Yesterday was stake conference. Which means over two hours of sitting (or trying to sit) in one place with a three-year-old boy and then hope to maybe glean some spiritual inspiration from the messages shared. Yeah, good luck to us.
But a few minutes into the meeting, another small family came in and took the two empty seats next to us. A couple with a young boy, who, it turns out, was close to Little Man's age. So, while we may not have had nursery, here was someone that could potentially be a pseudo-quiet playmate so we could get through the meeting without much blood, sweat, or tears. I'm not going to say the two boys took to each other immediately, but they did indeed distract each other so we weren't constantly trying to rein our kiddo in from running up to the pulpit while Pres. Staker spoke (as it was, there was only one time that came close to happening -- yay!). As the boys connected over airplane books and giving high-fives, the fellow mom (hereafter referred to as "Other Mother") and I whispered a few times to each other, complete strangers having this inexplicable bond because of children who are still learning the concept of whispering. (And if we're competing, my kid was much better at whispering. Go Team Us!)
I usually don't take many books with us to church for distraction purposes; cars are more Little Man's speed. But yesterday I packed many, many books, just in case. And, as it turned out, they were just what Other Mother needed, because her husband had not packed any for their son. Oops! I was more than glad to share, and she told me that I was an answer to prayer. All because of some books about airplanes and dinosaurs.
Now I don't think I was particularly inspired by the Spirit to pack six books instead of one; I was thinking more along the lines of, "How do I keep my kid reverent for two hours without resorting to cars that he'll probably roll around the gym and distract the entire stake?" And I'm sure that this couple was only thinking, "Hey, empty seats!" when they sat next to us. But they were a help to us, as well, not only with giving Little Man another boy to decipher, but during a tiny whispered snippet of conversation between Other Mother and me, I felt a small answer to an unsaid prayer of mine.
At one point, my sweet hubby had both boys on his lap while looking at the airplane book that fascinated them both. Little Man was a bit wary of this, even saying at one point, "He wants to get down!" when the other kid was clearly very comfortable while turning pages. This prompted me to say something I've thought many times in the last couple years. "This kid needs a sibling." And she turned to me and told me she thought the same thing about her boy.
We really didn't say much about our respective fertility issues -- how much are you really going to share with a stranger? -- but it was clear from the couple of things we said that she and I are in a similar boat. Not much trouble getting the first kid, but has it ever been a struggle getting a second kid in the picture. And do you really have the right to complain/struggle/be frustrated when there are women out there who haven't even been able to have ONE? At least we've got one, right? This has been the main thing that's kept me relatively quiet on the fertility front, because I don't want to tick off the families that struggle with getting pregnant and having it stick even once.
But here was a woman who understood what it was I was dealing with, so even though our conversation about our kids and getting pregnant was limited to about three sentences (and I'm amazed that we shared that much with each other because again . . . stranger), it was something for me that someone else gets it. And maybe my frustrations/regrets/struggles/resentments aren't so stupid or callous if I'm not the only one going through it.
Because what right do I have to complain? I've got at least one kid, and there are lots of women who don't, and while he keeps me busy, there are lots of women who have several kids who keep them busier. Don't I have it so easy in comparison to all the women in just those two categories? And yet . . .
I still cry every month. I still tear up when somebody "on the inside" asks me how the whole pregnancy front is going. I still look back on my ectopic pregnancy experience and get inordinately angry that something like that happened to me. I still resent a little that Little Man came along so easily and gave me the false impression that every pregnancy afterward would happen just as easily. I still wonder if it would have been so hard if I had gotten married at age 20 and started having babies THEN. I still get a little annoyed at the fact that at the same age I am now, my mom and sister were done having their four kids.
And the list goes on.
Look, I know all hope is not lost. I know I've got it good. I know many people in the world have worse struggles than I do. I can't help thinking right now that I sound like a whiny teenager who won't stop dwelling on what she doesn't have. I also am seriously considering deleting this entire entry because 1) my last blog post was a year and a half ago and it was about -- what else? -- period dramas; and 2) who really wants to know about this and maybe it's better I just keep this to myself -- at least I've written it down once. Except I've written this down more than once. I've thought this more than once. I've felt this more than once. And I've felt alone in my situation many times.
So that's why Other Mother yesterday was an answer to my unuttered prayer. There is someone else out there who goes through what I do, who may think and feel what I do. I know that I have support from others, and in that sense I'm not alone, but I often still think that they don't truly understand because they are in different circumstances. So even though I probably will never see Other Mother again, I sense (and even feel) a little better that I'm not alone.
I don't write this to elicit sympathy or stories that will give me hope that more kids are just over the horizon for me. That's not the point. I always like hugs -- quite frankly, I don't think I get enough of them in general -- so give me those. I just write, and that's the point. I just needed to write this to get it out into the universe. And to publicly say that there are tender mercies even in the midst of struggle, like strangers with airplane books and little boys that give kisses.
"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." -Carl Sandburg