So I've been thinking. Generally, when I'm depressed, I'm very depressed indeed, and when I'm busy or distracted, I assume that I'm fine. (And sometimes this is true.) It requires me taking a step back to see what things are really missing in my life. I tend to do this more when I'm depressed, which skews the results a little, but I've always found that unhappiness or unrest is a great goad to self-evaluation.
My conclusion is that two big things are missing in my life.
First, I don't have enough close girlfriends. I love my husband and we're terrifically close and I get to spend a lot of time with him. But all the other people we spend time with are pretty close friends but not very close - and few of them are women and none of those are really "bosom friends," you know. I do have good girlfriends, they're sort of all over the country (and other countries). But none with whom I feel that I share my day-to-day existence. I would benefit from the company of more women.
Second, people are not demanding nearly enough of me. I don't mean that I stare at the wall at work (I don't) or that I am never swamped in social obligations (this happens often, but I feel just as lonely - see above) or that I cannot fill my time. I can always fill my time. I fill it with nonsense, which I generally enjoy. However. I moved here almost six months ago and nobody needs me. When I walk out of church, somebody ought to notice that I'm an adult, married, have my own car, don't have children to look after, and show up there fairly frequently, and am just crying out to be pressed into service to do something, possibly several things, possibly something every night of the week. The rest of it is my fault. Charities at which I might like to volunteer cannot fairly be expected to find me. I need to go looking - I am sure there are many who would love to have some of my time. There are lots of things I'd like to do, from pro bono legal work to helping at a soup kitchen or a shelter. But I got busy with social engagements and work and haven't.
I guess what I mean is that part of what makes the longing for a family so acute is that there's a whole side of my personality with which I'm not doing anything. Because I don't have babies to care for, I've thrown my energy into very different, more self-focused and less nurturing activities. In particular, that means building my career - whether that just happened that way or is some sort of cutting-off-my-nose-to-spite-my-face type revenge against the world or God or someone who is irritating me, I can't entirely say. Maybe both. Probably both.
I'm not suggesting that the hole in my heart where the love for all the little babies should be isn't real, or that it would be filled and smoothed over if I only visited nursing homes and got a dog. It's real, all right, and it's not going away. But, I don't need to wear away at the edges of it until it becomes the Grand Canyon of babylessness.