Risking Play

The perks of getting married later in life are that you get to watch your friends do it first.  I watched my friends one-by-one, get married and start families.  They have kindly invited me into their homes and into the lives of their precious little people.  This honor holds a deep, aching place in my heart.

It’s been fun to be the pseudo-aunt, the one who gives them cuddles, buys them gifts, and watches them grow inch-by-inch.  I parrot their adorable anecdotes and cherish those little arms wrapped around my neck.  In the midst of the kisses and snuggles, I’m aware of my friends’ exhaustion. They have given up themselves for their children.  There is a costly sacrifice inherent in parenting.  While watching as mom’s best friend, the sacrifice feels outright terrifying.

And sometimes I am just paralyzed there.

I get stuck in the “what if’s,” fearful that my sanity will fall apart, and that the tightly trained three-ring circus will crash with a roaring halt.

For the longest time, I felt like the single outsider/ observer.  It had been over a decade of bad and/or awkward dates, wondering what was “wrong” with me.  My heart barely hoped that marriage, much less motherhood, would be a possibility for me. That season was filled with the inherent struggle between hoping for more and comfortable complacency in singleness. I cherished my freedom and independence.

It may have been that more than anything, I cherished my control.  

I wasn’t living my dreams, but I also was not risking and was not disappointed. 

It kept me living a manageable, albeit small, life.

I chose to deaden hope with control instead of risking kindness and life.

Fast forward to my current stage of life, and much to my delighted surprise, we are newlyweds of 6 months. We are enjoying and figuring each other out.  Our story is just starting.  But as a woman who is already labeled as “advanced maternal age,” I am feeling the desire (and self-induced pressure) to get this show on the road.

When are we gonna have babies?

(inwardly “WHAT??!!??”)

My inner eye struggles to foresee our future life. I automatically kick into high gear, overanalyzing and naming the imaginable dilemmas. What if we can’t get pregnant? What if our child gets really sick? How will I wear the hats of wife, mother and physician well?  How do I model Christ to our child?  That all feels like a lot.

My response to the mini-panic attack is to plan and fix it, to control.  Can I work part-time? Would I want to stay at home with the kids? What would this do to our marriage?  I’m running hard. My anxiety is palpable, and my insufficiency is laid bare.  I am not enough here.

This onslaught of emotions is ultimately about risk and control.  My unsaid mantra was, “If I can’t win, I don’t want to play.”  Now it occurs to me that if I don’t risk and play, there is no possibility of winning… or living fully for that matter.

In this whirlwind of fears and questions comes the still, small voice of the Lord reminding me, I’m not alone and I am not always enough, but He is.  He calms the storm with His presence. He offers Himself in the darkest of places.

Although it is often not as dire as I predict, I know there will be times of deep disappointments.  And, I am finding that my tight grip on control is loosening as I continue to reach for Him and begin to play.

Aimee is an Asian American physician, recently married to the love of her life.  She loves deep, honest conversation, being silly with her husband and pondering God’s presence in this broken world.  She is honored to contribute to Red Tent Living, but requests anonymity in respect for her personal and professional privacy.