I thought I was reconciled to my offspringless state, at peace with that decision. But as days ticked by, crampless and dry, a fetal image formed in my head. I really didn’t want to be pregnant…but if I was… well hey! in less than nine months, I could have:
-A a clear focus and priority for my life.
-A a source of endless fascination.
-A reason to play, every day.
-Something which would inspire admiration (and envy oh yah! my brother will turn moss green) in people, but also to make them smile and remind them of what is best in themselves.
-A precious gift to my father — his first and only grandchild.
-The trippy thrill of seeing the reflection of own eyes, my hair, my walk, my speech patterns and irritating habits and purple prose and pearls of wisdom — in intricate and unpredictable combination with those of a beautiful man whose love planted this seed.
-A contribution to the future, a wanted child who could help to save it, a chance for my presence to linger in this world after I am dead and buried
All of this.
Like a wrapped gift hanging in a gauzy cradle, and all I needed to do to have it all was…nothing. Childbirth the negative-billing option — all of this could be mine, would be mine — unless I actively chose to undergo discomfort, inconvenience, cost, and potentially pain and sorrow — in order to turn it all down.
Some years ago on the sticky Caribbean coast of Costa Rica I met a wiry old black man named Albert. Albert lived in a grass shed on the beach. He smiled broadly, holding out his hand to show me his “capital” — a few coins, less than a dollar. His grandfather, descendant of migrant slaves, had sailed to the Caribbean from Nova Scotia. Albert had eight children, and was a happy man. He had planted the coconut palms on the beach, he explained proudly — all tall and strong and laden with sweet fruit. “But those, down on the end, they bear no fruit — they are worthless. You are a healthy young woman,” he said, eyeing me up and down. “Why don’t you stay here and have some babies?”
And I wanted that. I wanted it badly.
What is the value of a barren woman? What use is a sterile tree? If I go forth yet fail to multiply will God be angry at me for spurning his greatest blessing?
And yet…I don’t want to have a child.
I feel like there is work I need to do in order to be truly at peace with this. In order to truly exercise my free will in the service of universal joy. I have to confirm and understand this if I am to act out of intelligence and love rather than reaction and fear. If I am to come through in peace and not end up bitter and twisted.
I realize that I am blessed to have been born into this culture at this novel point in the evolution of human civilization — the turning point where I am honestly not forced — economically, socially, or biologically — to procreate.
What a gift we have all been given. What freedom we now have.
And just in time too, because at this time, it does take a village to raise a child. One child. Only one. In this big village if we each have a child, all of us are FUCKED! … declaims the strident voice of rationality.
Yeah yeah yeah this I know. This we all know. But I also know that regardless of this logic, whether I choose to bring a child into the world or not, I have to make that decision for reasons of hope and joy, and not out of desperation or despair.
And so I look again at the promise dangling before me. Run my hands over my belly. I realize that I have onlyone option actually, and that is to build a life for myself (in fact hey! a global reality) where all my human needs will be met.
This is my Intention:
To find my life’s focus in nurturing seeds.
To learn, to keep learning, and to observe things unfolding with unabashed amusement and awe.
To make funny faces and dance crazy and howl at the moon. To play every day.
To love unconditionally and to accept all love without conditions.
To see my own peculiar being reflected in others’ eyes, to see my own warts and eccentricities delightfully and unpredictably mingled with those of spirits intercoursed with along the way, to pass the shimmer of my memory on through my acts of will and through the echo of my spirit to all generations to come, to indelibly print my genetic code onto our pulsating collective intelligence.
To be immortal.
To pass on my gifts to the children, because we need children, and we will have children. Not each of us, but all of us. As we will share the village, we will share the child. I will bask in the miracle of its birth, and I will create my own world for its nurture and delight.
I woke to the familiar twinge cramp. Hot drops, red, like earth.