I read my book for book group. As I started reading it in my postpartum weeks, I remember thinking- this is safe. What a good distracting book for a grieving new mom. It’s the memoir of a chef. The early pages were all about growing up and restaurant work and foods eaten while world traveling. Nothing baby related. Until…. There was something baby related. She has a baby. This is a life event, predictable part of the story line. Do you blame me for thinking this book would be baby-free as I read about her busy restaurant life complicated only by working with her lesbian girlfriend? Do you blame me for thinking I’d avoid childbirth related stories as I read her in detail descriptions of food and how it’s cooked?
I don’t cry over these things. I just get so frustrated. Pregnancy, childbirth, babies just pervade everything. It’s an expected life event- people get married, have babies and raise children. There are so many people not doing this that one would think we might be able to move away from this expectation as a society. But we haven’t. I recognize that I have met many of these expectations, but not necessarily in the time frame that was once considered typical. I held the idea in my head that I wanted to be married by 28. I have no clue where this idea came from, but it seemed like a good idea- old enough to have established myself, young enough to have plenty of time to enjoy marriage and start a large family. I was an achiever growing up. I worked hard and had some natural talent, so I often got what I worked for. I was first in my class. I played varsity sports. I went to a reputable college and grad school. I was respected at work. I set goals and achieved them. But there are some goals that I came to realize I had little control over. You don’t know when you are going to meet your spouse, if ever. There is so much luck in finding someone- a little effort, yes, but also pure chance. So age 28 came and went without a husband. I married at 32- so not too far off. Still time to enjoy marriage and get started on that big family. And here I am realizing yet again that there are some things beyond my control. I want a family. I want that family now. I know I’m not alone in this- many want a family but are struggling to make that happen for many reasons- fertility, health issues, waiting for a partner. But it doesn’t make my desire any less. I know I should take a lesson from marrying later than I thought I would. I did get married, just years later. One could say I will have a family, just years later. But there are no promises.
And so as I sat there reading the book about the chef and what turns out to be a somewhat non-traditional family, my inner dialogue went nuts. She laments about having to run a restaurant after two of her line chefs quit while 39 weeks pregnant? Really? No sympathy from me because she’s having a live baby. The loss of my baby seems to permeate every aspect of my life- going to the grocery store, friends’ celebrations, reading my book. Nothing is sacred. My grief flows out of my pores with the smallest bit of heat. I wonder if this is how it’s always going to be. Constant reminders and inner monologues about how people don’t know how lucky they are.