Tag Archives: stoicism

Day 42: Pregnancy Goes Viral, Philosophy Goes Sour

I’d noticed something strange during the drop-offs and pick-ups at pre-school lately. The moms are usually dressed in their finest Lulumon gear. They are on their way, presumably, to the gym or to yoga class. With a few exceptions, all of the moms are fit and trim and spend a lot of time maintaining their figures. (I assume, because of the gym clothes). But lately a few women seemed to be relaxing a bit, wearing baggy clothes, not looking that slender. Cool, I thought. Maybe people are loosening up a bit and not being so focused on staying thin.

Nope.

Turns out FOUR moms in our class (of twelve) are pregnant. All of them are pregnant with their third or fourth child. I learned this today and it hit me like a physical blow to the diaphragm.

I think at this point that we are done pursuing ART, which is the only way I could get pregnant again (and even then, absolutely NO guarantees, and most likely much more heartbreak). But letting go of the dream is rough.

I’ve been trying to stay positive, focus on what we have, use philosophy to try to get me to a more joyful place. Lut C. said something in the comments section a few days ago which made me laugh, but also made me think:

I decided years ago that philosophy was invented by men with too few household chores.

I don’t want to give up on philosophy yet, but I think I do need to say adieu to the Stoics. This particular way of thinking seems to be dishonest, a way to lie to yourself to make you feel better. Unfortunately, my mind sees the way the world IS, which is not necessarily a good thing, but it is unable to fib to me, to see things through rose colored glasses, as it were. I also don’t believe in my heart that bad things happen to those who aren’t thinking positively, don’t want something enough and thus DESERVE misfortune. No. Just, no.

What’s next? I don’t know. Do you have any favorite philosophers who help you? I’m open to suggestions!

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Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Infertility, Trying for a third

Day 40: The Stoics Can Stuff It

Right now, I’m not feeling the stoics. I’m wondering if there’s maybe something in the male DNA that responds more to a philosophy which espouses this:

“Our lack of confidence doesn’t come from difficulty; the difficulty comes from our lack of confidence.”

Seneca

Um, REALLY? This sounds a lot like a crappy book which got a lot of play a few years ago. I am NOT going to give it any credit other than to say that it was spotlighted on a popular TV show, and I believe that it has caused immeasurable damage. I don’t think that unhappiness befalls people because they are not confident and don’t want happiness enough.

Instead, I believe that honesty might be the key to releasing unhappiness. What’s up with the bravest writers being Australian? First Lori at RRSAHM, and now The Miss Ruby. She’s one of my favorite bloggers, because she reveals tremendous honesty and truth in each post. She is unblinking and tough and strong, because she is so vulnerable. That sounds like a paradox, but I think that those who reveal their greatest fears about themselves are the people who understand life the most. They know their souls, they are self-aware, and they humble me.

The Miss Ruby could use a little love right now, so please feel free to go over and give her some virtual hugs.

So, in sum, shove it, stoics.

Xoxo

Jjiraffe

I AM feeling this song right now, BTW. LOVE!!

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Day 35: Sick, Tired and Dragging :(

The stoics are not really helping me out this week. I think it’s because when I feel sick, I want the world to stop and it doesn’t, then I get frustrated and down.

The house is a mess, the kids have watched way too much TV (it’s official: I HATE Caillou), and I haven’t cooked in days. I feel so guilty.

Ma Ingalls would NOT approve.

I did watch “I Love You, Man”, and it made me laugh. So, there’s that!

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Day 34: On Being “Stout”

I started reading The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder.

So pioneers valued different strengths and attributes than we do today, that much is clear. The word “stout” in particular was used as an adjective of the highest praise, whether applied to a person or a house or a horse. Being thin was a matter for concern, and also lessened a woman’s beauty. I remember reading Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle a few years ago, and she also stressed that for those working the land, a body’s functionality is all important, not the way it looked. It was a strange, new outlook: I had never heard this viewpoint before in my life. Always, from everyone, the message is “be thin, exercise, eat healthy (whatever THAT means)” with no real mention of your body living up to its true purpose: being able to do physical labor.

How strange that we live in a time when our bodies are considered mostly ornamental. The way they look is so important to our status in society, yet we don’t use them for what they are built for.

I have always wanted to be stout, in the figurative sense of the word. As a SAHM, I do a lot of physical labor. Laundry, housecleaning, cooking, diapers, vacuuming, carrying children, changing diapers. I have no “help”, I do it all myself, and my husband isn’t around most of the time. I get physically tired, a lot. In addition, none of this activity keeps me “thin” the way society approves of. The Hollywood moms elevated as idols do none of the physical labor most SAHMs do, I can guarantee you. Instead, they spend their time running, lifting weights and starving themselves while others do the physical work of raising their children. I shouldn’t look at a Gwyneth Paltrow and think I should look like her.

I guess I should emulate the pioneer model more. If my body functions properly, I should be happy.

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Day 32: Daddy’s Girl Turned Stoic?

Do you have your barf bag ready? Excellent. This is the post where I admit I am a huge, unrepentant Daddy’s Girl.

For most of my early adult life, my dad had a pretty easy time being my dad. (Although he did have to pay for my college tuition.) I was on a ladder of achievement, which I climbed with no real difficulty. Not the super achievement ladder, mind you. But I graduated from an acceptable college, didn’t get in trouble, pursued a career track, received some promotions, met my husband, lived abroad, traveled and got married. It was an average American story, I suppose. Dad understood the narrative and I stayed with the plot.

Then the narrative stalled and moved into unfamiliar territory. I got pretty sick and went on disability for a few months. After recovering from that, Darcy and I tried to build a family. That storyline, complete with many sobbing phone calls to dad, visits from him to try to teach me how to adapt to this new adversity, fertility treatments, a miscarriage, 3 IVF attempts and a very high-risk scary pregnancy, did end happily. But I don’t think I would have maintained my sanity through it without the consistent, wise, unwavering advice of my father.

Through his job, my dad met presidents, royalty, famous authors, billionaires, heroes, villains and even Barbra Streisand. (She kept him waiting for 14 hours. He’s still pissed.) He narrowly escaped death or injury a few times. He won awards. He was there when the occupation of Alcatraz was planned. My dad is COOL.

But he’s also down-to-earth and not easily impressed. His focus has always been his family, so much so that he turned down a job at one of the most prestigious employers in the world. Why? Because we would have had to move to NYC and it would have interrupted my school mid-term. He always wanted stability for me, because stability was not something he knew as a child.

He still wishes me stability, so he has been urging me to follow the Stoics. I am about as far away from a Stoic as is possible. I somewhat resemble Chicken Little. Once there was a tsunami warning for lower coastal areas and I packed up the car and headed for the hills, only to realize that I lived on the BAY, not the ocean and the tsunami wasn’t coming for me. Now that I am a mother, those Chicken Little urges are even stronger. What’s that mark, what’s that cough, etc. I am FEARFUL.

The Stoics want me to embrace fear. Seneca, the key Stoic, actually said: “There is no reason to believe that anything should be feared.” Come again? That is impossible for me to believe. But something else he wrote makes sense:

“There are more things in this world…likely to frighten us than to crush us. We suffer more in imagination than in reality.”

Or, as my dad puts it, “Don’t borrow trouble.”

More to come…all quotes come from The Stoic Art of Living, Inner Resilience and Outer Results, by Tom Morris.

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Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Fear, Infertility, Parenting After IF