For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had a tiny, bittersweet heartache at the site of parents with their kids. Usually it’s in the background–far below the smile at the smear of peanut-butter, the laugh at a child’s funny expression or even a colorful tantrum. I love seeing people and their kids, it’s a true joy. But underneath has always been a small, bright prick of loss and feeling excluded from something I really, really want.

Of course so much of life can feel this way, in our media-saturated consumer economy. It’s hard to walk the dog or talk to a client without fighting the feeling that I’m just an acquisition or two away from finally getting there. Despite attempts to remember that I know better, it sure seems that camel-color jacket, fashionable haircut, or really cool reusable shopping bag in line in front of me might be just the thing I’ve been missing all these years. In fact, probably if I could just be friends with the person who has it, things would improve considerably. I know they would!

But I’m talking about something different. The pang I’ve felt, the desire to parent a kid, doesn’t come and go like shallower aches. I play uncle with dear friends’ kids, and they laughingly tell me I’ll be glad to give their child back. But while I’ve never dashed off to another state with them (tempting as it is) I’ve also never, ever wanted to give the kids back. Not once. It just feels too right.

But why, you might ask, didn’t I just have or get a kid? This is a more puzzling question to me, given how much I adore spending time with children and how much it feeds me. Initially it was being gay (before the gayby boom), then not being with a partner who wanted them, or a partner I’d not want to have kids with. Or being single but not quite having enough space in the house. Or… well lots of things, some very serious and realistic, many not.

Now that I’m in the adoption process with my partner, many of the previous barriers seem ridiculously small–like excuses more than reasons. But while I was in them, they felt overwhelmingly, absolutely real and insurmountable. Is there anything more persuasive than feeling like we can’t have and just won’t get something that feels so desirable?

But really, essentially, I think it was not feeling worthy of such a huge gift and blessing.

I must be feeling a tiny bit more worthy, ’cause all the previous “reasons” it was impossible to have a kid seem pretty flimsy. And I wonder, why did I wait so long?