I’m a lover of all things nostalgic. I love old films, books, paintings, etc. that depict a simpler time. I love the values and traditions that were instilled in families and watching and reading how small problems unfolded into a way to learn a valuable moral lesson. I dream of escaping and living in a simpler time, the good ol’ “olden days.” My husband reminds me that I like indoor plumbing and hot showers too much to go back in time, which is true, but it doesn’t stop me from enjoying and preferring to dwell on the simpler, sweet times of yesterday more than the complicated, messy sometimes raunchy stories that are told today.
A while back, my mother sent me a care package that included all of the “Little House on the Prairie” books as well as the “Little Women” books and many others that I hadn’t read since I was a young girl. I decided to re-read them all and was pleasantly surprised at how many new insights I learned just by reading these classic children’s books again as an adult. As a young girl, I had never paid much attention to women who were childless in stories, because of course, I couldn’t relate, but lately, I notice every single character in each movie I watch or in the books that I read. I long for them all to have a happy ending.
In the book “The First Four Years” by Laura Ingalls Wilder, she writes about how their neighbors, Mr. and Mrs.Boast offered to pay Laura and her husband, Almonzo, for their daughter Rose. “Mr. and Mrs. Boast lived by themselves on their farm. They had no children and could hardly make fuss enough over Rose. When at last the visit was over and Mr.Boast was standing by the buggy to see them start, he started to speak, then hesitated and finally said in a queer voice, ‘If you folks will let me take the baby in to Ellie for her to keep, you may take the best horse out of my stable and lead it home. You folks can have another baby and we can’t. We never can.” Then Laura goes on to write,
“As they drove away, Laura hugged Rose tightly; but she was sorry for Mr.Boast as he stood still where they had left him, and for Mrs.Boast waiting in the house, knowing she was sure, what Mr. Boast was going to propose to them.”
My heart went out to this woman and her husband. Seemingly small characters in the story of Laura’s life, but their pain touched me in a great way. I tried to find out if the Boast family ever was able to adopt children but couldn’t find anything. Laura reaction was that she was sorry and hugged her own baby tightly. That’s it. My heart breaks for poor Mrs.Boast and Mr.Boast, so desperate to be have a family that they offer the only thing of earthly value they have in exchange for a child. Only a short paragraph in a book, but this paragraph was more troubling to me than any of the calamities I read that the Wilder family faced.I empathize to the desperate longing they felt for a family of their own.
I tend to think of the olden days as having orphan trains filled to the brim with children, and if you wanted a child, it was as simple as picking one up from the train station like Anne of Green Gables. Just tell your neighbor you want a child and they’ll send you one (Although it may be a girl when you request a boy, but thats a small matter in the grand scheme of things.) I wish the process of having a child to be quick, simple, and easy as picking one out from a train, but stories like the Wilder’s neighbors make me so very grateful for living in todays world.
My mind drifts back to generations past and if I lived back where it was more “simple” I wouldn’t know why each month with my period I have debilitating pain. There wouldn’t be any ibuprofen or other medicines to help ease the pain. I wouldn’t have the option of having doctors help us learn why we’re having trouble conceiving on our own or help assist us in working towards a family. I wouldn’t have the option of caring for someone’s child who lives in a different country.
Today, if you don’t have children, especially in your 20’s, most people don’t naturally assume youre having difficulty getting pregnant, they assume youre waiting or maybe focusing on your career or just wanting to be without children. Back then, if you don’t have children, people would assume you can’t and it would be humiliating.
I am blessed to live today where I find purpose in being a wife, a sister, a friend, aunt, etc. but I know in the pioneer days, even as recent as 50 years ago, there was much more shame associated with not being able to have children and your identity and purpose as a female was very much wrapped up in being a mother and producing children to help with the farming and chores and keeping the family name going.
Yesterday, I felt helpless while trying to make an appointment with the Family Doctor on post, which I need for a referral off-post to see a specialist to have my ovarian cyst monitored. The next appointment isn’t until November 18! So it could be 2014 before I am able to get into a Doctor off post to get the ultrasound needed.I was feeling very ungrateful that its even possible to have an ultrasound, (for free) with our military health care, then my mind drifted to the story about the Boasts, and I realized how lucky I am to have access (albeit, delayed access) to a Doctor that has the ammenities to help me. So while I dream with nostaglia of simpler times, I am so very thankful I live in modern times. I’m praying and hoping there will be a cancelation and that I will be able to be seen earlier, but will remind myself in the mean time how its awesome to even be able to have access to the technology we have today.