I’ve been putting off this post for a long time, but I feel like it’s time to suck it up and share, partly for my own mental health and partly to perhaps further explain why staying home with Silas this summer is weighing so heavily on my heart.
A few days ago a student asked me, “Mrs. Cordle – how many kids do you want?” I thought for a moment, as I felt my stomach knot, and then I went with my standard answer. “Four,” I replied. Then I added the quick follow up, “Or however many God wants me to have.” It’s that little addendum that I’m trying hard to focus on these days.
When Silas was six months old, Ryan and I started trying to have a second baby. Silas will be two years old in April. A little-known fact that I don’t share with many people (because for so long I felt real shame about it) is that Silas was a Clomid baby. So when we were getting ever closer to the one year mark of trying for baby #2, I went to see my doctor. He said that since Clomid worked before, we should try it again as the first course of action. So I left his office with a prescription for three rounds of Clomid, feeling nervously giddy as I assumed I was basically holding baby #2 in my hand, in a roundabout sort of way.
Round one came and went with no pregnancy. No big deal – we didn’t conceive Silas until round two before, so I was able to stay fairly calm this time around. Round two came and went, also with no pregnancy. I started to become a bit unnerved, but there was still one last shot. It came, and it went. And now, over a month later, I am still sort of baffled and sad. How could it work the first time and not this time? I will probably never understand.
So we have followed up with the doctor, and he wants to do some bloodwork and see if there is any kind of obvious problem with a simple fix. That will pretty much be the end of it. Ryan and I have agreed that this is not going to be something which takes all of our time, energy, and money. The bloodwork will be our last course of action. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but I’m working on getting it down. I know it’s the right thing for us to do.
I say all that to say, when I consider staying home with my son during the summer, as much as I anticipate it not being a walk in the park (except for the times when, you know, we are taking a walk in the park in order to expend energy and keep Mommy sane), I kind of can’t entertain any other option realistically. It could quite possibly be so much more than just “enjoying those toddler years.” It could be enjoying the only child I ever have. When I put it in those terms, there is no possible way I could choose summer school.
This makes four years of struggling with unanswered fertility questions, and to be honest, I think I’m just spent. I keep marveling at how calm and put together and mature I am being 97.89999% of the time on this journey the second time around (because the first time around I was a total jealous, self-loathing wreck). I know I have gained some perspective and maturity – that comes with time. But I also think I’m coming into my own.
Little Women (starring Winona Ryder) is my all-time favorite movie. A few months ago I started seriously pondering why in the world I adore this movie so much. I first saw it when I was only 7 or 8 years old, but even then I remember thinking, “This is my movie.” I recognized that it touched my soul in a way that other stories and movies had not done. The older I get, the more I identify with Jo and understand why even as a little girl I found so much of myself in this story. In the movie there is a scene which I am starting to feel epitomizes my life. Meg has just gotten married and Amy has been asked to go to Europe with Great Aunt March (“the crabby old miser!”). Jo has just turned down Laurie’s marriage proposal because she knows they are not a suitable match, and she finds herself flying around her room in an emotional rage while Marmee simply listens. Jo proclaims, “I feel as if I’ll never fit in anywhere!” Marmee replies, “Jo you have such extraordinary gifts – how can you expect to live an ordinary life?”
When I get so caught up in having that big family, I sometimes have to check myself. I want more children, yes, but I also am fully aware that it is what is expected of me. If I had a dollar for every time someone asks me when the next one is coming along…That’s what causes me so much distress and shame, buying into the Lies My Culture Tells Me concerning my role as a woman being to reproduce and nurture. I can’t deliver that right now, so shame on me? I don’t think so. The fact that I only have one child and currently can’t produce another does often make me feel like an outsider, like I’m not meeting my Higher Calling as a Female, but you know what? I’m really starting to not give a flip.
I enjoy my job, and I know I am good at it. That’s enough.
I’m pursuing graduate studies and am genuinely excited about it. That’s also enough.
I’m learning more about who I am each day – what I enjoy and what makes me happy, what avenues I should pursue for further self-discovery. That’s really enough for me.
And so my point is that I have a lot to be proud of. There is a lot about me which I feel like makes me different from the average 27 year-old married woman, but that’s OK. Instead of agonizing over the fact that I don’t necessarily fit in, I’m going to try to focus on continuing to live outside the lines and enjoying that moment, which also translates to enjoying my son because the truth is I am blessed to have him, no matter what else the future may or may not hold.