To balance the post below, here is a more positive one about how good friendships can be built between the fertile and the not-so-fertile, leading to joy, hope, and healing for those involved.
Since moving to Nelson, S and I have had the privilege of being significantly involved in the care and wellbeing of three little people, who we love dearly. Our friendship with their amazing and strong solo mum has allowed us to have wonderful little people in our lives, making our lives richer and fuller as a result.
Our friend, who I will call M (for Mum!) has always been incredibly open with regards to her children, and never fears in involving other adults in their care and wellbeing. Since the breakdown of her relationship, one thing that S and I have been able to do is role model a healthy adult relationship to these little ones, which is so important for their own future adult relationships.
I think it's partly the strength of her character, and partly her Maori culture, that allows M to be open about the upbringing of her kids. There was one situation when the oldest child was regularly calling me 'Mummy', to my extreme embarassment, and I was hugely surprised that M didn't care a bit, in fact, she welcomed it. The same child also made it quite clear to S and I that she didn't want us having our own children, we guess because that would mean our attention would be diverted away from her!
Where other parents in our circle of friends have left us off the invite list for their children's birthday parties, M has done exactly the opposite. We are always invited, not just to the party, but to the birthday dinner or breakfast. We are invited to school assemblies, ballet rehearsals and other significant events in the lives of these wonderful children.
M and her children have spent a lot of time at my office, and they bring me flowers and draw me pictures. We have their photos on our phones, fridges and walls.
It has been a big blessing for both S and I to have contact with these three children and to be included in their wider whanau. They are funny, interesting, fun, smart and talented little people, and we enjoy watching their skills develop and their personalities grow.
The approach that M has taken has been beneficial for all involved, for her, as she has formed a friendship with us and allowed us to provide her with support, for us, because we have the joy of having young children in our lives, and for the children, because they have adults in their lives who they can trust. Rather than shutting us out and aiding us to 'avoid' children (easy to do, because of the pain), she has done the exact opposite, and while sometimes painful, there is much joy through the pain. By almost forcing us to get involved with her kids lives, M has helped us to have the joy of young children in our lives, something we could easily let pass us by given our own personal circumstances.