time and place in my life, the only ones who still dwell on our childlessness is everyone else but the two of us!
Case in point: On one recent Sunday afternoon, I made the rounds at some tzedakah parties. One organization offered a raffle with every receipt of donation, for a chance to win one of a handful of lavishly displayed prizes.
Being late in the day, the only ones still there were mostly the volunteers in charge of setting up and dismantling the settings. I perused the various displays; the selections were nice, but I already had all the dishes I could use, didn’t really need an extra tablecloth and have Baruch Hashem enough silver. When I came upon a presentation of children’s items – books, toys, and various whatnots that would delight any child, I thought of my “grandchildren,” my many nieces and nephews and my husband’s talmidim, and of how happy they always were with any small gift I would occasionally pick up with them in mind.
Instinctively, I felt all eyes on me – poor “childless” woman! Smiling to myself, I declared out loud, “Perfect for my einiklach! This is just what I can use!!” and deposited my ticket. The “pitiful” looks followed me all the way to the exit door.
When I finally arrived home, a voicemail message informed me that I was the raffle winner! I excitedly dialed the contact number and asked the woman who answered whether I could pick up my prize rather than wait for it to be delivered. An unenthusiastic monotone advised me that I would need a car and to come right away, for they were getting ready to leave.
After confirming that the drawn ticket number matched mine, the droning voice haltingly asked to verify the name; my surname is a common one and my husband’s given name would leave no doubt as to our identity as the “childless” pair – and what on earth would I, poor woman, be needing all these children’s things for…was her very transparent thought.
My spirits undiminished, I practically skipped back to the party hall and hauled the various goodies into a cab (having had no car at my disposable at the time). Earlier, my husband had come home just as I was rushing out of the house, and I quickly explained where I was going, without divulging what I had won.
Well, when I arrived home, I laid everything out on my kitchen counters in professional display-style, then called my husband in from his study for a “special viewing.” At the sight of our “new décor,” he burst into laughter and the two of us enjoyed a lighthearted and frolicsome time together taking in our new acquisition.
On a more somber note, I would just like to add, Rachel, that if people would invest their energies on what’s brewing in their own backyards instead of concentrating on what’s doing in everyone else’s, their quality of life would be greatly enhanced.
Happiness means different things to different people…
Please send your personal stories, thoughts and opinions to firstname.lastname@example.orgRachel