This is a letter to an unborne child who might someday be mine...
Someday, I might be your mom – at least, I hope I will be. I’m sure as hell working on it and planning. You might be from my womb, or through an adoption, or through a surrogate pregnancy. I certainly don’t care, and maybe you will or won’t as you grow older – I’ll let you make that decision, I promise.
Like everything else in my life, you will come to me from my will as I change desire into reality. You won’t come to me by accident. I’ll never say “whoops” when I find out about you. Like everything else, I will plan and work and plod along for you, banging my head as I go through this and resorting to prayers in a universe I believe is godless, yet I will still emphatically call you my miracle once you arrive.
Having you – finding a way to have you - may well be the longest journey of my life, and you’re the destination against the tedious, seemingly endless horizon of ocean. No wonder people once thought the world was flat, and that they could sail off the planet into oblivion. If it meant I could have you, I would gladly risk losing my hold on the earth itself and plow headlong into the waves; in fact, that is often what I feel I am doing simply by allowing myself to want you, so I grab the oars anyhow and push until I feel my arms tearing from the shoulder.
I didn’t know that you would be one of the potential casualties of my diseases, but if I can get my three degrees and find meaningful work and rebuild all my muscles over these years while puking, screaming, and limping, then somehow, maybe, I can find a way to your beating heart through my beating heart. You are not lost to me yet.
My mother insisted that she knew me before I was borne, and this is how I now know you. I may not know how to communicate with you in the future, and I am sure there will be enough instances where you will hurt and betray me. You may even tell me you want to grow up to be an accountant or to write like a post-structuralist French intellectual; somehow I will forgive you for these slights and find a way to love you anyhow because you are you, and that, ultimately, is all I want for you. However, in all likelihood, I will make your favorite dinner but not your favorite dessert because of one of these slights, and you won’t push me about it, either, ‘cause yo’ momma didn’t raise you that way. Trust me on that.
I am afraid of bringing you into a world where SUVs are nearly guaranteed to kill people in a smaller car in a side-impact crash and where we wind up eating our own pesticides. I won’t know how to protect you from these things. You will wonder why I obsess over them and tell me to relax. Then you will have a munchkin who poops and pees and sets your mind on fire, and you’ll understand all of this rambling. Then you try to relax.
It kills me to know that after all my fighting for your existence in my life, I will someday surrender you to this world, but yes, I will set you free, even if I shatter into a million pieces in doing it. You will go through many relationships in your life, and I want you to know that is the best definition of love I have found: I will let you be you. I’ll try to live up to that even when I would prefer to poke my own eyes out slowly with a soup spoon. I will let you be you, and I'll stop being so selfish and making it about me.
Someday you may come home with a tattoo that you “forgot” to mention when you left the house. Just because I did the same thing doesn’t mean you should do it. Part of me will melt into a gelatinous, warbling puddle on the floor saying, your skin, your skin, oh your perfect skin, my perfect you, and then I will realize that some people need to make a certain mark to claim their place in the world – even if it’s imperfect, misguided, or regrettable. It didn’t stop your momma. Another part of me will look at your tat and then look at mine, and then silently -- and only in the farthest regions of my mind -- I will hold up my arms like goal posts and hiss, “SCORE!” because I will recognize myself in you, my most rebellious, free spirit in you. And then I will beg you to get it removed because I always want you to be perfect just as you are.
I can’t protect you from everything, but I can warn the bejesus out of you. Know that on some days, you will wake up with The Brown Touch, and you will readily swear that everything you touch will turn to crap. You will swear that you will never be right, and your world will never come together as well as everyone else’s. Things may not go well in your world for periods at a time for reasons neither you nor anyone else can explain nor forecast. You will know despondency, and as much as I want to save you from that inevitable rain, I can’t; even if I could, I wouldn’t save you from such hurts because they are your destiny, a very simple part of being human. They will teach you what you are and help you find beauty in other people. To “save” you would be to stultify you. I love you already, even now, too much for that.
Know that even if your bones are breaking, your will is made of steel, and your heart is your own. These are family traits. They will serve you well, but they will also probably be the root cause of the end of your First Great Love. Know that you’ll be fine, even despite yourself, because I promise that life will often make you your own worst enemy. That’s also a family trait, and I will love you through every minute of fighting yourself, of fighting me, and of fighting just to get it halfway right when you don't know what you're doing. I won’t leave you even if you leave me at these times. You are already part of my skin, my eyes, everything. I don’t know how it happened, but I don’t question it.
I know you’ll be afraid often, but you won’t come to me or tell me. Sometimes you will even be afraid of me, of my anger, of my disapproval, of the loss of my love. Know that you frighten me just as much, that the second you are no longer an aimless ovum and sperm but a unity that marks my future, the culmination of all this work and longing, you will scare the living shit out of me because I will be so happy, which means I could lose you, lose it all.
I am afraid that the world will look completely different to me once you are here, and that I will be so changed forever that I will no longer recognize who I am, and there will be you, only you, and somehow I will forget a life without you.
Know that I am ferociously trying to reach you, that you light my path often when I have to make decisions, and that I am impatient, but if you are at the end of the journey waiting for me, then I will come to you, and that will be home. This is the definition of hope I want you to have when you need it. Someday, if you ever make it here to earth and to me, you will.
If I can give you anything in a world where bullets and gun smoke have flown over my head in North Philadelphia and cars have caught on fire as I drove past, it is ever-burning hope, hope that is as real, palpable, firey, and even as scary as the violence that has touched my life and changed me into a different person. Even in a world with this ugliness, there is the possibility of redemption and grace, so I still want you and will work to have you here with me. That is why I write to you when you are no more than a draft in my head, and this letter is the only evidence of your would-be existence for your would-be mom.
Photo credit: "No More Please" by carlosluis on flickr (click on the photo for more of this artist's work). Permission obtained for use.
This post has been moved with the rest of this blog over to its new home at AlifeLessConvenient.com: same topics, same approach, same blog, different location.