“Your arms are always empty”

Dot is the last of the women to talk about the painful things in her sphere: “Larry and I were pretty private. Some people want to tell their story, but the other side of the story isn’t as important as we may think it is. We don’t have to know all the reasons.

Dot: "I would love to hold your babies."

“I know that I’m different, but I still understand where they [other people dealing with infertility] come from.” Talking about some of the painful things she’s experienced, she says, “As time went on, I’d hear, ‘So when are you going to start your family?’ or ‘Don’t you like children?’ or ‘What’s wrong with you?'”

Because she’d done some unhealthy dieting as a teen, her family even wondered if she had somehow ruined her body.

“One thing not having children is like: Your arms are always empty.” A memory from church stands out: One time, she was sitting near her cousin, whose baby was fussy. She took the baby in her arms. “I put this baby to sleep. And this woman came over to me after church and said, ‘Oh, I guess you can put a baby to sleep.’

“I go through the stages — when you want to be a grandma, when you still want to hold babies. I would love to hold your babies as a grandma.

“Another thing — an older woman came to me. I was in my forties, and she said, ‘Well, it isn’t too late. You could still have children — maybe you could pray about it.’

“It seemed to me that she just couldn’t imagine that one could be fulfilled in marriage if you don’t have children.” Turning to Mim, she says, “People can’t imagine that you can be fulfilled in life if you aren’t married, and that’s not true.”

Dot rises and crosses the room, takes a seat in the center of the circle of women, closes her eyes, and is enveloped by the prayers of her sisters.

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2 Responses to “Your arms are always empty”

  1. Sue Hooley says:

    Dot may not have biological children, but she has lots of kids. Our three love and appreciate the ways Dot has poured herself into their lives.

  2. Dot Chupp says:

    You are so kind Sue. Larry & I think your kids are special. We have enjoyed getting to know them and watch them grow up these last few years.

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