this month's topic for Just Another Collab: What's the one thing that you fear the most? What keeps you up at night? What do you dread? What do you most need to overcome - in this new year, and more importantly, in your life?
An Extended Meditation on Life - Part 2
i've got lots of little fears - heights, needles, sharp things. i fear that the elevator chain will snap, or that i'll get hit by a car. i fear biting into my wine glass or breaking my teeth. generally, i fear things that might hurt me. i'm afraid that i'll say something really stupid at the wrong time and hurt someone. i'm afraid of being in a car accident. and i fear death, in an abstract sort of way. i think most people do. they keep me up at night sometimes, these fears; more accurately, they wake me up at night sometimes. nightmares can do that. but as fears go, these aren't much to write home about.
really, in my heart, i fear being unloveable and ending up alone. i think it's human nature to connect, to care, to nest. it makes us feel like we belong to something bigger than ourselves, and that's comforting. this instinct seems to be stronger in women, or at least we recognize for what it is and have fewer problems articulating it. it just seems like the natural progression of things to find someone who rocks your world, makes your tummy flutter, your toes tingle, and your world a better place to be. i know that's what i want. i crave stability. those who know me well say this is no surprise, as i've had a 50 year old head since i was in junior high. doing the 'adult thing' is a comfortable fit for me. i put that in quotes because being an adult seems to involve growing up, and i'm not sure that i have. more often, it feels like i'm an amateur adult, a wonderful phrase that i fully admit i swiped from jenn. she made me laugh when i read that. grown up or not, i like the idea of having a life and a house with someone i love, who loves me. the thought of knowing that he'll do the dishes and forget to close the cabinet door appeals to me. the idea of reading in bed together, and then figuring out when we have to get up to get things done, and falling asleep in each others arms - i like it.
often, this idea of connection involves kids. maybe someone else's, more likely your own. my own. unlike many things one can do in one's life, this one has a shelf date. i could go sky diving at 70 (and i do want to try sky diving sometime, because i want to conquer my fear of heights - see above). the baby thing, tho... medical miracles aside, there is an end to that runway. and even if i could have a baby or adopt at 50, i don't think i'd want to. i don't want a kid as window dressing, or a charming ornament to be paraded around. i want a kid because i want to be a good parent. i want a chance to raise a healthy, happy child who is content with their self. hell, maybe i'd want a couple of them, just in case i didn't get it right the first time. ;) my mom always said that she was terrified that she and my dad did things wrong with me, their first child, because they didn't know what they were doing. mom, dad - just a note to say you did good. i think we all turned out quite well, in no small part thanks to you.
no, i want to have children sooner than that. i want to be there to help them grow up, watch them flower, strike out on their own. i want to go to graduations and weddings and baptisms. i want to see my family grow. i want to provide for my children the shelter and anchor that my parents have always provided for me. i want to hold my grandchild.
getting towards the end of baby making age makes the possibility of not having any of that, but of being alone that much more stark. i've always thought i'd be married and raise kids. despite ambivalence and failure, i never thought i'd be without the safety and comfort of my own family. by that, i don't mean just the family i came from, but also the family we made - me and The One. and then i look back at where i've been. i've been married and divorced, been pregnant and had an abortion, found the person i thought was the one (several times over) and questioned myself and my choices violently. it's not as if i want to go back and change any of those events. well, perhaps the getting married one. but that's asking to have been a different person. and i like who i am. getting here a different way would mean almost certainly being a different person. so this path i'm on seems to be the right one. except... except it's rather dark up ahead. there isn't enough light for my poor night-blind little eyes to see where this is taking me. and most times i'm fine with going along for the ride, exploring and adjusting. but more and more often, the fear creeps in.
what if ultimately i can't do it? what if i don't find the right person? what if i do, and i fuck it up? what if i end up alone and unloved, tucked away in a nursing home at the indifferent hands of strangers? what if there is noone to miss me? what if i never make a difference in a single life?
::sigh:: so, there you have it. i want the gingerbread house with the picket fence and sweet children, but i feel like i'm turning into the witch who stuffs them in the oven.
i don't know how to overcome this. perhaps i don't need to have my cake and eat it too. part of me looks at some couples i've been friends with, older couples who didn't have children but still made a difference to everyone they knew. maybe just finding my partner is enough. we're very focused, as a society, on spawning little tots. maybe that focus is wrong. except there is that part of me that really wants to be a parent. i've mulled over the idea of being a single parent. i think more seriously about it every year. but i shy away from it, not because i have some high and mighty idea that 'every child needs two parents, a mom and a dad' (how quaint), more because i have serious reservations about my own stamina, and whether i could do a fair job raising a child on my own. i'm not sure i could. i think i'd need help.
could i compromise and have just the partner, or just the kid? i don't think so, not really. for a myriad of reasons, it seems to be an all or nothing package. it's that 'nothing' part that scares me. i want the 'all'. and i'm not sure it will happen. perhaps i should just learn to make my peace now with being the crazy old lady with 57 cats and two housedresses who scares all the neighborhood children because they don't understand what she's mumbling about as she waters the flower garden.