Guest blogger Hannah on when time pressure is constantly there, and ticking away.
When I was 15, a doctor took one look at a scan of my heart and said airily, “If you want to have a family, you’d better start early.” I doubt he’s thought about that since. I’ve thought about it most days. It’s been the refrain of the last decade, the unsaid resolution of every new year. Seeping out of a leaking heart valve into every bit of life. Start early. The rhythm of anxiety, the soundtrack to romantic hopes and career dreams alike. Start early. Get a move on. What if you’re already late? Somehow, I haven’t been able to make life start quite early enough to quieten it.
With each year of my twenties that’s slipped by, I’ve begun to wonder if it’s possible to miss early. I’ve watched friends get married while other friends marvel at how we’re still too young for things like that and I’ve yearned to sit on the both sides of the fence. So much of me wants to be the one with a ring on my finger, maybe even a child on the way, safe in the knowledge that I’ve made it. Started early enough. Yet there is also so much of me which longs to laugh with those who know we’re still young, without the ticking of a clock inside my chest. At 25, I somehow feel at once too old and too young, like I’ve missed a deadline which isn’t even looming for most people my age.
There is so much I love about this life. Right now, I’m studying for a master’s degree and every so often in the midst of stressing about deadlines and exams, I look up and realise what a gift it is to have a whole year to read books about things that fascinate me. I’m not sure I’ll ever tire of leaving the library behind and walking across Waterloo Bridge as the sun sets, taking my time on the way home because there’s no one needing me to rush back.
Right now, the answer to my prayers of ‘I’m lonely, God’ looks like drinking wine and discussing theology over the kitchen table into the night; like a five-year-old housemate who wants to cuddle up under a blanket and watch football with me. I lodge with an incredible family in my church community, who offer the joy of family life and the equally great joy of a closed bedroom door when the Pokemon cards get too much. There are endless blessings in the form of a knock on my bedroom door and the offer of a hot frothy coffee straight from the stove just as I grow tired of revising. (I recently read this beautiful blog which captured so many more of the good things about making your home in another family’s home.)But right now, normal also looks like regular scans and chats with doctors about whether my heart can ‘still tolerate a pregnancy’ and I know the answers won’t be affirmative forever. It’s not a question of the grass being greener on the other side. It’s more that the longer I contemplate it, the louder the start early becomes and the more I struggle to enjoy the wonderful greenness of the grass where I am.
Follow Hannah on Twitter at @hannahmerich