Sunday, October 12, 2014

Blessings in Disguise

This morning I woke up early and was finishing my second cup of coffee while finally watching the season finale of Masters of Sex. I wanted this lazy morning to last forever. My bubble burst when my husband walked into the room wearing his running clothes. We're running a 10k in two weeks - his first and my first race since my hospital stay this past summer. I feel ready for it, but there's no way I was going to sit home and be lazy while he ran. So I changed into my running clothes, and we headed out.

At first I felt a little resentful. It was really cozy in front of the television in my den, my Golden Retriever acting as the world's warmest and comfiest ottoman. It was cold outside - around 36 degrees. There was frost on the ground, and our breath was visible in the cold morning air. It quickly became apparent that this wouldn't be an easy run. I had side stitches early. I could hear from my husband's labored breathing beside me that he wasn't enjoying this any more than I was. I found myself wondering what the f&ck we were doing outside running instead of watching last night's episode of Saturday Night Live on our DVR.

By the time we curved onto the Lansing River Trail, a little more than a mile into our run, I found myself settling into a groove. We ran by the Lansing City Market, and I noticed a sign for the Capital Area Bike Share that I'd never noticed before. I started thinking about how much I loved living downtown so close to the river trail, the market, and amenities like the bike share. We rounded the corner toward our turnaround point, and I was struck by the beauty of the morning. The pedestrian bridge across the Grand River to Adado Riverfront Park looked gorgeous in the morning sun. The trees are at (or near) their autumn turning peak, and I found myself smiling despite the side stitches.

This run, like every run, was a blessing in disguise. I started thinking that less than three months ago I was in the hospital struggling to walk to the door of my hospital room. My recovery was slower than I thought it would be, but I'm back in my normal groove.

My thoughts also turned to (as they tend to do) our wait to start a family. It's easy to let myself have a pity party about the fact that we still don't have children. We've been married for almost six years, and much of that time has been spent trying to have children or waiting during the adoption process. I've had a lot of low moments in these last six years, the worst being when the birth mother who chose us last year changed her mind after having the baby.

Running, however, always helps me clear my head and provides perspective. I looked at my husband next to me and realized that lazy mornings and sluggish Sunday runs would become much more difficult once we have kids. Sure we can load them into a jogging stroller, but it won't always be easy or feasible.

I started wondering what our life would be like if I'd gotten pregnant in the year after our wedding like we'd hoped. We might not have these amazing memories of trips together - Sweden, Yellowstone, Maine, Jamaica - the list goes on and on.  

I thought back to the dinner we had the evening before, mine being a delicious steak and several glasses of a good pinot noir. We didn't need a sitter. We talked college football, and I randomly quoted the movie Sweet Home Alabama. You know...like you do. We sang along with the singer in the bar and talked about our favorite Neil Diamond songs. The two couples at the table next to us talked incessantly about their children and respective childbirth experiences. I heard them talking and realized how glad I am that we've gotten to know each other and enjoy each other. Once we have kids I think it's inevitable that they become the conversation focus. But for now we can focus on each other and all the things we're interested in. We're not these people who have nothing to post on Facebook except things about our children. That is a blessing in disguise.

I started working at the Michigan Municipal League about a year before our wedding. Four and a half years later I became director of the lobbying team. I've been able to focus on my career in a way that would've been more difficult with a child (or children). Tomorrow I'll head to Marquette, Michigan, one of my favorite places in the world, for a week for our annual convention. I'm so blessed to be able to travel readily and focus on a job that I love so much. I've been able to put so much of myself into advocating for cities without distraction, and that is a blessing. Once we do have kids I'll have already established myself in my career, and for that I am grateful.

I honestly believe the worst thing one can say to a woman waiting during the adoption process is that it will happen when it's the right child. I know that's true, and I agree. But when friends and colleagues continue to get pregnant around you, and your 36th birthday come and goes, it sometimes feels like it will never happen.  The worst case scenario is that we never have children...and what if that is the scenario in which we find ourselves? I can't imagine our life without children, but we also have a pretty amazing life. There could be a worse situation than living my life with someone I love and with whom I have so much in common, traveling and enjoying our life. The worst case scenario isn't really all that bad.

As running is wont to do, I have more perspective this afternoon. It's a calming feeling to count the many blessings I have instead of worrying about what I don't have. Life will continue to be unexpected, and I'll continue to live every childless moment at full speed, taking advantage of all of life's opportunities. I'll watch whatever I want on television, drink an extra glass of wine, sleep in, travel and run whenever I feel like it. At some point, when we least expect it, our life is going to change dramatically. It's going to be overwhelming and amazing and terrifying. Some day we may be the couple with nothing to talk about but our kids, but that day won't be today. Today we'll talk about politics and how much we love living in downtown Lansing.  Maybe we'll take a nap. Tomorrow may be the day that all changes forever, or maybe it won't be. I promise to enjoy every mile I run. Each of them is a blessing in disguise.       

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