Another honest, empathic moment from our dear Joanna…
I wrote this a few years ago when a long-time friend and mother told me how lucky I was not to have any children. A product of the anguish of the moment, it came out like I was vomiting it onto the paper. It’s strange; when I read this now, I know that’s what I was feeling at the time, but I don’t find myself reliving those feelings. You would think that rereading it would open it all up again, but, at least today, it doesn’t. It’s strange how that works. I guess it’s kind of like my hysterectomy scar. The surgery happened, the scar is there, but the remembrance of the pain and the jaggedness of the scar have faded. Jesus has walked with me through it to the other side.
How Lucky I Am
“You’re so lucky!
You have free time
To go wherever you want,
And do whatever you want,
And you never have to clean up after kids!
I wish I were in your shoes!”
“You never get awakened in the middle of the night by a screaming child,
And you never spend time chasing toddlers,
Or changing diapers,
Or dealing with teenagers.
You have no idea how lucky you are!”
Maybe you’re right…I guess I’ve never thought about how lucky I am.
How lucky for me never to have felt life growing inside,
Or given birth,
Or chosen a name,
Or to hear “I love you, Mommy” from the lips of a child.
How lucky I am to have prayed each month for a miracle,
Only to have endless cycles come and go,
And hope forever deferred.
I’m lucky to have been poked and prodded,
To have had my private life put under a microscope.
And to endure endless expensive tests and surgeries,
In the hopes of a joy that never was.
How lucky I am to be told once and again to “Relax” or “Adopt,”
Or try this or that remedy;
And to be gracious to the people telling me,
Because, “People are just trying to help.”
How lucky I am to have had my only child die,
Its tiny life slipping away.
Knowing that I would give anything to stop it
I’m lucky to have never seen my husband’s kind eyes
Reflected in the eyes of our child,
To have never given him the child
That he, too, longed for and wanted to hold;
Or my dear parents the grandchild
That they secretly longed to see.
How lucky I am to walk through this life
Alone among women.
Never really fitting in.
First with the mothers, then the grandmothers —
Forever standing on the outside…looking in.
I’m lucky to have no children to nurture,
To teach all the things that I’ve learned,
Or to joyfully watch as they grow.
Learning a little bit more about life,
By seeing the world anew through their eyes.
How lucky it is that the days never change,
They go endlessly on the same
Each day until death.
No first steps, graduations, weddings, or grandchildren
Will ever fill my empty days.
I’m lucky to face all the questions,
Like, “Why did this happen?”
And “Will it ever be our turn?”
And “Was it something we did?”
…Or maybe something we didn’t do.
Oh, and “How long, and how much, and how hard should we try?”
“And what about adoption?”
These are lucky questions, indeed.
How lucky I am to watch the years roll by never changing,
Endlessly the same.
And to watch others taking for granted
The joys that I longed to know.
How lucky I am to face old age on this earth,
With only my husband, should God allow us long life;
And to wonder who God will send to care for us,
If something happens to one —
Or when we simply can no longer care for ourselves.
How lucky I am to have no one to remember who I was or how I lived
When I have passed from this earth.
To know that my possessions will be auctioned away to strangers,
And there will be no obituary to tell of my life —
Because obituaries are written by the children.
You’re so right…I am lucky —
If that’s what you mean by “luck.”
I’d trade places with you in a heartbeat.
But I don’t think that’s what you’d want.
Through all of this pain, God’s love has never failed,
And I rest in His loving hands.
But every once in awhile I get tired
Of parents glibly telling me
Just how lucky I am.