11 October 2011

Dreaming in Purple

I am all woman.  And those internal organs that make me female have been the bane of my existence since puberty hit. They have caused me problems from the time they 'woke up.' It is partly for this reason that I have always had a strong suspicion that I would not be able to get pregnant. (Before I go on, let me clearly say I do not know this as fact - it is just a strong hunch; I don't want to offend those of you who know with certainty.) The idea of being pregnant has never been particularly appealing either. But this is due to vanity. I have always struggled with my weight and the idea of being pregnant and getting fatter yet horrified me (because of course I would never be able to lose the 'baby weight'). The lack of desire to carry a child and the idea that it wasn't likely does not mean I did not have a strong desire to have children - loads of them - it just meant my plan was to adopt. At least one from every continent. In the last few years my opinions had started to change, not about adopting - I still very much want to do that, but about bearing children, about being pregnant. What caused the shift? That annoying cliche, "the biological clock." As I just passed my 38th birthday with nary a date to be had in the last year (or the last 38 for that matter), let alone a spouse, assuming the physical ability to have children - my chances are just about out. I no longer have a choice in the matter, the decision has been made for me. I do not like that the matter was taken out of my hands. This past spring-summer in particular has been a struggle. A struggle to let go of the newly accepted idea of being pregnant. A struggle to let go of the idea of having children at all, ones that I can truly call my own.

The precious Madeleine Sophia
Being a parent is not a right, it is a gift, a precious gift - and one that I will not receive. Yet realizing this has made the children and teens who do allow me to speak into their lives as friend, mentor, "auntie," "mama hennyfir" that much more treasured. A dear friend has taught me a lot about how incredible a gift children are to a family as she and her husband have walked the painful road of miscarriage with all its unmet longing, desire, and questions. And when that road took the uncertain turn towards adoption, I started to learn what an amazing gift a birth mother bestows on a couple. One day in June I sat at my desk completely distracted, fidgeting more than normal, constantly checking  for news. News of a baby to be born. News of a smooth adoption. News that my friend had been blessed with the outrageous gift of life. And when the story of that day was finally told, I cried. Big tears of joy and happiness, mixed with relief, rolled down my smiling cheeks. I have never been so happy for a baby's birth.

When it came time for the baby shower - scheduled for after the birth, just in case the birth mother changed her mind - I knew exactly what to give my friend. Two very adorable dresses had been hanging in my spare closet for the past three years. Dresses I had bought on a whim when the same friend had announced her pregnancy. Even though other friends have had children in that time, little girls too, I could never bear the idea of giving these dresses to anyone else. Hope's embers still glowed, however faintly. It was with delight that I finally took them off the rod and wrapped them in tissue paper. Looking at the size tag I had second thoughts as they may be the wrong season when they are the right size, but hopefully  this lil' girl will be petite like her birth parents and it will all be fine. Behind these two dresses was another little outfit, a romper, the cutest romper I have ever seen.  Look at it, isn't it super cute? I had bought it as a baby gift for a friend. That child should be about 18 by now. I thought the outfit so adorable I couldn't give it away. I decided to keep it for my own baby girl who certainly wouldn't be that far off in the future. For the last 18 years that little purple romper has been my symbol of hope and dreams. Hopes and dreams that were not unanswered, but shifted, and are in the process of being answered in a very different way than anticipated. With some hesitation, reticence and sadness (and a few thousand times of asking God, "Are you sure, really-really sure I won't need this?") I took that outfit, burdened with so much meaning, and added it to my friend's gift. A friend whose hopes and dreams were at long last answered, also in unanticipated ways, but answered in a beautiful brown-eyed way. I really don't know that I could have given the romper to anyone else. It would have been easier to give it to Goodwill, never to be seen again, than to give it to someone who doesn't understand the process of releasing our hopes and dreams and the heart-ache involved, who couldn't appreciate that this was more than just an article of clothing - I was giving part of my heart. As my friend opened my gift I had no regrets about passing on my symbol that I had been holding onto for so long, its time had come to an end for me, I only hoped she liked it as much as I did. I am content, my heart is full, it overflows with love for my boys - my Micah boys - and they would have looked down-right silly in a purple romper meant for a 2-year old girl.

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