This past weekend I was fortunate enough to be visiting my parents in the town where I grew up, and got to spend a rare hour with one of my dearest and oldest friends. There were lots and lots of hugs and “I’ve missed you’s” as we tried to wrangle her children (a sweet whirlwind of a boy, six, and his fearless, strong-willed sister, three) as they rocketed between Xbox games, tickle fights with Uncle Eric and a water-balloon war that ranged across the whole backyard.
As we finally settled in to a few quiet minutes over a slice of my favorite New York pizza (and grandpa was kind enough to take the kids a few feet away for further adventuring on the swing set), my friend looked at me, and she looked at the two lunatic monsters running around with tomato sauce on their face, jam in their hair and soaking wet sneakers, and she said just a bit wistfully, “Well, this is my life now.” And I knew exactly what she meant.
After a few moments of silence she added, “I love them. I completely and utterly love them, but just sometimes there are days when I think, boy it would be nice to be scuba diving in Belize. Or whatever…”
And that “whatever” is really the point I want to get to in today’s post.
Sometimes you can get so focused on where you want to get to next that you start ignoring the benefits and opportunities of where you are now. If you don’t have any children yet, and you’ve recently been to visit those who do, then you have probably seen the degree to which their time, their attention, their entire lives, now focus on and rotate around the children. “Oh my gosh, don’t eat that!” “Put that down!” “Stop hitting your sister!”
Somehow, if there are two substances in an entire house that, when combined, will make poison or explosives, every child under five will somehow manage to not only find them but then suffer from a burning need to mix them in a bowl of Cheerios. It’s a law of the universe, and it means that as a parent, for about the first five years, you cannot take your eyes off them. Not for one second. E-ver.
As you may recall from an earlier post, Cathy had some of her pre-IVF blood work done while in Sydney Australia because a once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit there affordably sort of fell in her lap. My point is that even during our treatment cycles, we continued to travel and go on adventures and enjoy the things we love doing together. Those children you’re trying so desperately to have? Keep doing that, and focus on that, but also remember how much, and how completely, absolutely everything is going to change once you are successful.
For some of you this may be completely obvious; “You bet I’m gonna get in that trip to Tahiti!” (Or skydiving adventure or one last bender in Las Vegas or ‘whatever’). But I’ve seen several friends also go the other way. They become single-threaded, focusing so completely on their desire to start a family that the weeks and months before it happens essentially become lost time, time where they didn’t take advantage of the pre-pregnancy and pre-kid freedom they enjoy.
So my advice is this – the two things are not mutually exclusive. Yes, do all the things you need to do to keep moving on your infertility or treatment journey. But don’t forget to do the things you WANT to do, too. Don’t forget about yourselves or each other in your rush toward adding someone new to your family. Carpe Diem, seize the day. The little ones will come along in time, and when they do, you’ll look back one day, with your oldest friend over a slice of pizza and say, just a little wistfully, “It sure would be nice to do [whatever]…”
This post is also available in: Arabic