One of the traditions we have in our little family is that I cross-stitch a Christmas stocking for each family member. This tradition started with my mother, who cross-stitched my stocking for me my first Christmas. I made one for each of the boys their first Christmas, and finally finished Neil's (only three years after saying I would) this summer.
After finishing Neil's stocking in August, I got antsy and decided to start another Christmas stocking. A project like this takes a lot of hours to complete. Like probably close to a thousand, not exaggerating. It's no secret that we want another baby, but that getting pregnant doesn't come easy for us. I figured I'd get a head start on this stocking for the fifth member of our family. With two toddlers running amuck, time is in short supply, and I didn't want to be rushing at Christmas with two little boys and a baby to take care of. So I started the stocking. I figured it'd take me quite awhile to finish, and by the time it was done, I'd probably be pregnant. Maybe even have a name to place on top.
Six months later, I've finished the stocking, and still don't have a name to put on the top. It's empty. Blank. Who knows how long it will be until we can use it. Not this Christmas. Maybe not next. With the cost of in vitro, our "ideal family size" is dwindling, and our "ideal age gap" is widening.
I've delayed finishing this stocking for weeks. It could have been done at least a month ago. But I had placed a deadline on our goal of getting pregnant, and finishing the stocking without reaching that goal feels a little like failure.
This stocking has made me think a lot about writing. A long time ago, when I was probably about ten, I made a goal to be published by age 25. At the time that seemed so far away. I remember typing that goal out, printing it off, and pinning it to my writing cork board. And as I pushed that pin into the paper, I thought, I'll probably have like five books published by then. I bet I'm published by 20. Maybe I'll be published as a teenager!
25 is now only two years away. That goal is seeming like a pretty steep one at the moment. If I wait until I'm almost 26, that gives me almost 3 years to make it happen. Not impossible, but hard. But I've realized something. If I'm not published by 25, the world won't end. I won't be a failure. I'm not going to stop working towards that goal. Nothing will really change. I'll still have the same hopes, same dreams. Same goals. Same steps I'm taking to achieve those goals. And eventually, I will be published. It's going to happen. It's just a matter of when. I don't need to put a time limit on it.
The same is true with a baby. It'll happen eventually, I just need to be patient. It's not about when I want it to happen. It's all in Someone else's hands. I'm not a failure because I didn't meet some ridiculous deadline.
I still am aiming for 25, but I won't give up if I'm not published by then. The goal is so much more than an age. After LTUE, I'm more motivated to work towards that publication goal. I feel like I've renewed my dedication to the craft and am more focused on the end goal. And you know what? I'm really loving the journey. I love learning. I love going to conferences. I love refining my skills and honing the craft. I love new ideas and getting that first draft down and then polishing it until it shines. Right now, anything can happen. Anything is possible. I don't need to put a time limit on my dreams. I just need to love getting there.