I don’t really have much in the way of little people in my life. When you’re a queer couple without kids with mostly straight married friends, you end up entering the “baby pit” years. Your friends sort of drop off the Earth for a while, as one by one they give up sleep, socialization, and functional higher-language use to devote their time to the wee people that just turned their entire lives upside-down.
(For the record, that’s totally what they should be doing. This is not me saying that parents should not spend the vast majority of their energy with their newborn kids. I’m not a monster.)
But watching everyone else experience something you know you won’t have? Sometimes, that’s hard. I saw it with marriages (and decided I didn’t want one at all, so there, right up until the law changed). When I saw friends having children, there was a part of me that had to step back. No matter how far we come with equal rights and protections, there will never be a child that is half-me and half-him, genetically speaking. There’s no surrogacy that can create that child. It cannot happen. There’s no magic, no treatment, no process. It’s a non-potential. And despite my opinions on how little I think blood matters, there are drives inherent in a human being that I possess as much as anyone else—someone born of myself and the person I love most..? Some part of my brain wanted that, and was reminded with every baby notice there was zero chance.
On the Joyful Occasion of So-and-So’s Birth! I’d read the cards. And underneath I couldn’t help but read nonexistent words: Reminder: You Don’t Get To Have This.
There are also so many kids out there without homes. Adoption exists, and I certainly have friends who are adopted, have adopted, and plan to adopt. Don’t get me wrong, my husband and I did have that discussion. But the realities of some of my health issues, things in the past, and the level of high scrutiny involved in a gay couple adopting left us deciding pretty clearly. No, we would not be parents.
Frankly, for the majority of the time, that’s okay. And over the last couple of years two things have happened. One: I’ve grown past that feeling of loss (most of the time). The older I get, the less it troubles me—while it seemed to be a major thing in my late twenties to early thirties, now I’m forty maybe the biological clock is just running down its batteries.Two: our friends are returning from the baby pits and becoming more able to be social again, and those babies are now little people. We’re not quite so alone or limited in our social engagements. We’ve played D&D with a friend’s eldest son (he plays an awesome monk). We have a goddaughter (in likely the loosest and most pagan interpretation of that title ever to exist). We play boardgames with these little people, and LEGO, and when we gather with their families, we have a good time, kids included.
So, when I had a visitor yesterday, one of these little people in question who likes board games and LEGO, and he gave us a present, it was heartwarming.
When I saw what it was? Those are his thumbprints made into reindeer, including a Rudolph with a red nose. It was pretty much all I could do not to cry on the spot.
I’m not sure how well I hid it. As you can see, it’s obviously made with love, and it’s in a position of honour on our tree. It’s also a little-person handcrafted ornament for the tree. That’s not the kind of thing I ever thought I’d get to have. Our tree tells the story of our lives. I can say that now, since as my husband pointed out, my tradition of an-ornament-a-year spread to him when we met, and now there are as many ornaments that are “us” as there are ornaments that are “me-from-before-I-met-him.” When we decorate the tree, that story gets retold, and it’s a joy to do so.
So now, when I go to visit my friends over Christmas, and I see their trees with the hand-made ornaments, I don’t think there’ll be as much bittersweetness to it.
There’s a little person story on my tree, too.