Kudos to anyone that can remember the name of the 80’s band that recorded the title of this post.
My last post had me pulling this song out of thin air. It was the whole rinse and repeat life cycle that I’ve been living in for so long that had me chanting the chorus (and subsequent title) of this song.
I remember singing this song in high school thinking, “Oh G*d. Is this all I have to look forward to after college?” The thought of just working day in and day out for the rest of my life just seemed pretty, well … boring.
Now realistically I know that life is not broken down into just those four stages. There are many more milestones to pass before we can get from one stage to the next. Going through school alone takes, at the very least, 12 years of our lives.
Personally, I can remember a lot of “firsts” during those years. The first day at school. The first time I got a bad grade. My first crush. My first boy/girl dance. My first kiss. My first job; which was also my first time being discriminated upon simply because of my ethnicity. My first road trip; which was followed shortly by my first speeding ticket. And I certainly remember the sense of accomplishment I felt after surviving all those “firsts.”
And then there was my graduation from college, which would symbolize the end of my formal education. I distinctly remember how wide open the world seemed after that moment; so many opportunities available within my reach. I could have traveled the world at that time. I could have continued on to get my masters in Nursing (which I still could, I suppose). But the truth is, I chose the path of which I thought was of least resistance.
The Asian-American in me did what every good Filipina does. I lined up a job right away and started my orientation before even attending my official graduation ceremony … before even taking the NCLEX (RN licensing board exam). Hubby & I got engaged shortly after that and then the focus was on saving money for the wedding and for a house.
I don’t regret the choice I made, because quite frankly, I had a lot of fun those first few years after college. I had an awesome job with awesome co-workers. I moved out my parents’ home (against their wishes, mind you) and into my own apartment. And of course, had the joys of being newly engaged and planning a wedding.
And then the fairy tale wedding. A gathering of family (trust me, there was a lot of extended family) and friends from both parents’ side as well as our own. Great music, good food, and just pure joy and happiness. It was, and I can honestly say this without prejudice, the best day of my life thus far.
We found our house within months of our wedding and moved in the day after Thanksgiving that year. We didn’t have much to fill the home at the time, but it was our own abode. Our first home.
Ten years later, we have filled that house, and have pretty much outgrown it. Too much junk for two pack rats that tend to keep everything. Too much clutter to constantly be picking up after. Two cats and a dog inhabit the home and shed all over our furniture and our clothes. We have shelves among shelves (not to mention random stacks) of books. We have a lawn that we can barely take care of, because quite frankly, we just hate yard work.
And that’s because we’re work-aholics. While I’m not in love with my job, I’m good at it and I constantly have ideas to make processes flow better … which tends to get me in trouble sometimes. But I’m appreciated at work … and that makes the world of difference, knowing that I am making a difference.
And Hubby? While he tends to downplay his talent, I consider him very innovative and groundbreaking with his design. He has this love of typography (that I have since picked up) that, in my mind, makes for smart and witty design. I respect him immensely because, as a Filipino-American … going into an industry that isn’t related to health care or engineering or accounting (at least here in the Midwest), is a sacrilege. Unfortunately, since moving to a smaller ad agency with more conservative clients, he has not had that much opportunity to do the innovative design work that he loves to do. And that simultaneously frustrates him and pushes him to work harder. And longer.
So what am I getting at with my rantings about the life cycles … and particularly work? Well, it goes back to the song. And where I’m at. Or rather, where I’m stuck at. It’s that part of life that comes after love and marriage. Yup, that baby carriage. Or in my case, the lack of one.
And here Hubby & I lay. Stuck in the “work” cycle of our lives. Our lives revolve around what we do best in life … which is work. Many family members and friends claim that we devote too much of our lives to work. That there is more to life than working. And for them, there probably is. They have family to tend to. They have children to care for, to raise … to be responsible for. They have other priorities in life.
While being childless certainly makes a big difference in the priorities of our daily life. And while it’s also the largest disappointment in my life that I can’t produce a biological child of my own … that’s not the only reason I feel stuck.
It’s that feeling of being alone. Because, in my humble opinion, being childless (and not by choice) tends to lead to a somewhat isolated life. Yes, I realize that this is no different than most people with a life-threatening disease or condition may feel. And I know it’s no different than, let’s say the loss of a child. While I, in no way, mean to belittle these circumstances … it’s just that it goes back to the “physical-ness” of these events. These are things that people can actually see. Or touch. Or understand why someone would feel so hurt or heartbroken. These are things that people can actually “put a finger on” when it comes to expressing sympathy for someone.
With being infertile (and therefore childless, in my case), most people cannot comprehend the pain that comes with being left childless. Most people that I have encountered that see we are without kids automatically assume that it’s by choice. And since we spend so much time at work, that we’re just not “settled down enough” to start a family. Thus the conversation always turns to why we don’t want kids … which of course, is furthest from the truth. And the subsequent nodding and vacant stares from these same people, as we vaguely explain that we’re “still waiting for our miracle.”
And so that’s how the isolation begins. We’ve either became isolated because a) we’ve refused to fully divulge our infertility issues, or b) we have told them too much and have thus eliminated about 90% of conversation with those who do have children. Because really … how can life with children not encompass every aspect of a person’s life? How can one with children not be able to bring up what their sons or daughters are up to? Or how their children are taken into consideration when deciding on simple things … like what they’re going to do for dinner. Or even more complex things … like deciding on which presidential candidate will best help their children’s future.
Depending on the person or persons, I can handle conversations like that. And I can have great conversations with certain people and relay to them that not everyone can identify with how it’s like to live a life with kids. But for the majority of people … I find that I’m too nice of a person to push the subject. And besides, I hate confrontation.
In addition to being stuck, to remain childless, especially after this past birthday, has also created the feeling of being “left behind.” Over the past ten or so years, Hubby & I have encountered many couples who have since gotten married and subsequently started their family right away. Some of those couples have also had issues trying to get pregnant, but had ultimately been successful. We’ve watched other family members and friends move forward toward the next milestones in their lives … their first pregnancy, their first child followed by many “firsts” for that child (first smile, first word, first step, etc). While Hubby & I are simply left in the shadows.
Ironically, Hubby & I were one of the first couple among our friends and family to get engaged. The first ones to plan a wedding. The first ones to get married. I can say, hopefully without sounding arrogant, that we were a couple that many of our friends and family looked up to. We were not the usual older Asian couples that most of us grew up around. They were more afraid to show any type of affection amongst the conservative Filipino peers. And they, at many times, communicated with double-edged passive-aggressive tones with each other. We, on the other hand, were a couple that weren’t afraid to show some PDA. We were a couple that geniunely listened to each other and communicated openly. And to the parents of our Filipino friends and family, we were used as “good Filipino-American examples”: Happily married after finishing college and establishing our careers.
And now … we’re the ones left behind. We’re the ones looking up to those family and friends who have now gone through all the milestones in life that we have … and now have surpassed us. We’re the one’s on the outside looking in. We’re the ones that long for the children that aren’t coming. We’re waiting for the next milestone to surpass, to knock my wedding day off its pedestal as the best day of my life. The next stage in the cycle of life …
And if we keep going in the childless direction we are at … perhaps the next stage in life will be that very last one.
Yes … realistically I know life is not all about milestones and stages. Life is exactly what we make of it. And how we want to fill those times in between these moments is much more important the milestones that we pass.
I’m just trying to feel my way around the filler time. And trying to find a way to feel less isolated and less like a fifth grader who just failed sex ed.