A couple days ago I mentioned to L that I'd noticed that she got really quiet and distant after seeing my nephew on Sunday. I'd already had a pretty good idea of what was going through her head, and she pretty much confirmed it. She said that she'd been having a fun time hanging out with my sisters and mother-- she gets along really well with my family, and one of my sisters (the one without kids) has become one of her best friends-- and saw me having so much fun with my nephew, and thought, "Look at this. This is your future, or else you never get to see any of these people again."
I didn't say much to that, just gently told her that I know it's different for her and I'm trying to let her work through it in her own time, but it's hard for me to understand how anyone could not want exactly that future. And that was the end of that conversation.
Then at the end of last night's parenting class, the instructor asked everyone to go around and say what their biggest takeaway from the class was. When it came to L, she said something like, "That the first three years are totally crucial and any little mistake you make can screw up the child for life" in this resigned tone like, "Oh God, this sounds like such a hassle, why would anyone sign up for this?" I didn't know what to say to that that wouldn't be a knee-jerk response to the pessimistic tone instead of the content of what she'd said, so I kept my mouth shut, but the cute redhead said something about how, yeah, if you're consistently neglectful during the first three years it could really screw up a child's development, but it's not like they're going to drop 50 IQ points because you were ten minutes late with their bottle once or twice.
I'm really trying to be more stable about this process and not pull back from her every time we have a little setback, but it's hard not to take incidents like that and add them to a little mental tally under "Signs That She'll Never Really Want Kids No Matter How Hard She Tries." And she IS trying, I'll give her that much: she isn't consciously trying to talk me out of it, and these classes were her suggestion, and she does talk about what our future with kids would be like in more hopeful tones sometimes.
In other news, she's been complaining of sleep problems and back problems just lately. In retrospect, those have been her twin Get Out of Jail Free cards any time she's wanted to get me to pour on the Beta and ease up on wanting my needs met for the majority of our relationship. Well, she's getting some Beta anyway-- I planned a nice date night for us this weekend-- and I reminded her of that when she texted me yesterday complaining of stress, and I added, "I also offer certain other de-stressing services available upon request (-:". But I'm not planning on making it all about her the way I used to: she can come with me on fun date night or she can sit home alone and be miserable, that's up to her.
As for easing up on getting my needs met, I gave initiating sex the old college try last night after class. She replied that she felt like shit. I told her lightly I had a feeling she might say that. Sometimes when she makes it clear she's not down for intercourse I'll try and get an HJ out of her on the MMSL principle of "a little sex is better than no sex," but last night I went the NMMNG "don't settle for bad sex" route instead. Because, to be honest, any sex she tried to give me right that moment was going to be worse than just taking care of it myself real quick, which is what I did.
When I got back to bed, she snuggled close and put her head on my shoulder. I couldn't tell if she was trying to make up for not being DTF or just trying to get some comfort for herself or both. I let her do it. It did feel nice. "Did you get what you needed?" she asked. "I got what I needed so that I can sleep tonight," I told her. "There will be other chances to get what I REALLY needed." I kissed her on the forehead and we went to sleep.
So I'm feeling pretty lousy today. Not break-down-crying end-of-the-world lousy, just kind of pessimistic about this whole process. We've got two more of these parenting classes, then another couples' counseling session the day after the last class (the last such session that will be covered by my insurance; anything else we do comes out-of-pocket). That last class + last counseling session is looming in my mind like a deadline, because at that point it's sort of like, okay, we did these things that we said we were going to do to try to get more perspective on this whole thing: now what?
I'm trying not to treat it like a foregone conclusion, but more and more I'm thinking that the answer to "now what?" is, "I leave." And I'm not sure what could possibly happen in the next couple weeks to change that. So that's depressing.