I went to visit the Ancestral Home last week. I hadn’t been back in 5 years and I wish I could have stayed longer. I was sitting in relatives’ houses, driving on familiar streets, hearing the same old family stories (and lots of new ones), and daydreaming about moving back.
My grandma is in her late eighties, and while she’s shrinking at an alarming rate (she’s down to 4’7″), she still doesn’t miss a trick. Of course she asked me (again) when I would be having children. For the first time, I was totally honest with her. I told her that it was highly unlikely my husband and I could have children naturally. My infertility has been kind of an open secret in the family since my surgery last year: everyone knows, but no one fucking talks about it. This was the first time I’d said anything so direct.
“Well, you can always adopt.”
I also had a long talk with my brother and my uncle about What Is Wrong with My Life. I think I’m sort of a project to be completed, or a puzzle to be solved, among my more successful, with-it relatives. My brother thinks I should quit my job and come work for his company because “Seriously. These people I work with are idiots. You could come in and do any of these jobs way better than these people.” Which is all well and good, except that my brother is an engineer. There is not much demand for musicians at engineering firms, lol.
My uncle asked what we’re planning to do now that my husband has finished school, and I think I unloaded on him a little. In my new spirit of honesty I told him that I was feeling a little lost because with my husband not working** not only are we having financial struggles, but I can’t see how there is a way to get to parenthood in the next two years. Or, you know, ever.
My uncle is a lovely person who is full of equanimity. He deals with situations as they arise, he doesn’t let anything freak him out, he just calmly goes ahead and figures out what’s next.
I’ve never heard so much emotion in his voice as when he said, “You’ve got to tell [husband] to put family first. Don’t wait.”
He was speaking from his own heart, from his own experience. He and my aunt never had children. They are the ones I wrote about earlier — they tried for years and finally decided they couldn’t take it anymore. I could hear the pain in his voice as he warned me not to make the same mistake of watching and waiting, hoping it will just happen.
*My grandma gave birth six times in seven years, which is a different kind of struggle and one I don’t envy (cue my constant refrain about reproductive choice meaning all choices). I’m not upset at all by her response — she made do with her circumstances and expects me to do the same — but all the same it took me aback just a little in the moment.
**Yeah, that’s a whole ‘nother post. Or six. I’m still thinking over whether I want to post about that in this space — which is one of the reasons for my long absence.