Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Teacher, what's the title?

I really don't know what to call this post, but I really need to get the last post out of sight and mind. It needs to go to bed! Bye bye miserable post of despair!
I have also been reading all your blogs and not commenting. It is a thing called inertia I think. I find it despicable in myself and forgivable in others.

I am procrastinating on all kinds of things. ( Like homework for my career counseling). In the process of procrastinating I read an op ed in the New York Times, by Maureen Dowd about how "Blue is the new Black" - especially if you are a woman. i.e. women are more unhappy now than they ever were. In fact, before feminism hit, women were blissfully ignorant of their options and guess what? they were....blissful. Except I don't think she actually says this, but believe me the 400 or more commenters on the article on line have a field day with it. According to many of them, feminism has been just plain bad for women. Give them an inch and they go out and hang themselves. But according to the study, feminism may be good for others. Like men. They don't have to earn all the money anymore, they get to play with the kids and go to soccer games and they even have time to pick up their socks once in a while. Women, on the other hand are running around like whirling dervishes tossed and blown by the winds of change!!! The message seems to be: women's lives are more complicated now and therefore they are more unhappy. They have more choices and that doesn't mean they feel better for it. Men's lives were never that complicated and they are even happier than they were before. Women are temperamental and moody, men are not.

And here is the worst news - EVERYONE who has kids is really really unhappy! I always knew that married women were the least happy of anyone of these demographic groups ( I learned that in sociology thank you very much!) and married men are the most happy (lucky bastards!) but hearing that people with kids - anyone with kids- are the most unhappy - well that just flipped my lid a little. (I do have this worry that I will work my butt off to have kids and then find out that it's all a sick joke - albeit a private one - and it's absolutely horrible after all). Of course those people don't regret having kids, they would never say that. So why do you think that women are so unhappy? Do you think they really are more unhappy than before or do you think it's some trick to get us all to relinquish feminism and spend all day cleaning house and then primping ourselves for the hour before our hubbies come home so we can look stepfordwifelike for them?

On another subject altogether..... I have been thinking of how having babies will make me "come out" in places I would rather not. Where I work all the staff know my story and most of them know that we are vigorously trying to get knocked up - or vigorously waiting to try to get knocked up. The clients, now there's a different matter. Having worked as a social worker for over 14 years I have rarely told any client that I am a laybeejun. I did famously come out to a client who confessed to me that she was confused about her sexuality ( and I naively thought she might need a role model to give her courage and help her see it's okay to be one of those people) who then went around telling everyone that she hated lesbians and that I am one. ( I wasn't on the news or anything - I use the word "famously" in a grandiose small pond kind of way!) A few clients who were gay just seemed to "know". They didn't spread it around but they would give me the "we both know that we are gay" nod! I have worked a lot with nice old homeless or nice old mentally ill ladies who I worry would be mortified if they knew I was a lesbian. They just think of me as this nice sweet rather asexual career girl who has two dogs and a handful of cats and is far too busy helping others to help herself to a bit of nooky in the bedroom. In fact that is really how I have been identified by most of my clients for a long time - the girl with two nice dogs who sometimes come visit and wag and scrounge for food. And I wonder how I will deal with telling these people - what do I tell them about being pregnant? I work in a place where staff are pretty transparent with clients - it's not the "therapy hour" kind of social work - we see the clients in the everyday - we sometimes have meals with them, we help them live their lives and we don't stop living ours while we do this. They like to know about our kids or our husbands or the latest cute bit of news that makes us look like the people that they like to think lead "normal lives".I know - many of you have been here before - do tell - I am interested to know how you have handled it. Don't get me wrong - I will be very very thrilled to have a big fat belly for all the world to see - and I will be a big fat show-off but it is going to be very very interesting in the world of work.

Here's an example of how much I really don't want to offend "nice people" by making them think of sex ( shudder ) when I tell them I am a lesbian and they are horrified ( all my own prejudices).
On our recent trip to KC my dear sweet honey and I had occasion to have three meals in the dining car on the AMTRAK. That would be three meals where we sat side by side on the banquette and on the other side were one or two COMPLETE STRANGERS!!!!!!!! Oh my god - the thought of sharing a meal with strangers is kind of interesting and novel. It's odd that we ( or I ) have become so insular that this seems scary. We spend time in strange places talking to familiar people on our cell phones. We don't eat with random strangers very often without another context or connection like church or work.
Our inaugural communal meal was on our way down to KC when we had dinner. The woman who was assigned to our table looked friendly, casual and down-to-earth. It turned out we had a lot in common - so much so that we exchanged email addresses and talked about religion and dogs ( two of our favorite subjects - being that S is training for the ministry and any dog owner loves to wax lyrical about her dogs). We didn't have to explain our relationship or hide it. It was obvious she got it. So much so that she invited us to one of her get togethers at her house if we are ever in the area.
The second meal we shared was breakfast on the way back from KC to Chicago. This was with a guy who was perfectly friendly - and who talked non-stop about himself and his travels with his wife to various time shares. He was a minister, but probably not the kind of minister that appreciates the laybeejuns. By the time breakfast was almost over I began to be afraid he might remember to ask us about ourselves and did a good job of supporting S in asking him more questions about himself. It seemed to me that he was almost oblivious of us as people and that we were objects to be talked at.
Our final meal was lunch ( yes, we love to eat regularly!) and this was the kicker. We were sitting with Mr and Mrs Average American. They were on an extended tour of America by train and were looking forward to going home the next day. After polite inquiries about what we all did and where we were from, the conversation stalled a little. Until one of them asked how we knew each other. Or if we were related or something. I think that the woman said something like: "So are you two a couple of working girls?" (!)To which I answered rather too quickly, "yes, that's right, we are just friends." JUST FRIENDS??!!! Oh girl, please! It was obvious to me that she was trying to place us, to figure out how we fit into her view of the world and relationships and all she could come up with was that we must be two busy career girls who liked to travel together. But the question I am asking myself is - how do I know her daughter isn't a big ole laybeejun?!!! How do I know that she has no concept of the old L word and why am I trying to protect her from the awful carnal knowledge that is my life? And it's very very carnal you know - just watch the L word and you'll know! I think I am trying to protect myself from the awkwardness of being stuck in a banquette on a train and seeing her struggle and feeling myself grow red with embarassment? Why do I care so much? Why am I worried about a strangers feelings and if she is judging me? I will have to really get over this when we have kids crawling all over us and people ask us how we are related!
I leave you pondering that and am off to my bed because it's that time of night.
Thank you for listening.I await your wisdom and advice.

PS. We have a new donor. She is young, is said to resemble Mandy Moore and is artistic, a little musical and lots of fun. We are waiting for her paperwork to get to the clinic so that they can evaluate her.


NoodleGirl said...

What a great post! I totally know what you mean when projecting your own prejudices on to others. The one I obsess about is that people in my family-friendly neighborhood judge DH and I as the weird, childless couple and talk behind our backs about whether we're child-haters or pedophiles or whatever.

While I'm sure, unfortunately, we're sometimes correct -- as you are in assuming close-mindedness in some -- in most cases people aren't thinking about us nearly as much as we think they are. Or judging. It drives me crazy to expend mental energy on this, but I can't help it.

Thanks btw, for the donor eggs pep talk on my blog. I'm getting closer and closer to being 100% OK with the idea, though I'll use up my good insurance on IVFs first. But it's so nice to start thinking about it now as another option to expand our family and not as a failire of everything else.

GL with your Mandy Moore! I'll be watching!

anofferingoflove said...

great post.

prior to getting pregnant, i was the same way at work/with my clients. it was a dont ask/dont tell policy. my coworkers all knew, of course, but i just didnt feel the need to out myself to clients. similarly, i let a lot of crap from my dp's family slide, rather than make an issue out of it.

since getting pregnant though, my attitude has done a 180. i dont want my daughter, ever, for one minute, to be ashamed of her family, to witness me tell a half-truth about our family structure, or to see us let unsupportive family get away with crappy behavior.

thus, im starting early to get in the habit. i'll tell strangers at the grocery store who ask about my husband, clients who inquire about my pregnancy, etc. people are surprised sometimes, but no one has ever been rude or hostile. ive told my dp that her family can either get in line or get out of our lives and they have really stepped up to the plate.

i think kids kinda force us to be out, which is a good thing, ultimately.

love the sound of the mandy moore donor - this one is GONNA work! :)

luckyduck said...

I go through the same thing. . . only you express it so eloquently! Good luck with Mandy Moore! 3rd times the charm!

Leah said...

What a great post. And how exciting that you have a possible donor. I really hope this works out for you and your honey. :-D

Keely said...

Too funny-- Oh girl, please, is right! I think one of the reasons women report being less happy is we're so &^*&%ing busy trying to make sure everyone ELSE is happy! (And, btw, that research is meaningless...but it does feed right into that "feminism is bad for women trope that is so popular with the media...I'd be happy to send you more detailed comments on that if you care!)
*ANYWAY* I hope this donor works out for you!! Looking forward to your updates!

K said...

Great story about the meals on the train. :-)

So as you mentioned on my blog, we do VERY similar work. I had similar concerns about how my clients would react to my pregnancy. In the end, it didn't go anything like what I expected. With only a couple of exceptions, my clients didn't ask about my partner at all. I would never have predicted that, but that is how it played out. They were happy for me and asked polite questions about the baby, but they just didn't go there regarding the baby's other parent (or lack thereof, for all they knew). One theory I have is that I am an amazing social worker and have established flawless boundaries so they know my personal life is off limits for questions. Ha ha. I doubt this very much. Another option is that they know I am a lesbian and didn't want to make either of us uncomfortable by bringing it up. I doubt this very much as well. The two clients who did ask about the other parent (both gay themselves, incidentally) both asked about my husband. I'm one of those lesbians who NEVER gets the nod. Well, I didn't until I started going out in public as a family of three, but more on that in a minute. My best guess as to why they didn't ask is that they just don't care about my personal life as much as I thought they would. :-) I was SO sure they'd use the pregnancy as a gateway to finding out more about me, but it seemed they didn't really care. They talked about the belly because it was there (but even that happened less than I expected) and they now ask me how E is doing and occasionally ask to see pictures, but that's about it. I also think my clients are pretty well versed in social service receipt and they know that we SWers generally make a habit of not self-disclosing. I dunno. I'm sure there are many factors. Anyway, it was something I was totally worried about and it turned out to be a non-issue.

So on the "outing" thing (because this comment SO needs to be longer), a friend told me that having a baby would bring me to a new level of "outness". I thought she meant when the kid started talking and told anyone and everyone about his or her family. Nope. It started instantly. When we are out as a family of three, people know immediately what is going on. It doesn't take them more than a few seconds to notice that we are both relating to E in a parental way. It's a new sensation for me as someone who rarely pinged on gaydar before he came along. Unfortunately, it's landed us in a couple of uncomfortable situations, but for the most part, people have been pretty accepting. We've had some pleasant surprises as well.

Fingers tightly crossed for the new donor, and for you!

cindyhoo2 said...

Ohhhh, this post is so fun for me on so many levels. So thanks for that!

I am also one of those lebanese that no one picks up on... lipstick and skirts and such. So like you, I get to decide how out I will be. In my work with clients (remember that I am also a social worker), I simpy don't talk about my private life much. I have a rule that anything I personally disclose to them needs to be about furthering the therapeutic relationship in some way. So if they ask, I say something like, "I am sorry but I don't talk about that." Then I explain that no matter what I tell them, many people see that as a reason I cannot relate to them and I don't want that sort of barrier. I am always surprised that people don't get offended. I think the people I work with like that answer because it frees them up to be really selfish in our time together.

As for being out with people in public. I also have a strong urge not to scandalize people so I tend to simply tell as little as possible. If people ask is J and I are sisters, I say "no." If they ask how we know one another, I give an off-hand remark about knowing one another for years. But it is true that this level of boundaries just won't be possible when we have children. Hmm, maybe I should begin practicing saying, "We're a couple."

Mrs. Holly Hall said...

Ahh.... interesting post .. . .

Well, thank you for commenting on my post. I wrote you back on the comment page . . .

Looks like we have a few things in common in terms of our jobs ;)

excellent use of the term laybeejun

Good luck with the vigorously trying to get knocked up!

(fingers crossed for you)

Lizzie said...

I'm in so much the same place. Half-truths and semi-lies, assuming people will be hostile and so being tight-lipped, etc. It's awful. My sweetie and I have talked about it A LOT. We don't want our kids to grow up with shame, or to hear us lie or deny our family EVER, so I know this will force me to be a bigger person, and a more "out" person .... Can't say I'm not scared, but I'm getting ready.

MAJ Bryen said...

I read the article, too because as you know I am a big NYT reader (love the app on my iphone)! I'm sorry to hear about your donor but am hoping the Mandy Moore (loved her in Saved)alike will do great things for you guys. Wishing you the very best!

Kristen said...

I've been walking with this woman J and when we first met, I told her I was getting divorced, so of course she assumes from a man. Well we didn't talk about it for a few weeks then when we did, I just wasn't in the mood to explain that no, my ex is a woman, so I didn't say anything and now its just been so long that I feel stupid about it and like someone is going to take my gay credentials away (oh, it doesnt' help that I identify as bi so I actually could end up dating a man and then even more issues...) But anyway, I have found that I am often the one thinking about it more than others. Really, we are all thinking about ourselves more than we are about other people. Just like you are so concerned with what you'll do when you get pregnant, that you're probably not noticing someone else's concern of what you think of them. See, we all just think everyone is thinking of us when really they are just thinking of themselves. Hm, not sure that all made sense.
Just know it won't be as big of an issue as you think it might be.

Best When Used By said...

Well, you said a lot! I guess I'll address the "why are women so unahppy" question. My guess is because women feel less appreciated now. Fifty years ago women stayed home, cooked, cleaned, ironed and primped themselves for their husbands while mixing his martini for the moment he walked through the door after work. Women took pride in doing those things. And people appreciated and compliment a woman on her good cooking, her clean home, and being a "good" wife.

And now? Now women are expected to work, climb the ladder, do home improvement projects, understand biochemistry, cook, clean, look good, pay their fair share of financial obligations, do the taxes, etc, etc, etc. But there is no special appreciation anymore. It's just "stuff that has to get done." And it's hard to take pride in something that gets buried beneath a million other obligations.

I don't know. That's just my assessment.

I can't really speak with any knowledge about the lesbian issue other than to say that I guess all of us feel the need to protect (or hide) others from certain secrets we each carry. Things we think we might be judged for. So I think the desire to keep certain things private is natural. I'm sure that when your little one comes, you'll find a way to deal with questions. Or ignore them!

Yay for new donor! Third time's a charm!

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, yes, yes. I hate the part of myself that needs to shield people from their own discomfort, that tries to over accommodate. But I do it too. I usually will tell anyone who asks how we're "related," but I dread the moment with certain people who I've decided seem conservative or unknowledgeable about our crazy lifestyles. Also, I'm guilty of not being affectionate in certain public places (and I'm not talking about feeling her up, just some basic hand holding) for fear that it will cause problems/make others uncomfortable. And it never has. Or it has never gotten back to me that it has. I think living out here where we do hasn't helped - I just assume that there's a higher percentage of haters in between the coasts.

So, it's a struggle that I'm working through too because, yes, when children are on the scene, I will not tolerate this wishy-washy behavior in myself. I don't want that child to ever be ashamed of who we are as a family. But these are deep-seated fears, meshed up in my identity and self-worth, so it's no easy task to snap them off.

Thanks for your great post.

J and D said...

I hate 'coming out'. I wish people were just smart enough to figure it out on their own. I have protected people that I thought wouldn't be able to handle my "secret". I didn't think they'd understand or I thought they'd be disgusted. In reality, my experience since becoming pregnant has been very good. I came out to the people I trusted first (most already knew) and then I asked them to correct any rumors they encountered. I told them to tell people exactly the truth. People like to gossip and I felt that accurate gossip would be better than thinking I was "knocked up and single". I won't lie, it has been hard. I've found that I'm even more vulnerable now. For example, when getting my oil changed I told the guy "I had to ask my husband" about a recommendation he gave us (D was sitting in the car). There is something about being pregnant that does make me feel like people assume I'm straight.
I'm actually looking forward to the point when we have a little one outing us 24/7. I think life will be easier that way because right now it feels like a part time job setting everyone on their way with the truth. sigh.
Blissful Ignorance sounds GREAT right about now!
Also, Mandy Moore sounds AWESOME!!! I have my FX for you!!

Lisa said...

Babylegs are legwarmers for your baby's legs. They go all the way up their thighs. So you can use them with a onesie, under skirts/dresses, etc. they are nice on baby's knees when they are crawling (okay that's just a marketing ploy) but they come in a variety of styles and colors and just look cute on babies. As the child grows older they can still wear them under stuff and some wear them on their arms creating a double layer look. They are generally $12 for a pair but today I got 4 four $20 with free shipping. Go to to check them out.

Fran said...

I am keeping everything crossed for this new donor.
Meanwhile I have left you an award on my blog for when you have the time! Fran

Lara (NoodleGirl) said...

I have an award for you at my blog!

Kami said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog. I have also seen many studies where parents are less happy than non-parents.

One author of a happiness book attributed this to how the studies are often done. If you ask someone how happy they are at random points of the day on a scale of 1-5, a parent might put diaper duty, trips to soccer games, bedtimes at a 1. When the kid first rolls over - 5 is the highest you can go when you might want to score it a 10.

Parents also spend more time doing routine things they wouldn't be doing if they were just taking care of themselves so there might be more unhappy minutes while still having those high highs.

FWIW, I think I find more joy in parenting than many parents because I really appreciate what I have. In the US, 50% of pregnancies are unplanned. It is a lot of work if you didn't want it.

I would say I was the most happy before I started TTC. I am much more happy now than I was while TTC.

Good luck with Donor #3!

Shannon said...

Ditto NoodleGirl - This is a great post. It's a post that I wish every asshat homophobe would read, so they would know what kind of harm their narrow-minded, my-way-is-the-right-way, jerkheaded prejudice causes. It's unjust. You should feel totally comfortable shouting your love to the universe, because the world is made a better place when people love.