Sunday, January 20, 2008
RIP, Suzanne Pleshette
This probably seems like a weird basis for an infertility blog post. You will just have to bear with me.
I saw news of Suzanne Pleshette's death this morning and it made me think about all the images of life, love, and the family unit I grew up seeing on TV — and how I looked forward to living Mary Richards' single career-gal life followed by, after a suitable number of serious romantic entanglements (5), life as part of a solid, loving, respectful, fun partnership, in which we both had careers we cared about and didn't fall prey to any pressures to marry young or start a family right away (if we did that at all). The characters Bob and Emily Hartley of The Bob Newhart Show had the marriage/lifestyle I wanted. And guess what? It's basically what I got.
I was only 12 when that show went off the air, so I was watching it from around age 6 on. I won't say that I consciously thought about the characters as role models. I simply loved the funny show and thought, "Yeah, neat life." At the same time I did actively work on planning my future. I do the same thing now but with the full knowledge and intellectual acceptance that some plans work and some plans don't.
Mindset changes that I am grateful to have experienced over lo these many years since I was 12 include the understanding that I really can't control most things and — probably the most important life lesson I've ever learned (and this was extraordinarily tough for me) — that it is okay to chart a path and then change your course later. For example, you can decide that you don't want something you fought hard to get. It doesn't mean that you have failed by being "wrong" about what you wanted. Same goes for deciding that you DO want something you previously believed you didn't. It's not that you were wrong or stupid for not pursuing it under more ideal circumstances. It's just what is.
Now, those mindset changes evolved during my early 20s (the biggest evolution) and early 30s (the years in which I needed a serious reminder about what I'd previously learned to really "get it") as I worked out relationship, educational, and career choices. TTC was not on my radar then. I've always loved kids, though, and as a child I felt sure that I'd have them. At 12 I used to say that I'd have maybe one bio child (I think I assumed I wouldn't be able to prevent it, what with everyone always acting so freakin' surprised by pregnancy news) and then definitely adopt so as not to selfishly add to the world's overpopulation problem. Then at around age 18–19, I purposely pushed any thoughts of having any children out of my mind. (That was all about my being very serious about following plans I thought were right for me. Too much story to deal with here.) In any case, I always thought I had plenty of time to revisit TTC and that I would when the time was right. No worries about ticking clocks whatsoever.
The whole issue got backburnered so thoroughly that it shocked me (DH too, to be sure) when it came bubbling back up to my surface at age 35. I don't know how the urge to reproduce comes up for others. But for me it was a distant "maybe/probably someday" one minute, and a full-on biological need the next. I woke up to it and have not questioned it since. And, wow, 7 fast years, TTC-delaying events like cross-country moves/job changes/major surgeries, 4 years of TTC failures, and 2 REs later, here we are. The Hartleys for the 00s?
I see that the divine Suzanne Pleshette was 70 and so about my current age when The Bob Newhart Show ended. I love that the series send-off didn't include the typical surprise-baby-on-the-way moment. And although I want more than anything for the next season of our real life to start with a sappy, happy baby cliche . . . I take comfort in a deep-down feeling that we will eventually be okay if it doesn't.