I never wanted to be a mother when I was young. Seduced by the freedom I could have as a single woman, at varying levels of “being about to take care of myself” financially and psychologically, I pushed onward. When I was 19 and in college I had an abortion. The father was irresponsible and unemployed, and I wanted to graduate. I wanted to live an exciting, satisfying life and knew if I kept the child I would be doomed to poverty and single-mother-dom before I had even gotten started.
For a decade afterwards I was uncomfortable around children. Their screams, their laughter, all a reminder of what I had thrown away. I lived the life I wanted. I became aware that childbirth would require me to come off of my bipolar medication or risk debilitating birth defects, which my aborted child may have had. This was not an option, even if I was in a stable relationship or psychiatrically stable.
Finally, when I went on Disability, I found out that severe mental illness was a qualification for the state to take one’s children away. And did I even ever want a child? Now I definitely could not risk it. I didn’t trust myself not to get sick again. I couldn’t trust myself.
Then I met my life partner, and her youth and enthusiasm was infectious. She wanted us to have a baby, or adopt one, once we were living in a house and settled down. To me this whole trajectory seemed like a beautiful dream, but not one that I could count on. Believing one can be as successful as one’s parents is a fantasy I dropped along with Generation X.
We compared uteri. Any child with my DNA would be mentally ill, not to mention in utero birth defects. She didn’t want to get pregnant, whether to keep her sleek body, stay on antidepressants or threaten her genderqueer identification. “We’ll adopt! When we’re ready.” She said. I tried to tell her no one would let a schizoaffective woman adopt, same sex couple or not.
We have clashed on this before, her assurance that everything will be okay and work out properly, my assurance that everything that can go wrong, will. An optimist and a pessimist. An ingénue and a jaded couger.
At this point, I feel like it may all work out for the best. I won’t be raising the kid as the stay at home mom while my partner works. I can keep writing instead of chasing after a toddler. I can find that quiet place and work. I would hate to subject anyone to childhood; mine was not enjoyable. I also feel that my parenting would be subpar. I think it’s important to know your limits, and as a schizoaffective woman with a heart condition and alcoholism, I’ve got enough to deal with over here.
Then why is it, that watching two little girls on the Ellen show, I cried?
I think, as I enter my late thirties, the biological clock I thought I wasn’t issued is starting to beat hard and fast. My partner and I browse through baby clothes at the store. I watch the baby pictures scrolling down my facebook feed. I know, logically, that this isn’t something I can or should do. It remains a reminder of all I have given up for my disorder. Thinking in terms of the child’s comfort and well being as opposed to my partner and my satisfaction, is something I have to do.