I have been alive for going on twenty-eight years. Not one of those years did I experience even a moment that I thought the words, “I want to be pregnant someday.” Not once. Probably never will. I have not, however, gone all twenty-eight years without thinking, “I might be ready to raise a child someday.” That thought has occurred me; not deeply, but it has passed through me from time to time. I don’t consider myself particularly maternal, but I have always had big ideas about how a child should and could be raised, and I have a consistently positive rapport with kids between three and ten, and from what I’ve seen those are the most troublesome years, right behind the jerks they are when their hormones replace their neurons.
In general, my friends are industrious parents. They work hard to care for the lives they’ve created, and they go miles out of their way to make their children’s lives special, or at least better than their own. In the years since high school, I have watched these people dedicate their Facebook feeds to pregnancy attempts, pregnancy announcements, baby showers, births, young birthdays, and developmental milestones. Their patchwork journeys tell unique stories about the unfolding lives of itty bitty people that wouldn’t even exist if my friends hadn’t forgotten a pill or flushed them on purpose or just stopped buying the condoms they hated in the first place. The magic stuff they all talked about before the kids even happened, while I was snorting lines from the back of a CD case or (in much later years), drinking one too many Jamaican Ten Speeds and going for a ten-mile bike ride at 2AM. They had their goals, and I had mine. For the most part, the support has been very one-sided.
The point is, I have yet to show any real potential for motherhood. Clearly, I have done nothing to work toward such a goal. Child-rearing has become a spectator sport for me, and I am a member of a very sparse audience. Every year, someone else bites the dust, and you know what the one uniting common denominator has been? Discomfort. No matter how nurturing and educated they are, every parent does at least one thing that makes my skin crawl. Maybe I haven’t noticed it yet, but eventually I do. Eventually, I see that one thing that makes me say, “Couldn’t you have done it differently?” I don’t say anything, obviously. Who the fuck am I to say a thing like that? I didn’t do all that work, endure all that pressure, or survive all that pain and literal labor. I just stood miles away from the experience and passed judgements quietly while they worked their asses off. So, no, I don’t say a thing, but wouldn’t I like to.
I don’t know if I’ll ever want children. I don’t know what 29-year-old Cheyenne will want, or what 33-year-old Cheyenne will think of the way I feel now. I owe it to those future Cheyennes to keep the option open, and to think hard on the idea of having to face that challenge someday. If I change my mind, I’ll thank myself for being prepared, at least in theory. If I proceed into my future with Daniel toward an end-game that involves new lives, I’ll want to have a bank of hard thinking to fall back on. If I end up getting to that same place with someone entirely different, I’ll need to know the slate is fresh, but not empty.
If, if, if.
If I change my mind, I will do things differently. I will force it out of myself. I will apply everything I’ve said inside my own head while watching others.
If, iffity, if.
In future news, I will itemize the thoughts I have had while watching others. I’d do that now, except I’ve painted a pretty shitty picture of how the inside of my head works, and I think I’d rather plow forward after the initial feelings of “who the fuck is this girl?” have worn off.