“I don’t want children.”
My mother tells me I’ll change my mind,
“Age will get to you. You’ll want it because I did, too.
And before that, I didn’t, either.”
I want to believe her. To take her word for it. To tell her, “Yes, mother. You’re probably right, again.”
But I can’t. My heart yearns to be truthful and so I find myself lifting my shoulders.
“Say something nice to me. Something about my mind, not my body.”
“You’re fast when you work. I hope our children get that from you,” he answers.
My heart skips a beat. It is not excitement. It’s anxiety. Children, I think to myself.
He’s always wanted them. I told him I don’t. But my mother’s words came back to me.
“Maybe I will?”
So I told him, “Yes. We’ll have plenty.”
“Or just two?”
“Yes. Just two.”
“You’re going to be an aunty!”
That text message was long awaited. But there it was.
“He’s here!” I was so excited. For her.
“Meeting him for the first time!” I looked in. Into the crib. At his tiny, scrunched up face.
“Yeah. First time,” I said awkwardly, not moving any closer.
He was cute, sure. But not to me, no.
To me, he was tiny. That was precious.
You look at precious. Not play.
“Oh, who cares of stink?” She asked as she lifted our friend’s baby.
I’d just said, “No, thank you.”
I didn’t understand her maternal instinct. Only the stink.
“I don’t think I’m meant for this,” I tell myself as I look at them.
“Think or know?” My mother asks in my head.
I want to say Know. I know it, really. I simply lift my shoulders with a silent maybe.
The thing about children is…
I’ve been through this life. This long, tiring thing we call life.
It’s not easy. I’ve struggled. I struggle.
For respect. For opportunity. For money.
To have all that and not be lonely.
I struggle to hold the right to my body.
To what I clothe. To what they touch.
I struggle. To exist while I find purpose.
To find purpose I can fulfil without hurting.
I hurt. Everyday. For years at a time.
I struggle and I don’t want to carry that forward.
To create a life and send them out there.
“Your turn now.”
To feel what I feel. To live what I live. To love. To break. To lose.
Why should I?
I didn’t ask for this life but it is mine to deal with.
Why must I do this again? To birth and allow to struggle?
To desire to protect what I can’t? To fight. To yell. To hurt.
To learn to let go all over again. To watch from afar and say, “Repeat, darling.”
But it’s a crime to admit to it, isn’t it?
“Mom, I don’t want to be one,” is going against my purpose.
Every woman is a mother at heart, they’ve told me.
I’m not, I whine to deaf ears.
Maybe they’re not deaf. Maybe they know better.
Maybe she’s right.
Like when she told me that, “Teenage love will pass.”
Maybe when I’m 30, I’ll long for that baby. The one they lift with joy as I observe from afar.
Maybe I’ll wish I’d never uttered these words as I drag myself to that treatment I can’t afford.
Maybe they’ll point and laugh for cursing myself so young.
But today, it’s still my turn. It’s still my words.
And in the middle of all the “Maybe,”
All I really want to say is…
“I don’t want children, just give me my damn dog.”