As kids, we all get asked: What do you want to be when you grow up? High Schoolers are questioned: What are you doing after you graduate? And college students get cornered: What’s next for you?
As humans, we are always trying to find a way to connect and learn more about each other. We also like to plan for the next step ahead and we want others to do the same as if that step is just ahead of us waiting to be landed upon. Maybe all of this planning is because we know how short this life is or maybe we bring it up simply because we want to keep the conversation going. I don’t know. But, I find that along with these questions come a set of answers and sometimes those answers create expectations that can motivate us through the next hurdle while also crippling us when we don’t make it to the finish line as expected.
2005. I met my husband.
2011. We got married.
Everyone asked, when are you having kids?
I’m sure I am not the first to say that this is an intrusive and personal question that assumes way too much about a couple including the couples intentions of having children and their ability to do so. However, that is entirely another topic I will leave for another day.
Today, I want to focus on what that question did to me.
When I was asked multiple times by family and friends, I created a mental structure. I built a plan in my head for us. I felt that I had to come up with a verbal answer default and without thinking much of it, I said “3-5 years.”
Why did I say this? I don’t know.
But in 3 seconds I gave an answer without much thought that internalized something I couldn’t erase.
Most likely, it was the easiest thing I could spit out before throwing back my last sip of wine and walking into the other room. I didn’t think people had a right to ask me so I wanted to give them something to shut them up. 3-5 seemed like a reasonable answer that would give them what they wanted while also making sure they didn’t pester me for the next couple years.
2012. I got shingles.
2015. I was in a severe car accident.
2016. I had the craziest ride of my life with viral meningitis.
Now I’m here. It’s 2017.
It’s been 6 years since we have been married and no baby. And when I say no baby, I mean that there’s no chance we will have one this year either. I will wait until my body is safe for a child and for me to go down that path.
I didn’t realize it when I answered that question back in 2010 and 2011…but I was setting myself up for a big fall.
I let those questions and more importantly my responses to them, define what my expectations were for having children. The worst part?
I didn’t even know it.
Not until I arrived here. In a place where I am reaching a new decade of my life. In a place where I have well surpassed that 5-year mark. In a place where 2 of my friends have babies less than a year old and 3 other friends are pregnant. In a place where 3 of my colleagues will be on maternity leave this year. In a place where I am inundated with baby product and pregnancy test advertisements. In a place where I have recovered from a serious and terrifying illness during which I had to face the reality that I may never be able to have children because I thought I would die or never recover.
It seems for me that having been through something like that just made me want to have children even more.
And though I am unaware as to whether or not I will have to face fertility issues like so many of my family members, I am sitting here moping around because I didn’t reach my mark.
It’s silly, really. How I can recover from a car accident and an illness like that and somehow still be disappointed. I don’t want to be ungrateful for the amazing life I have been gifted again and again.
Borrowed time is my mantra.
It is where I reside.
And I hope that I can continue to land in gratitude again and somehow erase this Great Expectation set long ago by a different woman who knew not what she would face.
I am holding on to hope and remembering as my sister said:
“Some dreams aren’t dead. They just need to be reimagined.”
Here’s hoping I can imagine, without a date in mind, having a child someday whether biological or adopted.