Back when I used to sing in choirs, occasionally in the alto line you would wind up providing syncopation to the soprano line. Syncopation is one of those 5 dollar words that means throwing something off kilter in music, quite deliberately, to produce a musical effect. Done correctly it sounds quite amazing.
I’m going to start syncopation, because that’s what happened to me yesterday. The next thing I am going to tell you is that I spent 8 hours in a car with a 2 year old and a 4 year old , and that might have been the dumbest thing I have done in probably a decade. Yesterday we drove across a very lovely mountain pass, and the pass was lovely and the children tried so very hard, but it was a very long day with a very short nap and it ended, probably rather predictably, in tears. Many, many miles of intermittent tears.
Now, I would hope that it is very clear that I like my nieces and nephews, all of them. But I did not like yesterday. Mostly, if I am very honest I made it through yesterday by doling out smarties and by promising myself that I never – ever – had to do this again. When you don’t spend a lot of time with children, days like yesterday are really rough.
I’m not ordinarily superstitious, at least not until I am. That’s syncopation in my life. I carry through a plain and ordinary routine until the moment when another melody begins to run through and I drop everything and I think about that.
Somewhere around hour 6, at 8,000 feet, I started thinking. What if God/life/the universe saw this – my irritation and my impatience and my inability to cope with whining and crying and not being able to do exactly what I wanted and that’s why I have no children.
I think about guilt and grief and how insensible I am. From time to time, I say those words aloud – that maybe I do not have children because I do not deserve them, because I would have been the world’s lousiest mother – and the universe was smarter than I in denying me children.
It isn’t true. The universe doesn’t care if I would have been a good mother or not. The universe is simply not that interested in my life.
I know this in my head – really know it. I know that Gabe died, that I had all those miscarriages, did all that fertility stuff and still had no child, because life is just unfair. I know I didn’t do anything to deserve what happened and that there is no earthly reason for it to have happened. It’s a human thing – ascribing sensible and rational reasons about why the unthinkable happened. I know it doesn’t work as much as I know we simply must do it.
This is not the first time I have thought about this. It will probably not be the last. This too is syncopation – how you can know a thing to be totally true and still get caught up in an entirely different melody line.