“We control our reasoned choices and all acts that depend on that moral will. What’s not under our control are the body and any of its parts, our possesions, parents, siblings, children, or country—anything with which we might associate” — Epictetus, Discourses 1.22.10
So here’s the scene…
I had just returned to work after 8 weeks of “paternity” leave. Our daughter, Claire, came unexpectedly 5 weeks early, which is what prompted my extended absence from work. I can’t say that I minded so much, but my long-awaited return to work came just in time.
As a welcome back, I was asked by a good work friend to go to lunch. Chipotle won out. It usually does. I perused the menu, going back and forth between the options, and finally landed on tacos. “Three steak tacos on corn tortillas please,” I announced to the barely-out-of-high-school server. She obliged and fixed my meal up quick. My mouth began to water as I anticipated the first bite.
I payed for the food, inclusive of my obligatory chips and guac, and headed for my seat. I did my best to balance the items on the round metal tray given to me by the cashier. My best wasn’t good enough. Just as I was about to sit down, the tray became lopsided then surprisingly light in my hand. “Noooooo!” I screamed in my head as I watched all 3 of my delicious tacos explode onto the floor, narrowly missing a toddler in a nearby high chair. The kid looked up at me with thankful eyes. I could only hang my head.
What’s Truly Important
It was in that moment that something hit me: it really didn’t matter. I did a quick self assessment and found it rather odd that I had no feelings of embarrassment or shame. My heart was not racing, my face was not red. I stood there briefly, looking at the mess on the floor, only thinking…
“It’s just tacos.”
Could be worse, right? It was there in that crowded Chipotle where I realized that my perspective had changed. I had bigger things to worry about now.
Up until that moment, I had always considered myself a “kid” despite the fact I had a steady job, a car, a house, a wife, and now a child. Up until that moment, I thought that I was just another young 30-year-old, still trying to find his way in the world. Staring at those tacos, feeling no shame, my thoughts changed. I was confident. I held purpose. I was a contributing member to society who had a family of his own. Almost immediately after this realization, I became determined. I was determined to no longer see myself as a “kid”. From then on, I was not going to be ashamed or concerned about the decisions I made about my life. I was the one in control, and I would continue to be. All this… over tacos.
Grow Through What You Go Through
Fast forward to present day. My family has not gotten any bigger, but it has grown in different ways. “Grow through what you go through” is the title of the email my wife just sent me to review.
She and I have struggled with on-going infertility over the last year and she was asking my opinion of a draft she wished to post. My article, How I Became a Father discussed our plight. I have been holding out over this last year with the hopes that I could post about our next baby kid. Unfortunately, we have not been so lucky. Regardless, my wife, as amazing as she is, continues to encourage me to talk about our journey in an effort to help others, make them feel less alone in such a defeating process. I was going to tie this all together to discuss how we’ve managed to get along, but I think it’s best to let her words speak for me.
Here’s the email…
“A year ago Brad and I opened up a chapter of our lives and shared it with everyone. Our struggle with infertility. We were very optimistic it would be shortly after, we would finally achieve those desperately desired results. Unfortunately, while it did appear so for a very short time, this past year hasn’t exactly gone as planned or as hoped for. There have been a lot of ups and downs, frustration, tears, and prayers. While I truly hate going through this process, in a way, I am glad it has happened to us. Now that may sound strange, but I believe in always trying to find the good in the bad. This experience has taught us to be more patient, that following your heart means following God, shown us strength we didn’t know we had, and brought us even closer together. Brad and I are very much “A” type personalities; try to be in control if you will. We’ve learned that this is a process you can only control so much. You can plan and give it everything you have, but still not receive that desired result. There were moments I felt defeated and didn’t know how I could go through another round of it. All it took was one look at my little girl and that inner strength came through. I know many, many more people have WAY more difficult battles they or their loved ones struggle through. I only share our experience to simply bring awareness. Infertility can feel isolating, embarrassing, and emotionally draining, so that is why it is SO important to find someone you can turn to during that time. The love and support we’ve had from family and close friends through this process helps keep us going. So now we are doing just that. Continuing along this journey, in the midst of a third IVF egg retrieval. We don’t know what the future holds, but our hearts tell us God won’t disappoint.”
Remember, It’s Just Tacos
Hopefully we have been able to give some of you a look into our perspective. All may seem lost, the world may seem difficult, but in the end you can only control so much. And whatever else comes along the way….”It’s just tacos”. (love you babe).