I asked my husband a question yesterday. A seemingly simple question, or so I thought. Of all of our travels, what was your favourite moment?
He looked at me puzzled for a few seconds. He then proceeded to list off a few different moments, one or two from each of our big trips and even a few from local day trips and long weekend escapes:
That time we spent an evening eating crab overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge; or when we were at the luxury hotel (our honeymoon splurge) in Ko Phi Phi as we watched the sunset over the ocean.
We cannot forget that time we passed an entire afternoon drinking way too much on a beautiful day in a pool in Panama; or when we were backpacking with Sadie near Upper Kananaskis Lake in Canada on a picture perfect day. Or, that time in Cambodia when we sat in our hotel courtyard during a torrential downpour eating a delicious and simple egg breakfast; or, even that time when we were on Wayna Picchu sitting together in a quiet spot with our feet hanging over the edge enjoying a sip of water as we watched the clouds swirl and dance through the valleys below us.
For me, my favourite moment was simple – an evening in Siem Reap, Cambodia. We had spent the day touring the temples of Angkor. The temples were phenomenal, but not my “moment”. My moment was that evening.
That evening, we decided to have a late dinner. So, we spent some downtime at the hotel after a very busy day. We nursed our sore feet back to life in the hotel pool as the sun set. Eventually, we walked a few short blocks into the main part of town. We strolled aimlessly through the streets. Mixing with the crowds. Enjoying the smells and the sounds.
Finally, we settled into a pub that we had been eying the night before for a beer and a bite to eat. We got a great seat outside, so we could people watch. The food was phenomenal. I have no idea what we talked about, but we sure enjoyed the ambiance – the bustling street; the tuk-tuk drivers calling at us to take a ride; the little black kitten who loved our feet; the locals selling their handicrafts but not in an overly obnoxious way; and the children begging for money. We sat there for hours. We relished in the cool evening temperature; marveled at the antics of the tourists; and, our hearts sank for the small children in need. We enjoyed the experience, and we let it slowly soak into us to forever become part of our beings.
Eventually, we decided it was time to move on to check out the night market. We loved the markets throughout Thailand and Cambodia, but this one was great and extra memorable because it wasn’t too busy. We were there during the slow season, so the tourist crowds were not too bad. We wondered for what felt like the perfect amount of time. I bought a cute skirt, a dress and a few bracelets. My husband bought another pair of knock-off sunglasses. Nothing of real significance, but we had a great time.
Much later that night on the way back to our hotel, we ran into a little girl. We had run into her the night before, when she begged us for money. She broke our heart. She was probably no more than 5 or 6, and by our Canadian standards she was out way past her bedtime. She spoke great English. She was adorable, and yet so sad. So, because of the previous day’s events, this evening we were more prepared and we brought pencil crayons from home just in case we ran into her again. So, when she was right there waiting for us, we didn’t give her money, but we talked with her. We asked her about school and what she liked to do for fun. She was a bit taken back by our questions, but she settled in and seemed to enjoy the conversation. We gave her the pencil crayons and told her to study hard at school. She ran away, back to her parents, with a smile that light up her entire face, our hearts and maybe even the entire street. We didn’t see her the following night and even though I know it is unlikely, I still like to believe she was at home colouring.
If there were one moment in my life that I could capture in a time capsule to be re-played and re-lived, this is it. I would repeat that entire evening, and I wouldn’t change a thing.
It’s funny how our favourite moments are not the time we spend viewing and experiencing world landmarks like Machu Picchu, the Panama Canal, Angkor Wat or the Emerald Buddha; but rather, the simple moments we spend together, enjoying each other’s company without distractions.
I’m guessing I caught a few of you with that title, but trust me, it’s not what you think – I absolutely did not drink during any of our 4 pregnancies (although in the end it wouldn’t have made a difference).
Anyways, on to the point. I’ve mentioned before that we are not very close with either of our families. (I’m sure I will dedicate a few more posts to that topic!). Anyways, I was thinking of unsupportive things people have said to us, and thought of another one from my own Dad. Before I go into what he said, I need to provide a little bit of info on my family. We are a blended family. My Dad has 2 biological kids – my brother and I. Both in our 30s, married, working professionals, and doing rather well for ourselves. He has 2 healthy kids. I am on the path to some sort of family, but who knows what that will look like. My Step-mom has 2 biological kids – my step-brother and step-sister. Both in their early 20s. She’s in university. He’s on a path to nowhere as he has failed out of multiple universities and has addiction issues.
Anyways, my Dad, with extended family around (who have no idea about our situation) said we have 2 kids who are lost in life and need to sort things out while clearly identifying myself and my step-brother.
A few things about this comment that bothered me to my very core:
- First, I wasn’t aware that I was lost in life, I just thought I don’t love my chosen career and I am coping with the loss of 4 babies (and I thought I was doing a pretty decent job of it all things considered). I had chosen to talk to talk to you about my career and family planning because I thought I could trust you and turn to you for support. Ops, I guess I was wrong based on that rather insensitive comment.
- Second, thanks for hinting to the extended family that we are going through something – we are really excited about getting to deal with the repercussions of that (is it sad, that I think sometimes it might be easier for everyone to think I’m an alcoholic, rather than have to explain our situation time and time again?). That was just awesome of you. Really it was.
- Third, we’ve worked incredibly hard to be where we are at. To say the least, we are dedicated, energetic and motivated. We have both achieved multiple university degrees, work for very highly respected firms, and excel at our projects. I don’t think that compares to the university drop-out who cannot hold down a job.
- Fourth, recurrent pregnancy loss affects every element of our lives, just as alcoholism does for an alcoholic. But, I don’t believe that these situations can be compared in any way. I believe alcoholism is self-destructive partially by choice, RPL is most definitely not by choice. No-one desperate to be a parent would ever chose to lose their baby (or 4 babies) before they are even born (I’m shocked I have to explain this to you, but there it was spelt out in a very obvious easy to understand, English sentence). Alcoholics cope with stress in a socially unacceptable way, where as we are coping in the most socially acceptable way possible (possibly even to the detriment to ourselves).
Note that I am not trying to belittle the hardships that go along with being an alcoholic, and I completely acknowledge that alcoholism is not an easy life. I am not even trying to say one situation is worse than then the other. They both deeply and profoundly affect every element of the individual’s life. What I am trying to say is that I’m just not sure you can compare the two situations in a cut and dry manner. They are just so different.
I’m not sure what my Dad was thinking that day when he opened his mouth, but I was so shocked that I didn’t even know how to respond. I’m not one to be at a loss for words, but I sure was that day. So, rather than engaging in a very public family argument that would involve me having to tell everyone what is going on with my husband and I, I simply let it go.
But, the end result is that my dad is fading out of our support system. For the last few years, including prior to our miscarriages, I had been talking to him about some of the other stresses in our life, such as my job and career. He spent his career in the same industry, so I thought his perspective would be helpful. But it turns out by letting him into my emotional side, he has determined that I am lost in life. The leap he made was fascinating to me. This type of response is part of the reason I’ve been so afraid of taking a medical leave of absence from work – how will people perceive me? Am I somehow weak because I cannot do it all? When my own dad, who is supposed to be supportive of me no-matter what, determines I am lost and make me feel horrible about myself, maybe other professionals will view this situation the same? And maybe my professional career is over? Yes, I realize rationally this is quite the jump for me to make, but I’m told fears usually aren’t rational.
So, he’s no longer part of the decision-making conversations because, if asking him for advice on what to do about my job or talking to him about the loss of 4 babies means that we are somehow comparable to my step-brother’s problems, then he’s going to fade further out of our support system. So, now he does not get to see the emotional side of this journey, and he simply gets told final decisions and outcomes. I hate this, but right now, it’s about self protection and we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.
This decision is a coping mechanism for my husband and I. We have made a very clear decision that only those who support us will get to be part of our journey. Now, I’m not going to cut my dad out of my life, but for now, I am going to cut him out of early notices when we make decisions, I am no longer going to be asking questions about his opinions, or really, any sort of emotional conversations both in respect to my career and to my future family.