It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and it’s mainly because I haven’t had anything happen or come up relating to infertility. All in all things are well. Put another piece of the life we were trying to build behind me as I replaced my Toyota Camry which was big enough for a baby with a smaller more sporty VW GLI (which I love). Also started wearing my hair differently dumping the spikes which I had worn for over 17 years with a more conservative part. Small changes that are positive putting things in the past.
The only thing that has come up recently is with my brother moving in with his girlfriend it looks like he finally may have found the one. With that thoughts of them getting married and kids down the road. I’ve wrote about this a little bit in the past that people tell those who are Infertile to not worry that they could always become a “Great Aunt/Uncle”. My feelings have been that it’s not the same as being a parent.
Lately my thoughts have gone beyond it just not being the same. Not only is it not the same but for me I don’t think I want to be a “Great Uncle”. It’s just not something I ever had a desire to be. Don’t get be wrong I’d be happy for my brother and his spouse and wouldn’t ignore his kids. I’d do the usual gifts see them on holidays once or twice a year but I don’t have the desire to be that Uncle that is involved in their lives. Those kids would have their parents. They wouldn’t need an Uncle getting in the way of that.
Settling for being that “Great Uncle” is a weak attempt at pretending to be a semi parent. It’s having fun with kids without doing any work. Those kids will never really care or have the bond that they do with their parents. I know this comes across as me sounding selfish but if god intended me to have that bond with a child he would have given me the ability to become a parent.
Deep down I feel this way because it would be another reminder of what I’m not capable of. I’m not capable of making my parents grandparents. I’m not capable of raising a child. I’m not capable of doing something the majority of adults can do.
Again I know I come across as being selfish but I really do hope my brother never has kids to avoid this trigger. I just fear of the fallout. It’s fallout I don’t want to face or have the potential to fall back into the deep depression I was in two years ago. Only time will tell whether I will face this but I know that I have no desire to be that “Great Uncle”.
On a side note I’d like to finish this piece promoting a new book by Justine Brooks Froelker “The Mother of Second Chances”. I just received my copy the other day and can’t wait to read. Justine is amazing a very special person. Below is the link to purchase on Amazon.
I don’t agree with you saying you can’t raise a child. You can’t make one but I bet you could raise one if things were different. Anyhow, just saying but I know that’s not the point of the blog post.
I understand the fear of fallout and threat you don’t want to be that great uncle. I don’t think I would have wanted either. But maybe you could leave a little door open to the possibility you may be one? Sometimes it’s actually children who chose more than adults.
My sister had not wanted to hold my baby girl for months. She was understandably scared and did not know how to deal with her. And then suddenly she’s become the coolest auntie ever.
I wouldn’t try to become the great uncle but you may end up being one anyway… or not. Who knows..xx
I just believe if I was meant to raise a child I would have been born with the ability to conceive one. It’s not that I think I’m a bad person just that ability is not something I’m capable of which is why I was born infertile.
It would be foolish to close the door of being an Uncle with a strong bond with a niece/nephew because you just don’t know. How I feel now is not how I felt two years ago. So who knows.
Appreciate the feedback. Hope all is well with you.
I’m a great believer in crossing bridges when they come. So commenting on whether or not you’ll be a good uncle is not something I’m willing to do (or willing to argue over).
But I do understand where you are coming from about feeling of replacing parenting with being an uncle or aunt. It is an attempt by many people to find ways to resolve a shitty and very unfair situation infertility leaves us in. So I agree, being an uncle or an aunt does not replace what has been lost. It’s the equivalent of losing a loved one and someone immediately suggesting you volunteer at a nursing home to assuage the loss.
One of the hardest things I’ve struggled with is seeing others move on with the life I envisioned while managing others’ discomfort with my reality. People truly suck at empathy and support and I’ve learned it requires societal shaming to get many to behave. I guess my point is I hear you. And it is hard. And I’m sorry you are facing this.
You’re right about crossing bridges when they come. Life changes and you don’t know what exactly the future holds. I’m commenting on how I would feel if I became an Uncle right now without having that scenario in front of me.
You’re also right about empathy we always look to solve problems for others rather than accepting it’s not our problem to fix.
Thanks for the feedback. I hope all is well.
To compare poorly, what you say is alnost equivalent to someone who doesnt have a limb is because they are not capable of doing something.
It comes off as grapes are sour, which I know is absolutely not your point. Just because you dont have, doesnt mean you cannot do.
Maybe you will make a great uncle, who knows! I dont think you will shut the door to have a great bond with your neices/ nephews.
Like the part about changing your hairstyle /:) new beginnings. Take care.
This is more a case of being born this way as saying I’m not capable of it. Like I don’t have the personality traits needed to raise a child. Not that I’m a bad person I just lack the ability to be a parent. That’s all. But I definitely understand how it came across as sour grapes.
I’m not closing the door on being a great Uncle. It’s just not something I have the desire to do right now. Who knows that might change but for now I don’t.
I have a special bond with my nephew who is eerily like me – more like me than I ever expected my own children to be. But I am no more his mother than he is my son and it is a pet peeve of mine when people talk about their children and try to drag my nephew into the conversation as though it’s the same thing. Likely as an excuse to keep the topic of parenting going when they are in the presence of someone who suffered loss in this department. Now, if I tried to pass off aunting and mothering as the same thing, I’m sure there would be hell to pay:-). One of the reasons I’ve been able to enjoy my nephew so much is by taking our relationship as it is and not trying to make it a replacement for anything. I’m lucky my brother gets it, he’s openly acknowledged to me he knows being an aunt is not the same as having your own and I so appreciate that.
That’s great that you have that type of relationship with your nephew. I’m so glad your brother is as understanding as he is. That is so important that you have family who get it.
I am an aunt and I relate to what you’ve expressed, Greg. I adore my niece, but she’s my niece and not my child. I’ve no interest in investing my life to become a pseudo 3rd parent to her.
That makes so much sense especially that last sentence. I identify with that.
I understand how you feel. My brother is a bit promiscuous and, when we were in the throes of our losses, I dreaded getting a phone call that he and one of his girlfriends were expecting. I would make up the scenario on my head and how I would react so that I was somewhat prepared. Thankfully for me it never happened. But like you I don’t think I could have been the cool aunt or been overly involved. My situation is not the same now as it was then, but I remember those feelings so vividly. All this is to say you aren’t alone.
It’s really tough to go through and I imagine it being tough when you’re going through infertility. At least if I was still going through infertility there would be a chance that we could become parents with that chance gone I really fear if and when this time comes.
I think that anyone who goes out to become a great aunt or uncle to their sibling’s children to make up for the fact that they aren’t parents is being naive and asking for trouble. So I agree with you there. However, anyone who goes out to become a great aunt or uncle to their sibling’s children because they love them, or because they can see that they can fill a role in those children’s lives that their parents cannot or do not, or simply because it’s the kind and decent thing to do, is doing it for the right reasons and may well get many more rewards as a result than they expect. I enjoy being an aunt to my nieces. Each relationship is different and special. None of them is parental, but you know, as I don’t expect them to be, that’s okay too.
The thing is, it IS hard. When my youngest sister had my littlest niece, she was 42. It seemed doubly hard that I couldn’t have children at all, and she could have them older than when I was when I was told that my ovaries had shut up shop. Yes, it was hard, but as soon as I saw her there’s a realisation that she wasn’t THE baby I had wanted, she was someone else. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way. And that makes it easier too.
And as you say, who knows how you’ll feel if and when it comes about.
That all makes so much sense and your right even being a Great Aunt/Uncle it can’t be looked at as a replacement for parenting. I would never be mean to a niece/nephew. I would be respectful but don’t feel the need to be involved in their lives. It’s just not me.
The situation with your sister sounds like a total mind fuck. I’m so sorry you dealt with that.
I agree with you & the others who have said that being an uncle or aunt does not compensate for our own lack of children. It’s a pretty cool thing in & of itself but it’s not the same. I would take a wait & see approach, if & when the time comes. You may feel differently then. Plus so much depends on the child. Your niece/nephew could ignore you as a toddler — & then decide you’re their best friend in middle school (or vice versa). 😉 Good to hear from you and I’m glad things are going well. 🙂
You’re right. If infertility has taught me one thing is that you can’t live your life in absolutes. You don’t know how you’ll react until you are actually in that situation.
I love my one niece and I’m really, really glad to have her (we are a very small family with plenty of estrangement in it so she’s significant to me) but I’m not naive enough to think she’d ever feel the bond with me that she has with her mother, even if I saw her every day of her life. I’m a bit cynical about it: I agree with Loribeth that it can’t compensate for not having your own kids. I’d feel patronised if someone suggested this to me, because in most cases, yeah: you’re just their aunt or uncle and they don’t think about you much. They might even think WTF if your name flashes up on their phone – you’re their aunt/uncle. Then again, there are lots of different kinds of aunts and uncles: I know people here who actively say they don’t like their nieces and nephews, and yet others who talk about theirs as if they are their own kids … I don’t think there’s a right or wrong way to be, to be honest. You can be as involved as you like, I think. Your brother can’t really expect you to go crazy about a baby when you’ve been through what you’ve been through… Luckily my sis had her kid a good few years before I had my infertility saga – if she’d had her any later, who knows; I’d have felt weird and defensive, embarrassed even, I dunno….. These days, after the IVF and all, and with just getting older, I find I don’t get excited about anyone’s kids. I’m a bit self-conscious about being the only childless relative so I don’t get involved. Cousins etc have had kids since, and I can’t muster up enthusiasm. What you feel is perfectly normal. I don’t get any sour grapes from what you’re saying, but I do sense self-protection and understandable defensiveness. Whereas I don’t have much interest in other relatives’ kids, I genuinely am glad to have my niece now, our characters are quite alike as often happens with nieces/nephews, and I do sometimes even think about her own future kids (if she has them! Not saying she has to or anything!..of course…), and it feels like a tiny bit of me might go on living, although she’s not my kid… So it can go either way with your sibling’s kid, but you’re absolutely not obliged to be overly involved unless you’re feeling it, and your feelings are totally normal I think.
Thanks for sharing. This is all so true.
This really hits home with me. My siblings are younger, so this is a bridge I’ll have to cross eventuallly. I especially don’t want to see my beloved little sister go through this misery (she has always loved children, far more than I), but that doesn’t mean it would be easy for me to see them having babies. It helps (I think) that I knew my sister was very excited to be involved in the lives of my children (when we thought there would be some), and that I am actually closer to some of my uncles and aunts than to my actual parents. It’s not a consolation prize – my aunts and uncles have children of their own, and those relationships are healthy and valuable in their own right. And my sister teaches, and I teach Sunday school, so we have some framework for being usefully involved in the lives of children who aren’t OURS. But, when that time comes, it will still be hard. It will likely strain my relationship with my sister, even though my fertility treatment is so long in the past now. And with friends who live nearby who have kids – I don’t get involved further than stepping in the way if the kid’s about to set himself on fire. Someone else will want to hold the baby, play trucks with the toddler, chat with the preschooler, etc. It won’t be me (partly because I won’t pose for the “Oh, poor thing, she could never have any of her own” tableau. F*** that). Pretending this stuff isn’t what it is is a short road to insanity, in my experience. You’ve got to give yourself permission to feel what the situation really means, for you, even if that’s not what you wish it were.
Straining family relationships is my big worry with this all the I’ll be seen as being bitter.