Why didn’t I ever think of this?

It’s Holy Week and we’re crazy busy at my church, where I co-lead the choirs. We have services every night. After the Holy Thursday Mass yesterday, we were invited to stay and meditate, somewhat like Jesus’ invitation to the disciples to stay with him in the garden of Gethsemane after the Last Supper. While I sat there, breathing incense and staring at Jesus on the cross, I thought about a conversation that took place earlier in the chapel where we rehearse. Somebody talked about her age in 1963 when President Kennedy was shot and then we all started comparing how old we were then. I was 11, home from school with chicken pox. My friend who started the conversation was already in college. That led me to thinking about my husband Fred, who was 15 years older than me. In 1963, he had been married for four years–without children.

Fred married his first wife in 1959. Until I was sitting in the church last night, I never thought about how they didn’t adopt their first child until 1966. They spent seven years trying to conceive before they adopted a son, followed by a daughter two years later. In 1976, 17 years into their marriage, Fred’s first wife became pregnant and gave birth to their second son. All those years, they must have been living with infertility and worrying that they might never have children. I’m not Fred’s only wife who spent a long time without children. God knows why I never thought about this before.

Now I wish I could talk to Fred about it. Was he worried? Did he agree to adopt because he wanted children or because Annette did? It’s one of those times when I wish I could have Fred back for a few minutes to ask all the questions to which I don’t have answers. It would be swell if he could identify some of the tools in the garage and show me how to use the lawnmower, too.

Do I dare ask his ex? She was here for Fred’s funeral, but I didn’t think about it then. Do I just file this under ancient history that is none of my business?

I thought about lots of things during that long silence at church, little things like how much my feet hurt from standing and how I looked forward to having a snack when I got home to big things like thanking God for my many blessings. But realizing Fred and his first wife were childless for a long time really got my attention. After all that they went through, I came along asking for children. No wonder Fred wasn’t up for another round.

Thanks for letting me share. Happy Easter to everyone. Please try to enjoy whatever you have in your life and not let what you don’t have spoil the good stuff.

5 thoughts on “Why didn’t I ever think of this?

  1. Very interesting! That actually leaves me with another question… How long were they married after they had their children?
    For my hubby, they got pregnant six months into the marriage (which happened six months into their dating). There was no real *married* time before kids came along. When the first one arrived, to hear him tell it, he felt abandoned. After that, their differences in parenting styles became the crux of the problems in the relationship. They had three more kids, and each time there were promises that things would be different, but they only got worse. He left by the time the youngest was little more than a year and a half old.
    So that makes me wonder about Fred… After 7 years of agonizing over having kids, how did the arrival of the 3 they made affect the relationship?


  2. Professor, your comment raises some interesting questions. Fred and his first wife split when the youngest was six. The older two were troubled teenagers by then. I know there were disagreements over parenting styles. I experienced that with Fred myself. He was a hands-off kind of dad. So maybe having the kids messed up his first marriage while not having any together allowed us to concentrate on each other. Sigh.


  3. At first I thought the above links might be spam, but no, they go to a very good article about how hard it is sometimes to listen to women complaining about the burdens of motherhood for people who can't have children. Worth a look.


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