Monday, October 15, 2012

Some Books Are Better on the Shelf

So, my sister sent me this link to Darwin Deez's Bad Day a bit ago when I was in the throws in feeling angry about my most recent relationship ending.  While I am sometimes uncomfortable with being angry with a person who has left me in a relationship, it still surprises me how much others can feel angry for me.  It kind of comes as a relief in being angry myself.  It's normal.  It's okay.

So the song starts with, "I hope that the last page of your 800-page novel is missing."

No, sometimes actually finishing a book can be downright disappointing, too.

The book that had been on my shelf for several years that I bought as a vacation beach read is called Holy Cow by Sarah Macdonald.  It is an autobiography of sorts where a woman in her thirties from Australia revisits India for a gamble on love and takes a spiritual journey.  This helps her to make sense of the world, to figure out what is truly important and to learn more about herself.

It caught my eye while walking around the book store.  Funny thing is that I started reading it on a beach vacation the summer before A~ and I were just starting to try to conceive a baby.  The first chapter or so was good, but I was distracted with wanting to read Harry Potter, too.  Harry Potter won.

The vacation ended and the book returned to my shelf.  There it sat, replaced with reading material about infertility, mending relationships and soon grad school required reading.  I wanted to read it.  But after the fallout of my divorce, I hesitated because it reminded me of the last happy vacation I had with him.

Next I began my relationship with RJ, and I didn't feel like tainting my happy thoughts with sad thoughts of reminders of my past relationship.  I was trying to move forward.  Plus, I was still busy with grad school readings.

Then when RJ ended the relationship and grad school was done, I felt that I had no more excuses.  I wanted to read the book to be done with it.  Maybe it would surprise me or maybe I could justify getting rid of it because giving away a book I purchased and hadn't read seemed like such a waste.  It became my book to read on the bus going to and from my summer internship job.  Perfect!

As I read the book, it was interesting to read how the main character had to learn how to let go of so much.  She faced herself and her broken preconceived notions about life.  She embraced life as it was and found the good in people.  She changed her perception.  The people and places had not changed, but she changed the lens that she viewed them.  She found a certain peace, acceptance and happiness.  It also touched on the importance of balance in a relationship and not to lose oneself--having personal grounding and independence while flexibly creating a life together with someone else.

Sounds good right?

(Spoiler Alert)

As I was reading the second to the last paragraph of the book, the author tidies up by writing about what she has learned from each religious group she meaningfully encountered in India.  She reflects on what she learned before returning home.  Good, strong woman stuff.

Then, the very last paragraph washes it all away.

Basically, the author goes onto say that all of that stuff really doesn't matter because she is with child that she and her husband conceived before leaving India (mean while most of the story is spent with the couple spending nearly all of their time apart because of his job assignment).  The baby is special because it will remind her of the sacrifices and growth during her two years of life in India, but that having a baby is where the real meaning in life can be found. 

So, diluted enlightenment and I'm better than you because I can get knocked up by my husband.

I closed the book with disappointment.  Really?  The last paragraph did not seem relevant to the story.  They were never trying to have a kid.  What happened to the personal grounding and finding happiness and contentment within yourself?  What happened to realizing that a relationship is fragile and when one person's career dominates the relationship, it can hurt it when it is at the expense of that relationship?  What happened to two people who realize that their life together is more important than if they have career success without that special person to share it?  Fine that the baby will remind you of your time in India and that the conception was special.  But, to imply that the spiritual journey didn't really matter because being a mother supersedes it?  Really?

Then, I think back to all of the times that I started reading the book or picked it up and thought about reading it.  It would have been far worse timing.  It may have been chucked into the ocean.

This is not helping me to be okay with being in the temporary* space of not having a baby at the moment.

(*Working on being happy and while being open to find a man first, while holding onto hope for possibility.)

Feel free to make book recommendations.  I could use them.  I live by a pool.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Space Between 35 and 42

Lately...I've been thinking about what it means to be turning 35 and searching for some kind of grounding in where I am in life, or rather trying to make a space to be comfortable in accepting and celebrating this new chapter in my life. 

I find it difficult to find the balance of being happy with being a single, childless woman with a challenging, fulfilling career path and not becoming consumed with wanting to be a mother that I lose sight of the wonderful I have in my life in the present.  I do not want to have those thoughts of hoped motherhood looming in my mind that I miss out on capturing and living in the moment now.

To lay this out now--I want to be in a committed, loving relationship, which I see as being married, to a man whom I want to spend the rest of my life.  And a child is a blessing and an experience that I want and hope to share with someone together.  A baby is not a requirement for happiness or satisfaction in that hoped life.  I am looking for someone who is open to the possibility and desire to have children.  I feel confident that I will find that man--someday sooner rather than later, I hope.  Part of my fear is that I will not find him before the window closes...before my physical body says no more, even if my heart still says yes.

What's with 42?  Well, that seems to be the number that keeps popping up in my mind of when I think the window may close for me.  It used to be 38, but I've expanded it.  It could be longer and could change, I don't know.  I would hope that my kid would graduate high school before I reached retirement age.  That could push it to 46.  But, 46 seems so old to be pregnant for the first time.  Forty-two seems to hedge on the possibility that there could still be some good eggs in there and that I could physically handle it, maybe.  Forty-two seems more friendly to defy the odds in some weird way.  I don't know.  Totally know it is not a rational thought process, but there it is--the current barometer on my inner timeline.

And please do not throw out the instant band-aid, "You can always adopt!"  I started down that road once before and I know it is not that simple.  I've already had a touch of that feeling like a pound puppy and feeling judged by others to decide if I'm good enough to be a mother.  I don't even want to get into the manipulation of some that make you feel guilty that you question your level of comfort in how much you are willing to take on in caring for a child that may be atypical in health or development, among other factors.  It is not just a decision about you, there is also a great deal of thought of how it may impact the child.  It is not an easy process and it becomes more complicated the older that you get because young parents are so desired.  It is not to say that it doesn't happen; it thankfully and rightfully does.  I may be open to adoption in the future, but there are so many factors that go into that decision process.  Again, it needs to be inclusive of what is best for me and my hoped partner.

So yes, I do feel there is plenty of time to meet and connect with the man who I dream of sharing a life.  There is a larger and more generous timeline for that to happen.  What is not so forgiving is the time that my body has left to have a baby of my own--my own flesh and blood--my eyes, my hair or my freckles--my love of books, my playful spirit or my feeling at home with nature, art and football.  And all of those kinds of things found in my partner, but mushed in combination with me into one little being.

Part of me feels that if I become too comfortable and caught up in this single life that I may accidentally push away the chance of being a mother.  It's like if I "forget" about it, it may not happen.  Will the universe forget that dream deep within me?  If by living in the moment and not constantly hoping for a child, will the higher power think that having a child is no longer important to me?

Part of me worries that if I keep worrying about it not happening, that it will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and will not happen.  I am afraid of the disappointment that may not come.  I want to be hopeful and believe.  But, what if I am setting myself up for more heartache if it doesn't happen?

I feel caught between quietly hoping, but not hoping too much or not enough, and keeping the fears at bay of it not happening, or worse hoping and believing and it not happening and then being crushed.  I know this is the worst constructed sentence ever.  But, I don't know how else to write all of what I am feeling at the same time.  My thoughts and feelings on motherhood for myself all are a jumbled blob, just like that sentence.  My chest feels tight and the tears silently roll down my cheeks wrapping my brain around all of my thoughts and feelings.

And somehow I have to release the fears, find the courage to believe and get back to living my life as it is in the present--not just getting by, but living a full, happy and content life now.  I know that responsibility resides in me; it is just remembering to do it.  Perhaps focusing on being thankful for what I do have will help me to seize the most that life has to offer me.

As a good friend said to me a few years ago...when one door closes, another one opens.  Maybe all of what I have been through is to make room for something more than I could ever imagine.  After A~, I felt I found that with RJ, but it did not last.  So, I hold onto hope that there is something even better and that my time will not run out.