Well, you can guess how. I didn't visit the bathroom early and often today to make a voyage of CM discovery, as I have been wont to do these past few months, when it was nowhere to be found. I don't think I went until after lunch, when I'd been at work for hours. And I was completely taken aback by what, in happier days, I used to see every month. I never would have imagined that something so essentially gross would be cause for celebration - having a messed-up body changes you. So the fertile CM is back. Slight yesterday, quite definite today. We'll see about tomorrow (I may not be all the way back to a normal-length fertile phase yet?)
When I interviewed for my job (I promise this connects), they asked me where I saw myself in ten years. It should be an easy question for someone with a career (ha!) to answer, but I can't answer that question at all (people at work still ask me now and I do no better. Fortunately my interviewers decided to overlook my complete inability to come up with an intelligent response). What I thought when they asked the question in the interview was, immediately, I want a family and I don't care if I never work again. You can see how having that at the forefront of your mind would make it difficult to come up with a reasonably accurate but more palatable answer to keep the conversation going.
So one of my big problems dealing with infertility is that, absent children, I have no idea what I want. I just keep running my mind into a brick wall in my attempts to picture my future. Subtract babies. Think forward. Put imagination in gear. Oh, no, wall - CRASH! Repeat.
Then last week I had a blessing. A friend invited me to a Catholic lawyers' and professionals' organization event. It was put on very nicely and all sorts of good things. Then they introduced the speaker. She was supposed to talk about how to live your faith in the DC working world. Great. She didn't, by the way; she talked about the different activities her organization puts on, but that wasn't the problem. Oh, I should note that this woman is very impressive and accomplished - not that I really care. The man who introduced her made me so angry I almost walked out. I have what probably amounts to a fairly unique view of the role of women, the world, and their faith. (I am persuaded that I am right, so I don't care whether everyone else thinks I'm crazy.) And I've had to confront this issue early and often - I went to a competitive undergrad, then law school, and now I'm an attorney. Everyone has always had notions for me - how high-powered my career should be, that sort of thing. So the role of women is something I think about a lot, or, perhaps, try not to think about.
Anyway, the introduction. I think the very first thing he said was that she was the first woman and the first layman to hold a particular ecclesiastical office in the diocese. She is not 90 and she is not a Supreme Court justice, so the "first woman" crap - gag me now. I'll tolerate sixty seconds of it about Sandra Day O'Connor (don't like her opinions, but I get how her life was unusual), but not for a woman who has lived this woman's life. She should be able to shine on her own merits - or not at all. The other problem, of course, would be that if no layman had ever held the office before, there probably was a good reason only ordained ministers of the Church held it until the last ten years - and they should have kept it that way.
Anyway, the introduction went on, and on, and on. I heard more about her being the first woman at things (truly, nothing that would make anybody stand and take note - jobs and career moves you've never heard of. Oh, including being the first woman president of their organization. If anything, that reflects poorly on the organization - not well on her). And the gushing - it was terrible. He threw in a point about how she had been so trailblazing because she had found a way to "serve God and the Church as a woman." Poor Ss. Therese of Lisieux, and Catherine of Siena, and Joan of Arc - and Mary, the Mother of God. If only they had had this woman to show them how to serve the Church as a woman, imagine what they might have been able to accomplish!
The stupid introducing man finished by thanking her personally, on the basis that he has a ten-year-old daughter - and the girl is lucky that women like this exist, to show her how she can live a worthwhile life too. Too bad the fellow doesn't think his own wife is example enough for the girl. And, seriously - if the speaker and the ten-year-old were both working on being, I don't know, blind stock-car racers, then fine, you need a trailblazer there. But a Catholic woman with a job? Seriously?
So anyway, neither during the introduction nor during her rather pointless address was it ever mentioned whether she had children. Or what her husband's name was. Or what her experience of marriage was like. Those are her vocation. Her job is - a job. Maybe it's a great job, but that's the best of a bad lot. Your real life, and your real faith, is the people you love, not what you earn your paycheck doing. Her talk made it clear that she doesn't know that (or chose not to express it to us? Sort of missed the title of her own remarks), and neither do the people who know her.
So after I was done being alternately patronized and bored, I went home and was struck rather forcefully by a realization. If I really, really wanted it, I could have her stellar career. I don't want it. I want to have time to be at home, see my friends, call my sister, learn new dessert recipes; more than I want to have a cool CV. In fact - I don't want to have a cool CV at all. I'd like to have jobs that demand something of me, are a little fun, intriguing. If other people think they're cool, bonus. But just to have a title? To have a lot of authority? Be the "first" at things? Assume positions because they're prestigious? No. Maybe if I could get a job that would catapult me into position to teach law - OK, then, because then I could have a fun job and also have summers off and be home in time to make dinner. Score.
Anyway, I realized that although my future seems like a blank to me, there's actually a lot that I do know - starting with never wanting this woman's life. My faith may be suffering - and though I didn't see it, hers may be very deep - but I never want someone to introduce me as a Catholic - and talk about my jobs. Even if I never have kids, I want my marriage to be so important that nobody who knows me could miss it. And though I have only an itty sliver of a view of what I want my future to look like, there is something there. In my mind, I see myself with a house full of at least a few people, pulling something or other out of the oven. No babies running around. I don't know what I do the rest of my day, but I know I want a home, into which to welcome people; I want people around to love (and to feed); and I want time enough to be invested more heavily in my home than I am now, and less in work (not that I have to work excessively hard as it is).
So I do have a future. I don't have to have kids. I don't know what else I'll do. It sounds silly to me to be really invested in making your home a home when you don't have kids, but I think that's what would make me happy. So until I receive further direction, that's what I'll do. I don't know the rest of the story, but if I can devote a reasonable proportion of my life to making pie, I don't think anything else could be so bad.
In the meantime, I want to get myself on a schedule where I have more life and less work (which means I need to get to bed at a decent hour and get up earlier). I want to get into a churchgoing arrangement where I belong - I'm going to need to find a daily Mass in English to make that work. I don't need to fill myself to the brim with fertility medication and I don't care whether my estradiol and progesterone are in a 1:10 ratio ever again, but I want my old familiar (apparently completely healthy) CM back, I want my digestion to work well again, I want my accustomed energy back, and, once I can drag myself off the couch without the Jaws of Life, I want to get my 22-year-old figure back, and wear cute pants again (!), and skip off to work in my adorable Elie Tahari tweed suit that I loved so much and only fit for about six months. I don't need miraculous abilities (you know, like childbearing) that I never had. I will contentedly settle for the restoration of the unremarkable health that I once took for granted.
On an unrelated note (I was going to make these messages of equal length, but I can't seem to get control of this brevity thing), I would ask your prayers for my husband's uncle. He is eighty and has terminal cancer - he just learned today. He has less than a year to live. He's actually a religious priest, and probably less afraid to die than anyone I know (other than the other monks in the order - they're all very matter-of-fact about death. They care for their own brothers when they're dying, so they see death as part of their ordinary lives). I know his siblings will really miss him, to say nothing of his numerous nephews and nieces. And I will surely miss him too. He said our wedding Mass. He's a wonderful man.