At 46, Tim and I are well into the middle part of our lives. With an appropriate amount of gray hair, the aches and groans we emit each time we stand up, and our development of comfortable physiques, we have a good sense of what’s coming, and what’s already behind us. Portland has helped us evolve into people who don’t much care whether we’re “attractive” physically, but that evolution is also part of our age. I mean, we’re married, so our days of trying to attract a mate are gone, but at this point in our lives, we also know that who we are is a much bigger question than what size we wear or whether we meet societal norms.
We’re going through so much intentional change that the phrase “we know who we are” doesn’t quite fit, but I’d guess we’re closer now than we ever have been to having a grasp on who we are, both individually and as a couple.
I’m well into the process of shedding my maternal self, both as a matter of biology and of psychology. The kids are grown, but still in orbit around us, still in need of the occasional reminder of our gravity. And we watch and rave and enjoy watching their journeys, maintaining, as promised, the soft, safe landing pad should any of them need it.
My biology, as I’ve mentioned, is waltzing through its change from “childbearer” to “just a person”. I’ve been reading a lot about this stage, finding words from other women to help me define what this weird space feels like. I have been comfortable with this body’s function for many years, and now things are different. And I adapt.
But as we do, Tim and I have found humor in our situation, and a manner of accepting this fidgety era betwixt and between. My hot flashes have brought us together unexpectedly: because he tends to feel hot all the time, even when temps drop down in the 40s, we now enjoy air conditioning tremendously. He understands why my newly developed need for a fan blowing on me all night.
I don’t really have other symptoms, other than a lack of a regular period. And maybe more headaches.
But we’ve joked (of course we have! have you met us?) that maybe, instead of peri-menopause, the reason for my lack of periods is that I’m pregnant!
Oh, how we chuckle. It’s a fun time.
Except, you know, we’ve taken it to the next level. Of course we have! Have you met us?
Because I never got to have a “happy” pregnancy, Tim and I have talked frequently about how we both wish we could have done pregnancy together. He would have doted on me, because that’s who he is, and I would have enjoyed the tender attention many expectant mothers receive. Each of my pregnancies was stressful; first as an unmarried 20 year old college junior who married the wrong man to do the right thing, then as a married-to-the-wrong-guy 24 year old working on a second bachelor’s degree. Both times, I had no family support. My pregnancies weren’t terrible — there are much worse — but I have a pang of sadness for that time in my life.
And Tim is sad he couldn’t make it better. Just like I am sad I couldn’t take his earlier pain away.
So for now, we’re doing what ANY balanced, sane, middle-aged couple does; we’re pretending to be pregnant for the next month.
We’ve picked out names, probably our last pretend-baby names, given the length of time I’ve gone without a period already. Douglas Hoyt and Sauvie Blue. Yeah, Blue. We’re going to shop in all the snootiest baby shops in town, pick up armloads of baby swag, then tell the shopkeep “oh, I think we’ll buy this at the OTHER snooty baby shop in town; their prices are higher and the staff is ruder.” We’re going to enjoy some pregnancy cravings (we’ll just make them up), and Tim is already talking to my belly. The softness of the moments in which we pretend to have a life growing between us is incredibly sweet.
Tim has already made a great dad. He loves children with a humor and tenderness that makes me fall in love all over again. And I loved being pregnant, even though I didn’t have the chance to sink in and enjoy the experience. I felt separate from the world, which sometimes drove me nuts, but sometimes, I felt a special seclusion with this tiny person. I could protect them, I could keep them safe, and that was all I needed.
We’ve decided we’re having twins, a boy and a girl. Really go out with a bang with this fantasy. This way, we won’t have to genderize the baby, and we can pretend-purchase twice the stuff we need!
It will only last a month, but we’re having fun with it. It’s the last stop on our farewell-to-parenting tour, the town we never got to visit, a purposeful transition into the place where we can start thinking like grandparents–another special time that is still well in the distance. We haven’t told the kids we’re doing it, and since they don’t read the blog, they will never find out. I’ll tell the “babies” to watch for the graffiti left by their older brother and sister, and then tell them all about the three beautiful people who went before them. We’ll have a lovely time, Tim and me and Douglas and Sauvie, reliving babyhoods and childhoods and preparing for a new life. Maybe we’ll drop a note about it here along the way.