Lately I’ve felt trapped in a conversation that seems to be going on in stereo around me at the lunch table: everyone seems to be talking about having kids: pregnancy, breast feeding, field trips, doctor’s appointments, lunches. It’s a beautiful conversation really. Many of my colleagues have within themselves the capacity to teach children during the day and then turn around and tend to their own families after the school bell rings. This is a capacity I do not see in myself. I don’t know how to enter into this conversation with others, so most of the time I tell myself to be quiet and keep chewing.
There so many challenges that would lie before me if I chose to become a mother, but that might be a bit presumptuous….finding a mate is a whole other issue. Last week I witnessed a man checking me out as I walked from my car into a coffee shop. At first I thought it was flattering; I wondered if he liked my hat that I picked out from Charming Charlies…then I realized he was watching me walk, and then he frowned. I don’t think I even have words to express what it feels like in those rare moments when you realize that in the eyes of the man standing in front of you, you are physically disappointing. It makes me feel speechless and numb, like I should just be quiet and keep chewing.
As I was working my way through my chicken salad on Tuesday, with the baby conversation in full swing, I began to wonder how many days it would be before someone would ask me how I was doing. I even had the vindictive idea to get up from the lunch table, walk back to my desk, pull out a stack of brightly colored post-its, and start a tally. As I was about to slide open my desk drawer, I heard a whisper, Please don’t Jenny. Love keeps no records of wrongs. I realized keeping a tally was a terrible idea, for many reasons, including the fact that I’m not very good at asking people about how they are doing either.
The next day I ran into a colleague in passing who I don’t get to see very often. She immediately smiled, gave me a hug, and asked, “How’s school going?” I answered and then she said, “I’m praying for you, for your classes then for your husband.”
I walked away, glad that I refrained from marking my post-it, and happy, that if I had, it would already be time to crumple it up and throw it away. Perhaps I should keep another record, one that keeps track of how often and how deeply I am reminded that I am loved.