We just spent a lovely long weekend visiting friends out of state. These friends have a 2.5 year old - their little boy, in fact, was born the day after our wedding! His dad was one of groomsmen but never made it to the church...and no, we will never let them live that one down!
They are expecting a little girl - our goddaughter! - in November. I'm so excited to be a godmother =)
My friend, the wife, has no idea what it would be like to experience infertility. To say it's a foreign idea to her would be an understatement - her life is filled with sippy cups, being pregnant, staying in her PJs all day, and playing with her son. Yes, I am jealous =)
So this sounds like the set up to an emotionally awful visit, right? Pregnant woman + little child = heartache and tears, usually.
But the thing is, we love them. All of them. Even with their magical fertility. Because they love us. My friend listened to me for an hour (during naptime) while I complained about our infertility, about the cost of adoption, about painful tests, about everything that she's never experienced. She got tears in her eyes (not the first time either) as she told me how sorry she is, and how she wished things were different. How much she hopes that I become a mother someday.
Yes, moms and non-moms can get along =)
And then there's the little boy...after the first half-hour of shyness, he decided that I was his new best friend =) He wanted me to hold him all the time - my arms are aching today! - he wanted me to put on and take off his shoes, to put on and take off his sweater, to play in the toy kitchen and with the trains, to hold my hand, and to change his diaper...I let his dad do that last one =)
We had the funniest conversations, about animals that live in the ocean and things outside the window, about his favorite gelato flavor (red) and his baby sister, about oreos and elephants. About his favorite food, which was potatoes one time and coffee another. I haven't laughed so hard in a while, hearing his cute little phrases! We went to the beach and dug a big hole, looked for seashells and made a sand castle. Every time we came to a red light he shouted "go!" And you should hear his imitation of a lion's roar...
Consider me completely smitten...
Yes, it hurt to be with a little child! Yes, my heart hurt - physically hurt - to think "I want this so badly..." Yes, it was painful to be in the midst of my dream deferred...to see his mom with her 8-month pregnant belly cuddling with her 2.5 year old...of course that hurt.
But you know what? I wasn't just on the outside - I was on the inside, too. Not "as" inside as his mom - but I know I mattered. I know I loved that little guy, and my plan is to be the "unofficial aunt" to him and however many kids my friends have =) Because when I was growing up, there were adults that mattered to me other than my parents! In fact, sometimes they mattered more than my parents! (teenage angst...) Yes, I want kids of my own. Now, preferably. No, yesterday. But...I can either mope and avoid friends with kids (which I do) or I can find a place in the tableau, not hate my fertile friends (or at least not too much...) and love their kids.
It's kind of a radical love, too - because I know very clearly that my friends' kids aren't mine. I have to give them back, they're going to run to their mom when they get hurt...but whose kids are really "theirs"? Isn't that the whole point, that parents "borrow" their children for a time?
I don't know...that all sounds too simplistic, and I'm certainly not saying that everyone needs to/should spend time with little kids. I just know that my heart - even though it still hurts - feels awfully loved after a weekend with a little boy who held his arms up to me: "Hold?" who wanted me to sit by him in the car, who snuggled on my lap while we read about dinosaurs and farm animals and trains (did you know that the Little Engine who Could was a girl? I had no idea.) No, I'm not a mom. But I can still do motherly things, and I like to think that helps tip the scales of the world closer to "happy."
IF makes me feel so left out...loving and being loved by my friends' kids makes me feel less left out, more part of the action. Valued. Important. Not a total ignoramus when it comes to taking care of a little creature =) Thank you, my friend, for trusting me with your son! Thank you for not leaving me isolated in IF quarantine, but inviting me into your home and not making a big deal about how great your life is...we all have to play the hand we're dealt, and we're both trying to do that with more or less success.
You're just lucky that I didn't "accidentally" put your son in our car before we left...I've got big plans for the baptism weekend! Trains, fishes, oreos, books...not to mention totally hogging my goddaughter! Feeling blessed.