1 of the things married couples get all the sympathy for is infertility.
Ok, let me start this again with at least a measure of patience and grace.
Sometimes, being single can be hard because people totally forget you may also be mourning your infertility.
For some single people, this sense of grief and loss is attached to the fact that they are the bearers of aging wombs and decreasing ova supplies, meaning that unless they meet someone soon (ok, like, tomorrow), the chance of a pregnancy, let alone one which ends with a healthy, live baby is about zero. Unless God wants to do the whole virgin-birth dealio again for non-specific reasons. This is, again, obviously more of a problem for people who are maintaining chastity (ie, the sexy sex is for marriage only).
For some single people, this loss is related to the fact they would feel like an idiot being a 60 year old dad and are pretty sure they won’t find someone willing to have a baby with them at that age anyway. Not that it’s necessarily totes impossible. But, as with ovaries, testicles eventually wind down activities, going from ‘primed to launch’ to ‘back in the good old days’ and biologically, it’s the end of the Space Race (why oh why did I go with ‘launch’ as a metaphor?!!).
Some single people, as indeed some married people, are super happy not to have kids, for many and various reasons (pretty sure we’ve subdued the earth, don’t like ’em, have rare genetic disease I’d pass on, whatever whatever, it varies).
And some are like me.
My genetic code (well, at least some of it, the bits I share with my siblings anyway!) was passed on into posterity three years ago with the birth of Eleanor Grace Hayes. Isaac John Hayes followed last year and looks even more like me, mwahahahahahaaa!!! I was several hundred kilometres away from Ellie when she was born, and was in fact sitting at a bus stop after a New Testament class when a photo of her squished up, evil emperor/glaring cat face came through to my phone. I’ve bored people before by telling them I was TOTALLY unprepared for the rush of emotions upon seeing her picture. I gasped aloud and stopped breathing, and immediately wanted to clutch her to me and kill anything that even looked like getting close. Bare knuckle! Bring it on!
And I love Ellie and now Isaac as well and am super happy to be an Aunty, especially cos I can hand them back to their parents when we’ve all had enough of each other. And my last name lives on! (For whatever that’s worth), and I get the joy of watching my brother hold a small version of himself (which, for the record, is super weird).
And I’m quite content with that, y’know? At the moment I don’t feel a deep deep craving to be a mother myself. I kinda never have in an ongoing sense.
And yet, every now and again, in the same way that I can suddenly be overwhelmed with sadness over the lack of a partner in my life, I can be shockingly, gut-wrenchingly sad that I don’t have a child and probably never will.
My infertility doesn’t include months of self-injections, painful gynaecological procedures or awkward encounters with nurses bearing plastic lidded jars.
It does include endless mornings of churches full of families, family full of families, TV full of families, advertising full of families, pinterests full of retch-worthy motherhood quotes and rubbish about the flowering of my gender only being found in parenthood. Yeah, my life is lonely and unfulfilled cos I don’t have kids…
My infertility doesn’t involve the gut-wrenching pain of miscarriages and the frustration, anger and disappointment in a partner that can go along with infertility for a couple.
And I am not trying to belittle those things at all! This isn’t a comment about what it’s like for a couple to experience infertility, it’s a comment on what it’s like as a single person to mourn a hypothetical loss.
Fortunately for me, my hypothetical loss is recognised by a God who promises that the eunuchs (who can’t have children for obvious reasons!) will find family and eternal life with The Lord. The barren woman will sing. I will be fruitful even if there is no fruit from my loins. The desire to give life is fulfilled through me by my gracious Saviour, and in the dark moments of surprising grief, I can sometimes manage to be open enough to this revelation to be comforted and inspired by it.
It may have never occurred to you that it’s not just the childless couples in your church family who grieve their childlessness, and if not, I invite you now to consider how your story might encourage and support those around you.
And let us all rejoice in the everlasting life, the multiplying family we’ve been drawn into, the baby machine that is the good news of Jesus, bringing new life everywhere, popping out new believers left, right and centre, fecund with the lavish, self-giving grace of God.
NB: this is part four of a series on singleness I originally published on another blog, billy and i.