I take a sip of my Corona Light and let my body sink into the patio chair. I breathe in the muggy July air and cool my forehead with my beer bottle.
Solitude. I’ve desired this very moment of being alone, yet the need to take care of someone else never ceases to tug at me. My almost three-year-old daughter is napping in the cabin while the rest of my family is fishing off of the dock down at the lake. I’m surrounded by trees and blue sky. Acres of woods and the cabin door separate me from everyone. I try to shut down, but I also know that I will have to be on at any moment’s notice. This is good enough for me.
Silence. Everything is still around me, yet I anticipate the initial cries of a waking toddler or the shouts of my four-year-old son as he runs back up to the cabin to say that he is done fishing. The air is still and all I hear are the chirping of birds and the buzzing of flies. I listen to the melody of the woods and tiny creatures around me, all while keeping an ear out for a familiar voice. This is good enough for me.
Peacefulness. This moment is so few and far between, but it is good enough for me.
I take another sip of my cold beer and embrace the solitude, silence and peacefulness as I sit on the deck. It’s time for me to accept this moment. This stillness lingers longer as each minute passes, and I need to learn to acknowledge this truth. The truth is my body will no longer nourish another being. The truth is my children choose to flee my arms more than they choose to be carried. The truth is my children are closer to being ready to have their own adventures. I need to acknowledge the stillness, because this stillness is beginning to fill more moments in my day.
It’s not that I’m afraid of this type of solitude, silence and peacefulness; I simply wonder whether all of this will fill more minutes and hours of my day before it’s supposed to. My heart is so very full, but it still aches for someone else to fill these moments and space before me. My husband and I have discussed this aching in my heart, and every time this comes up in conversation, the ache becomes more of a sting. We are lucky. So very lucky we are. My husband is logical and explains that we have already replaced ourselves. We have a son and a daughter, and when we die, they are the two beings to take our place on Earth. We are past the stage of late nights, early mornings, breastfeeding, diapering and potty-training. We can move on and begin to enjoy new activities as a family. We can save more money for our future and our children’s futures. We can move on to the next stage and be a few years closer to having more time to pursue our personal goals. This is all very logical and responsible –but it stings.
My people are my family, and I feel that my family is not yet complete. I am full, but are we complete?
Yes, I miss the newborn scent and the quiet and still cuddles. But it’s more than that. It’s looking into the future and seeing that someone may be missing. It’s holding each other’s wrinkled hands and wondering what life would be like with a few more grandchildren. It’s knowing that there is another human being we could meet – another human being who has the power to turn our lives upside down and around with a love so great we could have never imagined living without his or her presence. I do not fear solitude, silence and peacefulness. I simply want to meet this person with every fiber of my being.
But I’m learning to let go. I may never let go completely. I’m learning to live with the sting. I’m learning to acknowledge that the stillness will come sooner than I’m ready for it to. I’m learning that there is peace in stillness. This life is good. This marriage is good. This family of mine is good. It is all so very good enough for me.
And, in a moment, the stillness is gone. I take another sip of beer as I watch my husband walk up the steps from the dock, making his way toward me. He grabs a beer from the cooler and sits next to me. We cling beer bottles and sip our Corona Light in silence, acknowledging this rare moment alone while our daughter naps and our son continues to fish with his grandparents.
After a few minutes, my husband breaks the silence and asks, “What would you name our third child?”
A lump forms in my throat and I immediately feel tears welling up in my eyes. I’m angry and heartbroken. “You can’t ask me that,” I snap. How could he ask me this? For three years he’s been content with having two children. For three years I’ve been learning to be content with having only two children. For three years I’ve been trying to ignore the lingering sting, and now this question makes me ache more than ever before.
“I mean it,” my husband says. “I want to know what you would like to name our third child.”
The lump dissolves.
The sting disappears.
I am full.
I am empty.
Another month goes by and my body is empty. The leaves fell weeks ago and the once lush grass in our backyard is now covered in a hard layer of snow.
“What am I missing?” I ask my husband. “Do I not know how to count correctly?”
“Maybe it will happen for us, and maybe it won’t,” he says. “All we can do is keep trying.”
This is not what I want to hear. It makes so much sense, but I never considered the possibility that another pregnancy may not happen. I’m impatient. I thought I would be through my first trimester by now. I thought we would get pregnant as quickly as we did with our other two children. I’m frustrated. I know other couples have waited so much longer and are still waiting, but the disappointment each passing month brings continues to build. I’m heartbroken. I’m upset with myself for being heartbroken when I already have two beautiful children. I’m upset with myself for being so selfish when other women have had to experience this disappointment, frustration and heartbreak for years. I’m full, but I’m empty.
I wonder if my body is broken. I wonder if this is a sign that God has already given me more than I can handle. I wonder if this means that I am supposed to move on. I wonder if this means that I will never meet you.
“Am I a good mom?” I ask my husband. “Maybe this means I’m not a good enough mom.”
“You’re a great mom,” my husband assures me. “Don’t punish yourself for this. Be patient. Give it time. Don’t think about it so much.”
I try to be logical. I try to set my emotions aside. But I can’t stop looking up names for you. I can’t stop researching ways to conceive you. I can’t stop looking at clothes that I could dress you in. I can’t stop thinking about you. Will we ever meet?
I tell myself to stop looking at the calendar. I tell myself to stay positive. I tell myself not to be too hopeful. I stop peeing on sticks.
I pee on a stick.
I thank God.
Our family can’t wait to meet you and welcome you into this world. Your heartbeat is strong. You are about the size of an orange now. You are a part of us, and we are a part of you. I see a future filled with my people, and I’m so happy to see you there too. I’ve been wanting to meet you for so long. I’ve been thinking about you for years.
I have my three oranges, and I feel so full now.