Baby Sarah

My daughter is telling everyone that I am pregnant with a baby girl named Sarah. (I’m not.) After the third person at her school congratulated me on this fictitious pregnancy, I asked her why she was telling people this. She replied, “Because it makes people happy when I say that.” Yeah.

My daughter loves babies. She draws pictures of them all the time. Her second word, after ‘hi’, was ‘baby.’ When I told her I wasn’t having anymore babies, she cried big fat tears and asked angrily, “How would you feel if you wanted a baby sister and someone said you couldn’t have one?”

I told her I would feel sad.

So. There won’t be anymore babies in my belly. The how and why of that is long, complicated, and personal, but unless a baby arrives Moses-style on our doorstep (speaking metaphorically), my child won’t have any siblings who share her last name. I feel grief about this. I feel relief at finally being able to let go of the two tons of baby-parphenalia in my house. I feel down-on-my-knees-heart-swelling grateful for my daughter and the life we have together.

So, I’m working on trust right now. I’m casting out trust into the universe, into the cosmic web of connection. At this juncture, I’m trusting that if our family grows (if we even have the time and space to grow!), then it will grow in another, surprising way — perhaps even in a way that doesn’t include babies. Perhaps our family will expand to include animals (rescue pets? chickens?! goats!!), or neighborhood kids, or my daughter’s friends, or adult friends, or people united by a cause, or wise elderly folks, or amazing teams of people working on creative projects. My sweet friend told me, “you will be surprised at the ways souls come into your life to fill up the spaces in your heart.”

The spaces in my heart are waiting to be surprised.

I’m going to trust that my daughter will find her ‘soul sisters’ and ‘soul brothers’ in her lifetime. I’m going to trust that she will find and choose a ‘sister’ like my sister and a ‘brother’ like my husband’s brother. She will find and choose a sibling-like relationship if she needs one, and people will find and choose her. Already, she is lucky to have some wonderful (though faraway) cousins.

We’ll just have to wait and see how she creates and lives into her extended family TBD.

These days, as I’m trusting-trusting-trusting,  I’m also working with the notion that we create our families. I’m considering the idea that the families we are born into, the families we chose, and the families who chose us, are a construction built by the people involved.

And I am comforted by the thought that there is some latitude in thinking about how this will work for us — for the current three-people-in-a-household-family that I have.

(Yes, I know I’m really late to the party on this.) These days I’m percolating on the idea that my-little-three-person-household might loosen up our narrow thinking around what a family can be. We can make the rules; we can tell the story. We can identify the players and the relationships and the boundaries. We can choose the words we’ll use to describe each other. We can make a compact (explicitly or implicitly) to love and care for those souls in our extended family of choice, as well as in our ’traditional’ family. We can locate our village (“it takes a village”) and choose to participate in that village-life too.

We might still have a ‘baby Sarah’ in our lives — she just might be someone else’s baby we love or she might not be a baby at all (see above). We can fill those spaces in our hearts in surprising ways. This is possible. There are possibilities I’ve never considered before.

And I love possibilities.

What possibilities do you see? What is the composition of your family? What kind of a life have you created together?

One more thing:
This post is a meditation for me and a challenge to confront my blind spots. It’s an effort to dive deeper in my Year of Clarity and dig into the life I want to actively create for myself and for those connected to me.
Currently, there are legal and cultural definitions of ‘family’ that constrict and impinge on people’s freedom to fully, legally realize the families they have created. This post isn’t meant to compare my family’s situation to families who are facing shameful laws such as  NC’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. My family and I are privileged in many ways — in this case, my husband and I are legally recognized as a married couple and we receive those associated rights and benefits (including parental ones). It is wrong and deeply disturbing that these rights/benefits/legal recognition are not extended to all consenting and committed adults. Hopefully, 2014 will see that change.

5 thoughts on “Baby Sarah”

  1. I’m so glad I stumbled on this. What a beautifully touching piece. I found that after I gave up my own wants and trials to have a child (after years and lots of money and tears spent trying), the world opened in unexpected ways. Now in my 40s, I am happy with myself and the life that has grown up around me. I am thankful every day for my chosen family and the adventures I am able to take. All of life is about trade-offs, and I have learned to understand that happiness occurs in spite of and because of our troubles, but only we choose to view life that way. And I do. Again, thank you for writing this.

  2. Well said. We are a threesome in my family and my son has been whole-heartedly against the idea of a sibling. He was a difficult baby and toddler. So another one like him would probably kill me. No sleep, no eating, crying all the time. He’s delayed. And “different.” But, like you, I have left open the idea of possibilities. And in our case, it’s the possibility of GOOD and LOVE and HOPE and CHANGE. And now that he is eight, I see change, and I see love, and I see hope and good. It took him years to show me love. But now every single moment of amazing that happens I am right there going “thank you, thank you, thank you.”

  3. Congratulations! I can’t wait to tell everyone you’re not pregnant. Greg must be so happy.

    We somewhat consciously decided not to tell our boys that we’re not having any more babies. They seem like they could go either way: we as adults can see how much more strife there is between the boys when there are three of them. They will figure out that there are only three of them eventually. When they ask about it, we just talk to them about what they are thinking and feeling, and we keep it fun. Usually they are just curious about how babies grow and how our family will grow (in the devlopmental sense, not the arithmetic sense). We don’t want them to get the idea that they have a choice about it, or that they are responsible in some way (either way).

    However, we did adopt a girl. A canine girl.

  4. Tamara,
    What a beautiful and painfully honest post. I too struggled with this — our son wanted another sibling, and begged for one, and we were “split” on the decision so the answer was ultimately “no”. Painful for all involved.
    Yet, he has had the same best friend since he was 5 (now 20!), who is as much his brother as a biological sibling could be. Though now separated by 1000 miles, they are in touch all the time and have chosen to be brothers. And we have always had pets — a dog and two cats at the moment, and he is completely attached to the dog. So yes, we make our own families, and, though at a distance of time and space, I’m happy to have you as an extended member of mine.

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