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Nostalgic Contemplation on Asexuality and Family

Freedom Requires Wings | by on




Anyone who’s read any of my previous posts likely knows that I am asexual, and that I desperately want to be a mom. You probably also know that I have been trying to get pregnant via alternative means for a while now. I have experienced a lot of emotional highs and lows during this process, and the past couple of weekends have presented me with the return of one of my most basic emotional struggles in this situation: feeling like everyone else moves forward and I am stagnating. More than that, it’s become a more personal and cross-generational feeling. I know that I am my own person and that I shouldn’t compare myself or my life to others, but it’s very hard for me to avoid doing that, especially within my own family.

Last Sunday, I posted a picture on Facebook for Fathers Day. The picture shows me at one week old, sleeping on my dad’s stomach while he is laying on the couch. We have pictures of me sleeping on a lot of people in that same position as an infant, but this one has always been my favorite because of the close relationship I’ve always had with my dad. I’ve seen the picture hundreds of times before, but for some reason, this time it hit me for the first time that my dad was the same age (a few months younger, actually) in that picture as I am now. Now I am “behind” both of my parents as far as age when their first child was born. I know that times are different now, and more people are waiting longer to have kids, but unlike most of them, I am not waiting by choice. So in addition to being a little bit scary, it also made me sad to realize that my dad was my age in that picture.

Then, on Friday night, I got in a really nostalgic mood, as I do every once in a while. I decided to watch one of my home videos. But instead of watching one of me and my sister, I went a different way. When my grandma turned 60, my mom and aunts had her old home movies converted to video, and I have a copy of the tape (which I’ve since converted to DVD). The movies span from my grandma’s first wedding (at age 18) in 1954 through about 1970, so it’s about 15 years worth of her life on video. I’ve watched this video many times before, and there are certain things I tend to think about while I watch it. On the surface, I love seeing the cars, clothes, and hairstyles through the decades in the video. On a deeper level, I always think about the events of my grandma’s life, and how they’ve shaped the person she is today. I also have similar thoughts about one of my aunts, and how there’s one scene in the video where the song they put to the video is perfect for her personality and the way her life has turned out. I also have the slightly morbid fascination, knowing that my grandpa died when my mom was 10 years old, of constantly anticipating that moment in time within the video – and recognizing when it’s made the jump from when he was still alive to after he died, and how that’s affected the lives I am witnessing. I had all those thoughts while watching the video as I always do. But this time, there was a new one.

For the first time, I felt jealous of my grandma. Not that I think her life has been easy (far from it), or that I would ever want her life for myself, but there are moments in that video that depict the exact life I so desperately desire. A mother with her kids, birthday parties, family vacations, even everyday moments that nobody would give a second thought to, all of these things are what I’ve always pictured for myself, and what I want my life to be. And here I am, 30 years old, and I still don’t have that. I am older than my grandma was when her youngest child was born, and even given the difference in average ages of parenthood between our generations, that still makes me sad.

And not to belabor the point, but another familiar feeling (though the first time I’ve gotten it from this video) came up as well. I realized yet again that my family would never understand my asexuality. My grandma has always been a very sexual person (this is the woman who has more than once referred to my husband as my “lover”), and my aunts as well. My mom to a lesser extent, but still way more so than I will ever be (again, she once told me that she was sad that I’d never had sex, because it feels good and she didn’t want me to miss out on that). For all of them, having children and a family was inherently so much easier than it is for me. And I can’t even tell them what’s bothering me. My mom knows to some extent, but the rest have no idea, and I intend to keep it that way. But when I watched this video, it really drove home that feeling of inadequacy, of failure, and of desperate desire as yet unfulfilled.
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