So, as I’ve already mentioned, we’re spending the holiday weekend with the in-laws. That means a 3.5 hour car trip south. South from our rural village, to an even more rural valley populated by generation after generation of What IFs.
No, seriously, it’s half Clampett’s half Walton’s down here. I remember my first trip home to meet the ‘rents. The trip on which, among other things, I learned that the man I was dating tends to overlook gigantic plot points when telling a story. No one can bury the lead like my man! We were supposed to have a quick Sunday afternoon dinner with mom & dad. We arrived, walked inside, and no one was home. “They must be at my grandmother’s,” he uttered. Oh wow, I thought, guess I’ll be meeting more than just mom and dad. I started on my walk out the front door, back across the porch, and had my hand on the car door when he said, “Where are you going?” “Getting in the car so we can go to your grandmother’s house,” I replied. “She lives next door!” he chuckled, as if it was a commonly accepted fact that all grandmothers lived next door. To be honest, the concept of a “grandmother” itself was a new one to me. I’d been raised in a family in which 3 out of 4 grandparents had passed by the time I was 7, and where the fourth (my paternal grandmother) had gotten in such a row with my mother that by the time I was 2 she was a non-entity in our lives despite living in the same town. Well, OK, come to think of it, she actually may have lived next door to us. I wouldn’t have known who she was either way.
So we started our walk down the winding country road to “nans.” (A walk that, in the past decade, has become so familiar and so capable of evoking disgusting amounts of warm fuzzies.) As we approached the old white farm house, complete with big red barn repuruposed into a garage, my husband spied a few additional cars. “Oh, my aunt, uncle, and cousin must be up!” Like I said, this man is nonplussed by nothing. I sat there trying to imagine what my Betty Crocker suburban mother would have done if an extra 4 people showed up for dinner. Likely smiles all around, an angry cigarette as the cars left the drive, and an “accidental” removal from our Christmas card list. Family or no family, hell, particularly family, you call ahead!
So, in I walk for my “quiet Sunday dinner” to find a raucous crowd of Mr. and Mrs. But IF’s anxiously waiting to meet the new “city girl” the valley’s favorite son had brought home from that “fancy” college.
Lest you think that the surprise dinner for 4 turned 8 phased me, you’ve not heard the entire tale! No, my dear readers, while failure to properly prepare me for the magnitude of the afternoon’s events was mere laziness, disaffectedness, or sheer ignorance on my future husbands part, what came next was intentional. He was very particular on one point when planning the event with mommy and daddy before our trip to But-IF-ville – the menu was non-negotiable. They’d be serving nothing but the best (to test this city girl) — squirrel! (I’m still waiting for my, “I met my boyfriend’s parents and all I got was a lousy squirrel” T-shirt.) A decade later, here I sit in the living room of my squirrel-eating in-laws, having survived the meal (and many more adventures in rural Americana…).
So, where was this going? Oh, yes, car rides. It’s always the car ride. And, in the case of this particular car ride, a car trip sans radio stations, data signals, and all other distractions. (The WhatIF-mobile was the height of German engineering in the year 2000, so while my tape deck is working, my cassette collection isn’t as relevant as it once was. Original broadway cast recording of “Annie” anyone?)
We’ve had our best discussions in the car. We decided to buy our first house when driving in the car, we planned most of our wedding when driving in the car, we decided we were ready to try and have children in the car. Big shit happens in the car. Today, was no different.
Adoption is a beautiful thing. (I always feel like I’m pandering to someone when I say that, but I mean it. Saying it again and again makes it sound less insincere, right?) People that open their homes to children in need of one are awe inspiring to me. In large part because, as we bared our souls to one another this morning, we acknowledged firmly and finally that we do not see adoption in our future.
My heart aches daily at the loss of innocence we’ve experienced through infertility. The loss in some false certainty in the world that we’ve all been taught to expect. You do right, you treat others well, you make wise decisions and prepare your heart and home for good things to come to you, and good things will come. Unfortunately, no, they don’t. Raised by an alcoholic father and forced to sit idly by as my adoring mother lost her battle with cancer at 48, I had already learned much of the “do well doesn’t equal receive well” lesson. But, experiencing the loss of my own health, the loss of my potential pregnancies, the loss of my potential children, and the loss of my husband’s belief in do right, get right, has left additional scars. Deep scars. And a regular addition of new wounds that take their own sweet time to heal, and wounds to which no child should be exposed, especially when said child may have open sores of their own.
I’m angry that I may never experience a lasting pregnancy, I’m furious that even if we do achieve a lasting pregnancy the entire time I’ll be waiting for the next shoe to drop, and, if I’m honest with myself, in my current raw emotional state I know I will loathe those that would be involved in an adoption process – from social workers and birth mothers, and attorneys to agencies. I’m not in a place yet where I can look at someone that has easily gotten what I want so badly and not have a visceral anger emotion. And, if there’s one thing I won’t do, it is bring a child into a home filled with anger. So, for the foreseeable future if not forever, adoption is off the table.
It’s getting late and our stock of Brit-coms is running low here in What-IF-valley, so I think we’ll end this here. A teaser for part 2, however. Whereas the adoption chat was a quiet, almost sombre and unemotional affair, the discussion of our sex life immediately elicited tears and shouts. There’s a post you won’t want to miss, right?