“put family first”

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.

Her response?

“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.


8 responses to ““put family first”

  1. St. Elsewhere

    Hi there gingerandlime,

    I have missed you. What a long absence this was!

    I am glad you got to catch up with your folks.

    Six times in seven years – your grandma has seen reproduction from a different world. Are all those babies living? My maternal grandma had 13 pregnancies, and has four daughters to show for it. Some of her children born full-term died post-birth. After I came to know that bit, my heart broke for her. She faced so much. I think that is what you must be feeling for your grandma too.

    Your uncle is so empathetic. Cherish his presence.

    I will tell you something – undoing is harder than doing. So in case there is some major issue (I think there is), then don’t post till you are verrrry sure you can share it with the world.

  2. I’ve missed you too!

    I’m sorry to hear things continue to be rough. I hope they get better. *hugs*

    (Also, I really like your uncle. I think his advice might be spot-on.)

  3. Sounds like your super-fertile grandmother just can’t relate. Well, as you say. . . having six children in seven years has its own problems.

    FWIW, I agree with your uncle’s advice.

  4. Ginger and lime,
    I was honestly starting to worry about you. I’m glad your back.
    In many ways, it’s great that you can be honest and have meaningful conversations with your family about sensitive issues, not everyone can.
    I hope the trip was helpful. Looking forward to hearing more from you soon.

  5. I’ve been thinking about you too, wondering how things were going. This sounds like a really interesting visit–like an opportunity to check in as you guys enter a new phase of life. I wonder if your grandmother told your uncle and aunt they could just adopt… And your uncle’s advice is lovely, but …what does it mean, in practical terms? Take some shitty job for the sake of the second income? Anyway, it sounds like you guys are dealing with some major challenges. I hope you can find a way to share some of the conversation with us, because we care about you.

  6. I felt like exhaling a little as I read your post. All that honesty and being upfront about the big IF. That must have been at least a little bit liberating. I loved your uncle’s response. I hope it helps bring clarity to your and your husbands upcoming decisions.
    Be well, dear woman. Take very good care of yourself. You are wonderful.

  7. Hello stranger. It sure is good to hear from you though your carrying that heavy load. It seems to be a scary monster to live with everyday. Your uncle’s advice is wonderful, but havent you already been living this way? I cannot think of a time when the child pursuit was parked unless medically necessary or mental health required it? I am proud of your constant drive to find the way to build your family.

    At least granny didnt say just adopt? Are you afraid to explore it here due to family readers?

  8. I”m with Augusta. It must be so liberating to speak so freely about IF. Your uncle is a wise man.

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