I took a writing class this summer, one of those adult continuing ed classes where you don't get a grade. It was a memoir class and of course almost all my material for the prompts came from the time I had my son. We had to share a four-page piece with the class at the end and have it "workshopped" where people would comment on it and the writer couldn't say anything. I didn't feel like writing something different so I polished up one of my prompted pieces where I had been purposely vague about the placement and wrote mostly about my four days with him. It was based on the fact that I could not remember feeding him. I did drop some hints - like how we took an airplane ride and wound up in an office. But when I got done, it seemed no one understood what happened.
After my initial surprise, I basked in the response of the older females (everyone save one 22 year-old was at least 60) who said, "Oh, how vulnerable, clearly a first baby." "Really captures how hard it is to be a first-time mother and you think you're doing everything wrong." Women started to talk about how they felt exactly the same way. I thought to myself, oh, they didn't understand but isn't it nice to treat his birth and the time I had him as just a normal motherhood? I was taken back to the time when I did pretend with people that I was about to become a mother. It felt nice. Welcoming. Comforting. Then one man piped up and said, "But I feel like something went wrong, but that he didn't die." I said, "That's right. I gave him up for adoption." The room was deadly silent and one woman's eyes were as large as saucers. Literally. I kid you not.
After a very pregnant pause [pun intended], the instructor said that I should probably explain it better, even be explicit about it in the beginning. I said, "No, it will cause everyone to put up their filters as they read it." The gay guy in class said, "Oh, I understand all about filters." I appreciated his support, but still the room was unusually silent. No one proffered any cliches, thankfully, but no one said anything else, either. I finally just said, "I guess I forget that what has been my reality for over 21 years isn't even on most people's radar." And we moved onto the next person.