Thoughts floating by like dragon flies on an updraft. Some stick around. Some flit away.
One thought stole me away and I rode it right into my computer screen: What would my 65 year old self tell me right now, if she could visit me from the future?
I’m living with the consequences of decisions that my 25 year-old self made. If my 40 year-old self could go back and have a frank conversation with my 25 year-old self, what would I say to her? Well, I’d say, “Enjoy that luscious head of hair you have and that sleek, flat tummy. It really doesn’t last past 38. Oh, and by the way, fertility is not culturally constructed, it’s science. It’s easy for your gender studies teacher to talk to you about socially created definitions of womanhood because she already has a kid…..And let me tell you, you and that “significant other” of yours should stop effin around with that ‘marriage is just a piece of paper’ bollocks and just get married already. The vows really are important in your case. You both need a safe place and marriage, for you, is that. He really is your other half. And who cares what people say about co-fucking-dependence? He is your home. You are his. Love like this comes only once. You are lucky. It is later than you think. Celebrate each other and stop worrying about getting hurt. Jeez. You can only turn into your mother if you run from yourself. You can develop tools that she didn’t give you. And you can forgive her and love her anyway. You can create your own definition of ‘family’. And ‘womanhood.’ And ‘motherhood.’…. Stop dicking around with the obgyn who tells you that premarital sex is a sin and that your horrible ovarian pains are in your head. Go to a real doctor. Go to a female doctor and demand the tests that would diagnose the stage of the disease that you know damn well that you have. Also, about that career thing, no matter how hard you work, you’re gonna hit that glass ceiling eventually. And no matter what gender you are or what socioeconomic group you belong to, in your career, you are replaceable. And you will be replaced. And you will be glad because you will have earned your retirement. But you may just want a family with whom to enjoy that time. Work to live. Not the other way around….Now, put down those gummy bears and go ride your bike.”
So…. what would my 65 year-old self come back from the future to tell me? That having a kid at 40 was an insane decision because you’re still supporting him and his dreams to be a successful fashion blogger one day? That bringing a kid into this economically and environmentally challenging landscape was narcissistic and short-sighted and you’re paying for it by having to work well past retirement age? Or would my 65 year-old self tell me that having a kid in 2013 was the best thing you did for your family. That he enjoys his life on this planet and may even be making it a better place. That you and your husband were able to heal all those old crappy wounds caused by your own parents and create a loving and strong family. That at first it exhausted you because you were a little too old to be running around after a toddler, but then later you re-prioritized and it all fell into place. And you and hubby ended up becoming actively involved in your community and you absorbed the best of your own families and passed that down. That despite your disease and your procrastination, everything really worked out for the best. Or…(gulp) would my 65 year-old self say, “You weren’t successful at making babies. But you do need to honor your attempts, mourn it properly, together, and move on in a positive way.”
On our bike ride today, I saw some baby socks that someone had dropped in the park. Mismatched. One blue and orange striped sock. And one white sock. Probably fell out of a diaper bag. And it reminded me of Hemingway’s 6 word essay: “For Sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.” Last week, I saw parents in the park with new babies, and thought, “Hey–that could be us in nine months?!” Excited to possibly join that club. And this week, I see the same blurry little families as I whiz past on the bike, but there is this twinge in my solar plexus as I wonder, “What if that’s never us?”
I understand that expectations cause pain. So I try not to get washed away by either set of emotions. That it’s healthier not to assign judgement to a thought as “good” or “bad.”. It’s just a pair of mismatched baby socks. That’s just a couple over-photographing their newborn under the oak tree. We’re just a couple riding bikes in the park on a beautiful fall day.