It was a serious tone he used.
“Mum I have to tell you something about the other house.”
“Right!” He was kind to me, he went on almost instantly before my mind got to run wild.
“There’s going to be an addition.”
I was facetious, “Oh, a puppy..?”
“No, not a puppy. Do you know what I mean…?”
“Yes, sorry, yes I do. How does that make you feel.?”
He spoke briefly, he was all excitement. Finally a sibling he was related to. Of course I had to contradict him (I had my joy crushing boots on).
Half sibling, step sibling, full sibling – he didn’t care! Fortunately he was impervious to me and my joy crushing. So I listened.
He finished, clearly relieved to have told me and trotted off.
My mind at least gave me until he went to bed, before it began its dance.
How did I feel about it?
Why should I matter?
What right do I have to feel anything?
Then I cried a bit. Why?
I think because I’ve always felt keenly that he is an only child. When he was two years old, people began dropping very unsubtle hints about how it wasn’t good for him to be an only child. I would dutifully point out to them that I’d had back surgery when he was 3 months old. Oh yes that’s right!! Last night I was reminded of the fact that he never had a true full sibling – he never will. In my mind that is/was a failing on my part. The truth is perhaps more about the goodness of God and His understanding of me, the turns my life would take and what I could handle.
I guess the fact remains that had I had another child I would have found myself as a single mum with two children under 4 who then would have had to get on with life. Not ideal. While I was happy to remind others of the back issues – I frequently forget that myself in my lower moments.
I am thankful that the second child didn’t happen, in my thoughtful moments. Last night however was not one of them.
What I heard instead was the voice of the accuser – “See I knew there was something wrong with you when you didn’t get pregnant a second time”.
The accuser knows that we did try for the second – I got myself to peak physical condition (lost about 18kg) to reduce back issues – but the second child did not happen.
The accuser went on, “I knew it was you who had the problem!”
That conversation is then coloured by echoes from a few years ago … “at least they won’t be able to breed“. Words from someone on the other side of our complicated little plot. This individual was speaking with friends about how actions taken many years ago, long before our lives took its twists and turns, have prevented my husband and I from having our own family. Once again, a blessing in disguise. Last night though, it was well disguised. In the cold light of day, a blessing – no disguise.
I’ve worked through it mostly I think.
There is this sadness that remains that the man I love and I will not have “our” family .. And yes, that’s final, so people can stop staring at my pudgy form – it’s fat people, not a baby – no babies here… Right now I’m too busy dealing with the genes that have formed our household to worry about the jeans I wear in our household. One day when I have time I’ll shed those kgs. But for now, maybe you could move on and take surreptitious looks at someone else’s stomach. Yes, it is a decision we could reverse if we chose – no we aren’t going to. We, possibly selfishly, look forward to one day being “us”. We think we might be a bit too old now anyway. I’m not keen on revisiting nappies and sleep disturbed nights. I have the sleep disturbances now anyway.
I’ve been trying to find the lemonade here. The lemonade is that my son does finally get an almost sibling. That’s great for him – that’s what he is so excited about. I hope it is everything he hopes it will be. I hope it doesn’t mean that he will get less than he has now.
I know some wonderful second families. My father and his brother are the second family for both their mother and father.
The unavoidable fact is that some days I will be sad that we aren’t having a second family. That’s ok. I can even shed a tear or two if it makes me feel better. (It doesn’t – self pity isn’t a soul building exercise.
Life does break your heart sometimes, but it is fleeting compared to eternity. It is temporary, it is but a vapor.
Some days though the pain is keen. I don’t pretend to fully understand how childless couples feel. Occasionally though, I get a little window into it.
I do feel keenly for those of you who are unable to have a family with the one your soul loves. You know you would be amazing parents, we do too. We know it when we look at you and your love for and adoration of each other. But as the man said to me last evening – your legacy, my legacy shouldn’t be limited to genetics.
Your legacy, my legacy doesn’t have to be found in a being or beings you have created. It can be but it doesn’t need to be that limited. Your legacy is the hundreds of lives you touch over the course of your time here.
Your legacy is found in the hearts you reach. Your legacy is in loving the unloved and the unlovely.
It seems less, but as with most things in this earthly place – what things seem and what they are, are completely different. The rewards in heaven are for what you do for these the least of my brothers.
The truth is my friends, if I’m honest, I’ve been gazing enviously at the idol of family. I don’t do it often. I’ve been allowing discontentment to sneak in. I’ve allowed myself to question God’s leading in my life. And I’ve questioned His will as well. I don’t need to do any of these things. I have been blessed, I am classified as a daughter of God, that makes me part of a huge family.
On a smaller scale, the man and I do have a family, while it’s not “ours”, it is ours.
So that’s my lemonade.
Thanks to those of you who have life events that cause me to re-examine my own heart, my beliefs, and encourage me to confront the idols I’ve allowed to sneak in.