I feel like I've wondered multiple times recently if I'll EVER be done telling people that things didn't work out for us parenthood-wise, most recently here when I ran into a student from two years ago at a local festival and she wanted to know if we'd "gotten our baby yet."
Well, I can tell you it's not done, not yet, and I suspect there will always be people who I will run into who haven't seen us in forever or who I don't know through social media, who will wonder what happened, and it will throw me for a bit of a loop.
When I went to graduation, I saw a student of mine from last year and her mom, because her older brother was a graduate. It was lovely to see her, and to stop and chat briefly -- but then at the end-of-the-year district-wide celebration I ran into her mom (a teacher in the district) again, and she said, "I hate to ask, but my daughter was so excited to see you, and she wanted to know... what happened with adoption?" I took a breath and said, "Oh, oh yes, of course...well, that didn't go well. Not at all, actually, and last year we hit a bit of a rock bottom and decided that 8 years was enough time to slam our heads against the wall and so we are now childfree." And she looked a little sad but also totally understood, and I asked her if she would tell her daughter but not in a "boo hoo" way, because while it is sad it is also wonderful to not be living in the in-between.
Today I was running a bit late for tutoring and I walked into the library in the town where I teach, and a librarian was at the front desk who I haven't seen in forever, and I knew her back when I had one student with autism who did a lot of community-based instruction and he worked in the library, shelving books, and she was the supervisor then. I've run into her a few times but realized it had been QUITE a long time ago when she was like, "Oh my gosh, it's you! How ARE you?" and then said in hushed tones, "I hate to ask, but...baby?" Again, it was a take a breath and then, "Oh, ohhh no. Noooo. That didn't work out. Eight years of heartbreak proved to be too much to continue." And she looked sad but was understanding and said, "oh yes, that's so hard, my daughter's friend has had a heck of a time, just like you guys, and when do you say it's enough?" I had a moment where I felt I had to let her know that adoption didn't work out, either (she looked positively shocked at that one), but said, "It's been a year now, and it's honestly okay. We're good. Life is better when you're free of all that." And then she APOLOGIZED for bringing up a painful subject right before I had to tutor, which was actually quite refreshing (and at this point it doesn't always reduce me to tears, it's just matter-of-fact, so it was fine).
And the last one was no one we knew personally, people we saw at a graduation party who we've seen at other parties with the same people, infrequently. It was amazing, though, because the question was, "Do you think you'll want to have kids?" -- which made me feel like "DAMN this neck cream is working out!" because at 42, nobody usually asks you if you're still thinking about it, usually it's asking if you have elementary aged kids or whatever. And when I said, "No, it didn't work out for us," she moved on and showed us pictures of her dog. Win.
I may still be telling people about our tale of woe and subsequent happiness and freedom from constant awfulness, but the way I am reacting to it is definitely improving. So that's progress, at least.
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