Rather than offer platitudes about hypothetical disappointing situations, I thought it would probably be more helpful to speak candidly from my own dark well of deep hurt. It’s a place that I rarely shine light upon, especially in public. At times, I love the whir of society and the many involvements that inhabit our daily agendas. However, when it comes to connecting on these deep levels of personal pain, it can be hard to find a safe space amongst the busyness. We need a place where we can be real. So instead of giving you a shined up version of myself, here’s a recount of my biggest life disappointment, raw and un-prettied.
The dream before the fall
Have you ever felt like you were literally born to do something?
It was to be a Mom.
I’ve known this since I started babysitting at the age of 10. I LOVED children and everything that came with caring for them. Admittedly, I had a few mishaps (the worst of which was when a one year old ran off after putting her poopie diaper on her head), but all I could dream about was having my own family. For me, motherhood was not just an option, it was a calling.
After college, I hoped to find my dream husband and have 4 (or so) kids! I would have dropped everything to be a stay-at-home mom given the right financial circumstances. For better or for worse, I didn’t care nearly as much about my career as I did about having a family.
The cycle of reframing hope
After a devastating breakup with a long term boyfriend in my 20s, I was quickly faced with the fact that the plans I held for my future were fallible. It was the first of many setbacks that were to come. I learned that life can not always be bridled. Still, I continued to repeatedly reframe hope.
Within the decades of my adult years, there have been many disappointments in this regard.
A series of long-term dating relationships, along with an engagement, all devastatingly did not work out. Each caused me to pray harder, even desperately, as the years wore on.
A series of health problems resulted in my inability to survive a potential pregnancy. After grieving the fact that I would never have a biological child, I got very excited about the idea of adoption. I kept praying.
A little while after marrying my husband Dave, we excitedly started the adoption process. Soon into it, I got too sick to continue. In hope, we decided that as soon as I got well, we would still adopt. We prayed expectantly.
It’s been over 7 years since then, and I’m still not well enough to adopt. With every ensuing year, we grieved our unfulfilled dream and amended the age of the child(ren) we’d hoped to adopt. Still, we prayed and held on to that increasingly thinner thread of hope.
The eclipse of the sun
At the newly won age of 51, I can see this dream eclipsing.
I have had a bad case of baby fever for the past 25+ years. Not a day goes by that I don’t feel the searing ache within me. Every time I cross paths with a child, whether in person or through a form of media, I am reawakened with a jolt to this unfulfilled dream. It has happened multiple times per day, for decades.
Many have encouragingly reminded me that, as a teacher, I actually have thousands of kids. I very much appreciate this consolation, however it just can’t take away this gnawing pain. I have longed for my own family.. to hold my newborn, to celebrate firsts, to gaze upon my sleeping child, to hear laughter in the yard, to wipe away tears, to create holiday traditions in our home, to hear the roaring of hairdryers in the bathroom, to bear up under the trials of the teen years, to pass down recipes, to survive the hard times together, to witness with wonder the blossoming of passions, to put down roots.
The light in my eyes is fading.
What about all those prayers I prayed?
I never thought I would say this, but I can unreservedly declare that these unanswered prayers have actually been some of my biggest blessings. It doesn’t at all take away my heartache, but it does help me to believe that there is a bigger picture.
For years upon years I prayed every day for a husband. Getting married at the age of 42 was not at all what I had hoped. However, my husband Dave has so far surpassed every one of my dreams.. for him, I would have waited even longer.
Those 4 children that I wanted? Polycystic Liver Disease, the most prominent of the many diseases that I deal with, is exacerbated by estrogen. Most patients don’t present with a serious case until after having born children because of the higher estrogen levels during pregnancy. Since my disease progressed so severely on its own, the surmise is that I likely wouldn’t have survived 4 pregnancies. If I had, I surely would not have been able to care for my children.
I’m not saying that this usurps the pain of my disappointment. Nor am I saying that everything in life is always good. There are certain tragedies that we could never, ever tie up neatly with a bow.
What I am saying, however, is that there is often more to the story than what I can see. And… that God really does hear my prayers.
Hope deferred is still hope
So then, are we to be okay with grave disappointments such as these?
I’m not okay with it.
I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with this one.
At the same time, I can’t let it paralyze me nor blind me from seeing every other good thing around me.
Those thousands of students?
They are my life’s treasure. Each and every one of them has impacted my life profoundly and uniquely. When I stop to realize that I would have never met any of them if I had been a young stay-at-home mom, I suddenly realize that there would be a vast void within me as a result.
Had my path unfolded differently, I’d also never be writing this blog. Nor would I know most of YOU. These are the times when I realize that rewriting my story could be more hazardous than anticipated.
Unfortunately, disappointments will probably come, especially because we can’t bridle everything in life. However, there is a certain exhilaration in an unbridled journey. Sometimes the treasures along the way will surprise you, and there is always something new around the next corner.
MY secret hope
My health longevity is now solid, and there is a decent chance that my symptoms can finally be managed. So, if I do start to finally feel well, Dave and I are secretly hoping to adopt an older teen or maybe even an adult who has aged out of the foster system. We are hoping that there is a match for us amongst the older children out there who have had their hopes dashed for as long as we have. Maybe this will be another one of those stories that is better than the one I could have written for myself.
As evidenced quite literally and scientifically yesterday…
Even when there is a total solar eclipse,
The sun is actually still shining.
With love and hope,
PS.. My heart feels quite raw after writing this post. So if you’d care to share something in the comments, I’ll be glad to accompany you in this space of vulnerability.