I've been having trouble posting lately because what I want to write about I'm not sure I want to write about. All through my time in this little blog adventure, I've written about whatever I'm thinking about. Lately, all I think about is the fact that I desperately want to be a parent. That feeling has around a hundred reasons to be there, but it's a bit unfortunate that it's become an obsession of my mind. It means I have trouble coming up with other topics to type about, so many times I just don't. And why don't I want to go down this path? It's easy. I'm afraid of being too open and inviting ridicule into my little world. I like the approval of other people, and I feel like this is such a raw self-misunderstood set of emotions for me that I will likely say things wrong and cause precisely the kinds of comments that I don't want to get.
But I have to figure this out. And with my best friends in the wrong timezones for long discussions of this sort (excepting my husband, but I suppose he tolerates as much of this blabbering as he can handle), I guess that means I have to do it here. Most of the people that read this are childless -- some by choice, some not, and some are just too young (baby sister, that means you!). Regardless, I am not childless by choice, and I have to do some soul-searching to figure out some of what goes with that. So this risk of being attacked is finally low enough compared to the risk of self-implosion that is going to happen without some place to vent. And then I'm guaranteed to never have kids.
To start this introspective journey for all to see, I have to start with my own fears and the reasons for the current desperation. I did recently have a birthday which reminded me that I have less than a decade left of acceptable fertility. Now, my mother got pregnant at 41 without trying (hi, again, baby sister!) and her mom accidentally got pregnant at 44. So, I could probably get pregnant into my forties, but since that is generally considered irresponsible, I've just capped that at 40 in my head. Yes, I know it starts getting harder after about 35, but let's not discuss that I might have even less time than I think, because I believe that would just push me over the edge. I have always imagined myself with lots of kids. Not quite the Duggars, but maybe 3 or 4 of my own and as many of their friends as want to hang out at our place. I am slowly coming to grips that this is probably a pipe dream, but I can't seem to let it go, and that leaves me in a bit of a tumultuous place.
It doesn't help that everyone around me seems to be having babies. Coworkers, friends, etc. I think there have been 6 or 7 in the last 6 months. When this first started, years ago, I was happy for them. Then I was jealous. Now, I'm afraid, I've become a bit unfeeling towards these happy little (or big) families. If you're one of my blog-reading friends with kids, please don't take this the wrong way. I still love you and your gorgeous children. But the pain is becoming almost too much to bear, and out of my most common defense mechanism to employ, I have had to wall off a little piece of my heart so I don't spend every day crying my eyes out. Sometimes, I know that makes me seem callous. Don't think I don't worry whether this little wall is permanent. As often as I can stomach it, I let it down and cry for hours.
Why do I want to have kids? This is such a hard question for me to answer, because there are just so many answers. It has nothing to do with passing on genes or being pregnant or liking babies, and everything to do with being undeniably maternal. I've always been this way, ever since I can remember. My earliest memory is from when I was five and my two-year-old sister was scared about moving to the Philippines and cried herself to sleep most nights. I would crawl over into her bed and just lay there rubbing her back and talking to her about all the wonderful adventures we were going to have and how she wouldn't be alone because we'd be doing this all together. It continued with the birth of my baby sister, who could have been my daughter if I'd been an earlier bloomer. I remember so clearly a weekend when she was six months old and mom was gone for the weekend. She'd gotten some round of shots and was feverish and miserable, and all I could do was rock her and sing to her all night long and I just wanted to take that pain away from her. Course, I felt like an idiot the next morning when dad pointed out that I should have just given her more Tylenol, but I was thirteen and not at all qualified to be her mother and to think of these things. It's not a little kid thing either. When my sister had a bad dose of life and was close to rock bottom, she came to live with me. Those were the most miserable 7 months of my life, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was teen angst and pain and discipline and the uncomfortable growing into responsibility. And regardless of whether she'll ever thank me for the lessons we forced her to learn in those months, I know she's a better adult today because of them. And I know it's not a blood thing. In eighth grade, I joined a program where I was assigned a student from the special education class. My "buddy" was a girl named Cathy who absolutely melted my heart. She functioned on about a 5-year-old level, but I so relished those times we spent working on writing her name and I posted the treasured pictures she colored for me in my locker. I cried when the school was set on fire the next year and destroyed a stuffed dog she'd given me at the end of the previous year. I think I still have that dog in a box in the basement. Maybe it was because I had so little social capital in those years, but I yelled at some kid who made fun of her in the hall and don't even know what they called me, because I just didn't care. I worked day cares and summer camps and babysat excessively and always grew so attached to one or two kids in each class. I remember a little boy named Ian who had colic. He cried all the time, and the day care workers I worked with gave up on him, saying he was just always crying when I started that summer. He became my project. What will soothe him? I tried so many things and finally succeeded with a sort of a hammock I created with his blanket and I swung him in it rather hard, and after about 20 minutes of that, he would settle down and go to sleep. And with sleep, he was much happier in the awake times, and eventually the colic worked itself out and he was a very happy baby. When I came back the next summer, Ian didn't remember me, but he was the favorite of his new teacher.
I just want to love and nurture a child. I want to experience life through their eyes as they learn new things. I want to do some things right and royally screw up some other things and learn more and more to be humble and loving. I want to struggle with being too protective and too distant. I want the pain and joy that can only come from loving another person so completely that you rejoice with their triumphs and ache with their disappointments. I want to expose a child to things that will mold their futures in ways I may never know and I want to enable them to be the best adult member of this world they can be when they get there.
And that's where I'll leave this for now -- the raw reasons I want desperately to be on to the next phase of my life, one that involves children in my house. Oh, and I'm going to stop crying for the evening.
The Monk of Mokha by Dave Eggers
3 months ago