A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned to the Fiery One that I had been thinking about babies. That doesn’t mean that I had been sitting around daydreaming about my own baby and what it would look like and how its head would smell. “Thinking about babies” usually means that I am ovulating. Some force takes over my brain and starts dictating all sorts of ideas to me that all revolve around the I’m getting older and need to start on that right now and the I’ll probably regret it one day if I don’t take the plunge and just do it varieties.
It’s really quite terrible. I become obsessive about aging and anticipating future regrets and wondering if my life is missing something essential and finding new bits of self doubt sprinkled liberally over areas of worry that I never knew were there before. Maybe they weren’t there before. Maybe this is new. Well, it’s newish.
When I was eight years old and a friend of mine from down the street starting telling me weird shit like what the man she was going to marry was going to be like and how many kids she would have, I thought she was a little off, but then I heard other little girls waxing romantic on the same theme. I started to worry that I was a little off. So, I did what I could to envision my own perfect wedding and mate and children. As much as I tried, I just couldn’t superimpose my own face on the cookie cutter images I conjured up. I couldn’t see myself getting married to a man first off (although I have adopted the never-say-never philosophy since then, obviously). The imaginary stand-in for my future spouse would morph from a stereotyped Ken-doll to some lady to my friend C to some boy in my class. I’d try to make up for my indecision with my imaginary children, but I had problems with them, too. They kept changing in number and gender, and I found it impossible to bring up even a shred of emotion for these people. I didn’t even like most children when I was one, so the thought of creating some of my own seemed entirely unappealing. At the tender age of eight, I decided that I would never marry or procreate. The whole thing seemed too complicated and very probably boring. And I didn’t like the other little girls much anyway.
That was really the last thought I gave to having children until I got together with the Fiery One. Shortly after hooking up with him, the thought of possibly one day bearing children together with him popped into my head, and I swiftly made the decision that I had to leave him. The baby-making thought was alien and uncomfortable and so not in keeping with the vision I had for my life. Obviously, I didn’t leave him, but I have spent time warily circling the possibility of motherhood armed with a stick and a gas mask ever since I chose to stay with him. Thankfully, the Fiery One has done no pressuring whatsoever in the direction of parenthood. He, like myself, has alternately felt excitement at the prospect and dread-laced doubt about how reasonable such a decision would be.
Since ovulation ended and my period began this month, signaling a return of my mind to its clearer and more logical state, I really don’t know about the kid thing, unlike a week or so ago when it was a nagging concern. On the one hand, I like the idea of becoming a mother and watching a little person grow up, but on the other hand, I only actually like the idea. I don’t want to do all the stuff that goes along with having children. I hate kids’ birthday parties. I have never really taken much to people over five and under twenty-five. I don’t like doing laundry or dishes or dusting or sweeping shit off the floor. I don’t mind other people breastfeeding, but the idea of me breastfeeding just seems to spell an end to freedom and sleep and writing and painting with toxically aromatic rust paints. I’m not all that interested in rearranging my life to spend eighteen years worrying and working and teaching and loving so that they can move away and call me once a week. Basically, I’m too selfish for it. And, reading over this paragraph, maybe a little bit too up on the negativity.
What is really ridiculous is that I could write an entry about this same subject in two weeks and spend the entire time sounding glowingly rhapsodic about little feet and first steps and learning to read. Some little egg will be festering on my left ovary, just about to burst into its journey down my fallopian tube, and my brain will turn an abrupt 180 degrees in its pre-ovulation estrogen bath. I will wonder at my earlier cynicism and shake my head at my immaturity.
Over the last couple of days, I have decided to try on the idea of being childless, not just for now but as a vision of us being childless for the rest of our lives, the sort of couple that when we’re older people will shake their heads and whisper “you know, they never had children” and assume that we’re sadly barren. I have been sort of playing pretend with the childless couple hat, and it’s been a pretty comfortable fit so far. I don’t worry about my age as much and how my hormones are changing subtly each day, lowering my fertility level and the health of my eggs with each passing month. Instead of worrying about the complications of moving to a kid-friendly building and changing my lifestyle drastically (I doubt the pub has booster seats and boxes of crayons on hand for toddlers) and weathering the slings and arrows of my family’s expectations (probably involving religion and our having clean floors), I am envisioning things that I can do in my life that I would find fulfilling. The life I look ahead at looks quite different.
The life I see ahead of myself without children is incredibly different actually, because I can actually envision it. When I close my eyes and try to imagine my child and the life the three of us would share, I still draw the same kind of shape-shifting and emotionally blank image that I did when I was eight. I don’t know if this bothers me or not, but I do think that it’s a huge indication that I am not really wanting kids right now. But that could be the progesterone talking.
– Ezra Pound, 1885 - 1972
Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
and how the wind doth ramm,
Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,
An ague hath my ham.
Freezeth river, turneth liver,
Damn you, sing: Goddamm.
Goddamm, Goddamm, 'tis why I am, Goddamm,
So 'gainst the winter's balm.
Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm,
Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.
Read an interview with Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of the fractal.
Read “What I Want to Be When I Grow Up...” at Fresh Yarn.
Bob Jones thinks that the U.S. election of President Bush signifies God’s granting of “...a reprieve from the agenda of paganism”. Weirdo.