In The Awakening, Kate Chopin writes that her protagonist, Mrs. Pontellier, “was not a mother-woman…They were women who idolized their children, worshiped their husbands, and esteemed it a holy privilege to efface themselves as individuals and grow wings as ministering angels” (8).
I am not a “mother-woman.” There’s no way around it—in fact, I’m terrified of ever becoming such a creature. Yet for 15 years, I’ve been longing to become pregnant. The jokes about my “birthing hips”started when my Venus of Willendorf thighs made their wetsuit debut for my high school canoe and kayak team. In college, I considered (albeit somewhat drunkenly, but in that serious way that red wine makes you think) becoming a surrogate mother, just to have the experience of growing a human in my body. The really odd thing is, I don’t look forward to the “having a kid” part so much as the pregnancy itself—in fact, I’m terrified of being someone’s MOTHER. I just have this innate curiosity about what it would feel like to be a vessel, a cauldron, a test-tube on hiker’s hairy legs. Is it wrong to have a child for these selfish reasons?
But what’s a girl to do? Especially when she has a wonderful husband, a secure job and a body that’s only getting older by the day (not cheery, but true). I don’t want to wait so long that medical intervention is the only way to get pregnant; I want the miracle of life to be just that—miraculous and wild, uncontrolled by rubber-gloved hands. And I’m not quite as hard-hearted as I might seem; I do love gutting pumpkins with spoons, eating with my hands, and snapping toddlers into overalls. I have some kind of mother-woman in me somewhere, but she’s going to have to duke it out with this other gal that I’ve been for three decades.
So, I’m going for it. I’m trusting that some form of wings will grow if and when my belly does.