There was a time

In high school I fell in love with a sincere and steady boy and we stayed together right through undergraduate school. It was only when he got accepted to some doctoral programs in anthropology and I got accepted to others in clinical psychology and there was no overlap in universities that we sat back and wondered, what next? One of us would have made a concession but in the end he allowed as how he didn’t want children and that was when we realized that we were parting ways. We were perfect for each other for a good six years, more like brother and sister, supporting each other up and out of families that couldn’t help us. The irony was that the reason he didn’t want children was the reason that I did: he feared a repetition of his parents failures and I was looking for an opportunity to do it better and heal in the process. There are obvious flaws in both perspectives.


(the day before Daniel was born and looking less than enthused. I gave new meaning to “carrying low.” Abby was up under my chin and never did drop. So it goes…)

It’s interesting, the things that determine whether people choose to have children or not. Most people, of course, just go ahead and have them as a matter of fact, a chapter in life. Some people, and I believe more and more, think that decision through. Sometimes I hear Abby say that she might not have children and I wince inside, a small stab at my heart. Who better than this smart and funny mermaid who loves the children she nannies, with such a creative yet level hand? Abby is not sure the world is right for children and vice versa and that makes me sad. Daniel wants to have children; he will have to work very hard to match the life of a musician with fatherhood.dan1.jpeg

(Daniel checks the water quality of Lake Michigan)

About a dozen years ago I had that last fleeting thought that a baby would be so nice; by then it wasn’t a serious thought but more a renewed longing as the last vestiges of “baby Abby” disappeared. But one day I felt that desire and then the next I saw a young friend with her new baby and thought, “oh, thank goodness that isn’t me.” About five years ago I realized that my DNA was no longer in viable packaging; the mid-monthly twinge, alternating sides but favoring the right, stopped. And then, three days ago, well- this bit of surgery marks the definitive end of this time in my life. It’s hard to describe the feeling- not exactly sadness or loss- but just a sense that some important thing that has defined me has come to an end. So for now, I float. I am no longer my mother’s daughter and my daughter is an independent young woman who rarely needs me. Fortunately, she often wants me. We are becoming friends.abby1a.jpeg

(An early escape: It was just 50 degrees with a hint of Spring in the air. What better way to enjoy a morning donut? The umbilical hernia healed itself by age three.)

Both children are coming to visit today. It’s my impression that this is the first time they are coming not only because they want to visit but because they think they should. Check in on mom, see if she’s now old and shriveled up. They are coming together- that’s a rare treat. Abby flew to Ann Arbor and Dan is driving them here. For about fifteen minutes they will be mature and solicitous and then they will stand up in tandem, head for the kitchen and wonder what food I have for them. Then, because they are best buddies, they will get one another laughing and then shrieking with laughter. Dan will start talking with funny accents and Abby will be his foil and I’ll have to hold my stomach because they will make me laugh too much and I’ll be protesting stop! stop it! You two stop! The ache and pull deep in my belly will speak to me.danadabby.jpeg

(She still thinks he’s this funny. And for the most part, he is.)

They were beautiful babies. Just like yours. Only naturally, mine were more clever, more lovely. Daniel had angel curls and vast brown cow eyes; Abby looked like a Renoir painting. Daniel was shyly funny and gently kind; Abby was a fiesty dancing girl who lived to run naked and climbed like a polecat. They are my contribution to the earth’s population, my dent on the planet’s meager stores, my script rewritten and my healed childhood. I can barely wait for them to get here. I need to see them.

25 responses to “There was a time

  1. In that picture of the pregnant you? Two things: I never realized just how much Abby looks like you. And, you look like you are 16 years old. A 16 year old boy who is pretending to be pregnant, to be specific.

    Why am I not thinking deep thoughts about the end of my reproductive years? I’m just glad that my babies’ first home is no longer playing peek-a-boo with me.

    And on that note, I think it’s time for me to go to bed.

  2. Yes, they are our legacy to the world, and are wonderful people in their own right. (even my 17 year old-with whom I am battling off and on this summer) I do think that you look very young in that pregnancy photo–about 14 though.

  3. I’M THIRD! I’MTHIRDI’MTHIRDI’MTHIRD. If I’d known about the safe I would have broken into it and left little bendy zoo animals in there and maybe a photo of Richard Feynman, as a little joke.
    Mickey and Thor both say hi. >^..^^..^<

  4. I love this post… my experience with the whole choice of mothering and then, the utter betrayal of my body in that regard with no more pregnancies to term is completely different than yours. And I’m reminded that we all absorb this loss in our own way, but absorb it we do. Some of us, sooner than others.

    When Georges wouldn’t breastfeed due to complications (this is a theme with me medically, you sensing that… heh!) I was absolutely heartbroken. I had latched (ooh, bad pun) onto the idea that even if I couldn’t have a normal pregnancy and birthing experience, I could be like everybody else and at least breastfeed. Uh, yeah, DELUDED. Anyhow, a kind nurse said to me, “You know, every mother mourns this loss, you’re just mourning it sooner.” At the time it didn’t help. But when the losses began piling up, it occurred to me that this is just the order of things—and I grabbed onto what I did have and held on to that. I don’t get sad about it, until, like today, I come in contact with someone else’s loss–and then the feeling is just that universal sadness for all those mothering losses we all feel. If that makes any sense??

    Your Abby and Daniel are amazing–and you did good. And this loss you’re feeling is real, and part of the journey.

  5. Mary: A 16 year old boy! I was 30- at the time we were called “elderly primips”! And I am glad that you no longer have a peek-a-boo baby house, too. These last few days have been low energy, yes?

    Margaret: Of all the times I don’t miss with my children growing up- the 17th summer with my daughter tops the list. Just think! It’s already August…

    Hey, Sparky: The kids would like to know “what smells” in the kitchen. I said, oh, that was just Michelle who came and tried to torch the place. Hi, Mickey and Thor. McCloud says oof.

  6. How poignant! I haven’t had anything removed, but after David was born, I had my tubes tied. That was a hard time for me, knowing that I had chosen to end my chances of having another baby. I was 37, after all; my husband was younger than I, and I figured if anything were to happen to me, and he remarried, then he could have more children if he wanted. Having married at 31, my time of childbearing was so short. I’m so glad for the two great children I had.

    And then there is dear Ella. Please stop by and view photos from her FIRST birthday party. A good time was had by all.

  7. What wonderful photos of the children; especially the one of the blonde boy naked in the lake. I am so glad they are coming to visit you, Vicki, and I hop you’ll be able to keep the memories of this visit for a long, long time.

  8. Wende: Both personal experience and years of professional experience taught me that what comes easily for some is not the case for others. The end result for you and me is pure delight and that makes us especially fortunate. Where’s the care package with metamucil?

    Beverly: I hopped over- she is so beautiful, and for now, the picture of health. It’s been a good year for Ella and family.

    Judy: I am up and running with scanning old photos! Trouble ahead- this is fun!

  9. Yes, yes, I know. I suck. I MEANT to mail you and Mary packages… I do have excuses… but they seem lame in retrospect. S i g h

  10. Gorgeous photos of beautiful babies. Especially that first one. Just a baby with a baby inside. WOW.

    Very lovely thoughts. I’m glad they are there with you.

    *chuckling at Sparky and at your comment back to her* I thought I was the only one who couldn’t use a microwave. At least I haven’t burned anything in the new one… yet. πŸ˜‰ And I made my first Mac and Cheese the other night – SUCCESS!

  11. What a lovely post and such familiar feelings.

    I had my tubes tied when I was 33, right after the birth of my son, my second child. I didn’t want to but I didn’t do pregnancy well and another one could have cost me my life. In those early months wit my son, as I was delighting in him and learning how to balance his needs with mine and his 3 year old sister’s, I was also terribly sad at the loss of possibility for more children. Even though I knew 2 was all I wanted, it was the loss of that potential that hit me and made me sad.

    My daughter, married 2 years now. isn’t sure she wants to have children. Which is a source of sadness for me. I don’t push or try to influence her decision because it is her life after all. But I would make such a terrific grandmother. Maybe her brother will want kids — the door is still open.

  12. Like Cheryl’s two-year old, I decided early in life I didn’t want children. Even so, I felt sadness in the loss of the ability to do so. Over the years I had a few second thoughts, wondering if I had made the right decision. And then there came a time that decision was irreversible. A funny feeling, that – the first hammering home that your whole life is no longer before you.

    Cheers, Vicki – you have two lovely young adults in your life and a lifetime of memories as well – enjoy them both.

  13. Well, that does look like you… 14. Except for the hair. The hair threw me off and made me think it was Daniel. For like three seconds.

    This is a WOW! post. Very breathtaking.

  14. I’m glad I found your new place. It’s been marked on my blogroll.

    I can only hope my mother feels the same way about me and my brother as you do about Abby and Dan. πŸ™‚

  15. Lovely, moving post, Vicki.

  16. This is beautiful, Vicki. You articulate the deepest yearnings that stir in both your cells in and your heart.

  17. And I should mention that you were/are beautiful, Vicki. I am jealous that you could look so skinny when pregnant.

  18. Did you and Mary manage to get a quantity discount on your surgeries? Maybe a 2 fer 1 sort of deal?

  19. Such a lovely post of memories, Vicki. You and your lovely daughter look very much alike.

    Seeing those angelic faces brought memories of my boy’s long curly blonde hair until I finally had to give in and get him his first haircut. He looked like a little hippie child,circa 1991, and I put it off as long as I could without scarring him for life. Such a magnificent head of curls.

  20. Listen, you bein’ a docent and all, you got plenty of children to use up your time. Don’t be greedy.

    Rowf to McCloud.

  21. Our Vicki has improved upon perfection!

    Dear Doctor,

    Please help me. I’m trying to recover from blog addiction and my favorite blog has just gotten even better! Help!

    Bonnie aka Belle aka Bernadette aka Babette

    When I realized I was too old too have more children I took up yoga. Namaste and see you soon, dear friend!

  22. Wende- calm down and listen to the music. All good things come in time, even BMs and there’s a CVS around the corner. Feel better yourself.

    Keri- I was old enough to know better. πŸ™‚ I’ve been watching you guys all week with GM updates and bridge stories- I need to get to Kathy on Flickr.

    Cheryl and Wren- actively taking that decision into your own hands required more insight than I was capable of. Cheryl, I suspect you saved yourself a lot of the fuss, worry and bother that “finished yet fertile” women encounter. Wren-curiously two of my very closest friends and my sister have chosen to not have children- for all of them the choice seems right. Also, with these women, my children get extra attention- they are always organized enough to remember birthdays plus they tend to like and respect children as unique individuals.

    Meeta- you know she does. I’m coming by to visit- you called right when I was in the middle of medical stuff so I’ll get back to you today.

    Hi Jen- I need the full GM scoop with photos!

    Robin- I’m always glad when you visit- thank you. And it’s true that my reproductive organs have been talking, singing, hissing, whispering to me for years. Abby is discovering the same thing; she is very in tune to the workings of her body.

    Raehan- you flatter me. Although it is true that I went from a mere slip of a thing to 140# with each child- and they were 10# and 9#, respectively Now I would like to revisit “mere slip” but those days are past as well. πŸ™‚ And yes, Dan and I have shared the same dark thick hair-and now that is a thing of the past, too!

    Angie- I doubt that will be reflected in the bills. What we really needed was two-fer metamucil.

    Karen– I know EXACTLY what you mean. I held out with Dan until Abby was on the way and then, once I knew she was a girl I consented to the first haircut. As those long blond girls fell to the floor I had to leave the barber shopm crying, and he came out looking the way he does in the lower picture. Ever since he has sported thick dark wavy hair.

    Hoss- it’s true. Yesterday I was like the pied piper at the zoo with a black bear skull in one big pocket , a red wolk skull in the other and a giant polar bear paw to lug around. The children are fascinated with the animal of the hour chats and I love that they have such enthusiasm and curiousity- and I don’t have to solve any of their problems.

    Hi, dear Bonnie! Welcome! You might well be the only person I knwo who has their addiction under relative control. Just take it a day at a time. Yoga-yes. Another week or so until I can resume inversions but they are so helpful with one’s perspective. Can’t wait to see you.

  23. If I were of the Blogher tribe, I’d be a bit misty now after reading that while glancing at the calendar overhead, where August 22nd is marked with a big circle.
    Both my girls move out on that day … off to college. Both of them on the same day…

    Anyway …
    We joke around here that based on our photo albums, our kids must not have worn any clothes until they were three at least. I see a similar trend here.

    Beautiful heartfelt post by the way.

  24. I’m here. I feel like wringing my hands in gleeful anticipation of what’s to come. But don’t feel like thats pressure or anything.

    Wow, you DID carry low! How did you ever leave the house? You must have had to pee every five minutes!

    I just had a visit from my baby, for her 22nd birthday party. Its funny I can get so overwrought with free-floating anxiety about her but that all disappears when I am physically with her. Enjoy your visit.

  25. Wow…that picture of you is beautiful and yet disturbing at the same time.

    There is something in me that still yearns for one more – esp. when times are tough. Like somehow a baby (a sweet fresh new life) will make things just that much better and then some. I know it’s a selfish feeling, which makes me kind of sad, but having the ability to create hope is hopeful in itself.

    You are a beautiful mother, Vicki. And in a sense, you kind of mother us all (or maybe just me πŸ˜‰

    The new blog is fab, btw. Gentle hugs to you sweetie.

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