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Ellen Anne Eddy
Author of Thread Magic: The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy Fiber artist, author and teacher
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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Musing: Art outside the Box: Un-entitling Entitlement.

"Every life you lead does you good if you let it, every life you lead. Sometimes it's hard to take your mind off your mind" 
I watched an upload on infertility today on Facebook. I will not link to that upload here. The woman's pain was so raw, and so real. She's in her twenties and just hit the fact that she cannot have a child. 

I don't think she'd like to hear what I need to say about all of this.I remember her agony. My mother was given hormones during her pregnancy (You're over 40. You're not pregnant, this is menopause.) I was told fairly early that  there would be no children. As there was no one to have a child with, and I think that's especially difficult, I simply had to wade it through and wait it out. At 42 I had the inevitable hysterectomy that confirmed it all. I would not make a child. I would never have my baby. Eventually I came to understand that I would never have family in the way others do.

There's this  illusion that the world is fair. That we should all get a certain similar plate, decorated and filled with the same things in equal parts. Wouldn't that be nice? Shouldn't we arrange that? It's almost monstrous to argue otherwise. 


But it's simply not how it works. Life is massively unfair, much of the time. There are those without money, intelligence, education, opportunities, loves, lovers, connections, health and strength. We can legislate some of these factors to a more even place. But much of it is simply what we have. It's the raw material of our lives.

I don't think we get to change that raw material much. As cruel as it is, there are people who I think should not have a child. I'm one of them. My mother had an alcoholic approach to child rearing that I want to make very sure happens to no child around me. The best way to be sure of that is for me to not be the sole person, raising a child.
Could I have said that at 20? 25? 35 when the clock was ticking hard? I'm not sure I could. My body said it for me. And if we wish to discuss what is fair and unfair, did some child deserve me taking that chance?

Oddly enough, I have children. I just didn't make them. I've gone through batches of neighborhood kids, god children, lost lambs, grown up 3 year olds in big bodies and 40 year old ten year olds. All I had to do was open my door. Because they came and went at will, there was a safety there for them and for myself. The things I feared I might do, did not happen. Instead, I got to love the children in front of me.

Life is not fair. It can be right, but it's never fair. Fair is a measure of average. Who of us is ever that?

I go through whiny places about being alone. I'm not someone who does primary relationships well. By the time I was 40, it was pretty clear I'd never pair up or marry. Recently I shared one with a friend who told me to shut up and count my blessings. This is the answer only a real friend can give you.  My world is often very lonely but it is full of imagery, art, creation, space and time for the world of the mind and the imagination. It is not average. It has gifts for me. But the average world of what is fair, does not have space in it for the odd and lovely gifts my loneness hands me and then demands of me. For that is the other edge of it. The gifts life gives us all demand a commitment of time, strength and focus. You can't just hold your child at the photo opportunity. You also need to do that at 3 in the morning when she's crying and scared. You cannot love someone only when they've brought you roses. You need to find your love when they're incomprehensible and terrifying
(and we all are). You aren't just an artist at an opening. You're an artist when it separates you from much of what others do. Life is not fair. It is rich, it is odd and it's mostly our response to the very unaverage person we are.

I love the fairy tales where the fairy give us a cruel and unwanted gift or task that makes us braver, stronger and better. Like the two boys on Christmas,one given everything he wants and the other given a room of manure, it works out differently than we think. There's a pony in there somewhere.

So, to that woman, I want to say, " You can have children, just not in the way you hoped." To myself  I need to say, "All your love is here, it's just not in the form you wished." It's cruel to say " Your art is your child." It's not true. Your art is your creation, but it is never a child who puts their arms around you or rejects you when they hit 17. They are very separate things. Both of them excellent. Perhaps if we can put aside the notion of what is fair, we can see the good in what simply is.


12 comments:

Diana Louie, The Village Fabric Shoppe said...

A beautiful post. We all have our various burdens in life, it is how we deal with them that brings us to who we are down deep. Despair and Joy are very closely linked. You cannot know one without the other. Examine the despair, learn from it if you can and then let it go and you will find your Joy. We are all glad you found yours, and have shared it with us in the form of your wonderful artowrk.

Marié said...

Hi Ellen

Yes a beautiful post! I got married at 28- I thought it might not happen for me. I have three lovely children but a difficult marriage. I am not a dependant person- but need another person to live with- so I took the bad with the good. I would be very lonely if I was alone. So glad you could make a happy life for yourself!

Dianna in Maui said...

Ellen, very nicely said. And really, who defines what is "average?" We all have the power to define our lives in a way that works for us. Some are just better at doing that than others.

Anonymous said...

Half of all children in the United States are raised by one parent or perhaps by "a village of
people like you" - and that is a good thing.
There are so many different life styles, it is
impossible to say which is the "way". And
thank goodness for that.

craftirn said...

Very well said. I never thought I wanted a child--I would adopt and be there for a child "unadoptable"-ill, older, low IQ and give them a chance; but in my mid 20's I had a brush with cervical CA and realized how much I did want to actually carry a child. I finally did at age 34. I love what you wrote. Life is not fair.

Roberta Ranney said...

As always, it is a fine experience to get to see life through your eyes for a moment or two. Thank you.

Judy said...

Oh Ellen, Gee I wish I lived near you!!!I'd be popping in for a chat I would probably end up being a pain!!
I am one who really likes my own company.I have a husband, but no kids.I taught for what seemed 150 years, and was glad of a quiet house.You often can't do ART and be a mother too...I don't know how others manage it. Your Art is a joy, and we are GLAD you do it. Wish I could give you a hug- as a like-minded person.
I have your books sitting in my book stand on my table as inspiration every day.
judyxxxxxx

Suzanne Thompson said...

Lovely, thoughtful post. I noticed in your photo another child...a grey child. I've been married 31 years, but my most consistant sweet love has been from the greyhounds we've adopted.

Gisela Towner said...

Brilliant post, really.

Bethany Garner said...

Poetic and painful, meaningful and cherished this life we are handed. The days open with hope and close often with despir, but between the light and darkness is the joy of creativity, friends, new experiences and most importantly love - of self, of our beautiful world and of the fact that we breathe, we are, we will be. Thank you Ellen. You ARE loved. love you.

Bethany in Kingston, ON Canada

Mary said...

I have walked in some of your steps. I am 63 and never married or lived with a man until 2 yrs. ago., never had any children, had the hysterectomy at 41, helped take care of the grandparents, total care for the parents, then every one was gone and I was alone. I met a man on line, we met and are married, it has been rocky these 2 years. He has no children either. Both of us are alone and trying to make it together. Your post really touched a chord with me. I printed it off to keep close. Atleast it will make me think in the future and remind me that I am not really alone in the world no matter what happens. there are others rowing the same type boat in the same ocean. thanks mary

Tina said...

Loved your post, as another childless person. But, now I have a son! :)
Hugs,
Tina

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