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fertile thoughts It's Wednesday. My day with the girls. Yesterday was a bit of a beast. It started with a bris and it ended with a PA meeting at Preschool. In between, there was a music class and a lunch and a construction meeting and coffee with friends. Oh, and a flurry of solicited opinions on the new title of my book. When my head hit the pillow last night, I was physically and emotionally spent, bubbling over with ideas and regrets and questions.

So I embrace today wholeheartedly. A day that's both simpler and harder. A day on which I have no choice but to focus on one thing. Two things, actually. My girls. And today's been like most Wednesdays before it - full of spills and smiles and screams and squeals. There was a nap boycott. There was a plea for after school candy. There was an avocado goatee. Currently, there is a giant chocolate chip cookie, soggy with saliva, sticking out of the front pocket of my diaper bag. That says it all.

And now my girls are sleeping. Resting up for more. And I am here. And I am tired. Full of love. Of things close and far away. Full of fear. Of things I can't control. And those I can. Full of a harrowing and hazy focus. My mind shimmies in the past and then zooms to the future and when I let it, it settles right where it should - in the coziness of the present moment. A fungible Wednesday afternoon in fall. A day in the life of a harried and happy mother. Mid-dream.

On days like this, it is easy (for me) to get frustrated, to grow irritable, to crave civilization. If I'm lazy, these things overtake me. But sometimes something slaps me and reminds me to take stock of the chaos I too frequently curse. To feel grateful and humbled by the bounty. Sometimes, something stings me out of that cocoon of complacency that surrounds me. And so many of us.

That something this morning? An exquisitely honest and vulnerable post by Mama of The Elmo Wallpaper wherein she ponders giving up the dream of having a daughter. A mother of three boys whom she relishes and adores, Mama is haunted by the prospect of her husband getting the vasectomy he now desires. Her words are raw and universal and hit a chord in me. After reading her post, my day, my day with the girls changed in hue, it sparkled a bit more. I felt suddenly, rabidly thankful to have two happy and healthy little girls. Even if they test every ounce of me sometimes.

BUT. But it didn't stop there. No, it never does. I began to think about boys. What if I never have a boy? What if I never see Husband with a little version of himself? Will he be disappointed? Will I? I don't know. Maybe. What if I knew with absolute certainty that I would not have another child? I think this knowledge would cripple me. And I'm not sure why.

Yesterday morning at the bris for my friend's new son, the baby's father said a few words. His words were stark and profound and beautiful. He turned to his wife, my friend who was radiant a mere week-plus after delivery, and said, "I'd like to thank my wife for our children." A simple string of often unspoken gratitude. And then he said to all of us, "My wife and I feel very fortunate to now have a daughter and a son." Again, an honest and lovely statement.

But all of this - his words and Mama's post - has me thinking amorphous thoughts. That we can't always have what we want. But we always want. We never stop dreaming. It's all about dreams. And when a dream isn't realized, it dies, doesn't it? And when a dream dies or threatens to die, it hurts. The hurt is palpable in Mama's words, "It makes me lose sleep, wondering what a daughter might look like, wondering who she might be, what she might like, which brother she would most resemble. I wonder if she would be a tomboy, having three big brothers, or if she would be inordinately girly in opposition to them. I wonder if she would have all of them wrapped around her finger."

The blessing and curse of imagination. The fury of fantasy. The hegemony of What If. The inescapable limits of every life. The mortality of hope.

Mama ends her confession with the following two sentences: "It just makes me sad. I just thought you should know." In this world, in this artificially sweetened world of ours, how often do we encounter such bittersweet honesty? Thanks to my Cheerio Compatriot for making me think big thoughts, brave thoughts, fertile thoughts, amidst the glorious mayhem of yet another Wednesday.

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Thoughts on this? Why do you think so few of us are honest about wanting more? About the dreams that dance below the surface of objectively good lives? Are you good about giving up on something you once hoped for? These questions are purposefully vague as I think this is about far more than fertility and family.

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