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Minority Opinion

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I may as well say unpopular. Or maybe counter-cultural. Perhaps there are those who will consider me un-American.

Or, maybe, there’s a chance I’m not as in the minority as I feel.

Photo by Diana Akhmetianova on Pexels.com

I vividly remember standing in front of Mother’s Day cards in my twenties trying desperately to find a card that would be suitable for an estranged relationship. It couldn’t be too sentimental because I wasn’t feeling mushy about my mother. But it couldn’t be too blase because that would be misinterpreted and cause a whole new set of issues. For the record, such a card did not exist.

I could not make the choice to simply not send one either. The expectation of acknowledging (also known as honoring) your mother on Mother’s Day was established. If I failed to meet that expectation at least one family member, and most likely more, would confront me.

I felt trapped.

As I have aged my distaste for “Days” that fall into what I call the societal expectation category has become palpable. These “Days” include, but may not be limited to, Valentine’s, Mother’s, Father’s, Boss’, Teacher Appreciation. . .

I understand the purpose, the idea behind them. And I have always tried to show grace and gratitude when someone has gifted me in response to one of these “Days”.

However, these “Days” and the societal expectation fails to acknowledge the ugly truth that they breed feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, and hurt.

We have fostered such a public attitude that is the norm that we, perhaps, ignore the woman who wants to be a mother and isn’t; the man whose mother was abusive; the girl who didn’t get a bouquet of flowers at school for Valentine’s; the teacher who stays late every day but didn’t even get a card.

While our worth should not come from these things, how can we fail to see what is around us or not struggle with our own doubts and fears.

Honor, love, and appreciation cannot be dictated by a “Day” on the calendar. It is fostered by relationship. And, if that relationship exists then the “Day” is unnecessary–because honor, love, and appreciation are expressed in abundance.

Steven and I decided early in our relationship not to participate in Valentine’s Day. And we’ve taken each other off the hook, so to speak, for Mother’s and Father’s Days. Peter can decide what he wants to do when he’s old enough to understand the calendar. We will strive to create a relationship with him so he understands there is no expectation from us.

I’ve always said Steven and I are a bit counter-cultural. But maybe, since we feel this way, there are others out there who do, too.

Pregnancy Growth

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Not long ago my dad asked me if pregnancy was everything I thought it would be. . .or something along those lines.

I hesitated to answer him because my first thought was “well, I could have done without the anxiety.” So, my simple answer was yes, overall, and I’ve enjoyed experience. And I have. . .there’s no way to convey the wonder of feeling life inside of you, even as you look forward to having your feet return to normal.

But the exchange did cause me to reflect on the last nine months.

The summer of 2019, when people would ask if I left my job to have children, I would explain that we chose a new lifestyle regardless of our parent status future. I’ve mentioned before that we were actually far into the process of accepting that children weren’t part of our future. To find out we were pregnant in January 2020 was both exciting and terrifying.

Anxiety can rob one of joy if you let it. My anxiety, while it came from honest and heartbreaking experience, threatened to do just that. I’m aware that even had I been capable of avoiding the impact of four pregnancy losses, I very likely would have had other fears and concerns with which to struggle.

For much of the first trimester, very few people knew we were pregnant. It was a conscious decision, one we agonized over. On one hand, we’re excited. On the other, what if we lose this one. On one hand, we want support. On the other, we want to protect ourselves and others. Slowly, the circle widened. . .some on purpose, some by accident.

First trimester was largely Steven and I wrapping our heads around making it one week further than before. And then making it another week more than that. While anxiety and fear were still there, hope began to shine stronger. I began to appreciate all the physical signs, perhaps a bit more gratefully than I would have otherwise.

Grasshopper’s anatomy scan, 19 weeks 4 days.

We had to address my anxiety on several occasions throughout the pregnancy. In the beginning, it was closely tied to the losses. That actually may have been the easiest to deal with. I simply quit looking things up. Turns out I don’t need to know about all things pregnant. I just need to experience them. And if it’s something that really had me concerned, I called my provider. Some people are quite the opposite. However, once I accepted that A) knowing wasn’t going to change the outcome, B) women have been giving birth without Google and WebMD for centuries, and C) I really do trust my medical team, things got way easier.

The anxiety that has been more difficult to conquer has been of the emotional, relationship kind. I am naturally an introvert. I am naturally independent. Pregnancy, in my experience, causes those core traits to be jeopardized by the expectations of others. I struggled finding balance for what I needed and what I felt people around me wanted. It caused stress for me because I also like for people to be pleased. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be. Interestingly, pregnancy inspired in me a desire to be even more introverted. I wanted to guard myself in my own house. I feared it came across as selfish, which wasn’t my intention, only my emotional response to what I was experiencing. I also struggled with people wanting to be “involved.” I couldn’t really figure out how or what they wanted to be involved in though I did understand their desire came from a place of excitement. I appreciated when people asked how I was doing, and I was happy to share, but I was unlikely to just offer information, even to my family.

This was the stress and anxiety that proved the most difficult to handle for our pregnancy. Because while pregnancy is very personal, it is far from private. Navigating this part of the experience is what came as the biggest surprise to me. . .not the physical changes. Suddenly, it felt as if our core personalities and tendencies were being challenged and requested to change.

So, yes, I could have done without the anxiety. But in the end, perhaps these trials have shown us both things about who we are as individuals and as a couple. We worked through all of this together. Coming up with plans, examining root causes, and practicing communication skills. Maybe, in the end, this part of the experience will greatly benefit us as parents as we navigate the definite anxieties that will come bringing up Grasshopper.

Grasshopper 37 weeks. . .weighing in at over 10 pounds.

Overall, pregnancy has been a blessing. Not necessarily easy 100% of the time. But a period of our lives that I will be able to look back on and say that was an amazing 40 weeks (or the current 37 weeks and 3 days. . .that would be fine with me). Steven and I grew in so many ways (not just our waistlines. . .yes, his too!). It helped shape us and prepare us to continue through this journey, anxiety and all, together.

Stood Up

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In 2005 I briefly went out with a guy I had been crushing on for a while. I’m not sure if he knew this or not. It didn’t end well. . .but then again, it did. He stood me up for New Year’s Eve and that’s when I realized I’d been doing it all wrong.

I didn’t really let him off the hook after this realization. . .I called him one last time, pretty sure he wouldn’t answer, and informed him that he was rude.

Then, I fasted from dating.

For a year.

Suddenly, lots of men wanted to date me. But when I told them I was fasting from dating, they didn’t get it. What did that mean? It meant that I was dating God. One even asked me how he was supposed to compete with that.

Well, you don’t.

But it’s still hard to turn down a date.

The beginning of that year, I would go to bed repeating this mantra: Father, you are my comfort, my strength, and all the Love I need.

Eventually, I believed it. And I found joy. And I was ready to really date–the way I was supposed to. Because now I was confident in myself and knew that I didn’t really NEED a guy.

It’s very liberating to realize that I don’t need someone else to be the center of my world because I have God as that.

But I want. I want to share my joys, my successes, my failures, my comfort, my strength, and my continued growth in faith with the man God has provided.

So, in essence, being stood up was the best thing that happened to my dating life.