How I Wrestled Through My Desire For Motherhood While Single
“Excuse me, I need to use the restroom,” I stood to walk away from the kitchen table.
Closing the door and turning on the faucet, I collapsed into a child’s pose, tears silently falling. The high-end tile felt cold against my face. My empty stomach groaned, not out of hunger, but out of a craving to be filled with life.
The week prior I was dumped, again. In an effort to somehow salve my broken heart, I found a dirt cheap flight back to my hometown and my two best childhood friends promised to hold me in their arms and spend a Saturday evening together, just like old times.
We met at the huge, gorgeous home that my newly married friend had just moved into. Her husband jumped into a frenzy when he discovered she was pregnant and promptly hunted down a stunning house to move into and raise their family in. As we sat around her table, to my left my other best friend’s pregnant belly protruded even more than the belly of my friend on my right. Rays of the purple setting sun reflected on the luxury swimming pool outside of the grand bay window. After brief pleasantries, in their excitement for their upcoming births, my two best friends jumped into an hour-long conversation about names and strollers and what gender they hoped their babies would be. “It’s seriously so incredible to be pregnant,” they said, bringing up the names of all our other mutual friends who also were expecting.
I sat silent. Stomach flat, covered in non-maternity clothes. Images flashed from the week prior: weeping on my couch with the man I adored as we tore our lives apart from each other. The lives of my best friends, each with their handsome, hardworking husbands and beautiful new houses, seemed perfect — exactly the life I had hoped for as a young girl. And I, well, I was a million miles away from even knowing where to start to pick up the pieces of another broken dream.
I sat silent. Stomach flat, covered in non-maternity clothes. Images flashed from the week prior: weeping on my couch with the man I adored as we tore our lives apart from each other.
30 isn’t old, but it’s also not young. It’s old enough to know the countless ways a couple can experience infertility. It’s old enough to have your doctor somberly tell you that if you want children, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start trying now. It’s old enough to have held your stillborn niece in your arms. It’s old enough to have only lived the romantic narrative that everyone you love, so far, will leave you.
What do you do when the only thing you’re sure of in life is that you want to, one day, be a mother? Is “phantom infertility” a possible sensation? Perhaps you are technically able to bear children, but you can’t even find the starting line to try.
When we talk about hope, we say it in terms like, “I hope it doesn’t rain on the concert” or, “I hope to win the Powerball.” These are uncertain events and we simply use the word “hope” to somehow designate that we desire for just the best case uncertainty to grace us with good fortune. But what if hope isn’t a passive posture of uncertainty, but rather a statement of certainty about what’s to come? Hope is faith, just in future tense. We may not know the exact ways our dreams will come to pass, but perhaps choosing to live in hope means having the confidence that the destiny written on our hearts will surely, one day, come our way… somehow.
If motherhood is written on your heart, your journey may go one of many paths. Maybe you’ll find a very “traditional path.” Or, maybe not. The act of “becoming a mother” can blossom in many different ways, but all lead to the same place of sacrificial love. Whether by exploring medical interventions, embarking on pregnancy without a partner, adopting or becoming a foster parent, there’s more than one way to care for our children. The path isn’t what’s most important. What matters is the undertone of love and the outpouring of that love to the next generation.
The path isn’t what’s most important. What matters is the undertone of love and the outpouring of that love to the next generation.
When you’re grieving, people often bring up the oft cited (and oft cliche) encouragement that life is all about seasons. “Your winter will end and spring with come,” they say. But could it be that the season of new life might not be spring? That it might not be when the bright green leaves start to appear and brilliantly colored poppies bloom? Perhaps F. Scott Fitzgerald captures seasons best when he says, “life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” Perhaps falling down on the cold hard tile and starting over, yet another time, was the precisely the day new life was born inside me all over again.
For you, if fall is upon you or it’s all just falling apart, I want you to know that I recognize that pain. Pain from singleness, pain from not having children, or the pain of any dream you hold dear. Feeling like our dreams are dying can feel as though we are dying, but today will be over as soon as the sun sets.
And tomorrow, on a crisp fall day, may a new dream start all over again within you.
Featured image via Esther Lee