Six months before we got married, we bought a house. Not just any house, a relatively large house in an older neighborhood. It is an area which was founded by five doctors who had moved out to California from the mid-west. Our house, home to one of the original doctor's, is historic and beautiful and in its 98 years of existence, it has only had five owners. When the keys were handed to us, on my 31st birthday, we were overjoyed and overwhelmed.
We lovingly renovated it for six months before we moved in. Every night after work, I would go and paint and sand. One evening the youngest daughter, of the original owner, had her driver bring her by the house. I was embarrassed because the place was a wreck, but her first concern wasn't the state of the house, it was what us two "youngsters" were going to do with this big five bedroom home. "Do you have a lot of children?" she asked in a concerned tone. Of course the answer was no, to her and to the multitude of neighbors that ended up asking us the same question for many months to come. No, we didn't have a lot of children and at the time we weren't sure if we ever would.
As the months passed, I started to feel defensive when people asked about the house. I found that I wouldn't even wait for them to ask why in the world we needed all this space, I would just immediately assume that was going to be their first question and launch into a rehearsed explanation of how every bedroom was being used. My studio. My husband's studio. The gym. Guest room. Master bedroom. Done. Full. Obviously we need each and every square inch. No children and no more questions please.
But my studio lay dormant, and soon began to collect miscellaneous junk. Every time the housekeepers came, I found myself pre-cleaning. Taking everything from around the house that didn't have a proper home, putting it in there and shutting the door. It was the one room in our house that seemed to lack a clear purpose. And when I thought about it some more, I realized why...it was on hold.
I couldn't commit to making it an indispensable part of my life. I couldn't commit to giving it a true purpose because in doing that I would be admitting that I would never have children. I had always, secretly, thought that it would be the nursery. Each time I painted it, each renovation, I left that option open. I wouldn't let myself get attached to it as my room. It was on hold. It was being saved for something, someone, else.
And, that someone finally came along. And that room has a purpose and is full of light and laughter and infinite joy. But now, I have another room. The gym. We stopped using it after our son was born and it has slowly become a shelter for all my homeless stuff. I can't seem to commit to fully tidying it up into a usable space. It, too, has become a placeholder. It's being used and filled, but not in a purposeful way. It's secretly my second nursery. It holds my dream and... my stuff. Miscellaneous stuff. Stuff that helps me to feel as though it's being used, when in fact it isn't.
And it's the same with my heart. I have room and love for another child. But for now, I am just saving that space. Trying to fill it with random stuff, so that it doesn't fill with tears. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes not so much.
The other day one of my dear friends (whose child was born one day before mine, and who has also struggled with infertility) discovered she was pregnant naturally. Of course my heart was full of joy for her. Ok, maybe not full, entirely, of joy. In one dark corner, there was a flood. My tears fell steadily and silently. Shamefully. As I thought about the cycles I have done, unsuccessfully, to try for a second child. As I thought... she hadn't even started trying yet! As I thought... that child was meant to be mine. I'm not proud of that thought. But it was there. Keeping me from true, whole-hearted celebration. I, now, need to find a constructive way to fill that room, that hole, that deep dark corner so I can face her beautiful, magical pregnancy. Not just with a smile pasted on my face, but with joy truly filling that room in my heart, no matter what becomes of that room in my house.