I found something.
I found something I still can do.
I can write.
Enamored, I felt it in myself: a self that has felt lonely, lost, and redundant.
An education was secondary. Eternity. Proclamations to the family, and be-ye-therefore perfects consumed my breath. Do not blame my religion. I wanted those babies. I wanted to be a mom. In truth, in this particular crowd, not being able to have children has always made me feel “less than.”
But if I could be a mom, I would manage. I have.
Babies were hard to come by, really crazy hard to come by. Like the hard to come by where people roll their eyes and say to each other, “she is crazy. She is crazy to keep trying.” I was crazy and I could not stop.
They told me, “Beth, I could not do that. I could not handle the pain. How do you do it? Why?”
Because, and Thank God, I have Kyle and Eli. And I promise, even a teenaged Kyle and Eli [wink wink] would make you want to have one more too.
Thank God for them, thank God for them or I would have completely failed at this proclamation that somehow imprinted itself onto my DNA:
“God’s commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth . . .”
I can still see fully formed ultrasound babies never meant to live their lives with me.
“Be quiet.” I say.
My outward sorrow is given to my friends who cannot bear children of their own.
They deserve my broken voice.
One of these friends reminded me, “Beth, you have no idea what is like. You have your boys.” She is right. I have not walked in her shoes. I have no idea. And then I wonder where I put my own pain. I wonder why I am so tenacious. I wonder if anyone has been as crazy as me. Who the hell does fertility treatments for all of those years? Who keeps trying after one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, and on and on. Lost, these babies that were not meant to be.
Every super power I thought I had, every prayer I tried to pray, and every pure act of will did not change the fact that babies get into my uterus and that is where they die.
The last fetus lived the longest when I was my oldest. My hormone levels were fantastic. My baby’s heart was beating. I could see him, yes he was a him on the ultrasound. There I saw him from across the room. I saw see his cute baby face in side profile. It was so clear. Then I noticed his ten fingers and his ten toes. “They are all there!” I smiled. I reached for those fingers, those fingers that were inside of me. So close I thought I could touch them.
Years before, we were traveling through South Central Utah. Dave took us on a crazy dirt road between two canyons. Like A Disneyland ride we laughed, the boys said, “whoa,” we bounced, we swayed and I grabbed the “oh shit” bar. You know the one. It is on the right side of the car above the window. I grabbed it and turned my head to the back seat. There I saw Kyle, Eli and a baby, all strapped into their car seats. The baby was sitting between them. This boy, as luck would have it, was their brother. I see them touching his face. True story and I still think I have lost my mind,
Three slipped my grasp.
Two are my gift
Feeling sorry for myself does not really work. I say this because maybe you think I sound like I do. No. I worry too much what you think. Dramatic, my feelings can be dramatic and a little dark. Absolutely!
The other day while Dave and I were driving down 700 East just past the 2100 South Starbucks I felt grateful. I felt super awesomely grateful. We were talking about what I figured out.
That was yesterday. Yesterday I thought I could write.
“I may be old, but I can still write.” I said.
Then as we drove past that Starbucks on the right and Rumbi Island Grill on the left, I continued, “I may be too old to be a doctor, but my voice it strong. I think I can write.”
“You do have a strong voice,” Dave said. “I am proud of you for making these connections.”
Happy with the love I was feeling I continued, “I am back in school again, and school is actually making sense. I have four classes left to go before I can graduate. I am taking two of them now. I kick myself for not finishing before, but here is where I am.”
Dave encouraged me, because really what can he say? “Yes, Beth you are a total dumbass for leaving school with only one semester left.”
I continue, “School is making more sense. I am digesting the words of the poets and novelists in. I am listening to my classmates. I am listening to my teachers. I am making connections. I am seeing how my voice has a place. I am learning. I am getting better. I am excited. I feel hope.”
Before, Dave and I had this conversation I wrote my first class paper. Dave edited it and said, “Your writing has really improved. I think this deserves an A,” and then I turned my first paper in.
I thought I was a writer.
I am not.
Moments ago I looked at my grade. I read my professor’s feedback. I did not like his feedback. In fact, I cried.
Maybe it is laziness.
Maybe it is the skull fracture I had eight years ago.
Maybe I am just the person my one teacher (I took her class twice) told me I was:
“You cannot write.” She looked away and then continued, “Maybe you should go to a vocational school.”
She was my Critical Writing and Analysis teacher.
Maybe she was right.
I sound like a big baby. I feel retarded and yes, I just used the word retarded – out loud. In the true sense of the word, that is how I feel — retarded.
I thought I was a writer.
I am not.
My ego is small. It shows big. I said the dumbest thing the first day of class. When we were all introducing ourselves I said, “I am Beth,” and then I said a bunch of other stuff like how NPR’s show “Snap Judgment is awesome,” (that comment was not dumb because “Snap Judgment” really is awesome), and then, somewhere between “Snap Judgment” and snapping my mouth shut, I said, “and I used to get paid to write.”
I am an idiot.
Sure, I worked in job where I wrote stuff and was paid, but really? I was doing that whole setting-yourself-up-to-fail-by-raising-the-expectations thing, or as I like to call it, self-sabotage.
I do not want to fail.
I just texted Dave the words, “I am stupid.” And then I said out loud and alone, “I want to quit! Why am I in school? I cannot do this again.”
Tears, snot and more tears fell. The snotty tears were reminding me how stupid this all is. Maybe I do not want to be a better writer. Maybe I need to be ok with who I am.
I am the person, who while learning to ride a bike, takes three thousand times to fall and say on three thousandth one or even two, I finally get my balance. I pedal. I ride. And I am off.
I hate it, and I feel selfish.
I hate that everything I do is like riding a bike for the first time. I hate that every time I learn a new thing, I am starting from scratch. My brain does not connect to cumulative. Damn it. It is exhausting. Please tell me that you get it. Please tell me that I am not alone. Please tell me that every time you start a new class, a new job, a new pregnancy that it is like going back to the beginning. Please.
In a genetic twist, no, not a twist, because genetics pass in a very straightforward way, well, in pure genetic-genetic-y-ness, my taking-a-million-times-to-pedal-the-damn-thing passed to one of my sons.
Kyle, our oldest, is like his dad – literally. When he was five he looked at a bicycle, walked over to it, hopped on and pedaled away.
No. I am not kidding. Ask Dave.
Just like that. Kyle got on his bike and rode the damn thing.
And I was completely blown away.
“Is he a mutant?” I exclaimed.
“Have you two been practicing behind my back?” I demanded.
“No. No, we haven’t” Dave excitedly responded.
“He just figured it out and rode.”
“That’s my boy!”
In this one area, our lovely, Eli is my genetic offspring. (I am sorry, Eli.)
Learning to ride a bike almost broke us, all of us, especially Dave.
Eli screamed, yelled, and tossed his bike aside. “I cannot do this!” He shouted. “I hate this!” He cried. “Bikes are dumb!” He yelled. He did fall. He did get hurt, and he did scream. Then Dave anxiously exclaimed, “This is not going to work! Let’s try it again next year.”
I calmly responded, (only because after already waiting until next year I knew Eli was getting a little old), “Hey, Dave he will get it.” I could hear Dave inhale, then exhale. I could see Eli’s head drop.
“Hey Eli, you’ve got this.” I said. Putting my hand on his shoulder I continued, “Keep trying. It will be ok.” Eli kept trying. He kept falling. He kept screaming. And then one day our friend took Eli and taught him how to ride a bike. It was a gift.
She is a genius. She took him to a park. She put his bike on a large grassy field. She brought her daughter, who is one year older than Eli and also his friend. Her daughter had just learned to ride. My friend and her daughter let Eli fall, encouraged him to get up, let him fall again, and let him scream. Over and over he fell. He fell and then I got the phone call,
“HE IS RIDING! COME SEE!”
I raced over and watched Eli. He was giggling. He was falling. He was getting back up. He was riding.
“Mom, look!” He yelled as he laughed and ran over to his bike. “Watch this!” I did. I watched as he swung his leg over the bike, wobbled, gained his balance, and we all yelled, “Pedal. Pedal hard!” He did. He laughed and he pedaled hard.
I just heard back from my teacher. Yes, I emailed him. I asked if I could re-write my paper. He said, “Yes.”
And then he said,
“The point of these analysis papers is to give you lots of practice writing so that your are prepared for your final paper.” Followed a few sentences later with, “Don’t worry about it.”
I do worry about it. I do worry.
I do not know how many more of these learning-to-ride-a-bicycle-and-falling-over-three-thousand-times experiences I have left in me. I do not know if I can. I do not know if I can figure out this new bike.
I am tired.
I am tired of trying and then each time realizing that the best I can do is almost.