Archive for May, 2013
“You know what, nothing makes our hair stand straight up on our neck or make us want to knock someone’s lights out like when someone’s values collide with our values.”
As I sat across from my friend in the hustle and bustle of a Spanish bar and listened to his comment, I felt an aha moment coming on. My friend was critiquing his work environment and team business models, but my thoughts jumped to my own emotional outbursts when people touched my own values and dreams related to having a family.
Really, he hit the nail on the head. No matter the context, if you step on someone’s value, it’s like striking the match on a stick of dynamite. And the bigger the value, the bigger the blast. What’s more, if you light the fuse of an infertile, well, you better run for cover. I think of the time my wife had to intervene so I didn’t chuck a younger Spanish’s boy’s soccer ball at his face (don’t ask), or the time I awkwardly changed the subject in a doctor’s office and grabbed my wife’s hand before she grabbed and chucked a pencil holder at her inconsiderate physician’s smug little smile.
Obviously, as I suppose we would qualify as time weathered infertile folks, my wife and I both have had our different fuses. But what’s fascinating is that you can usually track the line from one end of the fuse right up to a person’s biggest dreams: what they’ve always valued grabbing hold of with their future family.
In hindsight, I think it would have helped us to take a better look at our own personal explosive devices, i.e., our dreams. I’m not just talking about “I always wanted a kid.” Yes, at the core, this is the dream lost in infertility, the ultimate desire that ends up detonating our dynamite at various times and in various places. But interestingly enough, our fuses lead to other, more specific, even hidden values. For example, I never knew I valued seeing my own face in the face of my child…until my wife more easily was willing to transition to further treatments for less than fully biological children. She never knew the full significance of her dream to name a child, until the doctor casually commented as if she was talking about the weather, “oh yeah, your last fetal mass (miscarriage) was male in gender.”
I think the more we can recognize these values and really mourn their death, the more we’ll actually move on. We don’t just mourn the loss of being a Dad or a Mom; we must mourn never seeing our own DNA smiling back at us, never teaching our son how to swing a bat, or never getting to sing to our own swaddling bundle to sleep at night. We mourn the specifics. Here is a list of the top five things I’ll miss in not having a child:
1. A young person with whom I could share my Christian worldview and values
2. A young little guy or girl that looks like me
3. A little person to have on my lap while I read to him or her
4. Getting to teach and participate in sports
5. Watching the wonder of a child as explores and discovers
What lost dreams will you miss most?
I would venture a guess that something like 4 percent of the male population feels inherently romantic. Just say the word romance to the rest of us, and little beads of sweat appear on our brow and that nervous leg jitter reappears. We change the subject, laugh it off, or we make fun of “those guys” that buy flowers, write love notes, and try their hand at poetry.
For those of us in this 96 percent majority, those romantic guys don’t bother us at all, not at all, nada de nada. “Well, I guess if that guy really feels comfortable going to that dance class with his wife, more power to him.” (This is usually followed by an uncomfortable laugh) “Hey, it’s not for me, but if he wants to plan a candle light dinner, good for him.” That’s what we say out loud, while inside we’re green with envy and thinking hostile thoughts like, “Who does this guy think he is? Does he enjoy showing me up or what?”
Why aren’t we more romantic? We don’t like to admit it, but the answer is quite simple: we honestly don’t have a stinking clue. Inside, that smooth guy that woos his bride on a regular basis is what’s called an anomaly. It’s kind of like Lebron James and his athletic prowess: the guy’s simply a freak of nature. Don’t know where he got the genes; he’s just “got it.”
I, for example, don’t “got it.” I am hopelessly unromantic by nature. I come from a long line of unromantic men, and even have a genealogy chart and stories from my grandmother as evidence. It’s not that I haven’t tried to be romantic. I have. And I don’t dare share some of these failures in a public forum, even under the guise of anonymity. Just thinking of those attempts makes me shudder inside.
Unfortunately for me, and for these other 96 percent (God bless them, every one) of men that just can’t shake the insecurity we feel whenever the beat picks up on the dance floor, 100 percent of the female population desire romance. 100 percent. Does God have a nasty sense of humor, or what?
Infertility doesn’t distract or change the desires of our wives, either. Actually, she probably wants romance even more than ever –so this is what my wife tells me. So what do we do?
The answer for me has been tough to accept, but since I am dedicated to loving my wife, I guess I need to step out on a limb and try. Maybe that romantic guy was just like me when he first tried, but when he failed, he picked himself up and tried again.
One of my attempts this year have consisted of buying a book on Kindle called 101 Romantic Ideas. (Hey, stop laughing at me!) One of the ideas, idea #46, to be exact, reads as follows: “Create some love coupons that your partner can exchange for romantic favors.” It then goes on to give some examples. Fearing my unromantic nature, I followed the ideas written out to the T. And guess what? My wife loved it. She even kept the coupons in a safe place to show our kids someday (Oh yeah, that’s right, we can’t have kids. We’ll, anyway…)
She knows I suck at this. But as I keep at it, as I get some more experience, I just might shake this forsaken nature. And even if I don’t, she’ll feel more loved because she knows I’m trying. I suppose that’s more important than my insecurities anyway.