Monday, July 5, 2010

A Letter to My Preconceived Notion


I wrote this in February, 2002, for the child I had only just started hoping for.

It began simply. I left the pink plastic case in the drawer, figuring it would be no big deal – business as usual, minus one little blue pill at bedtime every night. If it happens, it happens.

But nothing, baby, nothing swings like these moods. I’ve got the sex drive and depression of a high school girl, perched on the brink of some pitfall or other. Which will it be? Conceive and be a breeder, a Mommy, a sweatpants-wearing ghost in a house full of people who wish she would just shut up? Or the sorry infertile non-woman, so askew that her own errant ovaries know better than to pass it along? Which will it be?

Somehow, sweetheart, I simply know that I want you in my life. And yes, it’s probably for all the wrong, culturally inscribed reasons. Nevertheless, I love you dearly, though you’re no more than a theory; a hypothetical little genetic time bomb.

I can’t promise you a thing. You understand this now, existing only in my mind as you do. But when you are your own little being, you will forget. You will want the more expensive sweater, want your mother to stop crying, want to spend Christmas in your own house instead of on a plane bound for snowy Pennsylvania or in a car bound for rainy Oregon.

You will want the world to love you as much as I do and it won’t, baby, it won’t. You will navigate your way through the whole mess of childhood and adolescence, not knowing the rules until long after the game is over and it’s time to start a new one.

Some people will admire this particular quality or that. Some will instantly dislike you through no fault of your own. There is hate in this world and it permeates everyone. It is there. But there is love in the world too, my sad boy or sad girl. There is ebb and flow, calm and storm, a whole complex geography of being and becoming, knowing and wondering, learning, forgetting, and learning again. You will turn inward, want to write a poem but your feelings will be greater than a mere vocabulary can express. You will find, seek, separate, go your own way into the darkness and light, as I have, as everyone has.

You are asking me what is the point of it all if there is no vindication. I don’t know the point, or if there needs to be one. Most of us have learned to create meaning in those aspects of life we can measure – our jobs, our gardens, even a fist-sized lump in one’s uterus that will one day be a baby. But baby, find your own answers that make sense for you, and change them as often as you need to keep being happy.

And please . . . be sure to take these words from me now, because when you need a cup of juice, when you need help with your homework or braces or a ride to the mall, I won’t be able to say these words to you. I’ll be the last person you’ll want to hear them from.

And maybe I’ll never have you at all. Maybe you’d rather stay inside where it’s safe – part of my thoughts, part of my body, never quite taking your own definitive shape. And maybe people will misunderstand and pity me, or consider me flawed in some way. But these same people will, no doubt, have the same reaction when I let you dye your hair day-glo green and partake of whatever nasty elements of pop culture you choose. Either way, we won’t care what they think. These are your decisions. Be hypothetical, or be conceived. I will leave my pills in the drawer, and I will wait.

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