Conversing with my younger daughter today, she offered an apt anecdote for my previous post. She shared that one of her friends had recently undergone in vitro fertilization, in hopes of bearing a child. (BTW, my retelling of the story isn’t verbatim, so some details may be inexact.)
My daughter’s friend was painfully aware of her husband’s ambivalence about having children. (They were happily married. As he saw it, their status quo was quite comfortable; why introduce an unpredictable variable into an already satisfying relationship?)
At the IVF specialist’s urging, the wife requested they consult a professional counselor and the husband begrudgingly acceded.
[IVF therapy (psychological counseling) is a fairly standard recommendation. Folks experiencing infertility often sustain a psychological hit. If an in vitro procedure fails to produce a pregnancy, stress levels intensify. It’s got to be agonizing.]
I wasn’t there to eavesdrop on their conversation. During the session, I’m told, the counselor queried the husband about his childhood — what kind of toys he played with, what he envisioned his future job would be, the things that energized his imagination.
Again, I don’t know his precise answers, but I can speculate: what dolls (if any) he might have had tended more towards flingshots than baby dolls, Lego/Duplo structures remained in place only until a suitable device had been designed to explode/dismantle them, and his toys featured many wheeled vehicles. What a surprise. Who would have predicted this?
Stereotyping? Perhaps, but arguably within the norms of a bell curve.
[ASIDE: My 15-month old grandson adores the two-wheel trash cart, the four-wheel red wagon and a discarded two-wheel golf cart, all within reach in our garage. If this little fella is anything like his daddy — and I think he is — he’ll ride a bicycle (sans training wheels) before his third birthday.]
Back to the IVF couple. Once this husband shared his childhood loves and aspirations, the counselor noted the trajectory of the man’s life: the boy who pretended to detonate Lego creations now designs high-rise buildings.
Eventually, the counselor turned to the wife for answers to the same questions. The wife’s response? From her earliest recollections, the woman recalled playing with dolls: paper dolls, baby dolls, stuffed animals. In each case, the woman related to her playthings as a mother would to her beloved child.
“What,” the counselor asked, “did you think you’d be in adulthood?”
[For brevity’s sake, I’ll address “cultural conditioning” with one remark. Culture didn’t generate my (or any woman’s) inward parts. Do some women never wish to be mothers? Sure … just normal variations on the bell curve.]
Not unlike their male counterparts, women aspire to be many things: engineers, doctors, nurses, pilots, teachers — and yes, even President of the United States! But genetics and physical structure enable women not just to bear their offspring, but to treasure and train (disciple) these little ones who are briefly — so briefly — entrusted to our care.
With all the possibilities the world could offer, what higher calling could there be than this?