Falling Out of Love - Learning to Accept a Potentially Childless Future

I remember falling out of love. I was a young adult and had to face the reality that my long-term crush and I were not going to end up together. At first I would tell my friends I was over him and they would look at me and laugh and say, "Yeah, you're not over him."  The first stage was faking it.  Trying it on for size.  Practicing moving on.  It didn't last for long and soon I would be dreaming about there being someway that he and I would end up together.  Then I would once again act like I was over him, this time for a little longer than the previous time.  There came a point when either my friends started believing me when I said "I'm over him," or they just became tired of convincing me otherwise.  And then something switched and I really did start moving on.  I could imagine a future without him and started showing interest in other guys.  I went on an occasional date here and there and even went on several dates with the same guy.  Then something would trigger a memory and my heart would go back to that place where it had been.  I'd be broken hearted for a short while and then find contentment again.  Each time the stage of contentment and acceptance lasted longer than the previous time, until one day I woke up and I had really moved on.

I think accepting the diagnosis of infertility is like that. Perhaps grief is too.  I went from September to January of this past year without having any major break-downs.  Then my sister had a baby, a relative interrogated me regarding our plans for children, and something else happened (that I can no longer remember) that pulled me back down.  

I am back in a stage of acceptance again.  Last time around I pretended to have positive feelings or images of a future without kids, but I think I was stealing someone else's happiness. This time I can actually picture my own future.  What it might be like to be that adoptive aunt to the immigrant children in our church.  What it might be like to use the money we would have spent on our own children to support charitable organizations.  What it might be like to be "that" couple who go home after an event and just sit the two of them watching T.V. while their peers are checking in on how their teenage daughter's date went while they were gone.

The questions I have now about this possible future that is looking more real than it had before are questions regarding what developmentally adulthood looks like for those free of children.  When I look at my parents and so many adults older than myself, I see parenting as a stage of life, then grand parenting, followed by or coinciding with retirement, and then concluding with a stage where one is cared for by one's own children.

What is this stage that my husband and I are in right now?  What comes after this?  Until retirement are there any markers of transition for people like ourselves? 

I've been a person who held on to the past.  I've also been a person who lived for the future.  Now, I have no choice but to live in the present, because the meaning to my past has changed and the models for my future no longer work. 

 

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