Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Babies Part III: Sitting in the Emptiness

Current Reading Material

The truth is, life would be so much less complicated if I didn't have the desire to be a mother, especially biologically. Some days I just want to push that ache inside me away. I want to tell it to find another home. Because other than that ache, that painful ache inside me wanting to be a biological mom, I'm happy and life is good. 

I have realized dreams I never imagined possible, particularly falling in love with the man I believe is the love of my life and experiencing the possibility of marriage. Just a few years ago, we never even thought dating was possible.

Beach Day: February 28, 2016

Evelyn asked me to do two things: sit in the wholeness of having a child and sit in the emptiness of not having one. Why this choice of words?

Because when she asked me what life looked like without a child, I said: "Empty.

I have long equated being a mother with living a meaningful life. Let me clarify that this is not a generalized statement. I have many child-free people in my life living full and meaningful lives. I am speaking only for myself. 

 I'm not entirely sure how I came to this place of believing my way to finding meaning was through motherhood. It's certainly not how I grew up. I grew up surrounded by two PhD parents who modeled career AND family and encouraged me to be anything I wanted to be. Right before I got sick that dream was to be a nurse practitioner.

Interestingly, in college I started out pre-med, but later stepped out of the program because I realized that being a doctor would not be conducive to the life I imagined with a family. Early in my life my career goals were being tweaked to accommodate a family.

When I look back at my time spent with children over the years, that time forms some of my most precious memories.

When my parents were divorcing, I took a little time off from some AP classes and instead used my time to volunteer in the autistic children's class at Easter Seals. This was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life. I still light up talking about those children. 

During college, I looked forward to babysitting on the weekends or to my weekday afternoon babysitting one of my professors' sons. 

I started babysitting at age 12 and loved it. I was able to babysit for a neighbor, who's infant son I watched grow up over the years. From her I learned to change diapers and give bottles and let Will cry himself to sleep. I learned how to care for all of his needs and later for those of his baby brother. I spent a summer babysitting all day during the week. I marveled at the wonders of motherhood and of these small children entrusted in my care.

I babysat numerous other children in the neighborhood.

As a little girl when I was at my own babysitter's house, I tended to the other children, covering them with blankets and 'mothering' them.

In looking back, there was never a time in my life that I didn't envision myself as a mother, and I saw it as a natural and desired path.

I took for granted that I would have the opportunity to be a mother.

During my illness, I began to recognize that being a mother might be impossible, but I was never able to face the grief of letting the dream go completely.

As I live the questions, my questions are:

What does a meaningful life look like without a child?

If I have always felt that being a mother is my 'calling' in life, how do I make peace with not being one?

Will it ever not be painful to look at my friends' children?

How do I reconcile this ache to be a mother with the reality that it may be impossible?

A very big part of me feels that the timing is just not right.

That breaks my heart. 

It makes me angry. 

Why is G-d taking another thing that I want so badly away from me? Why another huge, unbearable grief?

If Kiernan and I were to have a child together, we would need to start trying as soon as possible.

We have a relatively new relationship, and while it is strong, committed, loyal and loving, is it ready for a child AND a chronic illness?

I want to enjoy the time we have together now. I don't want to spend it trying to hurry and rush so that we can try to get pregnant. 

But thinking about taking our time and letting go of trying for a baby is heartbreaking to me.

Some days, I just want to throw caution to the wind and start trying and see what the universe decides for us.

When I sit in the emptiness, I am challenged to ask myself what makes my life meaningful. By saying that my life will be meaningful when I have a child, I minimize the meaning of my life now. I minimize the essence of who I am.

How is my life, and how has it been, meaningful for the past 40 years without a child?

I have found my greatest meaning in my relationships with others. I have found great meaning in creating community with others. This can be in the form of a book group or of a group of high school friends who text and share and keep in touch or planning our 20th high school reunion.

 It's very important to me to be a good daughter. It's important to me to be a good partner to Kiernan. It's important to me to be a good mommy to Tovah Rose and Gershwin.

It's important to me to be a good Auntie Emily.

My friends often say: "I'm so glad you keep in touch with everyone else, because I am so bad about it." Or, "I am so glad you keep track of everyone's birthdays." Or, "you are so good at creating community."

We live in a world in which I feel these precious communities, these precious connections, are often lost to the busy-ness of life in 2016.

I love helping and doing things for others. I love doing my best to be a good friend.

I love my dogs like crazy.

I love writing.

My mom says my passions are so many, it's hard to narrow them down or reign them in.

But even as much as I love creating community, being a mother to my fur kids or writing, none of them make me feel deep meaning in the way I ache for motherhood. 

Right now, when I sit in the emptiness, I feel adrift and lost. 

I feel confused and scared.

I feel sad.

I desperately want a child. I desperately want my own little nuclear family with Kiernan. Us. Our child. Tovah Rose and Gershwin.

At the end of the day, I want this little family. This is what home looks like to me.

As I discuss this topic with Mom, I wonder how I'll find my way past the emptiness and what that new life will look like if Kiernan and I let go of trying to have a child together.

What scares me the most is finding happiness on the other side.

When, in life, the outcome does not match our desires, we are often dissatisfied with our lives, even unhappy. When, instead, our outcomes do match our desires we tend to live more satisfied lives.

When I sit in the emptiness, I recognize the high probability that the outcome might not match my desire. 

Where do I go with this?

 I don't know yet.

That is part of living the questions and sitting in the emptiness.



1 comment:

Rachel Lundy said...

Oh, friend. So much joy and heartache in this new life you have. It must be so overwhelming. You're in my thoughts and prayers, and I'm here for you if you want to talk.

Sending big hugs,