Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Am I Really Done With Children?

Being new to the forties club, I’m still unsure about what is supposed to happen at this age.  I thought it might have something to do with boldly owning everything about yourself in an “I-am-woman-hear-me-roar” sort of way. But now that I am here, a feeling of unease is quietly nagging at me.

Because I’m not used to being unsure about anything, trying to get down to the bottom of my angst was difficult. Was it career related? Was it relationship related? Was it related to my environment?

No. Nope. Nyet.

And that’s when I realized that rather than being in a state of flux, my life is uncharacteristically static now. I have two amazing daughters, a loving husband, a stable career, and multiple hobbies. I am happy with my well laid-out life. So why the sudden haze?

Well…the truth behind my uncertainty unfolded when a friend recently announced her pregnancy. It was the silent question I had been asking myself every time I saw an infant at the grocery store.

Am I really done with children?

My fortieth year of life has been pretty great…until this question started running amok in my brain.

I don’t mean to be all "my biological clock is ticking" here, but if my answer to the question is no, then time is not on my side. This statement is even more true for my husband, who is fourteen years my senior.

Yet, having a baby is something we have been seriously considering for quite a while.

Though age is something to ponder, it is so far down the list of risk factors for us that, when weighed against everything else, it will never come close to being the reason why we do not have a baby.

Despite the long, hard road we may face, it is always easier to focus on the positives of why having a baby could be the best decision we ever make. Hell, we’ve even picked out baby names already (Oliver Thomas for a boy and Joelle Leslie for a girl)!

But we also have some fears that are slowing our decision down.
  1. My health- Being a forty-year-old with Type 1 Diabetes automatically puts me at a higher risk. Even though I take really great care of myself, and I’ve already had two healthy regular sized babies, this is my husband’s only concern. And I get it. Being a widowed dad with an infant is not on his wish list.
  2. Hurdles for him- The hubs may be 14 years older than me, but he is more fit than I could ever dream of being. So, I’m not worried about him keeping up with a child. However, in order for us to become preggers, he’d have to go through an “unsnipping” surgery, which comes with the added bonus of discomfort, pain, a two week healing process, and statistics that give us only about a sixty percent chance of conceiving.
  3. Growing up-Over the years, my girls and I have given each other purpose. Though I firmly believe that my job as a parent is to let go of the self-sufficient children that I’ve raised, the reality is that in six short years, I will release my first born into the real world, followed by her sister two years later. It’s not as if I don’t have any other plans for my life when my girls go off to begin theirs, but for the first time in nine years, being a “mommy” (insert baby voice here), rather than just a “mom” (insert pre-teen voice here) is quite appealing.
  4. Paths –Choosing one of two completely different life paths with my husband confuses me. The path the hubs and I are on now leaves us without children between us, but a lifetime with each other. Once my girls are in college, and some of the restrictions that come along with having children in the house are lifted, we will have time to spend alone as a couple. It’s a life I would be thrilled to explore with him by my side. But on the baby path, we would spend the rest of our lives raising a child, with not much time left for much else. While this may seem like a gloomy existence and not nearly as freeing as the first path, I know having a child together would take us down a road I would be equally happy to travel with him.

So-here I am, a forty-year-old haunted by the uncertainties that I thought were reserved for my twenties. I worry that no matter what decision is made, it will be the wrong one. And I know that not making a choice is still making a choice. But I also know that an older version of myself would laugh, knowing that regardless of the decision, my journey will turn out to be just as it should.

*I know there will be those who will be concerned, and those who will be unsupportive of a decision in favor of a pregnancy. Which is why I would like to thank a few people who have been in my shoes and were honest enough to tell me like it is. To my two friends Gina S. and Missy N., thank you for giving me tangible advice that included the good, the bad and the ugly with regard to having children at a later age. And for my friend Allie, thank you for having that breakfast with me last summer. Though it was long ago, that encouraging conversation stayed with me and opened my mind to the idea of “just one more”. Thank you for showing me that even through inconceivable hurdles that may have to be faced, the heart wants what it wants, and it’s okay to go after it, regardless of the outcome.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Why Sweeping It Under the Rug Will Never Be My Thing

Conflict amongst family and friends is never fun. Sadness, anger and hurt are just some of the emotions that appear during hard times. And who wants to deal with that, right?

Well…I do.

When there is an elephant in the room, rather than pretending it doesn’t exist, I always opt to stab it with a pitch fork. It's not that I am a confrontational person. It's just that I love the people in my life…hard. And the one thing I cannot tolerate is seeing someone I love hurting while the ones who are supposed to be there for support idly stand by and watch.

Living in the south, I’m finding that, unlike my Jersey brethren, many people would rather sweep the aforementioned elephant under the rug. Protruding large lumps?  No problem (sweep…sweep…sweep)! Pointy ivory tusks? I don’t see any (sweep…sweep…sweep)! Long swaying trunk? I never noticed (sweep…sweep…sweep)!

While ignoring a potentially problematic situation may seem like the easier or more polite choice, eventually, tripping over that elegant Persian rug that you’ve spent so much time perfecting is almost inevitable. And I can’t help but wonder if ignoring the elephant in the room ever leads to a desirable outcome.

As I’ve mentioned, I am a get-things-out-in-the-open type of person (it’s probably why blogging has become one of my enjoyments). Admittedly, I don’t quite understand the act of taking a backseat or staying uninvolved when someone you love is in pain (especially if you are the one who caused it). In addition, of all of the chores I do on a daily basis, sweeping is my least favorite. So, you’ll have to excuse my lack of competency when it comes to the “sweeping-things-under-the-rug” concept.

For all of you rug sweepers, here are some questions that, if answered, may alleviate my confusion.
  1. Just how thick is this rug of yours? Give it to me in inches…or feet.
  2. How much are you willing to sweep under it? Like…is it only for large issues? Or can I also find small issues hidden under it, such as not liking the paint color that your husband picked out for the bedroom?  
  3. If you ever decide to look under your mountainous rug, will you find things under there from the 1970s?  I mean, how far back does the dust go?
  4. How many awkward situations has this rug caused? Like…if you are sitting across the room from someone, can you have a normal conversation without shouting over the pile? Can you even see each other?
  5. How do you lay comfortably on your couch?  Is it askew because of the carpet lumps?
  6. And as a follow-up to question five, have you ever acknowledged that rugs aren’t supposed to be lumpy?
  7. How many relationships have been stained with dormant untruths because of the infinite pile of crap lying underneath?
  8. If someone trips on it, are you covered by your homeowners insurance?

As you can see by my line of questioning, I am in desperate need of answers. However, because rug sweepers tend to avoid responding to questions that may lead to direct resolutions, I won’t hold my breath. But no need to bless my heart. This Jersey girl will carry on living her life the only way she knows how - loudly.

A note for my loved ones (you know who you are):

I will always have your back. I will always defend you, even if that means inserting myself into a situation that may only partially belong to me. I will do this because I love you. And you deserve better. You deserve someone in your life who will say the unpopular thing. You deserve someone in your life who will call people out for treating you poorly. You deserve to be assured that there is at least one person in your life who cares enough about you to always be on your side. And I promise, I am that person for you. 

My loves, I will always choose you.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Squeezing the Chocolate: A Lesson in Moderation

Valentine’s Day has never been my thing.  But I appreciate the day for what it represents-an immense worldwide consumption of bright red, heart-shaped boxes filled with random selections of chocolate. While your outer dialogue may be filled with angst, disgust and temptation, your inner dialogue is more than likely shouting, “YAY!  CANDY!”

Though there may be some extreme health nuts attempting to create impressive, yet lackluster, low-calorie Valentine’s Day recipes, there are a boatload of us who will be happily digesting our five pound boxes of chocolate in a day or two, politely responding with the giggled retort, “I can’t believe I ate all that chocolate!  The diet starts tomorrow!”

So why do we feel guilty for the occasional indulgent behavior?  Has the health conscious world guilted us into feeling that all unhealthy food should be condemned? 

Is it an abomination to eat some chocolate on Valentine’s Day, even though our jeans are getting a little tighter?  Should we be food shamed if we don’t always eat organic? Does it say anything about who we are if, every so often, we choose processed or fast food?  To this, I say, “Hell no!”

When it comes to food, or even relationships and careers for that matter, is it not okay to do something that makes you happy, even though it may not be (gasp) the best fit for your life? 

After all, this isn’t the Truman Show, where everyone is secretly watching every bite, every step, every breath.  The only one who cares about your gluten/lactose/carb free life is you.  And if that life works for you, more power to you!  But if you live an extreme, “no treats allowed” life, constantly striving for the perfect body, perfect family, perfect existence, and all it leaves you with is misery and an empty, growling stomach, then what is the point?

This is your life-so live it, not for perfection, but for enjoyment.

I am a firm believer that doing what is healthy for your body is just as important as doing what is right for your mind.  And my mind is a big fan of the “everything in moderation” cliché. 

Moderation is tasting a few pieces of chocolate from the box, but knowing when to put the lid back on when it’s no longer enjoyable.  It is not extreme and doesn’t deprive you of anything.  Moderation allows for health without squandering the fun.  It replaces guilt with the simplicity of our choices.  Moderation lets our minds relax without the pressure of being punished if we splurge on something we truly crave.

Of course, we have all pinched and tasted a piece of chocolate, only to find it filled with mystery goo that tastes like someone at the candy factory “accidently” combined coffee with a teaspoon of Robitussin.  But we’ve also bit into that scrumptious piece of chocolate that we savored on our tongues, secretly wishing that the rest of the box was filled with only that kind. Taking chances and trying each piece of chocolate is addictive, a rite of passage as a woman, and according to Forrest Gump, a life lesson.

So I leave you with this.  Don’t punish yourself for not being able to fit into a certain size bikini this summer.  Don’t talk yourself out of something that makes you smile just because there are a few naysayers who live their lives more stringently.  Don’t live in a way that deprives you of your happiness-whatever that means for you.

Instead, rock what you’ve got, permit yourself to let go, be imperfect.  And when Valentine’s Day rolls around, make sure to squeeze every piece of chocolate in that heart-shaped box until you find the one you love.

*This piece was published on Reality Moms on February 1, 2017.