Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Only in Theory

The room was filled with women. Ranging from ages 3 to 3 plus five decades, we were gathered to celebrate. With Mother's Day less than 24 hours away, we bestowed gifts and well wishes on the first time mother to be. We ate, rolled out streamers in an attempt to estimate her pregnant circumference, and tried our best not to say, "baby" or "belly" nor cross our arms or legs, lest we lose our pipe cleaner bracelets. And we talked. Talked of baby names and the people babies become as they get older. Well, they talked. I listened, shaking my head vehemently when asked if I had any offspring of my own.

Some day, I want to be able to join in that conversation with my own stories and anecdotes. From as early as I can remember, I've wanted to be somebody's mommy. Actually, I wanted to be mulitple somebodies' mommy. In elementary school I wanted two, twins, just like the ones in the Sweet Valley novels I collected like stamps. The only thing I couldn't do was name them Elizabeth and Jessica, since I already owned one of those names. I decided upon Kelly. Kelly would be the good twin and following in the footsteps of her namesake, Jessica would be the mischevious one.

In the sixth grade I was barraged by an intense liking for several baby names. Determined not to let any of them go to waste, I decided that between the ages of 21 and 29 I would have 8 kids. In order to prevent a pregnancy per year, I had the extremely ambitious goal of having two sets of twins to get the first four kids out the way. Jefferey and Steven would be born shortly after my 21st birthday, followed 18 months later by Kelly and Jessica (couldn't let go of those two). At 24 another daughter, Cherish would be born. We'd call her Cherry for short, sort of like the girl on Punky Brewster. Baby Michael would be welcomed into our family when I turned 26, followed a year later by little Damian. Then at the end of my reproductive years (the ripe old age of 29), I would have one last daughter, Meagan (pronounced Mee-ghen), who would be affectionately referred to as Runt, being that she is the runt of my litter.

I kept the eight kid fantasy going for a while, until I determined that I would still be in college at 21 and it would probably be best to wait until after graduation to start the procreation. Not wanting to be pregnant in my 30s (perish the thought), I decided that pushing out three kids between the ages of 25 and 29 would be much more doable. I also relinquished my fantasy of recreating my own personal Sweet Valley Twins. Kelly and Jessica no longer existed in my psyche, replaced by my own mini me, Brooke Lyn. Visualizing myself as an eternal bad ass who could only be tamed by the love of a stable man, Brooke Lyn would be the best of both me and her imaginary father. Blessed with my height and looks, but moderated with her dad's temperament, Brooke Lyn was going to be the basketball star that I never was.

Shortly after I conceived Brooke Lyn in my mind, the Rug Rats reinvigorated my love for twins, but this time of the fraternal male/female variety. I wanted to have the Negro version of Phil and Lil (but with different names of course). My twins would look exactly alike, yet both look distinctly like members of their sex. I was going to dress them identically, except that the boy would wear pants and the girl would wear skirts. After March 9, 1997 a large part of me wanted to name my boy Christopher Wallace (I still do), but it didn't really fit with the Br___ trend I would've started if I named his other half Brianna. What to do, what to do. Maybe Brandon or Bradley would work. Oh, but Christopher Wallace beckons me to this day.

Even now, I'm still stuck on my three kids. But, I've run into a little snag, and not having a viable father for the brood is the least of my worries (just waiting on Jay-Z to dump Beyonce so the baby's daddy role will be filled). After mentoring a preteen and spending time around other people's children, younger cousins, and the bad ass spawn that roam America's malls, I've realized that I don't really like children very much. Actually, I really don't like them at all. They are needy, attention seeking, and money pits. It's bad enough I have to deal with these traits in myself. I really don't think I could deal with it in someone else for 18 years. Not to mention that children are loud and have more energy than a speeding bullet. I hate piggy back rides, playing on swings, and all that other crap the under 4 feet set is so fond of. For me, babysitting is the best form of birth control that ever existed.

But even worse than my overall distaste for children is my absolute self absorption. I am way too concerned with myself to be concerned about anyone else. At least not enough to continually put their needs ahead of my own. Give me a choice between feeding a child and feeding my shoe addiction and the shoes would win hands down. And even if they didn't, every time I shoveled strained peas into the kid's mouth, I'd think of the shiny red pumps with my name on them still sitting on a department store shelf. Responsibility just doesn't work for me. I even have dreams about misplacing my own child in the mall or my house and forgetting to feed my baby for weeks on end. Even as a child, I could only pretend to be my Cabbage Patch doll's mommy for about 2 days before she was once again tossed on the bed and left to starve. I'm starting to think this was an early indicator of my parenting skills. There is a definite reason why there are no living things in my home. I am incapable of taking care of anything or anyone but myself. Even a cactus would wilt under my care.

On top of all of that, my maternal instinct has yet to kick in. When I was 12, I thought I'd have it by 21, and when I was 21 I thought I'd have it by 25. I'm 25 and it still ain't here. I have no patience and absolutely no ability to nurture. So if I'm not ready now, when? I see people my age and younger preparing to start families all the time (oftentimes accidentally). When I say congratulations, I really want to shout, "but you're too young to be a parent!!" Or maybe I'm really just saying that to myself. People tell me all the time that before they had their own, they never liked kids either. They keep reassuring me that even though I don't like kids, I will like my own. And I do. I really do love little Brooke Lyn and company (Christopher Wallace will more than likely win out over the other names). But I'm starting to wonder if I only like the idea of these children so I can live out my adolescent fantasies through them. If Brooke Lyn is going to be like her dad, then younger sister Brianna (tentative) will be just like me. Or rather who I wish I was, the black version of the vixen Alicia Silverstone created in three early 90s Aerosmith videos. Bad ass indeed! The day to day child rearing never comes into the fantasy. If I can't picture all that being a mommy entails, do I really want to be their mommy? What if they don't turn out the way I envision them, then what? Could it be I only want these children in theory, not in practice. I don't want to wait until the bun is in the oven to find out.


├ůsa said...

Cheetarah! I don't think you have to worry. If you are starting to feel "old" you should move to Europe. In the fancy part of Stockholm the average age for first time mothers is 38. AVERAGE! You have time :-) And I'm of the romantic notion that children aren’t an end in itself. It's the product of the love between two people. Maybe that helps you relax a bit? Don’t prepare for being a parent now. When you become a parent: it will work out anyway. I’m sure!

Anonymous said...

Thank GOD you aren't ready to be a parent. I'm not ready for YOU to be one either!

Michelle said...

This story was very humorously told while at the same time being very honest.

Do trust me when I say that if you ever find yourself in the way of expecting a child, accidentally or otherwise, your maternal instinct will kick in.

I hate other kids, but I love my own more than anything. And I DID kill a cactus once.

NegroPino™ said...

Here ye here ye!!!!!!Ill toast to that.....ALthough my imagination wasnt as active as yours........I just want 2 a boy and a girl but my reasons are selfish. I dont not LIKE Kids I just dont think like COLLEGE its for everybody. Everybody wants to TAUNT me cuz i decided to delay the process im 27 whats anohter 3-4 yrs.....I still got til IM 40 and at least by then I will b emore established and ready to accept that role. ITs hard out there just being an AUNTIE. ANd if Jay z ever leaves BEyonce, itll be for me LOL

The Rev said...

Let's make a deal...

If you get Jay-Z, I'll be sure to console Beyonce on her loss. I would do that for you.

I just hope Beyonce likes white guys too.

Anonymous said...

LoL @ Smokin' Steve! She did go for Steve Martin in The Pink Panther...I'm sure she'll go for you, too!

Anyway...Oh Liz! You are such a basket case. I agree with asa. I think the reason you can't picture being a mom is because you're imagining doing it all wrong! You're only taking into account the process and not the product. Just like in your other blog when you had the mental script of how you and ol' what's-his-face would have "the talk", you have a romanticized view of child-rearing and motherhood that clearly doesn't mesh with your personality so you feel you're not maternal. I blame society for instilling this standard mommy image that girls as young as 2 can't wait to fulfill. But, as naive-no-more said, it'll happen! Just relax! There's a reason you're not a mother yet, and you've got about another 15 years to get there (though you might not wanna push it to the 15th year!).

BTW, you will NOT be babysitting for my children, if ever I have any.

Jodi said...

I often think of children, and 30 is right around the corner now! When my kitty sits atop my honey's chest and he holds her sweetly for an hour long episode of the sopranos i think how beautiful it would be if it were our daughter, with both our features...blah blah blah. and then i remember i still haven't been to europe or enjoyed my abs long enough to want to carry 8 pounds in my stomach for 9 months yet...it would be hard to give up being selfish, right? ~Jodi

JLANE said...

I don't think the world is ready for lil Nabu's running around...and you're right I DON'T see you having kids straight away. You still got some "ahem" experimenting to do. Give it some time.

Every now and again I get the settle down mentality and picture the house (insert dream bubble) with 5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, two car garage, central air and a basement...and then I watch BET UNCUT and I'm like NAAAAAAAH!

missbhavens said...

When I was 12, I thought I'd have it by 21, and when I was 21 I thought I'd have it by 25. I'm 25 and it still ain't here

...and 30 and 35...and I STILL don't have it! Where's my maternal instinct, dammit! I have pets and plants and I love them. But I don't have to teach them moral values and I don't have to send them to college.

I like to THINK that the instinct would kick in after having a kid, but I'm terrified that it wouldn't. And what if I want to go out of town, otr something. Then I'd have to take Little-B on a plane and annoy everyone around me.

My Mom always says "it totally shows up and takes over". I always interpreted this to be referring to children, but I think she really means the instinct.

No rush. Really. NO rush.

Sabrinas said...

in think it's great you've been able to acknowledge how your feelings about having kids have changed. when you meet someone you're crazy about, it can just be about you two, without this other goal thrown into the mix. at the same time, meeting someone who is both amazing and you could imagine raising kids with can influence how you feel about them.

it's amazing how that insticnt pops up. when i was a little kid, i'd also fantasized about having a zillion kids (ever play that board game LIFE? i though the goal was to get as many children as possible. sometimes i'd snag an extra player piece so i'd have renugh roomin my "car" for all the kids!)

but once i became actually biologically capable of having a kid, i really stopped wanting one. then after my mom died, i of course began to think a lot about the parent/child and mother/daughter relationship, what i expereinced, what worked and didn't, and what i would want to replicate if i had kids. now the little chubby monsters come into my cafe and i just want to eat them, in a good way. seeing babies makes my ovaries hurt, i want them so bad. still,i have my own goals, and i'm still too into them to give to a kid as much as i want to, so they'll hafta wait.

mollymcmo said...

I always joke that we make fat, chubby babies, then they reach tot-dom and become sticks cause at that point their "newness" has faded and i forget to feed them (like when you have a pet)

fish don't last in this house!

i'm so joking though about feeding these kids!!! (some people don't have a sense of humour in the blogging world! haha!)

you were brutally honest with yourself, which is great.

things change though, they really do.

my huge, huge, huge shoe collection is no more, some days it does bother me but what i have now is so much more satisfying. most days anyway!! LOL!

mommyhood is so all consuming, 99% kids where you do struggle to keep that 1% that is you alive!


Citygirl said...

I've absolutely never been maternal. I never babysat for anyone or planned names for my future spawn. Until my boyfriend's recent cat adoption, I had never had a living, breathing being other than myself in my apartment.

I realized long ago that babies are not for me. Neither is pregnancy, by the way. If I should ever decide to take care of a kid they will be adopted and at least 5 years old. No potty training here!

i like liquor and tv said...

Oh no you didn't take it back to the Sweet Valley twins.

I don't want kids because 1...I am LAZY. I have loads of laundry to do right now, and it's just ME. The clothes are sitting right next to the washer, so why won't I just put them in and turn it on?
and 2...I do not like smart mouthed kids, and I was one, so I know my kids would be.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness there are people out there thinking about things like this. Too often I see people having kids because they're supposed to, not because they want to. What a sad thing.

I also planned out all my kids' names and genders when I was in elementary school, and I had all kinds of ideas about how old I'd be when I had them. Alas, I am now as old as I was supposed to be when birthing my first, and Simon and I have to work out a few things (cohabiting? marriage? Chile?) before we even thinkg of taking that big step. I just wish my hormones would stop raging against logic and let me be happy in my babyless state for a few more years. Instead, it's all I can think about and I grow more frustrated daily. Poor me.

Anonymous said...

My Mother would tell you that twins are a bad idea.

Pop Culture Casualty said...

We are so in the same space of mind. I was thinking this way just this past weekend. I think it, you write it. Isn't that the way it goes.

Thanks for hitting up my 'Best Of' blog. Yeah, you've read it before. Just packaged different.

Pop Culture Casualty said...

p.s... thanks for the comment on my blog of recent. Blogs like yours raise the bar and make me have to pull out my good shit.

Rebel1 said...

Somebody might be over-thinking.
This is one of those chicken or the egg scenarios. You might be one of those people that have an "accident" and have an unplanned child. Once you get him/her in your arms that instinct with turn on full throttle. I haven't seen a woman over 25 that has had a child and not go all out into motherhood.

Furtheron said...

You have to take the risk. No one can ever prepare you to be a parent and you are whatever you are when you get there.

Hey - it's half the fun and half the dispair trying to get it right. But if you try to get it right somehow it'll turn out all right in the end.

Anonymous said...

We need to find a way so that females dont get their eggs and uterus passed out to them till their 25th BDay.

I think Taki is an excellent name. It can be used very universally.