Just now that Allen and I are starting to feel settled my cousin popped up on facebook with some "exciting news" which is honestly a little bit challenging. In the past five years we've been through a fair number of ups and downs, but one constant remains - no kids. Just hasn't been happening for us. We've been through some rough patches with that, but really the thing I find most disconcerting at the moment is how well Allen and I fit into the "friendly people with no kids" stereotype. I go places with my friend's three kids. Their youngest daughter runs up to me church saying "Miss Natalie!"; their son tells me about his video games, and their oldest daughter goes shopping with me sometimes. Allen dangles all the little boys by their ankles after church, and we're generally "good with kids." Don't get me wrong - there are moments when I get a little queasy hearing about yet another birth/baby shower/new pregnancy. I might walk a little faster past the baby aisle at Target, but I'm generally ok with things. It's just funny how well we quickly settle down into certain roles. People with kids act one way. People who are glad not to have kids act another way. People making the best of not having kids tend to do a little more traveling and "take an interest" in the families around them. I guess I'm turning into my mom after all =) (I mean this in a good way - she didn't have me for eight years and previous to that ran the church youth group with my dad. All I need is a dog and keys to the church van, and I'm set.)
This isn't a pity party post. I don't particularly want sympathy. It's just more a reflection on coming to a point where, although I still desire a family, I no longer feel so completely left out of God's story and the life of His Church. There are a lot of broken people in the Bible - people who were incomplete and yet loved of God and who did their work anyway. I've been reading a study of Ecclesiastes which just confirms that we live in a funny old world and that the ability to laugh at it a gift from God (possibly the gift granted the Proverbs 31 woman?). Sometimes things don't work out the way we planned, and according the Ecclesiastes that seems to mean that we should pick up a bottle of red and curl up the couch with a Marx Brother's movie. The good things in life are still good, and the bad things will be evened up in Heaven. It's a sort of sanctified cynicism, a sort of holy hedonism that appeals to me. There's room here for me both be broken and to put that brokenness aside and enjoy playing Super Mario with Allen.
All that said I've by no means given up on us having kids. Even with everything still in boxes or (worse) half out of boxes I'm starting to feel settled. I don't feel constantly plagued by depression. I have a house and the expectation of being in one place at the least the next few years. It's a good place to be, and it's a good time to start asking questions.