Pulling into the parking lot, we were overcome by an unanticipated wave of families with young children. Someone decollapsed and snapped into position a twin stroller as I got out of my car. On my right, as I walked into the garden center, a set of grandparents were suspended in time, gazing oozingly at their grandchild before re-entering their vehicle.
It was Good Friday, and Holy Shit indeed.
“Okay” I said out loud to my husband. “Mental note to self, and to anyone else who is child free not by choice, and especially those of us who honor our lost children via gardening – DO NOT GO FLOWER SHOPPING ON GOOD FRIDAY.” Or on any of the days preceding Easter and Passover that involve a school vacation day, for that matter.
Before getting out of the car, I was overcome with an old yet familiar urge to have my Infertile On Board sign displayed. I had created it as a response to the white stick figured families that were all the rage on back windshields as I was going through my fertility treatments. And I mean really, why should I not have a sign for me and MY life?? It’s general purpose is to serve as a reminder that a family with healthy living children is not the only circumstance humans are experiencing that is worthy of consideration. I still often wonder if anybody ever got my not so subtle hint.
I’m not sure if my lessening desire to slap my sign up is due to the evolution of my healing process, or due to the fact I’m not driving much because of my nervous system disorder. Staying in a lot does have its benefits, such as having less contact with humans, which, from the point of view of a childless not by choice survivor of infertility, results in a smaller accumulation of alienation and perpetual eye rolling.
But in the garden shop parking lot I was overcome with an urge to pop my sign up on my back windshield, only to recall that it’s lying on one of our garage shelves. I’ve seen a small wave recently of “Mom” signs on back wind shields – “Dog Mom”, “Soccer Mom”, “Syracuse Mom” and the like. Should the wave turn into a tsunami I vow to get my own fashioned:
AND STILL WORTHY
This renewed commitment to back windshield signage comforted me slightly as we continued
wading through romper room walking into the garden center.
“Well fuck ME nine ways to Sunday” I announced as we made our way through the store, which was literally overrun with families with young children. I’ve found that verbally expressing myself in these situations feels validating and diffuses my frustrations. And no worries, I can assure you no one is listening.
That said, our journey to pick out pansies and organic lawn products was also punctuated by “It’s a good thing I ended up taking extra medication!”, and an “Oh gosh honey, I can HARDLY WAIT to get in line with everybody!”.
Our navigation through the store also came complete with stare – offs between us and the stroller brigade in the events where only one person could squeeze by. It seems that planet stroller presumes they have the right of way based on what I’m not sure – on having received the all too random privilege of being able to reproduce? I’m happy to say my calm and gentle demeanored husband piloted our shopping cart right through in these situations. It likely takes a lot more for us to be in such a circumstance than it does them, we reason. Thus, we need to keep moving.
Being four years out of treatments I’m at a point where I can, alongside sadness over that which I’ll never get to experience, find a mild delight in the adorable bunny ears and precious pre-holiday childhood exuberance that was zinging throughout the garden store. Dabbling in such poignancy does not lacerate my insides the way it used to. Nor is it what I need.
I’ve been in this place lately in my healing process. Triggers that used to fall under the category of “impaling and day ruining” have now made their way to the “It doesn’t ruin my day anymore, but it doesn’t serve me either” station. An important contemplation, given that anyone living with infertility and/or involuntary childlessness has to walk in a world that does not give us what we need on so many levels.
“What in the hell happened to the other 20%?” I started to wonder as we waited in line amid a black hole of strollers, referencing the average worldwide percentage of people who don’t parent. I came to the conclusion that either:
- The rest of the 20%, unlike me, were smart enough to have figured out this is not the time to purchase spring gardening supplies, thus making me one of the dumber people in the CNBC community, or,
- Long Island, New York is a bonafide rabbit lair and I’m more severely outnumbered than I realize.
I returned home, feeling thankful that, as an avid gardener, I’ll at least get milage out of our hard won pansies. I noted that my garden store escapade had been enough Easter for me, and honored this by spending a content, introverted weekend writing, spring cleaning and yes, gardening.