I had an outing scheduled with my niece. she’s my niece by marriage and my goddaughter. My relationship with her isn’t as close as I would like; I’ve always imagined that this was because she didn’t come out of a sibling of mine, like my beloved, sweet, and cuddly nephew did. Or maybe it’s that her native tongue is not my native tongue (she’s Swiss, I’m not.)
Truthfully, I’ve always believed that our distance is a result of the fact that I must reek of desperation for a child. My husband and I have been preparing to be parents since before she was conceived – she is now 4 and a half.
For Christmas, I had made my niece an advent calendar out of a hanging canvas shoetree. I painted the pockets of the shoetree with the numbers 1 through 24. I filled the pockets with canvas pouches that I’d embroidered with the numbers and filled those pouches with small trinkets and the like. Pouch 24 contained a gift certificate for an outing with me in the city.
She requested that we visit a museum, that we take the train and that my husband – her uncle – not be with us. She just wanted a day with me. I was shocked.There is a new sense of presence that I’ve lacked in the past.Click To Tweet
A week before our date I got a call from her father, telling me that his girlfriend is five months pregnant with her fourth child in only five years. This announcement inspired the traditional and despicable feelings of jealousy within me that each of her pregnancies have before. I hate it and it’s ugly and it’s nothing to do with me and blah, blah, blah… but that’s how it is.
It hurts. It’s a spotlight on their bounty is – on what we lack.
So I was off to pick up my niece, to congratulate her mother, to kiss her siblings, and engage in silliness and fun with a lovely 4-year old girl. I sat in the train and, at a longer station stop, was struck with a sudden new notion: “if we never had a child, it would be ok.”
I was shocked that the thought had occurred but instantly exhaled with relief. A different inner voice tried to remind me that we could foster parent in future or find another way to parent, but that first voice again repeated that my husband and I could live a life without a child in our house – and we would be ok.
I could live a life without a child in our house and we would be ok. This occurrence was shocking because I have spent the last five years actively trying to become a mother. The first three years I didn’t menstruate and efforts were focused on an adoption attempt that ultimately failed. The past two years have been spent tracking periods and ovulations, having blood drawn, counting the seconds of every two-week wait after ovulation – and mourning the inevitable arrival of my period.
We’re currently engaging in non-medicated insemination, after two failed attempts so far. While I’m not giving up – and still really do want to become a mother and feel ready and able – there is a new sense of presence that I’ve lacked in the past. I’m not plagued by the failings of the past, nor am I plagued by the possible failings of the future or its unknowableness.
I don’t know how long this feeling will last, but at the moment I feel free and able.