Friday, May 21, 2010

During the year I spent dying


Every time I spend time with my family, I realize that I love my nieces more than life itself. I believe that they are literally enchanting. They enchant me, like fairy princesses waving magic wands at my face and sending me into a utopian state. They could change me into a frog and I wouldn’t even notice.

That being said, I must acknowledge that going to family weddings is an ordeal, primarily because it reminds me of the fact of children’s existence and, thus, my lack of them. Since I am an unmarried woman (everyone go read this Maureen Dowd article right now, which makes me so angry I could spit), I get to share a room with my widowed grandmother. She’s my date. I accompany her around, with her hand on my arm. Which is fine--I love her, and I’m happy to help. It just affects my perception of myself. It doesn’t matter what adventures I have partaken in, or how much I’ve published, or if I’ve won the effin’ Nobel Peace Prize. (Heck, it certainly didn’t help Obama.) In the context of my Republican family members, for whom marriage and children are almost all-important, I’m merely a spinster, no more nor less, a person sans companion or the patter of little feet in my future.

This fact used to make me so angry I could cry and scream and cry and do all of that at the same time. Now, when it doesn’t make me cry and scream, it makes me laugh. How ridiculous is it that nothing matters except children? What about my own life? Don’t all of my cousins want exactly the same things for their children that I want for myself? To wit: I am following my dreams. They want their children to follow their dreams. But what about their own dreams?

My real source of terror is that I’ll wake up on my 35th birthday and say: d’oh. I’ll realize that all of my ova have rotted on the shelf, and then realize that true happiness in life comes from progeny and progeny alone, and I blew it and now it’s too late. That’s what I’m afraid of. Or I’m afraid of ending up with a life partner who wakes up and says that same thing, minus the end bit, replacing it with: now I’ll go find a 21-year-old with ova raring to go.

So every day I progress farther into my thirties (or every day I think of it) I ask myself this question: do I want children? Do I? Do I? The answer: yes. I do. The biological imperative is too strong not to fight. Of course I do. Of course. Millions of years of DNA are screaming at me, louder and louder every passing day.

Then I ask myself the more important question, which is: do I want to raise children? And the answer to that one? Um, not so much.


edifice rex said...

Even though I have never wanted kids, and still don't, I know exactly what you mean about the rest. No matter how many publications I make it in or how big the building I build, I'm pretty much invisible to most of my family.
It can be very frustrating.

Melissa said...

Hey!!! I'm so excited you commented, because I'm a huge fan of yours... and I haven't been brave enough to post on your fantastic blog. I was really curious about your Mother's Day post that hinted at some of the difficulties you've had as a childless woman--but you never expounded on them. This post has been percolating inside of me for some time, and it's a decision I still really struggle with.

edifice rex said...

Not brave enough!?? Are you daft woman?! From what I see on your blog, you'd give me a damn hard run for my money. lol! Seriously. Speak up if you want to.
I'll try to explain myself on that subject soon. I really meant to but then ran out of inspiration when i got home that day.

wfrenn said...

Re Edifice rex:I doubt that they reject your path; it is more likely that they don't quite know what to say about your publications, architectural prowess, and other outside the norm achievements. They are, hopefully, proud of you, but can't easily relate to much outside of the mainstream of their cultural norms. They might feel uneasy. You could have an honest talk with them, saying how much their approval would mean to you, and you wondered why they are silent on the daughter they raised in terms of her success. I have worked so hard and this silence makes you feel "invisible."
Whatever they say, at least it would clear the air.
Help them out as much as you can. "I know you love me and and proud of me, but . . . . "
This might have some validity for you, too, Melissa, though I don't know. I got the impression you parents love you a lot, but have trouble understanding your wayward side.
Unfair as it is, the burden seems always to be on the stronger to understand the more fearful, rather than them reach out to you.
(Sigh. . . .)

The Capt'n

Melissa said...

Thanks, both of you. Bravery is such an interesting thing. It feels so different from the inside than it looks from outside. Most of the time, no matter how brave what I'm doing looks, inside I'm quaking with fear... But maybe that's the nature of the beast.