Weekly phone or Skype conversations with my mother have been a tradition since I moved to Israel. Sometimes these are great and last hours and other times they go more like this:
Mom: “Hi Toby. What’s new?”
Me: “MOM! That’s such an annoying question!”
Doesn’t she get that I don’t feel like talking about that right now?! She’s walking into a minefield at times and can’t win, but I do love her for trying. I suspect that over the years she has mostly learned to interpret my responses and she proceeds with due caution – mostly.
In a recent conversation, we discussed the fertility treatments and I made a slightly sarcastic comment. My mother was about to disagree with or otherwise correct my statement and stopped herself mid-sentence. Instead she said something like:
“You know what? I really have never been through this myself so I can’t really tell you how to feel.”
I was filled with warmth and love. It was all I needed to hear at that moment.
So, what should you say, or rather not say, to me as I share my struggle with infertility? Quite a few lists out there address the dos and don’ts when speaking to a couple or person going through fertility treatments, or any other of the numerous trials we all face in life.
Though these lists can offer someone going through a difficult time the comfort of knowing that others have been there too, I don’t find them particularly helpful in actually knowing what to say. Why? Because the experience itself cannot be conveyed in a list. My emotions are fluid. Our path to parenthood has turned into a lengthy and trying process. What was painful to hear yesterday is hilarious today and vise-versa. As far as I am concerned, there is no rulebook for relating to me – except maybe this one – you just have to feel your way through it. Don’t worry, I don’t bite. Often.
Where does this leave you though? In the dark? Maybe. Here is a hat tip to Naomi Weiss (my self-professed biggest fan) for sharing this: