For some reason most of the time we only have half the curtains open in our bedroom. Other than being pathologically lazy, I really have no explanation for this odd phenomenon. I always throw open the right hand side - where the open part of the window is - to make sure that air can properly circulate through the room (I'm a little pathological about the need for constant fresh air too, so much so that once I woke up in the middle of the night to find it snowing a little inside our bedroom). But since the left side of the window has no air-based function, I don't bother uncovering it. There's not all that much to see back there, especially now that the angel garden has started to die back.
Anyway, I was feeling a little irritable this afternoon for no particular reason and decided to throw back the left side of the bedroom curtains for a little extra light and cheer.
Which is when I saw the two moms with their tots. Our sightlines through the bedroom window include a peek between the two houses behind us and onto the street they front on. It's chock full of babies and toddlers, much like our street. The two moms were playing with their babies on the lawn - the tiny little snatch of lawn I could see between the houses. I suppose they bumped into each other and just got talking.
It got me thinking about the way you're approached, or not approached as the case may be, when you don't have kids in tow. When I'm walking or shopping, be it alone or with My Beloved, no one with a stroller stops to talk. They smile and pass right by. I'm childless - I clearly have nothing to talk about. But people with babies do. They have endless things to discuss - war stories to tell, hints and tips to swap, sweet ramblings about baby smiles and first steps. And they can talk for hours without even knowing each other's names. Because they have babies in common.
I, on the other hand, have a terrifying birth story that ends very, very badly. And who the hell wants to talk about that?
I have of course told my story (to two hairdressers, the next door neighbours we don't know all that well and my dental hygienist - twice) but telling the same horror story to each new person who somehow manages to ask that one question for which there is no answer but the sad truth is no fun at all. It doesn't bring any joy - to any of us.
It just serves to remind me that I'm standing on the outside looking in and have lost more in three years than many people lose in a lifetime.
I want to stop the ladies with strollers and tell them that if the world was right and the gods fair, I'd have a little boy with me too. I want to tell them that I'm not childless by choice, that I didn't opt to have a career instead of a family and that I love my three lost little souls so much I can barely breathe sometimes - so much that sometimes it feels like I'm going to implode from the combined force of the contained grief, anger and longing.
But instead we pass by, me with a strained, plastic smile on my face and them never knowing how much we almost had in common.
I realize that there's nothing I can do to remedy this. I know this is just the way it is. The mothers who don't know me will continue to talk amongst themselves and I'll continue to pass them by. The parents in the park by our house will continue to acknowledge My Beloved and I with a quick, polite smile at best. Because why would they do anything else? Why would we if we were in their shoes instead of our own?
It's not their fault and it's not ours. It just is what it is.
And I will never get used to it, this business of being an invisible mom. Never.