Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 19: Be Candid, A Mother’s Day reflection

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“Happy Mother’s Day!”

Again, I responded in kind with a “thank you,” but only God knows what look I was giving.

“I wish they wouldn’t say that,” I finally whispered to my husband as we strolled through Costco, my eyes probably pleading for him to fix it.

“I’m not a mom.”

In classic heroic fashion, he swooped in and tried to rescue my emotions with a sweet comeback and explanation, but this time it didn’t really work as much as I’d hoped it would.

I’m not a mother.

I’m a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a niece, but I’m not a mom.

And my heart burned with irritation each time some well-meaning person wished me a “happy Mother’s Day.”

In their effort to not mistakenly miss out on well wishes to mothers on this day set aside to honor them, they neglected to consider what the road may look like for women who aren’t moms for whatever reason.

“What about the women who have no desire to be moms or acknowledged as such,” I thought.

“What about the women who just lost a child or the women struggling to conceive?”

What about the women like me? They didn’t know my story.

My story

I always dreamt of marriage and a family that got started somewhere in my twenties, mid thirties max. It wasn’t really a dream as much as it was an understanding. For whatever reason, marriage and children was just something I always simply expected to happen.

Just as I expected, marriage did happen.

At age 40…

Arguably, maturity can be crowned the most beautiful thing about marrying a little older. Although all intentional relationships have their share of challenges, a few ounces of extra wisdom and maturity go a long way, right?

However, marriage at my age also came with a reality I hadn’t considered. The reality of fertility…

Reality check

Today, I have about a 7% chance each month of getting pregnant naturally.


Now, I know you’re saying:

“Oh who cares about percentages; God is bigger than that!”

“Women your age are having babies all the time.”

No doubt, women my age are certainly having babies. However, during this journey I’ve learned that “older” women very often must enlist some costly medical assistance to aid the natural process of conception.

And yes! God IS bigger than percentages. But let’s not forget it is He who artfully crafted a woman’s reproductive system to have a time to yield life and a time…well, not to. In other words, decreased fertility with age was His design.

So each time some kind person wished me happy Mother’s Day they didn’t know my story. They didn’t know I expected to marry much earlier than I did. They didn’t know that, although I wouldn’t change one moment of my marriage story for the world, marrying at a later age came with an unexpected surprise of dramatically declining fertility. They didn’t know that I’m not sure whether or not it’s God’s will for me to have a child. They didn’t know that, because of my age, I now grapple with whether or not I even want one – my husband sitting next to me, perched atop the same proverbial fence.

Do I really want to get started with sleepless nights and terrible twos in my 40s? I’ll be honest, not one bit of that makes me giddy with longing or excitement these days, whereas I didn’t give those things much of a second thought 15 or even 10 years ago.

And do I really want the added emotional stress of an overly inflated body due to pregnancy and the stressful fear of never being able to lose the weight afterward? Selfish thoughts, I know, but all so very real.

So what will people think of me, especially those who may recall that once upon a time I did want a child or children? What will they think if I now decide never mind? What will they think to know that the decision to start a family for me isn’t quite as cut and dry as it once was?

God IS bigger than percentages. … it is He who artfully crafted a woman’s reproductive system to have a time to yield life and a time…well, not to. In other words, decreased fertility with age was His design.

And so it is…

Amidst all these thoughts that cloud my mind not just on Mother’s Day but on random days, here is where I land:

Decreased fertility with age IS God’s design. So He’s already decided whether or not giving birth to a child is His will for me. If so, He’s already decided what age my husband and I will be when it happens. As for my desire to have a child in my forties? Well, I can’t lie. I’m still sitting quite comfortably on the fence on that one. Praying God’s perfect will be done and that I can handle it – whatever IT may be.

In the meantime, I’ll continue to smile through my uncertainty, politely saying thank you to those who don’t know my story. After all, I wouldn’t want to offend someone for simply trying to honor those women who birth, nurture and/or somehow help shape the lives of children.