Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Easter Parade of thoughts

One thing about not having kids is that so many of the seasonal rhythms that regulate family life either simply don't apply, or don’t have the same impact as they do on families with children (my previous rant about how Christmas is not just for kids totally aside).

For example, Labour Day weekend still has that end of summer/back to school feeling for me -- but the actual matter of braving the back to school sales & getting kids off is something that has no impact on us whatsoever. At dh's family's annual Labour Day barbecue, the moms' chatter revolves around getting their kids back to school & into a routine -- not to mention the all-consuming important matter of which teacher their child will have this year & what strings they pulled to get him or her into the "right" class, etc. etc. -- leaving me with nothing to add to the conversation (and, honestly, more than a little bored).

We just came through spring break here in Ontario last week -- another event that has little to no impact on me as a childless person (aside from the fact that there are a lot more kids running around the underground concourse of our office tower, and their parents are a lot harder to get hold of at work…!). In a way, I'm thankful that I don't have to be hauling kids around at the exact same time to the exact same places as 2 million other people…! But again, there's that sense of "otherness" -- the feeling that life is passing you by, while everyone else is sharing a common experience (even if it is standing in line at the airport for a flight that's been delayed by a snowstorm, lol).

The chatter among the mommies on my scrapbooking boards this week -- about colouring eggs, picking up chocolate for the kids, and who is cooking what for Sunday dinner -- reminded me that this weekend is Easter -- a holiday where I have always feel at loose ends as an adult. Growing up, it was always a fun holiday for me & my sister, whether we spent it at my grandparents' or at home. We would colour eggs a day or two ahead, & hunt for chocolate eggs on Easter morning before heading off to church (wearing a new spring outfit), and then home to a great dinner, usually ham with scalloped potatoes, or sometimes turkey. And, at one time, I looked forward to recreating those days with my own children someday (and perhaps creating new traditions that were entirely our own).

Well, there are no kids & never will be, and I now live far away from my parents. If FIL & stepMIL are hosting her family, they will invite us over for lunch (usually lamb, which is something I did not eat growing up), but sometimes they go to one of her sisters' houses. BIL is usually with his own in-laws, leaving us to our own devices. We tried going for brunch a few times on Easter, but the crowds were daunting (especially for my dh, who has no patience whatsoever for standing in line for anything, and most especially food), and I found myself eyeing all the happy families with adorable pastel-clad babies through green-coloured glasses. So now, if we find ourselves at loose ends on Easter, we usually go to the cemetery with some spring flowers for our daughter's niche, & then to a Sunday afternoon movie. In other words, it's pretty much like any other Sunday, except the stores are all closed.

This loss of tradition, and of the dream of carrying family traditions on through the generations yet to come, is another of the many losses associated with infertility & living without children. I still manage to get excited about Christmas, perhaps because it's so firmly embedded in my individual psyche, not to mention the collective psyche of society -- also perhaps because I usually celebrate it with my own family, with many of my childhood traditions still intact -- but some of these other holidays & markers of the passage of time have lost some of their lustre for me.

When our nephews were younger, I used to bring them goodie bags full of chocolate & stuffed bunnies, etc. -- but at 15 & 19 now, they're a little too old for the Easter bunny. I haven't been on a candy hunt or coloured an Easter egg in more than 30 years. So far as I know, my nephews have never done either of these things -- not within the scope of Italian tradition, I guess? Had I known they would be my one & only chance at doing kid things, I would have had them over for an egg-colouring session when they were smaller, but that ship has long since sailed. I know there is absolutely nothing stopping me from reliving my childhood & doing it myself -- hey, who needs kids to colour eggs? -- but it wouldn't be the same as the picture I had created in my head (& besides, what on earth would dh & I do with all those eggs, once coloured?? -- we'd be eating them for weeks).

It's the same reason why I don't cook a turkey for just the two of us on Thanksgiving (a lot of work for just two people, & the leftovers would go on forever…)(and our house is too small to have more than two people over to share it), or go to great lengths to decorate the house for Halloween. With children around, you make the effort, even when you're dead tired, because you want them to grow up with the same great experiences & memories & traditions that you yourself have. (Mel at Stirrup Queens has a really great post right now about Purim & why she makes such a big deal out of it.) If I still had hope there would someday be children around, I might make the effort, just for the practice, in anticipation of holidays yet to come. But when it's just for your own amusement, and you know there are never going to be any kids, it just doesn't seem like as much of a priority. (I do decorate a tree for Christmas -- there are some traditions that must be upheld, children or not…! -- although the marathon baking sessions have fallen by the wayside. Who has the time, & who needs the calories?)

On a positive note, Easter generally heralds the onset of spring. Even when it comes extra-early, as it does this year, & there are still huge snowdrifts on my lawn (a hangover from one of the snowiest winters on record here), you know that winter can't last too much longer! (Can it??) I am soooo ready for spring!! Bring it on!


  1. A very touching post Lori. We all look back and think about how differently we would do things had we known the path our lives would follow. I keep thinking of the quote you have on your blog from Gilda Radner - that phrase "delicious ambiguity". I think that's the place between the look forward and the look back.

    I just wish I was there to give you a hug sometimes.

  2. It is different when you have that hope. I think we've also tried to create this adult arm of the festivities so that if that hope doesn't pan out entirely, we'll still have that adult arm. But I don't think it's possible to do that with all holidays. Maybe because Purim has such an adult (drinking) component to it. Whereas Easter is about birth, children, eggs, Dear Lord--how did I not notice how painful this holiday must be before?

  3. I'm ready for spring, too.

    I just got back from a quick Easter basket drop-off visit with my nephews, ages 8 and 11, and tomorrow night I'll take baskets to my other nephew and niece. I'm enjoying this time with them while they're young enough... but at the same time wishing I didn't feel displaced by holidays.

  4. That was a really great post. It brought back a memory of Christmas a couple years ago. We had my husband's side of the family staying with us, all loud and happy and an absolute glut of presents. I was almost disgusted by the excess of it all - and you know why? Cause all I really wanted was a baby. I wanted to open up gifts for my child and picture them unwrapping gifts as they got older. We still had a great time, I could eat and drink myself silly with never a thought about a crying baby or staying on a schedule.

    This Easter, I went to visit my mum in the home. They were all in the dining room decorating Easter eggs. So that will have to do ... my parent is like a kid in a way.... until we adopt.