Today marks the fifteenth year of me having my period. That means I have experienced my cycle about 180 times. It also means that I’ve spent about 3 years of my life menstruating.
But as with all birthdays, I feel a sense of loss. This years’ loss is a bit different though. While in the past I mourned getting older, thinking simply of age as age, now I mourn age with reference to the maternal. I mourn never having the longing in my womb to carry a child. Where does it come from and when? Is it from U or is it culturally driven? And if it is biological, how did I lose it?
As I turn another year older, I am reminded of how much closer we are to losing the option of motherhood, via pregnancy, that U possess. 30 is looming ahead and all I can think about is, “by this time my mom already had three kids”. I feel as if I am behind. Although I am ahead in other respects. Still this does not comfort me.
I know my biological clock is ticking, and it is daunting. With every cycle I get, although relived, I feel loss. Why society feels the need to describe pregnancy as a marker in a race to become a true woman, is beyond me. Even with adoption, the process, the cost and the time, all run on a clock of some sort.
Although I don’t want a family right now, I want to be able to have one, if and when I do.
Although I don’t care to have my body stretched through childbirth, I don’t want to be excluded from conversations five years from now about how much it hurt, the cravings or sleepless nights.
Although I don’t want to experience the heartache mothers feel when their kids go off to school, I don’t want to miss out on the joy found in seeing your child graduate.
But, I also don’t want to feel that I have failed because I am not a mother.
I know we must be grateful for where we are in our lives, but it is not as easy for women to do this as it is for men. I say women, because we really do have more riding on us. We are the ones responsible for keeping the world alive. Although men play a key part in procreation and child care, in the end it is up to women to carry, deliver and care for that child. And women do this all, and love it, but not without sacrifice.
This year, I am going to try to focus on the good U give: the release of hormones, cleanse and reflection of that inner me that often doesn’t get a chance to speak. I will identify what I have lost but also what I have gained and hope for joy in both because loss means you had something, and that in itself is a gift.