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C’est la Vie

January 8, 2011

I’ve been fascinated of late by Julia_Child’s life. I’ve been looking for female childless role models, who had full lives without children. Did Julia struggle with infertility? I needed to know.

I picked up her autobiography, My_Life_in_France, recently. I admire a woman who is as passionate about food and cooking as much more than I am! I decided against reading the popular Julie&Julia because I read somewhere that Julia_Child did not care for its author Julie_Powell. She thought it was a stunt that some average Jane would try to cook all her recipes in Mastering_the_Art_of _French_Cooking in one year. Magic happens to own a copy of JC’s first famous cookbook. I’m someone who likes to cook, and I’m pretty good at it, but this cookbook totally intimidates me! So I have to agree with JC that I think that Julie_Powell is a fraud, not to mention a total crack pot. I tracked down her recent blog, and frankly, I don’t think she’s worth spending any money on. After she made some money on Julie&Julia and was “saved” by JC (hmmm, just noticed who’s initials Julia_Child shares with), she had an affair because she married her high school sweetheart young and never really had her own life, then when off and learned how to butcher animals, and wrote her second book about it, affair and all (while still married to her husband). While I did watch the movie Julie&Julia (on Netflix_streaming for free), I think Meryl_Streep, who I really like as an actress, blew it on her interpretation of JC. Judge for yourself:

One hundred pages into My Life in France, JC boils down her infertility to one terse paragraph. She starts off by describing a bout with stomach troubles:

“But when I continued to feel suddenly sick and gaseous, I declared: “Aha, pregnant at last!

We had tried. But for some reason our efforts didn’t take. It was sad, but we didn’t spend too much time thinking about it and never considered adoption. It was just one of those things. We were living very full lives. I was cooking all the time and making pans for a career in gastronomy. Paul – after all his years as a tutor and school teacher – said that he’d already spent enough time with adolescents to last him a lifetime. So it was.”

Hmmm, another woman who has a husband that doesn’t want to adopt. Mind you, JC wrote this when she was 91, fifty some years well past her childbearing prime and after an enormously successful culinary career. She was 49 when her first groundbreaking cookbook was published, and 51 when she started the first ever cooking TV show, “The_French_Chef”. All the reason to love her more, that she found success later in life when most women are mourning the loss of their youth. It would be interesting to know if she was really so laissez-faire about having children when she was younger.

JC was one class act. One thing she says is to never make apologies for your cooking, even if it’s completely awful. Which is why I disagree with Meryl_Streep’s interpretation of JC.* In that video clip above, the real JC does not disparage her mistake of the off omelet flip. She just states the facts, and moves on. Meryl’s JC makes Julia look like a doddering, insecure lady, which JC is the exact opposite!

I feel that JC never made apologies for her childlessness as well. I hope to emulate Julia someday, and enjoy my life sans les enfants without so much drama!

Life didn’t quite turn out for us, in terms of having children, the way I dreamed it would. None of it did. Don’t know if it ever will, but it seems to be completely out of my hands at this point. Magic says, “if it’s meant to be, it will happen.” I keep thinking, “maybe I’m meant to do something else with my life?” What would that be? I’ve already had the career I’ve always wanted. Not that I’m ready to drop-kick that. I still find great meaning to my work in my life. I can’t imagine not ever having a job to go to and being a SAHM.

I already have a very full life. I’ve thought about blogging about some of the things I am very passionate about, like cooking, gardening, and rock climbing. But that’s for another blog and another audience. If I ever decided to blog about these things, I’d probably create a whole ‘nother blog and persona so that I don’t keep identifying with the failure of infertility.

I do want it all. I want the career AND I want the kid. No apologies.

And so it is.

*I found an interview of Meryl_Streep when she was promoting Julie&Julia, and she said she thought of Julia_Child as the Dan_Aykroyd charicature he did in his famous SNL skit, which is how she does come off in the movie!

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 9, 2011 5:00 pm

    I did see Julie and Julia in the theater. Our neighbors arranged for a huge group of us to go to the moving on night 1 and then on night 2 we all showed up at their house wearing decorated aprons with appetizer dishes we made and creatively named. Of course, everything (aprons, appetizer, and naming of appetizer) was a contest. This is all beside the point though…LOL.

    I can’t say it was a movie I would have seen without our neighbor’s planning. During the scene where she is reading the letter from her sister to her husband and begins to cry when learning her sister is pregnant made the tears roll for me. I knew there had to be some kind of infertility struggle and almost hoped during the movie they would touch on it a bit more.

    I like that you are out looking for strong childless role models. Sometimes it helps to know that others did it and not only did it, but kicked ass and took a few names along the way. All that said I still agree with your last few sentences. I really want the kid too.

    Sending hugs…and hoping they can be IRL ones sometime later this year if we can get this JT thing worked out!! Yeah!!

    • phoebephoenix permalink*
      January 9, 2011 5:13 pm

      Even with my criticisms, I really did like the movie, especially how they handled the whole infertility part of JC’s life. Like the scene where Julia looks longingly at the lady pushing the baby carriage, and the reading of her sister Dort’s letter announcing her pregnancy. None of that is in her book and was just marvelous screen writing on the part of Nora_Ephron.

  2. January 9, 2011 6:05 pm

    You do have a full life, one that I am in awe of–you live your life with grace and although you have suffered immensely through IF, you have not let it destroy you.
    Thinking of you….

  3. January 9, 2011 6:36 pm

    Oh, Phoebe. This post reminds me of the one where Lollipop cleaned out her home and gave away all her baby stuff. On the surface it was about cleaning up her home and giving away all the baby stuff, but the subtext was that she’d come to the end of her family-building efforts.

    I can only imagine how difficult it has been for you to get to this place. What I admire is the resolve and courage you have. Well, I’ve seen that in you long before this post.

    Abiding with you, Phoebe. Thanks for teaching me more about Julia Child.

  4. Elise Gorseth permalink
    January 10, 2011 1:06 pm

    Don’t forget Oprah and Gloria Steinem.

  5. Denver Laura permalink
    January 10, 2011 1:45 pm

    I saw J&J but didn’t read the book. I have a self-inflicted policy that forces me to read really technical very-dry and boring books for work so in my spare time I don’t normally read anything fun or exciting.

    You bring up a good point. If Julia had written about not having kids in the moment, she might have written about it differently. There is a theory on some of the PCOS boards that she might have had PCOS. Not that she could have done anything about it at the time.

    A few years ago I was unemployed and bored at home. I decided to make this Russian salmon wrapped in puff pastry. It had sauteed mushrooms, spinach, candied onions, and I can’t remember what else. It literally took my all day to make it. Yes it was good, but there is no way I’m ever making THAT again. I feel the same way about most of the recipes in Mastering. Although I do want to make duck at some point in my life, I have no ambition to make everything that is in the book. Although I wished I had faked it and wrote a book about it.

  6. geeksinrome permalink
    January 11, 2011 3:08 pm

    I wonder, too, if Julia was able to be so resolute and “at peace” with her infertility was because at the time she was dealing with it there were no options, no high tech “solutions” and therefore no torture of possibility?

    If you were IF, then you had to suck it.

    So while that left who knows how many women cut off from any hope or chances at trying, it did eliminate years and thousands of dollars spent trying and hoping and failing… and hoping…and constantly having that option open.

    expanded reproduction techniques are a double edged sword: they can make the impossible possible, but then if at any point you fail, you are tempted to keep trying some new way, new option, new technique ad inifinity… a Sisyphean nightmare…

    Phoebe, you are awesome and super and amazing with or without kids. nothing will change that, and we can’t let failures in some part of our life throw the brakes on all the good shit going for us in other areas. I guess that’s the real challenge!!

  7. geeksinrome permalink
    January 11, 2011 5:39 pm

    this is an old article, but someone just posted it and something in it resonated with me re: your post. That it’s the wellbeing, moral health, personal relationships of the person and her life that produce more lasting happiness than the material accoutrements and things.
    I thought the lines about meeting with friends once a month has a happiness equivalent to doubling yr income and being married = netting $100,000/year were interesting.

  8. Jess permalink
    January 12, 2011 4:26 pm

    Hey! I just swept by your blog. Found it through a mutual friend’s. Wishing the best for you and looking forward to following your journey.


  9. beauitful0mess permalink
    January 26, 2011 7:59 pm

    Hey love, I’ve been away for so long. As I’m reading your words, I’m feeling as if I’m home again. I missed you!

    I don’t think I have any words that could make you feel better. I do know that no matter where your journey takes you, I’ll be there, should you chose to share it, of course.

  10. Sky permalink
    March 26, 2011 5:19 pm

    Phoebes – I didn’t know you had a wound that didn’t heal. When? Why? What kind of wound? How did you finally realize it was a retained suture? How long until it healed? This is so DEMORALIZING AND DEPRESSING!!!

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