The Next Generation
It can be a lonely life sometimes and self-pity is invited in and refuses to leave and so I give in to despair. Well, not really, or not entirely, for if I did, I wouldn't be here writing about it. But it is lonely sometimes, even with the company of animals. For our four-legged friends can't converse with you and laugh with you and you can't hold their hand as you cross the street or share a cup of hot cocoa with them. I realise that if it were not for their company, I would probably have already given in to despair. But I am grateful for their presence in my life -- thus making it a healthier life in a way -- for the joy that they bring, and yes, even the comfort. And even though I consider the animals as members of my family, the animals are not children.

The children are the next generation. If it doesn't sound too cliched, they are the future, the ones who will carry on after us. And I was reminded of that when I recently came across photographs of long-lost cousins and their families. Almost everyone had married and were now raising children of their own. It was one thing to hear about it. To be able to see the parents and their children, all of them smiling for the camera, it was something else altogether.

And I know now what I am missing. I have said that before, yes. I am missing out on something. There are no children, not even one child, to carry on after I am dead and gone. Single life doesn't sound so bad, really. At least my excuse would be that I was single and shouldn't be thinking about having children. But I also realise that unmarried women can be lonely too and wish for a family of their own. This thing called the biological clock shows no mercy. It hits you when you least expect it, knocks you off your feet, reminding you of the precious life that could be growing inside you, that maybe even should be growing inside you.

But then again there's this other thing called reality that hits you upside down as well and reminds you that practically nothing has happened to create that child, that daydreams and wishes only happen in one's head and babies do not grow in one's head.

It is still difficult to accept, I admit. But it is no one else's fault but my own. What an odd character I must be to some people if I actually told them my story, the true, uncensored, story. But perhaps even in this case, I am not alone. It is sometimes surprising to read about what other women go through, what other difficulties and obstacles that they had to face. I keep telling myself that it would be different if I were infertile. But I don't even know if I am or not -- and it's something that I seem to be obsessed with, for some reason -- for we never even tried. And I feel half-baked all over again, never having fully experienced what I thought I should have experienced. Was I supposed to? Was that the path I was headed for but somewhere along the way, we chose to ignore it? And was it really ignored or did unhappiness take over for a while and other issues fell by the wayside? And there we were -- or there I was -- thinking there would always be "next year." I am, or I was, supposed to have experienced all, or most of, these, but I didn't. It is hard to explain. I am a married woman, a wife, but something is missing. An important piece of the puzzle is missing, if that doesn't sound cliched either. Or better yet, it is an unfinished painting. It surely feels unfinished but maybe that's what some of us are called to live with.

Will I one day be able to truly accept this? I know that I will have to. And maybe writing about it will also help me through the grieving process. Grieve? Yes, there is grief involved, believe it or not. Or mourn. And it's not something one readily confides in another about. It may sound fantastic to some but that can't be helped. There are so many mothers out there that I envy. That is not good, I know. Nevertheless, I envy them if and when I come across family photographs or even news about an old friend who married some time ago and now has five children. She was an only child. Five children. I was happy for her but I recognised that twinge inside when I heard the news. I recognised it all too well.

God forgive me but I miss the children I will never have. I miss them very much. I miss the family dinners. I miss baking cookies for my little one or little ones, all of us enjoying the aroma of chocolate chip cookies or brownies or bread pudding baking in the oven. I miss watching them grow. I miss touching their tiny hands and feet. I miss the laughter of a child which can be quite infectious. I miss the laughter of older children playing out in the yard, teasing one another. I miss watching an older child be a big brother or sister to their younger sibling.

There will be no son to carry on our family name, no daughter for my husband to give away on her wedding day. Or maybe she would be a nun or he would join the priesthood? Yes, I have a very fanciful imagination.

Life is beautiful and wonderful and painful and magnificent and tragic and all the good and bad that we can think of. Once self-pity has been kicked out -- along with its good friend, regret -- I can perhaps experience life more fully again. I want to and I need to. Not just for myself but for him as well for there is not one, but two, in this marriage.

I must remember that.


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