Maybe she went on to describe the ways in which The Bible has been bastardized by Christian rhetoric. Maybe she means the parts where Jesus is an all-around good dude who had positive ideas about how to be a human in the world. But what is more likely? Her team of Election Manipulators have encouraged her to say shit like that so as not to fully alienate the Religious Right (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days).
Which, as a mother of a female child, TERRIFIES ME. I’m scared to leave her out of my sight when not in our home. I’m scared some mentally ill person she goes to school with will decide this fall is the fall to tote a little firearm to school and rain bullets.
I’m pissed that I have to worry about that.
I’m angry at how powerless myself and all the other people in the whole country who are worth less than several million dollars are.
And today I’m really fucking sad because a kid I grew up around (our grandmas were BFFs), went to school with, who had loads of friends and was a genius at fixing cars, killed himself.
He killed himself because his dad shot his mom when he was 4. He was there. He killed himself because of domestic violence. He killed himself because of somebody else’s mental illness and gun violence.
I am so wound up today that, after I couldn’t locate my previously existing Yoga DVD, I went to Target and bought two. I did about 50 minutes worth of cardio Yoga and Yoga for stress relief and I feel reasonably calm now. For the rest of the afternoon, I am going to finish reading Eat, Pray, Love, and I am going to try to figure out how to move to space in between frustrated crying jags.
There is nothing wrong with you. You are self-aware and strong and wise. You are making the right choice. You are the only one who should make that choice.
Sex is fun. It is all right to still want to have sex, even if you don’t want to have children. This does not make you a slut, harlot, brazen, whore, or any other. It makes you a mammal.
If, in the course of having sex and fun, you get pregnant, you have some options. You will know what to choose. You must listen to yourself, regardless of what others say.
Only you will have the right answer. Trust your gut, not your head. Do not trust the billboards that you’ve never noticed, the ones that say, “Pregnant? Need Help? Call Catholic Family Charities.” Those people do not have help. They have guilt-inducing dogma and rhetoric.
It is all right to get your tubes tied. If a doctor tells you he won’t, go to another doctor.
It is also all right to change your mind. If you change your mind post tubal, there are other ways to become a mother.
Maybe you know this, it has informed your choice: Children are devastatingly difficult. When you’re a mother, you reinvent yourself. You become Somebody’s Mom. You become the arbiter of another person’s physical, emotional, and mental health. It is the hardest thing, and not everybody should do it.
It’s all right to hate the people a little who shake their heads at you and tsk and say inane shit like, “You’ll change your mind. Being a mother is beautiful.”
It’s all right to not be friends with people who act like you’re some kind of retard because you don’t have kids and don’t want them. The ones who say, “Only a mother can understand.”
It’s all right to cling to your youth, your beautiful, unstretched body. It’s all right not to want to want to be pregnant. It’s all right not to want stretch marks and tits that sag and to be a pod. It’s all right to want tattoos on your torso more than you want babies. This does not make you vain and selfish. This means you have plans.
It is good to have plans. It is all right if your plans do not include children.
If you like to be alone, you’re not strange or a cat lady, a witch, or some kind of progressive weirdo. You’re a person who likes to be alone.
If you want to be married or coupled for the long term, it is all right not to want to have kids, just be sure to pick a partner who also does not want to have kids, and for similar reasons to yours.
Sisters, I am a mother, and I love my child. But I am a mother who is a woman who never wanted kids.
I sometimes say that I’m a little glad that I became a mother in the way I did. That I wouldn’t have made time for it.
But many, many more times, even though my kid is surpassingly cool and funny, and even though I love her more than I love breathing, even though motherhood agrees with me on the whole; I feel good about acknowledging that I’m really sad that I didn’t follow my gut and give my baby up for adoption.
I know, I know, I promised you I’d write about the YMCA, physical fitness, all of that. I’ve been making notes on the YMCA post for months. But it’ll wait. Because I’ve gotta get this one out. It’s the kind you like, it’s emotional. And the Y’s in it. Sort of. We had occasion for this conversation because of the Y.
People who know and love us might cry. I didn’t, but I’ve had six years to deal with the inevitability of this conversation, and I must tell you that it went tons better than I was expecting it to go.
So last night, on the way home from the Y, Child was talking about her little friend whose house we passed’s father and mom’s boyfriend.
She got this sad look on her face, and she said, “I wish I had a father.”
I am so accustomed to being able to dodge this conversation that I said, “You do!”
She said, “No. Fella’s my fake dad. I mean a real dad.”
“You do have a real dad, Child, but Fella’s way more your dad than he is.”
“Really?!” She was legitimately surprised. There are some real pleasures in observing childhood, of getting to re-live that naivete, that utter faith that nobody around you is trying to mess with you, be dishonest, or dick you over. Life pre-awareness-of-sex.
“Who is he?”
“He’s a guy I knew in college for a while.”
“Were you married?”
“No. We were just friends.”
“Then how’d you get me?”
“Sometimes that happens. Sometimes friends get babies together on accident.” (I was not in a financial position to be on whore pills, but we were using lots of birth control)
“I want him to be my dad.”
“Because Fella yells at me all the time.”
“Your biological dad would yell at you all the time, too. It’s what parents do.”
“I want to meet him. Can you call him?”
“I don’t have his phone number, Child. I don’t know if you’ll ever get to meet him.”
“Because, Child. He chose not to meet you. He said he wasn’t ready for you yet.”
“When will he be ready for me?”
“I don’t know, Sugar bugger. And anyway, what’s so wrong with Fella? Doesn’t he play with you?”
“And hug you?”
“And buy you stuff?”
“Yes. But can I tell him? About my real dad?”
“Sure you can. He already knows.”
So that’s the way it went.
The bit that surprised me was the, “I want to meet him.” She said it with such certitude and finality.
I’ve heard tell that kids who are adopted or who only know one of their birth parents have some kind of psychic off-kilterness. An adopted friend who had two kids of her own and was married happily looked up her birth mother. She said it was compulsive.
It’s a real thing, the biological magnetism.
And personally? I’m totally torn. I’ve always said that when Child wants to meet her father, I’m absolutely going to help her with that. But I was expecting it to be at least seven years from now.
I know her biological grandparents would dearly like to be in her life, but out of respect for their son’s arrangement with me, they have not.
And my kid is awesome (of course I think so). She’s sassy and resilient and really good at not taking things personally. But she’s six. I mean, is it fair to say, “Ok, we’re going to meet your father, but we’re not going to live with him, and he’s still not going to be in your life.”?
She’s still hopeful and naive and happy about the world. I don’t want to invite disillusionment.
Because I’ve also said that if he ever craves involvement, I’ll need him to put his money where his mouth is and pony up with some back child support and some kind of legal accountability before I put my sweet girl in emotional harm’s way.
But again, I was expecting that to happen you know, really any time before she’s officially a grown up. Or even a teenager.
And here’s the thing. I have great faith that if child’s bio dad wanted to, he’d be a terrific father. But he has not had the advantage of six years during which his life is literally upside down, and he doesn’t matter much, and people make ridiculous assumptions about him and his character based on his having a kid on his own.
And even if he had, it’s totally different for men. Men who are single dads are total heroes. They’re like the Don Juans of the playground benches. Sisters and moms and strangers bring them casseroles and come pick up their laundry to do. Women who are single moms? We’re whores. And if we accept welfare, we’re whores who deserve to be poor, and who are trying to trick Uncle Sam into paying for our Lexuses. (I would like to posit for the record that the brief times during which I have accepted financial assistance from the state, I would have never been able to afford a Lexus, or even a 1997 Ford Aspire. True story.)
Therefore, I imagine Child’s bio dad to be very similar to the way he was when I knew him, that is to say he is still probably not especially responsible. And probably still doesn’t like himself terribly well. And probably still drinks too much.
So even IF I could, with a clear conscience, say, “Okay, Child! Let’s go! We’ll find your father this summer!” What kind of can of worms would I be opening? What are the statistical odds that her life would be better after that? That it would be worse?
My basis for asking Child’s father to make the same choice that I had to make (100% or 0%) was extremely unscientific, but was that the most rogered up people I’ve ever known are the ones who’ve had here-and-gone-again fathers or mothers. Who’ve had a consistent stream of rejection in their young lives. (Also, it seemed unfair to me for him to have to be cool with whatever choice I was making, but that’s a post for another day).
So what are we going to do? I dunno. But I’ll keep you posted.
I welcome your input and feedback, but if you’re going to be hateful toward me or toward Child’s bio dad, I thank you in advance for keeping your comments to yourself.