As you may have guessed my partner and I have been confronting some difficult financial realities of late. Our professional fulfillment and personal happiness are deeply entrenched in these financial uncertainties. Recently we have embarked on myriad troublesome and labyrinthine conversations and unlike in the past, we tend to walk away feeling more hopeless than when we began.
When were TTC and even the year before, when I was impatiently waiting for Mi.Vida to be “ready,” I was sure that once we had a baby everything would be different. I was convinced that this “different” meant better, infinitely so. I would feel whole. I would be “fully realized” (thank you for this Sarah) as the mother I was always meant to be.
When we suffered our loss I lingered in a very dark place. That summer was spent in great physical and emotional turmoil as my body contended with the havoc wreaked by methotrexate and my heart tried to grapple with a cavernous emptiness and complete absence of hope. There were times during those months when I thought we wouldn’t get through it, that even if I managed to survive our relationship wouldn’t.
Then I got pregnant and miraculously stayed that way. I thought that if my daughter were born healthy all would be right in the world. I would finally be fully realized and ultimately fulfilled. I would have arrived, happy and whole, at the doorstep of my life.
Well, she was born healthy and I was happy. In fact I was elated; my joy was immense and unencumbered. I had arrived at my life and it was wonderful. My daughter really was the cure-all I had assumed she would be.
Now, a year later, I realize it’s not that simple. While my daughter’s presence does bring me unbridled joy I recognize she’s not the cure-all I had once imagined. She did help me fully realize myself at the core of my being but her healing powers do not extend to all facets of my life. Her happy, healthy presence is not, in and of itself, enough to nurture my relationship. It can’t afford me, or my partner, professional fulfillment. She can’t deem obsolete the financial expectations or obligations that threatened to crush us. She cannot be the glue holding our lives, and our relationship, together.
Of course if she were sick or, God forbid no longer with us, I would feel differently. Of course then she would be the glue and her absence would cause everything to crumble. But she is not sick and we have no reason to believe she won’t be with us for a long time (and I refuse to live my life always assuming that she might suddenly be gone from it) and so I have to take stock in what I feel to be true in this time and place – that right now, we are not happy. Right now, her simple presence is not enough to make everything alright. That having had her, and being made the mother of a living child, did not infuse my life with simplistic perfection.
I don’t know if, for saying this, I should be demonized as the worst kind of mother or admonished for my naiveté. Are my readers thinking, of course she should be enough? If she were mine she’d be enough. Or are they shaking their heads with the hint of a smile on their lips wondering, how could she think a child would fix things? They sit atop relationship’s foundation, testing its stability. They don’t strengthen the infrastructure, making it more sound.
The truth is we thought it would be easier. We thought we could make it work. We didn’t anticipate these challenges. We didn’t foresee the financial realities. We failed to forecast the urgent current of our dreams or the devastating consequences of their apparent impossibility. We weren’t honest with ourselves about how much we would want and how little we’d be able to have. We miscalculated and now we’re paying dearly for it.
This didn’t happen because we had our daughter. This happened in spite of it. We thought, I thought, that once she was here all the rest of it would fall away. All the troublesome “other” would be rendered inconsequential by her mere existence. She was everything, any obstacle would whither in her awesome presence. But they don’t and they won’t and we’re left grasping for answers when none seem acceptable.
Does this paint me as ungrateful? It must. I don’t suppose my insistence that I’m not would convince you otherwise. I will however assure you that I’m not, in any way, ungrateful. Naive, possibly ignorant, but not ungrateful. My daughter is my heart beating outside of my body. She is the sunshine of my soul. I am only confessing that even in the presence of her sunshine there are shadows. Her light cannot render innocuous all hardship, though it’s attempts to do so are impressive.
We will get through this. I have faith in that. We will prevail but we may do so at great cost to ourselves and our relationship. While I think we will come out on the other side I don’t suspect we will do so unscathed or stronger. This journey will take its toll and I can only hope that the scarring is not so extensive as to deliver us unrecognizable to the next chapter of our lives.