Monday, April 11, 2011

You Never Forget

Given that my four children are transracially adopted, and come from varying racial backgrounds, it seems a given that they are adopted. And when people find out that I'm divorced it is usually assumed--to the extent that it comes up--that infertility was a factor in the adoptions.

It's a correct assumption.

Not that I spend a lot of time dwelling on it in this phase of my life. I couldn't love my children more if they'd spent nine months in my womb. While infertility derailed my plans for twelve children, divorce blew up the train. Given all the reasons for being where I am + the general insanity of keeping up with four little tornados, I rarely think about the infertility diagnoses that were such a huge part of my life for so long, to the point that sometimes I forget--or maybe just tell myself--that infertility isn't a part of my life & my identity anymore.

When I say that to myself I'm totally lying.

Over the past little while several of my employees have made pregnancy announcements. Some pregnancies were expected and hoped for; some were not. Some are married; some are not. Some pregnancies have been hard and come with lots of complications--emotional and physical. Some have been clear-cut rejoicing. Each mother-to-be has filed into my office to share the news with emotions all over the map, and depending on where her heart is at and the circumstances of her news, I've been excited, sympathetic, concerned, supportive, or whatever else she needs right then, and over the coming weeks and months. My only thoughts have been for my friends and what I can do to help, even if the "help" is simply sharing the tears and the excitement.

So it was hard for me to put my finger on the source of a growing sadness that seemed to deepen after each expecting-momma announcement. Hard for me to even acknowledge it to myself. I'm over this, right? My life is full and rewarding and totally busy and waaaaaay past my struggles with infertility.

I'm such a liar to myself sometimes.

The truth is, I wish it were me. Not in a jealous way. I'm genuinely happy for everyone who gets the joy of parenthood, whatever way they reach it. I don't want to trade places. I just wish the plan for my life included the opportunity to experience pregnancy and childbirth. I wish it included more children. I love adoption. I want to do it again. Not that I'm not grateful for my four; I just love them so much and have such a blast with them that I don't want to be done.

Maybe part of the lingering pain is a need to be validated by others. When I was in the thick of infertility issues people moved warily around the subject around me. They were careful of my feelings when making pregnancy announcements. Sometimes it was mildly annoying--I mean, I really, truly am happy for others' happiness, and don't keep a scorecard of what blessings other people have that I want. I appreciated the kindness, though. I appreciated that they cared enough to tell me gently.

Now I'm suddenly the old grownup who somehow grew past that and I doubt anyone thinks of those things anymore. Some of my young employees even forget enough that they ask me about my labor and delivery experiences and look embarrassed when they realize that I don't have stories to share.

It's all good, it's all okay. This isn't a sad post.

It's just, I've been wondering when I really will be "over it." When will I reach a point where infertility is a distant memory that doesn't matter anymore and no longer has the ability to hurt me at all? When will I stop wishing for just one more baby or longing for missed experiences? Even if it's just in fleeting moments here and there...will I ever forget?

I don't think so. I don't think I want to forget. I don't think I want to reach a point where I don't feel that ache of longing. It's part of who I am.

I'm a mom. I was born a mom. Ask my poor brothers and sisters, who had to suffer under my early fumbled attempts. Or my early student wards, three in succession, who voted me "most likely to have 12 kids." They were onto something. Or the foster kiddos who spent time being mothered in my home. Or the college students I mother day after day now. I don't know any other way to be. I don't know any other way I'd WANT to be.

The painful part of being a mother is realizing that you can't mother the world, no matter how much you'd like to. Moms cry when we see starving children in Africa and sobbing toddlers in the aftermath of earthquakes and we dig out our wallets for kids at bake sales and write out checks to buy shoes for homeless kids because we can't NOT do those things. When you are a born mother you can't NOT mother.

Even when you really, truly can't. Biology or busy-ness, or everyday reality--I know I'm good with what I have. And I'm okay with that.

But it doesn't change the wanting.

I'm okay with that, too.


the Villamor's said...

i have felt the same way. i am surprised when the feelings resurface but they do. They are a part of us and i don't want to forget them either. In a way they remind me of the blessings I do have. I love those mothering powerful!

JJJAM&S said...

This is a beautiful post. My pain lies elsewhere, but I wonder why pain reoccurs when I think I am "over it". I am learning to just sit with it and not to fight it, deny it or try to fix it.

Laine said...

Amen, Sister! We were made to be mothers forever. I will never be finished wanting children. I will never be finished thinking of and dreaming of having a family with a gazillion children, something inside me tells me so. Nice to find your blog again and catch up a little.

Sindea Horste said...

What a wonderful post, Wendy. You really showed both sides of your experiences and feelings so well! I think that it is ok to become, well, ok, with the hand we are dealt, so so speak, and at the same time long for something a tad bit different. Your children are so lucky and blessed to have such a wonderful and true mother. And you are obviously blessed to have them as your children!

Megan B ♥ said...

Great, great post, my friend.

Kristina said...

Thank-you for sharing your feelings on this subject. I have been surprised from time to time when feelings about our infertility pop up. I thought I was past that when we adopted our first child. I wasn't. Now with our (also 4) adopted children, I finally feel done with adoption. But I feel a little wistful about that sometimes. I wish I had room for more children in my family. But I love and am grateful for the children I have.