My husband and I were at a major crossroads in our lives and in our relationship. Behind us were five years of trying to start a family together, to no avail. Our hearts had been broken, our stamina worn down, and we were ragged.
We'd both had enough of the crazy quest for a baby, and my husband was ready to call it a day. But I was not. I had always wanted to be a mother, and the less likely that seemed, the more I wanted it. The more I saw other families, the more I wanted my own. The more difficult having children became, the more determined I was to find a way to make it happen.
Finally, a turning point came when a friend confided that she and her husband had also dealt with infertility. "We just decided that our little family of two was enough," she told me. At first I thought, "Yes, but..." Yes, but that's okay for you, but not for me. Yes, but a family is a mommy and a daddy and babies, everyone knows that. But when I looked around me, at the people I loved and whose company I chose to keep, I saw families of all types-some with moms, some with dads, some with grandparents raising children, and some with no children at all. They were all real families.
My own perceptions of a family had been shaped by the family I'd been born into. We were a group of people-mommy, daddy, three babies--who loved one another, warts and all, and made an effort to get along. We had differences in taste and opinion, but we also shared common ground. We cared for one another, and when the chips were down, we pulled together. My family had been made up of people I could count on, people I loved and trusted. By that definition and by the feeling in my gut, I understood that my husband and I were a family, too. We were a united front moving through the world together. We would be there for one another, in sickness and in health, when times were flush, and when they weren't. We were a group of people (plus a cat and a fish) who had chosen to live together. We were a family of two.
Sometimes, we get so caught up in chasing our dreams that we lose track of what it was we really wanted in the first place. Sometimes, a shift in perspective can be enough to show us that the things we thought we could never have were there for us all along.