I don't clearly remember the first time I had that dream. I have not had it for a while now, but the details are clear.
A red jeep, open top, me driving it, thumping music playing but it's not too loud. I am driving down familiar mountain roads and I'm very happy. I am wearing denim dungarees, a red shirt and have a cap on my head. My hair, open and uncombed, is streaming behind me and I am smiling easily. On the passenger seat is a girl, about 4-years-old, wavy hair, open, hearty laughter and dressed exactly like me. Both of us love whatever music is playing and she keeps insisting on replaying her favourite song. I don't mind, I love her. She is my daughter. Most mischievous, most adorable, most treasured.
I have not had that dream in a while. Perhaps it's because I realise that reality and wishful thinking are two very different things. I am growing older; 30 in May.
I yearn. I know it does not scare me anymore, the idea that anything new or extra in my life, any added responsibilities will take me away from other cherished dreams. Or will hinder the way I have operated so far: decide on something and then bend whoever, whatever to my will. Get my way with a single-minded focus that is flexible enough to incorporate distractions. I won't say I don't care about my former dreams; just that now I know that the older me can fit those dreams in or around a child. I can wait for other dreams but I want my earlier dream in flesh.
I've always wondered about my parents and other parents like them. How can you just give up everything you are, were, wanted, for children? I have always doubted if I am going to be up to it. To change, modify, perhaps even let rest, all that I want to do, want to explore....when I have a child of my own. What if I would regret it later? What if I blame my child later? What if I am a bad mother? What if I cannot change and thereby harm my child?
I don't know what has changed; but I know it has changed. I don't even know when it started. I've always enjoyed cuddling other peoples' kids, have always managed a friendly rapport with toddlers and teenagers alike... Now when I see kids though, it's almost a violent reaction. I don't like holding other peoples' kids because it hurts. Because when I give the child back, I feel bereft. But how can I feel bereft when I have never had it? And what do I miss?
The nine months of pregnancy hurt, morning sickness hurts, the back hurts. Labour nearly kills. My mother had both my brother and me as caesarians. It has scarred her abdomen for life. Her stitches still hurt. After my brother she developed varicose veins. But she loves us! Why?
I've heard stories, first-hand, of how infants bite nipples and make them bleed. Of how breast-feeding is not as magical an experience as books make them out to be. Of how parents don't get sleep because babies wake up whenever they want to. How you have to constantly change smelly nappies, watch out for them, look after them. Oh hell. My parents still worry about me, which only means that once you have children, it never really ends.
I know all that. I yearn. And I get jealous, horrendously, inexplicicably envious of mothers as they happily, peacefully take their babies for walks in prams. It hurts somewhere inside - I don't understand where -- when I see babies snuggle into the necks of their mothers. Or when mothers on trains seem to have perfect conversations with a two-year-old. Nothing else seems to matter to them. And oh it hurts.
It doesn't matter... journalism, books, seeing the world, being independent.
And I fear. Desperately. I've always been a perfectionist. I hate not knowing, not being able to do something as best as I think it should be done. As long as it is possible to do it better, I will do it. And yet I am learning that not everything is in my hands. Two couples I know are trying hard, very hard, to have a baby. Endometriosis, in vitro, syringes, steroids, pain. But no child...
What if I don't have a child? What if I can't? I dread.
PS: Will it make me a lesser woman if I can't... It is no one else who will judge; but knowing myself, knowing my perfectionist nature... I don't know.
PS2: Poor Partner! He shudders. (lol)