Life is a series of tradeoffs . Each tradeoff comes as a choice, usually between multiple alternatives. Sometimes it might feel like we don’t have a choice in the matter. But the truth is, we may not have a choice in what happens, but we always have a choice in how we respond.
Some people hold on tightly to pain and bitterness over the cards they were dealt, while others rise to the occasion. The rest of us, well, we run it down the middle, doing the best we can.
The baby shower was thick with maternal energy. Lovely young women with plump, fussy babies on their hips, in their arms, in car seats, or toddlers stumbling around like colts on legs too new to know the steps.
I didn’t have a baby.
FLH and I were only in our 20s and too young to want children. Too young to know what it meant; what we would miss.
By the time I knew I wanted one, I was married to the Stockbroker. He was a single father and his relationship with his first wife was acrimonious; they used their daughter as their pawn. It was an unhappy scenario and he wasn’t going to have another; turned out that I wasn’t going to stick around, anyway, so it was for the best.
After that, a long, single spell, and then the High Tech Executive. He supported my desire to have a child, but he had four children, and they were grown. He had a granddaughter and even great-grandcihildren. He was 13 years older than I and frankly, I just couldn’t do it to him.
But at yesterday’s baby shower, in a quiet moment, I wondered, “what if…?”
Everyone has at least one big regret. A secret pain they keep hidden in some deep, dark place, because if it were exposed to air, the ache would be unbearable.
This is mine.
“If we were going to end up together anyway,” I asked God “then why didn’t you make it work out that we had children?”
And of course, I knew the answer.
A child would have changed the course of history in ways I couldn’t even imagine. They might have been good ways, but maybe not. Maybe I’d be just another single mother struggling to get along.
So, I remained childless. And so did FLH.
This was the hand I was dealt and I played it the best way I knew how. And so did he.
And yet, when I hear FLH talking to his dogs and cats, and when I dote over Riley, I can’t help but wish things had turned out differently for us. I love this man. We are hugely compatible. We would’ve had rockin’ great kids.
Every so often, since we’ve been back together, I feel the void as a loss, and grieve for what will never be.
After the baby shower, I walked down the stairs and sat alone for a while in a little rock garden.
Just then, and apropos of nothing, an email dinged in from FLH.
“Know you are loved,” it said.
And with that armor around me, I wiped a tear from the corner of my eye, stood up, and walked forward into our future.