Motherhood: The Nightmare
My dream skipped pregnancy. It skipped how it progressed, how I dealt with it, and how it could have even happened in the first place. My dream also skipped the violence of birth, which I am thankful for. In my dream, I was already a mother. My boy was already here with me, in my arms.
In my dream, I was seated, on a city bus, of all things. I haven’t had to ride one of those in years. I hate them. And I love my sports car. The seat beside me was conspicuously absent. My boyfriend has always said he doesn’t want to be a father. Worst of all, I was also in my home-town, the place I grew up and where my parents still live. I had long ago grown out of this town and left it behind me as I started my own life. And now I was back.
These details alone pretty much told me everything that I needed to know about my living situation. It seems my life had been blown far off-course. I was alone, dependent upon my parents, and quite broke.
I sat there and lost myself in thought. What happened to my goals of perusing an education and bettering myself through learning? What happened to traveling and seeing the world? What happened to my future with the man I love? What happened to living the life I want? What happened to my freedom? What happened to my bright future? It was all gone. I’d apparently traded it all for motherhood, and I couldn’t imagine why.
How could this have happened? I never wanted to be a mother. I realized and announced this proudly from an early age and had never waivered. I had always been responsible with my birth control and my planning. I’d even recently had myself surgically sterilized. I even had a sound back-up plan in the improbable event of an accidental pregnancy – an immediate abortion. How is this even possible? How could I have let it come to this? What had I done?
What about my friends? What will they think? I’d been so adamant about not wanting kids, and prideful in my promotion of my childfree life. They’ll roll their eyes and never believe another thing I say. My elders who had always insisted I’d changed my mind would look at me smugly and say, “I told you so.” And what about my younger siblings? What kind of example am I setting for them, being so irresponsible and quitting on my goals?
I sat there, miserable and lost in despair. I hated myself. I hated everything. My life was over.
I felt something squirming against me. I looked down at my baby boy as I held him in my arms and he looked back at me. He looked like any baby, I guess. Small, pudgy features. I suppose he resembled my brother as a baby, with a pale face, blue eyes, and wispy tufts of blonde hair. He was quiet, not screaming at the top of his lungs as I imagine babies often do. And he didn’t smell either, requiring no diaper change. He just stared back up at me with those big, round, uncomprehending baby eyes. As far as babies go, this one wasn’t so bad, at that moment. It seems like, in my dream, babies were shown in the best possible light. Quiet. Un-demanding. Non-smelly. Content. Sweet. Innocent. It’s like he was the perfect child.
I remember what people used to say to me, when I was young and not yet sterilized and breeding was still an option. They’d make arguments which I called “bingos” because they were so cliché, I could fill out a Bingo game card with them. Arguments like: “You say you don’t want kids now, but you’ll love them when they’re here,” and, “It’s different when it’s your own.” I gazed upon the child inexplicably in my arms and considered these words. The boy cooed and reached one clumsy, stubby arm up at me, trying to touch his mother’s face.
I pulled my head away from him, repelled. No, it wasn’t different. I still didn’t want him. At all. I felt absolutely no love for him. I didn’t even like him. In fact, I resented him for existing, even though I knew I had only myself to blame for that. He was just an uninteresting object to me, representing a burden I never wanted and thought I had long ago rejected. He was everything that went wrong in my life. I never wanted to be a mom. And in this dream, my nightmare, in which I had what seemed like the most unnaturally peaceful baby in the world, I still didn’t want to be a mother.
I signaled for the bus to stop at some random point along the route. I stood up, turned, and laid the baby back down on the bus seat. I left the baby behind, stepping off the bus and into the sunshine, a free woman. And I didn’t look back.
Then I woke up, glad it was over. I lifted my shirt and checked my tubal ligation scars. Still there. Still sterile. Still safe. People have insisted that childfree women secretly, perhaps subconsciously, desire children, despite our vocal insistence to the contrary. It seems my own subconscious disagrees. Relieved that the nightmare was over and would never and could never become reality, I resumed my rest and slept in late, as I often do. I was never awoken by a baby, real or imagined, ever again.