Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Time Changes"

Kym has a thoughtful post about adopting a motto and symbol to reflect who she is and wants to be. I'd never heard of the Adinkra symbols, but I love the look of them. The stark contrast of the black and white reminds me of the Kanji that I create with ink and brush each week. The depiction relies on careful use of white space and creating balance and contrast with the ink on paper. This seems to be a theme in my life lately and I was immediately drawn to the Adinkra symbols.

I had to think about what symbol seems most fitting. At first, I thought it might be Akoko Nan for mercy and nurturing. Right now I'm at a place in my life where I'm fortunate enough to be a mother and I'd like to continue mothering. As I look down the road at our journey into parenthood, I hope that Gboy and I will be able to add one more little one to our family, but I'm unclear how that might happen. This has been the source of some angst (have you noticed?!) as I compare myself to others who are making the journey faster and with more ease that I am. As a result I'm not sure I'm being very merciful to myself. And occasionally I'm not sure my thoughts are merciful to others (specifically I think of my poor SIL who through no fault of her own is the subject of my frustration at times).

So I carefully considered the list again. I think the symbol and motto that most appeals to me currently is Mmere Dane - "time changes" (change, life dynamics). This may not be the best description of my current state of mind, but I hope this is the direction in which I'm headed. You see, I had a sudden flash of insight the other day.

One of the things that has most frustrated me about my SIL's situation is that she makes no secret of the fact that she wants a bunch of kids. It seems that she will have no trouble conceiving/having them (update: she is in fact pregnant again and all is well with the pregnancy) and while I'm happy for her, I'm conflicted. A part of me is jealous of the way in which her life is unfolding according to her plan. At one time I had flirted with the idea of 3 kids (Gboy used to say he might like 3 or even 4!), but these days, I'm trying to be realistic. Not only about our likelihood of conception, but also of living a comfortable life with the kid(s) we have.

I'm not sure there's any way that we could ever realistically have 3 (or more!) kids and still be able to travel back and forth to see our respective families in Japan and the U.S. Airfare has to be a consideration along with daily expenses and college savings, etc. As a result, I hear my SIL saying she wants 4 kids but when I try to envision how on earth they'll afford that on her husband's salary, I can't see it. Then again, if they never travel to the U.S. or outside of Japan, living on a shoe-string budget may be perfectly acceptable for them. To me, that would be a huge loss that I couldn't envision for my family. And so, I may have to accept that 1 or 2 kids is the most we ever have (and frankly while I think I'd like a 2nd, after actually having 2 kids I might decide that was MORE than enough!) and that the trade-off is worth it.

This means accepting that I might be disappointed on some level each and every time my SIL gets pregnant. But if I know what the end goal and values of MY family is - then it shouldn't really matter what she does or how often the size of her family changes. This may be easier said than done, but I think it's possible to re-frame how I look at pregnancy and specifically SIL's pregnancies. Changes will happen in life, and not all of them will be changes that are comfortable to me, but that doesn't mean I won't get through them.

As I was laying in bed late the other night thinking about this, another thought popped into my head. I had this image of an older child - a child in foster care maybe, or maybe just another teen I mentor (something I loved doing). I was reminded of all the other ways I can care for children who might need some love and attention - things that I'm very much interested in doing and have been interested in for a long time. Things that I think Gboy might be interested in doing someday too. I guess I was just thinking that I don't yet know what life has in store for me, or for us, and that there may still be great things to come, even without a bunch of pregnancies.

I don't know what it all means or if this even makes sense. In the end, I think it all comes back to change and life dynamics and allowing things to unfold in ways that may not be clear to me now, but could be some of the most fulfilling parts of my life.


  1. I love your choices! Getting a tattoo isn't painful, depending on where you get it. I am scared to death of needles but faced my fears and got two. At the most painful it just feels like someone scratching on your skin with a fingernail.

  2. "But if I know what the end goal and values of MY family is - then it shouldn't really matter what she does"

    Wow. As someone rather prone to ridiculous envy 'Ohhhh SIL has a 45th storey apartment with amazing views...' K: but you hated living in an apartment? 'I know, but...' what you wrote really spoke to me. I think it can be applied to so many different areas of life, too. Thank you!

  3. What a great post. You touch on a lot of things I'm struggling with, too. I feel like I would like 4 kids, but I know we can't afford such a big family, even if I somehow WAS magically able to conceive when we wanted to. And meanwhile, others around me seem to fall pregnant and have perfect babies without a thought. At the same time, although my life is not where I ever thought it would be at this age, I am so blessed and happy when I focus on "today."

  4. What a very sweet and moving post. Heather is right, tattoos really don't hurt that bad. I'm a complete wimp and i have one on the back of my neck. It didn't hurt at all. It's hard, sometimes to look into our future and think about the "what if's", but sometimes we never kn ow what's going to happen and just gotta roll with it. You're doing great!

  5. It is so true that you only need to consider what is right for your family and it then shouldn't matter what other people do.

    But sometimes it does seem to matter, right?

    I am actually at the other end of the spectrum. Despite it putting big holes in our budget, I'll probably consider 3 or more children but my SIL (who incidentally is quite well off financially) only wants the one.

    When I think of all the things that she will be able to give her daughter because she will have the time and the money, I feel like I am cheating Champ out of all the extra classes and travel that we would have otherwise been able to give him if it was an only child.

    But then again it is our own family that we must suit and we are in a very different position(younger but poorer)to my SIL's family (who are older but richer).

    I'll try to remember your post next time she tells me about her daughter's specialised music classes and designer clothes and be content with our own goals.

  6. Heather and Beautiful: Umm. 1st I practically faint at the sight of needles. And 2nd, what about those people who say it hurts like the dickens? Does it depend on the artist?

    Red: Thanks for sharing your perspective! We all make different choices and I don't think any one family size is the "right" or "best" size. It truly depends on what we each want out of life - the hard part sometimes is remembering that. I loved that you shared the other side of the coin so to speak.

  7. I think you're really wise to open yourself up to change, even as you acknowledge that it won't always be comfortable. That takes a lot of guts.

    Like you, I hope that some day we can add another child to our family, but I'm unclear on how that might happen. And I also struggle with being merciful to myself and others, especially in that regard.

    Everything of yours I read makes me think we'd get along famously.

  8. After infertility, even when you now have a child, it is really hard not to have conflicting emotions anbout others pregnanies, seeing how easily things come to them and watch them carry out their "plan" so effortlessly and with what seem like total control. Knowing that others can have what they want and we might not be able to if we were to want it, it stings!

    We sometimes think we want three but I am not sure I am willing to go through everything I did before just to have a second! Financially and emotionally it's just so hard.

    I like your tattoo choice!