Thoughtful Thursday: Obliviate

December 2, 2010

Thoughtful Thursday

Button up your overcoat
When the wind is free
Take good care of yourself
You belong to the Intelligentsia.

Welcome to the December Intelligentsia, the people who commented on every Thoughtful Thursday post for the month of November.

#22: Wiseguy from Woman Anyone?
#14: Elana from Elana’s Musings
#13: A from Are You Kidding Me?
#6: Strongblonde from Strong Blonde

Thoughtful ThursdayDH and I went to see the new Harry Potter movie this week, the 2nd movie we’ve seen in the theater in a year and half. The part of the movie that struck me the most occurred in the first minute (so spoiler alert, but not really, since it’s the first minute). It turns out that the same scene resonated with Mel. To keep her parents safe from harm by evil wizards who might be searching for her, Hermione erases herself from their memories and literally erases all traces of herself from the family photos.

Even though Mel and I both kept thinking about the same scene, different aspects stuck with us. Mel was troubled by the idea of losing the knowledge of your loved one. She posed the question of whether you’d rather ache with the loss of the person from your life or whether you’d rather forget they’d ever existed.

The angle that I couldn’t stop thinking about was, surprise surprise, related to infertility. Yes, I sobbed and sobbed to think that a child could love her parents so much that she’d remove herself from their lives and their minds. But what really got to me was thinking about the parents’ perspective (which the book and movie don’t portray). They no longer knew they’d ever had a child. What story would they now tell about their childlessness? If a stranger asked if they had any children, they’d have to say no. And if the nosy stranger asked why they’d never had children? Would they construct an explanation of infertility? Of having chosen to live child-free? When Hermione cast the Obliviate spell, did she put anything in their minds to explain why they had no children?

Those of us who have experienced years of infertility have had to answer the same questions from nosy strangers. Do you have any children? Why not? When are you going to have children? Don’t you want children? Don’t you know time is running out? Unlike Hermione’s parents, we’ve held the real answers securely in our minds, but we may have told a very different story to these nosy strangers — or a wide range of stories, depending on who was asking. My concocted story usually involved focusing on my career. That was true, for the first 5 years of marriage. But c’mon, I’d been married 12 years by the time Burrito and Tamale were born. I’ve personally never known anyone who purposely waited 12 years before having children, no matter what their career goals were. Any questioners who got a whiff of the timeline usually backed off. Occasionally, the really nosy strangers who kept pushing would end up with a series of disgruntled facial expressions. Some questions don’t deserve the courtesy of an answer.

What explanations do/did you give to nosy questions about why you didn’t have children (or why you don’t/didn’t have a larger number of children)?

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11 Responses to “Thoughtful Thursday: Obliviate”

  1. emk808 Says:

    That was the only scene in the entire movie that I cried during. I honestly could not hold it together as her image disappeared from the photos, and even just typing about it my eyes are watering. That said, onto your question…

    I didn’t actually get any questions about why we didn’t have children yet since we had only been married for 2 years when we got pregnant with the twins. The families in my community would never ask that kind of question, and I never got it from strangers. No one ever asks us why we don’t have more kids…they’re shocked I’m having another after the twins! (And they’re even more shocked when I say I’ll have more if I can.) But if someone had asked me before I had kids why I didn’t have any yet I would’ve explained that we had been trying but just not blessed yet.

  2. BB Says:

    I guess we were fortunate enough to have our babies with us before our 5th wedding anniversary and just before I turned 30! So, I just shush’ed ppl off saying I was still relatively young and had time on my hand and we had just kinda gotten married and needed to look after my career (which of course is on a big hold right now)!

  3. a Says:

    My standard response is “I’m too old.” It’s a bonus response, because everyone then tells me that I’m not that old. Then for an extra added bonus, I get to enjoy their shocked faces when I tell them that I’m 41! (I look much younger, apparently – not sure what people are putting me at these days)

    I do have to say that I have been guilty of the rude questions myself – I distinctly remember the card I got my friend for her wedding – It said something like “Now that you’re finally married, people can stop asking you when it’s going to happen” and on the inside it said “When are you going to have a baby?” (I still think the card is funny, though)

  4. jill Says:

    In the past I’ve been known to say something awkward like “that’s a loaded question” or “you don’t want to know” and then the people slink away and I feel like I didn’t get to say what I wanted to say and they think I’m weird.

    I’ve taken to saying “I can’t. I’ve been ready and trying for about 14 years and it hasn’t happened.” Then of course I’m asked about fertility treatments and “why don’t you just adopt?” My husband is not gung-ho for children so sometimes he is my out of the further questioning and sometimes I decide to let them know it’s all not as easy (or as cheap) as it sounds.

  5. loribeth Says:

    I usually used to just sort of look away & say something vague like, “Oh, one of these days…” Even before we got married, I always felt that when, why, how or if we had children was our business & no one else’s, & I did nothing to encourage those kinds of questions.

    There was a brief resurgence after we DID get pregnant & then lost our daughter (“You ARE going to try again, aren’t you??”), but the older we got & the longer we were married, the fewer the questions, until they just sort of trailed off into nothingness. Thank goodness.

  6. strongblonde Says:

    we’re very similar. i was married for 11 years before we had the kids. honestly, it annoyed me to no end when people would ask me about kids. i would usually say something like “we’ll have some one of these days” or “I guess we’ll just have to wait and see”. The time that really sticks out for me though is when i was at my parents’ house. my dad was talking to my grandmother on the phone and she told him to ask me when we were going to have kids. i told him to tell her that we were just enjoying having a whole lot of sex. you should have seen my dad’s face. i found a way to stop all of the questions from that side of the family.

    another awful story: i remember b’s dad said something horrible to him on father’s day one year. b called to tell him happy father’s day and he said “well i wish i could say the same to you”. b said something to the effect that it wasn’t for lack of trying.

    now? everyone thinks they know my business because we have twins. they also assume that we are totally done because we have one boy and one girl. i’m not sure. we have some frozen embryos, and you know i’m having my own internal struggle with what to do with those. still not sure on that front…

    …and we HAVE to get out to see HP. i’m hoping that we’ll get to go before the holidays 🙂

  7. babysmiling Says:

    Go see it in IMAX! Some beautiful cinematography — I never knew England had so many gorgeous landscapes. We would have waited until we have free babysitting at Xmas, because I don’t like paying $50+ in babysitting to see a movie, but Tron takes over the IMAX theaters in a couple of weeks so we went during the day while the nanny was here.

  8. celia Says:

    I have blocked it out of my memory. One of the few perks of my learning disability is having a long term memory in the bottom ten percent. I think 4%, but typical- I have forgotten the actual percentage.

  9. Cat Says:

    I would usually tell people we were waiting until after they had one. If they had just had one, I said we were waiting until after they had another. One time I said something like, “Wow, that’s a pretty personal question!” The guy, who I was sort of friends with in high school and we’d gotten back in touch on facebook, seemed completely surprised that it might not be well received, but he did back off and apologize.

  10. WiseGuy Says:

    Oh I gave my share of lies and half-truths in explanation. Responses have been:

    * Justifying the marital time(7 yrs) by discounting the one year we were not trying and the year and a half that we were apart.

    * Downplaying the years we have been married – 4-5 years kind of an answer.

    * I made a lady shut up by saying I lost a pregnancy. We were at a social function. She was a neighbour who asked the question loud enough and I was aware that atleast two more sets of ears were arching to listen to what I had to say. She kept mum after that.

    * ‘Oh yeah, we started trying recently’. I gave that answer to somebody in April 2010. By sheer chance, I conceived in May 2010. Wonder?

    * giving the look that says – ‘Sweet of you. Thanks for reminding.’

    Happy December, BabySmiling!

  11. Heather Says:

    I’m 100% honest about my infertility, but partially because I’d like to educate people that infertility is not because women are waiting until they are older to have children. I got married at 23 and we kept trying for the “oops” baby from the first day. I think people need to know that their misconceptions are not true.


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