It remains to be seen if I shall be a mother in this life.
In college, I was a vocal member of the “Kids? Me? Never!” Club. There were all kinds of reasons I swore I’d never have kids, none original or hardy, but one’s twenties are for making impassioned proclamations that may or may not stick. My eyes were on work and art and catching the eye of the chef at the restaurant where I waited tables. At that time in my life, it would’ve been far more plausible for me to say, “I’m thinking about switching my major to poli-sci,” than to say, “I think I’d like to have kids someday.”
Once I got kicked in the face by post-college, big-city life, my “Kids? Me? Never!” Club (KMNC) card was further accredited. A big, red, rubber stamp traveled all over it with words like “Broke” and “Aimless” and “Too Much Vodka.” Kids were now even further out in Possibilities Ocean. Back then, you would’ve heard me say, “I’m really happy with my stock portfolio right now,” sooner than you’d have heard me say, “I think I wanna be a mom.”
Then I got married and talked with my then husband about starting a family, of course. Then I was smote by God. Then I got divorced. Somewhere in that melee, a couple doctors said, “A pregnancy? For you? With the eh and the meh? Maybe not such a good idea.” There were others who were like, “You’re fine, you can have kids, no problem.” And as all this transpired, my KMNC card started to show some wear. I would forget to take it out of my jeans and send it through the wash. I would clean out my wallet and forget to put the card back in and then I’d find it a few months later and go, “Oh, yeah. This thing.” Sometimes, I even thought about throwing it in the garbage on purpose. Because when someone tells you (me) that you can’t do something, naturally, this thing you cannot do becomes the thing you must do. I don’t believe I must have a child, but my refusal to consider it is gone. The card is gone.
The other day, I heard a woman on the radio talking about adopting a little baby and raising that baby on her own. The story was beautiful and suddenly I had something in my eye. “I should do that,” I thought. “I could adopt a kid someday.” And I wrote down on a post-it note, “I think I want to adopt a kid someday” and I put the date on it: January 28th, 2015. It’s on the fridge right now. Who knows. I figure I could give a kid a pretty good life.
A video of a man being burned alive in a cage has been playing on small screens around the world since yesterday. I haven’t seen the footage but I heard about it on the radio. Though I keep my media intake extremely low, I have been surprised that in the commentary I have heard, no one has talked about how to ensure that young children do not see videos of men being burned alive in cages. It sounds like everyone is “horrified” and that the act was “unconscionable” and “terrifying” and if it is all those things to someone who can drive and read the paper, what do you suppose it is to someone who is six?
If I were a mother, I would read to my kid. Constantly, all the time. Questions such as, “Mommy, can I get this book?” and “Mommy, can I read while I take a bath?” would be met every time with “Yup.” I would make sure the kid had clean clothes and sandwiches. And if there was a video going around of a man being burned alive in a cage, I would throw my body over as many screens as I could to protect that child from seeing something like that.
A six-year-old is gonna learn about death. Bugs, birds, and hamsters all die and this is nothing to be afraid of when you’re using truth and kindness to discuss it. But cockroaches who burn men alive in cages, record themselves doing this, and then use their footage as a dental drill on the raw nerves of their enemies, this is not the kind of death a child can or ever should stare down.
You don’t need to be a mother, I guess, to feel lioness-level rage.