Warning. Contains frank talk about stuff married people do.
One thing about all that, though, is that it's more obvious to others that I am now an adult. Except for some sweet old ladies at the grocery store (bless their hearts), people assume I'm no longer a college student. They see the wedding ring on my finger and they know that I am a young, married woman. So, of course, when getting to know me better, what are the first things they ask? Where are you from? What do you do? How long have you been married? Do you have any kids?
And this is where I stumble a little. For some people, my sweet Levi included, the answer to this (especially when addressing a stranger or an acquaintance) is a simple, "Not yet." The end. Easy. Clear. To the point. It both says we do want to have children and that we do not have them yet.
But the answer is much harder for someone like me.
If you'll allow me to paint a word picture for you, I'll contrast myself and Levi. He is the kind of person who keeps the deepest parts of himself, well, in the deepest part of himself. It requires a very special relationship with someone for him to share those things. And even then, he's constantly assessing just how much is enough to share without overloading another person.
I, on the other hand, prefer to simply reach into my chest, yank out my heart, and hold it out for any and every person to see and inspect. I'm like the titular ark from Raiders of the Lost Ark. People want to know what's inside, but they aren't aware of or ready for my true nature. And then every feeling/thought/emotion/wondering/question/idea comes pouring out of me and melts their faces off.
I wanted to find a GIF from Raiders of the Lost Ark to demonstrate the awful power I possess, but then I watched it again and it's gross. It's mega gross.
So then I found a chocolate bunny having the same thing done to him by a blow dryer. Still disturbing, but perhaps a little less "Parental Advisory."
Anyway, all disturbing imagery aside, this is what it's often like when people ask me what they believe are harmless questions, such as "Do you have any kids?" The simple answer is, "not yet." The Mary Beth answer involves all of the posts on this blog and then some more stuff that would all result in the poor questioner having his/her face melted off.
An example from the past:
Levi and I were having dinner with a family from church. This family had many children, ranging from teenager to baby. After some thoughtful conversation, one of the adults asked me, "So what's been the hardest part of married life so far?" Instant dilemma. The simple answer would have been something like, "Well, letting go of expectations has been a real struggle sometimes." The Mary Beth answer would have been, "Well, it's been really hard for me to get out of my head during sex and to stop pressuring myself and/or Levi to meet my expectations for frequency, duration, and pleasure-level." And then that answer would have likely included examples and thoughts about the subject.
Thankfully, at this dinner there were children present, and I couldn't hem and haw about just how "honest" I wanted to be. I just said something entirely different. Also, sex is a subject that I'm not all that "honest" about because it's not just my heart that I'd be exposing.
But you'll notice that I keep putting the word "honest" in quotation marks. And that's because, to me, not spilling out every single ounce of thought and feeling might as well be lying. Giving someone the short and easy answer is a lie.
And now I face this dilemma regularly. People are always asking me if I have kids. And I have trouble accepting that there are different levels to a truthful answer. I could tell them, "not yet," but there's so much more to that statement. It's hard to believe that people might not want their faces melted off in the torrent of thought and emotion that can come out of me because this is me when someone bears their heart and soul to me instantly:
I love it. Absolutely love it. Please just pour more and more of your heart and soul onto me. I'm a sponge for hearts and I'll take them all.
Perhaps the most honest answer of them all, however, is that it is neither kind or wise to dump my heart on a person. I need to learn how to hold it in until they've given me the go-ahead, and even then I need to keep an eye out for any face melting.
So I've thought long and hard about an answer to that blasted question, "Do you have any kids?"
It's been a complicated process so far, but we're working on it.
Keep it real,