My 15-year college reunion was a little over a month ago. Many of the people from my graduating class had their families – including small children – in tow. I’d been worried about that beforehand because I’d known it would happen, and I’d worried about my own emotional reaction; but instead, I found that I was OK. I was on a bit of a “kiddo overdose” – they made so much noise! Since a bunch of us were staying in the dorms (which I’d done for our 5-year and 10-year reunions and now will never do again, but that’s another story), I got the benefit of lots of kid noises. I’m pretty sensitive to noise, so I was rather happy the children weren’t mine, even being cute as they were.
Then I stayed for a few nights at a friend’s house and met her beautiful (and smart!) 15-month-old girl. I love the kid, but just seeing the struggle my friend went through to get her daughter to stand still while she cut her nails was enough to scare me into thinking, “I can’t do that.”
Also, all parents of small children seem to look sleep deprived. I feel sleep deprived all the time, despite the fact that I tend to get a lot of sleep, so I can’t quite imagine what I’d be like on very little sleep.
A few weeks ago, a close friend came to visit with her adorable baby girl. This kid was mostly calm and quiet, taking everything in, clearly intelligent and curious. I still didn’t feel bad after their visit. I was just happy for them and their family.
I’ve been going out of my way to see my friends with small children, because small children grow and I want to see them while they’re still little. (And also, I want to see my friends, of course!)
So I’ve been going along, since the Reunion, thinking things were fine. Thinking we didn’t need a baby, that we couldn’t take care of one and we’d be better off trying to take care of ourselves, which is hard enough. I thought I was a little closer to the acceptance of my situation that I crave so badly.
And then…setback. This morning, while unable to sleep, I started reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Jennifer Weiner. (I know, it’s chick lit, but it’s intelligent and funny and just good.) Unfortunately for me, this book is about a woman with a husband and a daughter and a career and a house in the suburbs. Sure, the daughter’s difficult. Sure, the marriage isn’t working so well. Sure, the mom’s got an addiction to painkillers. But somehow, when I stopped reading for the time being, I couldn’t help but cry.
A baby is not in our future. A house is not in our future (and neither, it seems, is a bigger apartment than our current 1-bedroom). A career? Ha. Not for a while, anyway, though I’d never say never.
It’s hard not to dwell on the things my friends, and people who are not my friends, have that I likely never will. I can try to console myself by thinking that I am doing my best to take care of myself, with the goal of eventually getting some better; that I am trying to get Disability, which may eventually give us a little more money so that maybe we can pay our bills without dipping into savings every month; that kids are noisy and dirty and don’t let you sleep.
I know we’re lucky. I know my husband is amazing. We have a nice place to live, albeit a small one with no room for kids and an underwater mortgage. We’re not homeless or starving. We don’t have life-threatening illnesses. We have lots of blessings and love in our lives.
I still want a child. Every fiber of my being wants a child. I want to be like my friends who don’t want children and who have never wanted children and will likely never have them. I want to want that freedom. I just don’t. (Besides, the things people say you can do when you don’t have kids – such as take vacations – are inaccessible to us, anyway.)
Sorry to be such a downer. I have to get through this somehow, and writing it out helps.
I apologize for not having written much lately – I have a good excuse, one that I’d like to post about eventually, but for now this is all I can type.