From The Mouths of Babes

What can you possibly tell a persistent four-year-old about infertility? The short answer: nothing.

What can she teach you? Now there’s some fodder for a blog post…

Imagine me sitting with my new BFF, an innocent four-year-old tow-headed girl with eyes the size of saucers (think Cindy Lou Who, the littlest Who down in WhoVille from Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas).

The two of us sat side by side yesterday in a boat anchored in a small cove. While her daddy and mommy swam nearby we got to know each other better. She did most of the interviewing. Favorite colors (mine, midnight blue, hers “all the girl colors”…whatever that means), favorite animals (total agreement: cats), and some more weighty topics.  A snippet from our conversation went like this:

Cindy Lou: (staring at the ring on my left hand) That’s a pretty ring.

Me: Thank you. My husband gave it to me on our wedding day.

Cindy Lou: What kind of dress did you wear?

Me: A very pretty long dress.

Cindy Lou: And then you had kids. Where are your kids?

Me: We didn’t have any kids.

Cindy Lou: Where’s your husband.

Me: You know him. He’s swimming over there with your mommy and daddy.

Cindy Lou: So where are your kids?

Me: (trying to redirect the conversation) How about a snack?

Cindy Lou: Okay. Are there snacks for your kids, too?

Fortunately Cindy Lou’s third-degree-style line of questioning ended as her dad climbed back on the boat and distracted her with something on the beach nearby.

Our rather absurd exchange got me thinking about the way we’re socialized from a very early age to see the world. In Cindy Lou’s eyes any married couple must, of course, have kids. You know … first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in the baby carriage.

Is it any wonder getting back into socializing with those living that very paradigm has been a bit of a challenge?

Little Cindy Lou just couldn’t wrap her head around any other family dynamic. I realized later that what was unique about her query was her persistence in trying to get me to fit into her familiar family model.  I had the same question posed later from a woman my age. She was a new acquaintance, a mother of two, seated on a boat tied up to the one I was on. Unlike Cindy Lou, she had learned to ask the question about whether I had children only once.

Can’t help but think about how many more times and how many more ways (the grandchildren question surely will come my way in the not too distant future) I’ll be asked about the children we never had.  At least it doesn’t sting or bring me to tears the way it once did.