Another kind of richness.Posted: November 4, 2013
My Dad lives near me, so I get to see him as much as I want (without being a pest). The last time I went, I was really weepy. I arrived in the rain with Cuban sandwiches and diet Pepsis. We sat down to watch Star Trek: Next Generation—which we’d watched together all while I was in high school, and have since rediscovered on Netflix, and so are watching straight through from the beginning—but first I wanted to ask him some questions.
I told him how I’d just gotten my IUD, which was much more emotional than I’d anticipated. Though preventing conception is exactly what I want, and I can reverse it tomorrow if I want, it feels sobering to have an actual physical device in my womb now, blocking children. I asked him why he’d chosen to have children. That I’m so happy, that all of my dreams are coming true, but that none of that had ever been guaranteed, for me or for any of his five children, so why did he and Mom take the risk? What if we lived horribly unhappy lives? What did they want out of us?
He said simply that having children brought a certain richness to life, and that was the kind of richness he and Mom had wanted. And that I was choosing a different kind of richness. I’m mostly at peace with that, though I also tried to describe how the physical pain I was feeling was different from any other physical pain. That when the IUD went in, it hurt like hell, and even though it was only for a few seconds, it broke open a reservoir of emotion I didn’t know I had. That I’d felt very fragile on the drive home, and cried though I didn’t know why. That I could still feel it, glowing like an ember. He listened and said, Yes, I’ll never know that kind of pain.
We settled in to watch Star Trek. Re-watching it has reminded me of just how formative the series was for me as a teenager. Without being aware of it at the time, I was mapping the kind of life I wanted: a new adventure every day, and a band of friends to brave it with.