When I grow up…

I’ve been mulling over what it will mean if we are never successful in our quest to have children, and all ideas I ever had about what my future would look like are short-circuited:

There would be no first steps or first words

No messy diaper changes or stroller wheels broken by European cobblestones

No butterfly kisses

No first days of schools and exploring the worlds of Roald Dahl or Enid Blyton

No plane rides and train rides and why why why why is the sky so blue

No tweens draped on the sofa, their rooms reminiscent of the ruins of Pompeii

No teen angst and first dates, pimples or proms

No towering young adults rolling their eyes each time I talk about when I was younger

No markers for the usual passage of time: kids birthday parties and figuring out princess cupcakes, Mother’s Days, and Christmases and graduations. No chaotic family weddings in which I am the mother of the bride.

No neat demarcations of life’s anticipated phases.

What then becomes of life?

Why do I work? Exercise? Pray?

Who inherits my stories, my odd quirks? “Your mother did it that way too”, no will will ever say.

How do I write new chapters when I cannot imagine a new storyline? What do I look forward to?

It is a story of two. Well, three with the dog. Never more.

What happens when it becomes a story of one? What is left? Who is left?

And when the other also leaves, who really remembers?

People think infertility is about not being able to have babies. It’s not. It’s about not being able to access future dreams and hopes. It’s about life without the anticipated continuity. It’s like suddenly finding yourself on the wrong train, going in the wrong direction, with no stops in between.

Many do find alternative paths. We are, after all, not just not mothers. We are wives, sisters, aunts, friends. We are children ourselves. But then what?

Can I live a life with no children? Sure.

Can I love a life with no children? I could learn.

But forever and a day, somewhere deep inside me, I will mourn the life I thought I might have when I grow up.

Because the alternative is to just grow old.


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