*This is a rather long post. I needed to write it that way. It might take a few minutes longer than normal to read. Just letting you know.*
Some days, life seems to want to dish up a seemingly bigger or more potent lesson than other days. It's day 25 of The Forgiveness Project, and with the end of the project, and the month, in clear sight, I'm hardly surprised to have found myself, and my beautiful beloved, in need of a good ol' clearing.
The subject? The 'B' word, that most terrifying of areas for me to broach with Nige -- babies. Or rather, baby, and the fact that since I became a Godmother three months ago (already?! How does time do that?), I have begun to question my firmly held, thirteen year old notion that 'I don't want children.'
It's not that I suddenly do want kids; it's more that I'm starting to question it, and to find that I don't know the answer as solidly as I have since I was 15 years old, when I realized that my blossoming breasts and widening hips were developing for a biological purpose, and that I couldn't ever imagine myself having children of my own (despite really, really adoring children), and that in fact I didn't think I actually wanted them at all.
In thirteen years, that opinion has barely changed. But recently... recently, I've begun to wonder. And the doubt that has crept silently, and I must say uninvitedly, into my heart, has threatened so much in my world, rocking the mobile of our expectations, understanding and perhaps even the external foundations that we seem to have agreed upon for our life together.
Nige has given his consent for me to write about this: we decided a while ago that we don't want to have children.
People around me, usually older than me, have told me that I am bound to change my mind (and the full extent of their opinions as well, in some cases), and one by one they tried to plant a seed of doubt in my mind.
But it was really only when I was on the maternity ward with my beautiful friend who has blossomed into a beautiful mother, that I really grasped the magnificence, the miraculous nature and the sheer enormity and wonder of motherhood - of birth, of the responsibility and divinity of being a parent, of the incomparable nature of this role. And I cried, as a whole new part of myself began to be revealed to me, like a land that you'd only read about in newspapers or seen on tv with a really bad reception - distant, crackly, left to your imagination to fill in the blanks. Of course, I have known mothers. I have witnessed mothers. I've been friends with them, and I've been around them. But I have never been around babies much, apart from when I worked in cafes, and the first time I held my friend's baby, my heart burst open and I felt something akin to unconditional love for this child -- this child that wasn't even my child.
So here I am on day 25 of a month long commitment to dive deep into whatever forgiveness opportunities presented themselves, and last night I was called to share my doubt with Nige, having tentatively mentioned things since my Goddaughter was born, testing the water, putting the feelers out there to see how he responded.
Let's just say that we both had to do a clearing around it.
I must be clear with you here: becoming parents has not been something that has been in my of Nige's vision of our life together (although of course I've pondered and wondered and imagined, always left with a sense of impossibility around it and feeling that I really didn't think this was what I wanted).
Why not? Isn't it the most natural thing in the world to do? And wouldn't I make a great mother? Even my English language students this summer, in a lesson in which they made predictions about one another, agreed in force and with much laughter that I will one day make an amazing wife and mother. I protested that it's not what I want, and was met with dubious looking faces. By people who don't even know the word 'dubious' in the English language.
So, why not?
Because it's f-ing scary to think about the implication it would have on our lives, on my life and on his. - not to mention this sacred little being who we would be responsible for bringing into the world. This isn't a selfish issue at all - there is an innocent third party whose very existence depends on it! And because all around us, in friends' and family members' lives, we see people whose lives are swallowed up by having kids, and that is quite a terrifying proposition. I mean, I'll be blunt with you - a lot of people who have children seem to come to resent the little b@!*tards; they tell us as much. Because I wouldn't want to bring a being into such a broken, messed up world. And because it upheaves everything I've imagined about my life, and where it's going. Because it would mean sacrificing so much, giving up so much. And am I capable of giving everything that a child needs? Because I'm 28 now, and I'm only just starting to really step into my power - I mean, my 'career' is completely up in the air and I'm an under-earner and even if I did want a child, and if Nige did too, and we both agreed to embark on the irreversible and incredible journey of parenthood, how on earth and in heaven would we finance it?! I can barely meet my bills at the moment. Also, because this world is scary. And because it would be the end of things as we know them. Things between us would change, and that frightens me too. And perhaps most of all because I dread repeating the mistakes of my parents, and I'm faced with the inevitability that that might happen because that's what humans do. I'm frightened of becoming an abuser and ruining my child's life.
There. I've said it.
But at the same time... what if?
Airing this tiny shift in my mind was a big deal. Some people might lock these things, these quiet yearnings, right into their heart. They might tell their friends. They might devote their aching to a journal, or their prayers. But for me, the most honest thing I could do was come right out and talk to my fiance about it. Because it concerns him, and us, as well as me, in a major, major way. Not sharing this with Nige would have been to hide a vital part of myself. Suddenly, there's a wall in the relationship where, in order for intimacy to occur, there needs to be a window.
In telling Nige, I let him know me a little bit more, and perhaps I gave him a gift that he wouldn't have had if I hadn't told him. Maybe it allowed him to explore or experience an aspect of himself that never would have emerged had that conversation not happened. But for sure I know tonight that my partner knows me. He knows where I'm at. He knows my heart. He knows a new and fresh aspect of me, one that I'm just awakening to myself. I love the Love that is always on the other side of me walking through my fear. I took a risk, and after being snarled at by the bulldog, I came to see the beautiful person that was also calling to be witnessed and seen. I was witnessed and seen too, and now I don't need to shroud my heart in darkness. I can let everything breathe. Breath is life-giving, and things like these need to be allowed to live, otherwise I risk carrying a ghost of a thought around with me for the rest of my life, and I risk it becoming stagnant and toxic inside of me.
I don't need people telling me what I will or will not want, although I am grateful for the various influences who have prompted this most unexpected unfolding of ever deeper parts of my heart. This is obviously a huge and deep subject, and I'm sure that if you've read this far, there are thoughts, heart murmurings, musings, experiences, reflections, wishes, hopes and insights that you have, too, which I would love to hear.
But for today, this is enough - that I've aired my doubt, the doubt about how solid I am in my conviction of definitely not wanting children ever. And the forgiveness journey continues on for another day.