My favorite folks ! :)

04 November 2010

The Unimaginable

(This post is on childlessness - again.  It is not intended as "poor, poor me," but you are certainly welcome to skip reading if you don't want to hear me beat this poor, dead horse again.) 

Today, Ree at The Pioneer Woman wrote this post titled "Kewpie."  It is about how her second son was an unplanned baby, but that she is so glad she has him & can't imagine her life without him.  (I believe that 80% of the comments also speak of "my fourth was an 'oops' but i am so thankful to have him/her.")

And i realized that what i'm struggling with is the unimaginable.  I can't imagine our lives without our children, yet, here we are.  I can not imagine my life without children.  

But, evidently it is what i'm going to have, and so i just don't know the pattern to create with this.   What template do i use to shape our lives as a family of only two?  

It is not like a family who now has an "empty nest" for those people have grown children to visit and grandchildren or the hope of them for the future.

This young man is Duane's cousin's baby.  He is 2 months older than our Kaylee would be.  (Now 4-1/2.)

 I've posted these pics before.  I'm always holding someone else's baby.  This is my sister's (Larkin's) oldest child, Ellen.  Ellen just had her first baby 3 weeks ago.  

Many children have imaginary playmates.  I had imaginary children.  When i was 16, i had a six year old daughter named Joy and a 2 year old Janet.  (I could even share pics i drew of them.)  I also had a family that i cared for their 2 boys regularly.  When Joy and Janet were 6 and 2, Jacy and Jeff were 4 and newborn.  I so much wanted to be a mama, and to have a full family.

I feel like i still have imaginary children.  Our Kaylee would be 4-1/2 now.  Where did the time go by so quickly?  I can see her very clearly.  She's got blonde curls and bright blue eyes.  (I actually prefer straight hair, but her daddy had the curliest hair as a child.  Also her Aunt Loren had very, very curly blonde hair.  Aunt Loren's hair never got very long.  I'm assuming that Duane's sister Loren is caring for our Kaylee in heaven.  She died a few years before i met Duane.)  Kaylee is growing to be so tall and slim and isn't a baby any more.

The last child i lost was 2 years ago when the doctor's wife was expecting their first.  I lost that one when she was just thru her first trimester.  She is expecting again in late May or early June (tho they have not officially told folks yet).  

I have always believed that if i was just patient enough, that if i just waited with hope and belief, children would come to us.  I'm past that now.  It has been 2 years.  I believe i'm on the cusp of starting menopause.  My last cycle ran 70 days and i never even did a home preg test.  I had no symptoms and no hope that i was pregnant.  

I began doing something a couple of years ago.  It began with the best of intentions.  When i saw someone pregnant, or with a baby or very small child i would say to myself, "This is not going to happen for you.  This will not come to you.  We are not going to have children."  It was an honest attempt to help myself to accept life as it is.  

This is not the advice to follow if you believe in life as in "The Secret."  They state you have to have positive thoughts and expect "the universe" will give what you ask.  Bunk.  That is not how life or the universe or God works.  Things happen.  Things don't happen.  Circumstances can knock you over.  Life is simply unfair.  I'm not sure i've better hope of the life to come.  

Anyway, as well meaning as my attempt was, it backfired on me.  Tho i never, ever voiced this out loud to another person, my thinking of, "This will not happen for you . . . etc." eventually developed into a whiny rant.  Say the above with the whiny voice of a spoilt 3 year old and you'll know just how i sounded.  

I do NOT want to be this way.  I do NOT want to live my life this way.  I don't want to be a dried up, disappointed, vinegary old woman.  I do not want to live my life looking back on the children we might have had, yet i seem to tend to do that. 

It has been unacceptable to me that we won't have children.  Past Christmases and other holidays i've thought of the stories we want to share with our children in the future and the holiday rituals we want to incorporate into our lives.  Baking cookies and making ornaments and decorating.  Christmas ornaments i want to save and pass down to them.  

The "passing on" of items seems to be a big thing for many people.  Many of the things i make and use are things i would like to give to someone, to pass on to someone who remembers and likes those things.  Who will want those things?  Does my life have any value if there is no one to follow me who appreciates anything about my life?  

Please understand, i'm not whining right now.  No matter how it may sound, i'm not saying "Poor, poor me."  I have so much and am so very richly blessed.  I have so much that many, many other people would envy my possession of, not to mention the wonderful relationship i have with my husband.  

What i am struggling with at this point is, i had a pattern, an outline in my head of how our lives would go, the direction we would take.  Not a detailed plan of course, because life doesn't follow a detailed plan.  But a pattern none the less of the shape our lives would take when we had children.  

It has become obvious, however, that children are not going to come.  The pattern i had is shredded, and i've no idea what to put in its place.  

This is coming up, largely, because of the coming holidays.  There are family issues going on which may make joining in family celebrations difficult.  We have always joined Duane's parents or the larger family for Christmas Eve and reserved Christmas Day for our own celebration.  However, for the last 3 years that "our own day" has been very empty.  I don't know what to put in its place.  

When i first moved to California, i thought that i could find other "transplants" and folks without family with whom to spend holidays.  I have not found this to work very well at any time.  Early on, i was bitterly disappointed more than once.  I've not ruled out this possibility, however, my California experiences lead me to believe most folks already have people with whom to celebrate.

I've read of other childless (or often calling themselves "childfree" but i don't think i'll ever be there) couples go on fantastic vacations over the holidays.  Frankly, i just can't see that we'll ever do this.  We've only taken one trip that i consider "vacation" in our 7 years together, and that was our honeymoon.  All other trips have been to visit friends or family.  So i just don't see us going off on some unusual (expensive) trip.

This year has the opportunity to be different, of course.  N's family may join us for some holiday celebration at some point thru the season.  I might borrow her daughter and bake cookies.  Or her sons to make gifts.  I hope it is the start of many such years, whether with her family or another.  I do look forward to that.

Still, i just do not know how to create a full life sans children.  In search of a new pattern that may not have been created yet!  Some people would see this as a great adventure, the opportunity to forge a new path that few others take.  

We may try and find somewhere to volunteer on Christmas day.  I know Orange County has many places where they serve a holiday meal.  I doubt Big Bear has such, but we certainly can check.



marygems said...

Kathryn, can you hear my heart calling yours~? Would you like me to share what I have done with the love that should have gone to 6 children that died in utero between 5-6 months? I became a foster mother. At first I just had baby's for weekend relief for carers, then a 2 year old, then discovered I loved teens, and have looked after 39 over the past 35 years. my favourite scripture about this is : He puts the lonely in families. Now I'm grandma age, I adopt families who do not have grandparents in my country, and I be New Zealand grandma to them.This has been very successful both ways!
I send you a conatiner-ship full of empathy and ask God to Bless you more than you could ever dare to ask or imagine. Mary.

That corgi :) said...

hugs to you, I don't have any words of wisdom, it is so hard to deal with not having children especially if you want them. It is always a time of grief around holidays, mother's day/father's day, etc.

I think volunteering could be something good to do. Maybe you can see if there is anyone if your area who would be alone on the holidays and invite them over for a meal, etc. I don't know, just thoughts thrown out


Lorie said...

I can't imagine your pain. I have no words. Just love and prayers.


Kathryn said...

Marygems - how good of you to post such a loving response. As far as i can tell, you don't have a blog for me to visit, do you?

I always imagined that i would want to be a foster mom. Since i was 13 or 14 and met a family that did that.

My hubby and i have looked at it from all angles, and we just don't think it is possible for us for a long list of reasons. But similar to that is mentoring. I've been wanting to do that for a while. Big Bear doesn't have formal mentoring programs, but i've been watching. There is a family of children in our lives now whom i believe we will be able to make a difference, and for that, i'm so thankful.

Betty, thank you for your kindness. You are such a comfort.

Lorie, thank you for the love and prayers and hugs. :)

Jess and Krissy said...

Oh, sweetie. I've been lurking for months and started to comment several times, but I just never did. I can't tell you how many times I read things on your blog that tug at my heart. I have Multiple Sclerosis as well as infertility problems, and having children is beginning to look like something we're not ever going to do. It's all I ever wanted, too, and I don't know how to function knowing that we are going to be in the minority. We are excluded from so many things, and there are so many things I want to do that I'll never get to do. There will be no one to share my favorite holiday movies with. I'll never get to buy baby's first Christmas outfits. There's a list with about a million entries, each one more painful than the next. Believe me when I say I empathize with you completely, and my heart aches for you. I'm praying that God brings you comfort as we enter the holiday season.



kare said...

Hello Kathryn, i too had an imaginary baby when i was young. My mother & i used to talk about how this baby "William" would be such fun. Then i married a William and looked forward... til our 1st and now this last miscarriage just recently. Still processing it.

In the intervening years we have opened our home & hearts..and been "adopted" by young folk who needed care & reassurance the busy world cannot give. It's been heartbreaking, all of it, but we are so blessed even still.

Is there a church in BigBear? Maybe they have a giving tree? Fire men or Police officers on duty on Christmas? It sounds like you may already have that one figured out tho. There are so many people who have no-one. It's good for us to remember them and reach out in some way. Thank You for sharing yourself here..if my heart could break again..just remember You are not alone.
God bless.

Kathryn said...

Krystal - how kind of you to let me know you've been visiting. I can't know for sure, but it sounds like you do understand exactly why i'm struggling. I pray God will bring you many good blessings. Congrats on all the weight loss! That is fantastic (& i'm envious). :)

Kare - oh honey. I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you do have young folks in your life, but i know how hard it can be "processing" that loss.

We have a lot of churches here in BB. There are about 4 or 5 we hop around. (There is a long, complicated reason for the church hopping. I speak of it last spring at my blog "I looked for love.") I don't know what they'll have near Christmastime, but tomorrow i'm going to help pack up shoeboxes that are shipped to children where there is a need.

Thank you for stopping by to leave your kind comments. :)

marygems said...

Kathryn- no, I don't have a blog, but I think you can reply by email through google connect- but thanks for replying. Mentoring is WONDERFUL. I had one for years- and the things she taught me I have passed on to many- My God answer the desires of your heart in a Ephesians 3.18-22 way- beyond all that you could imagine, ask for or dream of. You are in my heart and prayers. Mary.

Rosemary said...

I wish I had the right words to say, I don't, I have gone through this myself and it isn't easy or fair. I guess we just endure. I am the Auntie Mame, I think, to my nieces and nephews but I just wish I had one of my own to hold and spoil like them. I suppose I just try to blot my feelings of longing out and ignore them, the holidays are very hard.

Kathryn said...

Mary, thank you. I appreciate your encouragement, prayers, and well wishes. I only mention "your blog" - that you don't have - because when folks are so wonderful to come visit me and comment, i like to try and reciprocate.

Rosemary, dear. Yes, i know that you understand the pain and the unfairness and all of it. (I wish, for your sake, you didn't!)

Holidays are hard. I'm glad that you can be Auntie. I don't have that opportunity much, but have my eyes open for what opportunities do come our way. ;)

Hugs, dear friend.