An Open Letter To The Woman With A Heart Full of Longing,
I wasn’t sure if I should even draft this. There’s a big chance you don’t even want to hear from me. Two years ago, by giving birth to a healthy baby girl, I left your ranks. But I haven’t forgotten. I think of you constantly, because when I was you, I felt so invisible. I write this simply to say, I see you. I was you.
A heart full of longing is a treacherous thing. When there are logical next steps to take, when there are things you can work towards, the longing can propel you forward. But what if you find yourself desirous of something that requires more than goal-setting and to-do lists? Something that is only partially in your hands. Something that experts can help with, but even they are woefully limited, unable to promise you that if you just do a, b, and c, in that order, then things will definitely work out.
Well, then the longing is leaden. It weighs you down. It creates this duality in your very core where you can be present and keep doing the things you’ve always been doing, but you’re also not really there and nothing feels the way it used to. Highs are hard to come by, and creating a busy life is less about cultivating joy and more about trying to distract yourself from downtime, avoiding those empty moments when you can’t help but surrender to the pain pulsing through your veins.
I personally was preoccupied by questions of fairness, of worth. When logging into Facebook just made it seem like everyone else who wanted kids just got them, it was hard not to circle the drain to the most futile phrase – why me – or even why not me. I took a break from social media. It became too much, I was unable to properly appraise things, unable to remind myself that what I was seeing was a curated highlight reel, unable to remember that there were most likely lots of people either not posting at all or hiding their suffering behind a carefully chosen filter. Feel free to do the same. The last thing you need is to erroneously conclude that this is only hard for you.
But maybe it doesn’t make it any easier to know you’re not alone. Maybe all it does it force your thinking to reroute itself. I remember when my mother told me that she too had experienced a loss, and I couldn’t feel anything but offended by her offering because she had two kids, she got to be a mother, and well at that point, I still didn’t know if I ever would. My life was consumed by a question mark that showed no signs of vacating the premises. I wasn’t even certain I was bold enough to try to answer the question by trying to get pregnant again. I felt flawed, like my body was broken, like my struggle somehow indicated that maybe I wasn’t supposed to have kids. Magical thinking, at its finest. I wish, for you, that I could banish it.
I will say this. If the world cared about being fair or just, you’d get your wish. Your longing itself is indicative of how truly wonderful you would be at it. The gravest risk is that you become changed by this, and god I know how damn hard it is not to be transformed into someone you barely recognize and don’t even like.
I am so sorry that the world seems full of people procreating without giving it a second thought. I am so sorry that there are people out there with the audacity to ask you “So when do you plan to start a family?” as if it’s as simple as deciding, as checking off an item on a list. I am so sorry that you will undoubtedly encounter story after story of someone who had a baby while being unable or unwilling to care for it, when you know in your heart that you are both able and willing, and I know you would be damn good at it.
I apologize for the photo I put on Instagram of my daughter looking adorable and actual that you happened to see when your heart was already feeling extra heavy. I’m not sure if it will help to add that two minutes later she was throwing a tantrum over the fact that I couldn’t get the toothpaste back in the tube. It probably doesn’t. I know you’d love a tantrum-ing child too.
It is my wish that you will get to. That this indefinite uncertainty will have an end-date and you will soon know all the highs and lows of parenthood. I know you would cherish them in equal measure.
I see you. I am here for you. I understand if you don’t want to talk to or even think of me right now, if it’s easier to just lump me in with all the people who don’t get it. But if it’s helpful to know that I actually do, and I made it through, well, I wanted to share that with you.