“The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.” ― Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot
It seems to me that there is a lot of waiting associated with hope.
I can't help but look at our fertility struggles as a time for reflection in what we're really expecting to encounter at the end of this journey. I believe in a God that gives generously, despite how wicked we can be as humans. I also believe in a God that promised me He would come get me from this broken life on Earth if I obeyed him.
In my more whimsical moments, I imagine the entire process of infertility as a Samuel Beckett play. We know we can't leave - because we're waiting for someone important. He said He'd be here. And we can't help but talk on and on ad infinitum like a bunch of blabbering sillies - expecting that it'll do anything but pass the time. It's not going to change the day of His return. In fact, the obsessing might even make it pass more slowly, like trying to pour cold molasses. Oh the wonders of post peak philosophies!
After my last post, which I felt was necessary to paint a picture of how my reality has been formed and written over the years (trust me that was the abbreviated version with a lot less guts and horror than it could have included) - I realized that I want to lay a road map that reminds me of the things I've overcome, the glory I've found in God in the process, and the missteps I've made along the way. I want to learn how to have the courage to face any days ahead that don't seem like they are filled with the promise of His return. And I want to remind myself that tunnel vision and a focus on my own wants above His are where I often get lost.
The three generations of women before me on my mother's side were blessed with unquestionable fertility. When they wanted babies, they had them. Similarly, the generations of women on my father's side experienced the same gift from God - and not one of those women had fewer than three children each. I, however, in all my middle-child-have-to-be-different-wonderment, am the 4th generation exception to this on both sides of the family. All of my family's infertility rests on me. It's just as lovely as it sounds, promise! :)
I live a life surrounded by the only thing I ever really looked forward to....children. Literally everywhere. And most of the time, climbing all over me like a jungle gym! When I was younger, people used to see how I interacted with their children and rave about what a wonderful mother I would be 'some day'. That message has definitely changed over the years though. I remember exactly when that message changed too - and where I was standing when it did:
A dear friend of mine and I were at a friend's wedding years ago (both still single at the time). We were mingling and enjoying the hustle and bustle of the cocktail hour at the reception. Everyone was having such a wonderful time. An older woman that we recognized from Church came up to us and remarked at how beautiful the wedding ceremony was. We agreed in short order. It was beautiful. The woman proceeded to pleasantly lambaste us both (my friend particularly) on not being married and not making childbearing important enough in our youth. "Were we even serious about having children?" she interrogated. We were both dumbfounded. It was too much for my friend - she had to excuse herself. And as I stood there, a bit shell shocked at the comments that has just danced out of this woman's mouth, she continued to remind me how arrogant it was of me to think that I could 'have babies forever' and that waiting so long to get married 'was a disgrace in her day-and-age'. I don't remember much after that. I think maybe I politely rubbed her shoulder and clinked glasses with her and thanked her for her concern. How else do you receive a person like that in charity?!
Anyhow, the message was certainly changed now. It was clear that not being married was thumbing my nose up at my future dwindling chance at children. Let me tell you though, getting married didn't help the social commentary. Now the question is 'why haven't you two had kids yet?' and 'what exactly are you waiting for?' and gems like 'you know how to make babies, don't you?'. Yes, yes I do. Thank you for asking. I'm glad we cleared that up.
So what does all of that have to do with waiting? And more importantly - what does it have to do with hope? Just like Estragon and Vladimir, I do think there is purpose in the waiting. I think that anticipation is a part of the process by which we learn to hope. And I think the conception of hope is never rooted in instant gratification. It's never packaged neatly with a bow and hand delivered. Hope, like faith (and most virtues) is something that I know I have to work for to find and have and keep and grow and share. Our dreams for a family that includes a baby in our arms has to be rooted in the hope that God loves us and has remembered us and that He blesses us with His will. And right now, His will seems to include a little more waiting on our part. We aren't asked to understand it, but we are asked to abide by it.
I remember reading Waiting for Godot in high school and how silly a book I thought it was. Revisiting it as an adult didn't have to involve rereading it. It did involve living it though! So Lord, I wait for You. And if you happen to have an extra baby hanging around before Your next visit, you can send him or her (or both) my way. I promise that I'll take really good care of them.
But I know that if I am blessed enough to stop weeping over the emptiness and inadequacies that infertility brings with it, that it might mean another woman has taken my place in the waiting line. So instead of weeping, I'm going to try to do a lot more laughing. Because Samuel Beckett said so.
I shall leave you with the real answer on where babies come from and hope that laughter finds you as well.... :)