Thursday, December 31, 2009

New year, new decade, new beginnings

I've been reading a lot of looking back/new year's resolution posts -- including a thought-provoking summary from Pamela Jeanne, who reminded me that it's not just the end of the year but the end of the decade -- and the start of a new one.

Ten years ago, on New Year's Eve 1999, I was sulking. I'd survived a full year & a bit after the stillbirth of my baby and what should have been her first birthday. With my 39th birthday fast approaching & my biological clock ticking frantically, I was desperate to get pregnant again and in the midst of fertility testing. I'd also just survived Christmas without either of my grandparents there -- my grandfather died in October 1998, just over two months after Katie's stillbirth, & my grandmother followed almost a year to the day later. My uncle (my dad's sister's husband) died a week later at 65, one week after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, & my mother had a hysterectomy the day of his funeral.

So I was glad to see 1999 end. But I still wasn't happy. I wanted to welcome the new millennium in style at a ritzy party, wearing a festive party dress, dancing to a Guy Lombardo-type orchestra & drinking champagne-- something we've never really done on New Year's Eve -- but (a) tickets to such events were expensive, this year especially, (b) nobody in our circle seemed to want to do that (most of them, of course, had young children & sitters are scarce -- & expensive -- especially on New Year's Eve hereabouts), (c) most had other plans (& didn't invite us, including BIL), & (d) dh (who is most comfortable in his PJ pants & T-shirt) was lukewarm on the whole idea.

Remember, too, that there was some trepidation around the whole Y2K thing. I'd spent months writing articles for the staff newsmagazine at the bank I work for, about Y2K preparations, & key messages that branch employees could pass along to our customers, reassuring them that their money would be safe. But nobody REALLY knew what was going to happen. We returned from Christmas at my parents' early that year, so that we could both be on call at work -- just in case. Before we left work (early) on New Year's Eve, we were given plastic garbage bags & instructed to use them to shroud our computer monitors & CPUs -- just in case the water sprinklers went off. (!)

So we wound up at FIL's, along with all dh's aunts & uncles on his dad's side. We were the youngest people there by a long shot. Dh had a great time, playing cards with his uncles. The aunts kindly tried to include me in their chatter, but since most of the time they kept lapsing back into their native Italian, I wasn't able to follow or participate in much of the conversation. I wound up spending most of the evening watching the TV coverage of the spectacular fireworks displays as the clock struck midnight around the globe. It was impressive to watch, but it was definitely not the way I'd hoped to be spending Millennium New Year's Eve.

When I think about it now, though, perhaps that evening set the tone for the decade to come -- a decade of watching others doing what I longed to do (partying at the turn of the millennium, having a family), feeling more of an observer than a participant in the normal rituals of society (New Year's Eve parties, getting pregnant, having kids), envying others who were having more fun than me (or at least, it sure seemed that way sometimes), and learning to adjust (& readjust) my expectations, to settle for something different than I had originally wanted.

Over the next year & a half, I subjected myself to the pain, stress, indignities and disappointments of infertility treatment -- but by New Year's Eve 2001, I was in full retreat. Now 40 (close to 41), stressed beyond belief, suffering from anxiety attacks, fearing the long-term effects the drugs I'd been taking would have on my health, and alarmed at the mounting costs, I had climbed off the rollercoaster of treatment. I was still secretly hoping for that miracle pregnancy --and continued to do so for a couple of years afterward -- but was slowly coming face to face with the reality that I never would have that second baby I wanted so badly (and I never have). I set out on a new journey down this road less travelled, and began licking my wounds & trying to figure out what the rest of my life was going to look like.

To some extent, I'm still trying to figure that out. I guess my goal for the next 10 years, if I have one, would be to stop trying to figure things out so much &, as the Nike ad says, just do it. If I've learned one lesson over the past decade, it's that life is definitely not a dress rehearsal. As my favourite quote in the sidebar of this blog says, "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans." We only get one shot at this, so we'd better make it good, even if things aren't turning out exactly as we had originally planned or hoped.

I want to get that passport, start travelling more and start really, consciously seeking out & enjoying the benefits that come with childfree living (and yes, there are some). I think I -- we -- deserve them. : ) We have more than paid our dues.

The next 13 months will bring our 25th wedding anniversary, my parents' 50th, a family reunion (all three events in the same month!!) and my (GULP!) 50th birthday. I'm hoping (knocking wood!) the next 10 years or so will bring a comfortable early retirement for both me & dh. And I'm hoping (and again knocking wood) that our good health will continue, so that we can enjoy it.

I hesitate to say my 40s totally sucked (and hey, I do still have one more year to go!) -- but they could have been better, and I'm partly at fault for not at least trying harder to make them that way.

I want the next 10 years to be different. In a GOOD way. And I know it's up to me to make the most of whatever life hands me.

Past New Year's posts:

New Year's Eve 2007
New Year's Eve 2008
New Year's resolutions for 2009


  1. I'm sitting here, thinking, and it's hard to know what to say. That's some really powerful stuff.

  2. I have no living children either and am turning 43 this year... I'm tumbling forward through life, I like your sidebar words, too.

    It certainly strung a cord with me, to do the things we can do without children and we certainly need to start doing them...

    A happy, healthy New Year and New Decade to you.
    And I hope you have the top last 40s birthday this year!!

    xx Ines

  3. what a history to recall. and what a huge year ahead! happy new year.

  4. Happy New Year Loribeth. Get that passport. Truly that is the #1 benefit of childfree living.

    I think I noticed your quotes the first time I came by, I'm always surprised by what happens while I'm making other plans..

  5. I'll toast not only to your 2010, but also your decade, Loribeth! Traveling and early retirement sound great!

  6. I hope that this next decade brings you all the excitement and adventure you desire. A passport and early retirement sound like the perfect combo:)

    Without sounding all gooey and mushy, I just want to say that I am in awe of your journey this past decade. I wish, with all of my heart, that you had your beautiful daughter Katie here with you.

    Sending you all the best wishes for a very happy New Year and a decade full of joy.

  7. You are so going to rock the next decade.
    Thanks for all your sharing. ((hugs))

  8. Your post really resonates with me. You do have a beautiful style & flow with words, especially with ones so hard to verbalize.

    All i can say is that i so identify with what you speak. I, also, am struggling to accept the child less life, but am wondering what to do with it. I don't want to find myself still struggling to accept 10 years from now, but don't know how to find that path.

    Blessings on you New Year, & new decade as well.

  9. This is an amazing post and very thought provoking start to the new year.

    I am finding my 40's to be a time of feeling like floundering and I have to admit, I haven't enjoyed the first 2 years of *this* decade for me at all. I think your Nike attitude is a good one to ascribe to and one I hope to apply liberally as I try to find my footing in my 40's. It is a strange thing to wake up and suddenly realize that you are unsure of who exactly you are anymore and what your goals are now that life has changed and marched steadily onward, and I didn't prepare myself.

    Sorry for the ramble - I told you this post was thought provoking! You are good at doing that to me!

    My very best wishes for you my dear friend - for this year, for this decade for all your beginnings you choose to undertake.


  10. Thanks for your comments! Yes this new decade offers a fresh start of sorts. We'll figure this new one out together! From what you noted, you've got a big year ahead of you...when in January??

  11. Wow, you have some big events coming up in the next year. Getting a passport and traveling more sounds like the perfect way to celebrate 25 years together! I like your resolution. It's definitely inspiring!