I use to dream about her all of the time. She loves the water, the way it rushes around her swollen ankles, and how the salt water tickles her tongue. When the salt gets into her eyes, she doesn’t seem to mind it as much as most. She would just spit a little, and carry on splashing as the waves rushed into her. Digging her tiny hands into the sand, she would gather small clumps to plop them into the water, resulting in large bouts of giggling.
It’s a novelty each time as she repeats the act over and over. Her boundless fear of the ocean’s force seems unique, but I never get to see her beyond that age of hardly being able to stand in the shallow waves. Waking dreaming about her, she is always the same age living in the same video clip.
These images ran through me intensely for a short chapter; now, she only pops up every now and then. It’s funny how I never have really been a dream sleeper, yet she continues to knock on my subconscious. I think about how I might have had her now if I hadn’t married so late, or maybe, if I hadn’t gotten a divorce even later than that. Even further, maybe if I hadn’t married at all. But, I also think about how maybe that dream doesn’t mean that at all; it’s just a little one reminding me of how precious life is, and how I need to help the planet produce stronger humans, and preservation habits. Part of me also believes that it’s me, reincarnated in a different life. I’m not really sure because as I sit writing this, I have zero desire for her, at least in my flying solo state. I don’t want to be a single mother, sacrificing more than half of my independence and self-actualization years of life to raise another. I don’t want to give up learning more about what I can become without a small side kick. But, I do believe that when done right, some things are not in your control, and love is for sure one of those things. Really, desiring her was a fleeting moment in my life because I only felt my internal mother for those few short years with that relationship. It was then that I learned of the desire, when I finally understood what all of my friends and family were talking about. Some days I would wake up and she would be the only thing on my mind; the absolute need for her existence was intense, albeit short-lived rather than an incessant tick knocking from within.
Growing up, I always wondered why my internal mother wasn’t kicking and screaming like it was supposed to, like society and everything surrounding being a woman suggests. Everyone spoke about it as part of the natural progression of life, and something that they must have: raising a family. Dreams for the future for most of the people surrounding me had to have that while I was drawing a blank.
When I imagined myself 20 years down the line in high school, I never really saw myself with a child. The image was more about me just being me. I was more focused on becoming a stronger woman, and at that time, I didn’t think I was strong enough to be a good mother. Later in life, I learned that most people who do it aren’t really considering their skill sets; they are breeding out of true desire or the ever popular demand known as expectation. I can still honestly say that I don’t know how people manage to maintain themselves, and raise a good human at the same time. When I consider what that actually involves, it truly sends me to depths of anxiety and fear that I don’t want to experience. It simply equates to a huge amount of sacrifice that I’m not willing to do alone.
Some people feel that living in a childless state of mind is selfish, especially since many people who are choosing not to have children would probably make excellent parents-except for one harsh reality: they don’t want to be parents. Recently, I read an entry from Everywhere Once, a blog written by travelers Brian and Shannon on this issue. You should check out their blog if you get the chance! They raise good points about the topic because in essence, people who are choosing not to have children have good reasons. Arguments against those that aren’t breeding, for the most part, remind me of your basic propaganda-based commercialism attached to all types of political issues. This is also referenced in their blog via Time magazine’s issue on the subject. Further, when you review some current spoken or written word from teenagers about their current state of affairs, one comment they will always make is that when it comes to breeding or not breeding, they are doomed. If they have an abortion, they are criticized, but if they have the baby, they are considered ill-prepared. Single mothers, although much more accepted nowadays than in the past, also face many challenges with that decision. In other words, regardless of age, the decisions surrounding breeding always cause a stir.
A couple of days ago, I had the pleasure of watching Jane Fonda’s Ted Talk on what people are calling Life’s Third Act, the time of life where you are taking advantage of living longer, and should be energizing for the best chapter of all: the last one. Aging doesn’t have to be the end of balance and giving and growing. I’m not really sure what this talk has to do with the child in my dreams, but when I was listening, I thought of her. I thought of me when I was very young, I then thought of my students. I thought of how strong I feel as a woman, but also how fragile I still am. I thought of how wonderful it is that I have had such an intense life full of time for and with myself. I celebrated the fact that I still have so much more time ahead to grow. I thought about being the best older woman that I can be, who will continue to travel, to explore, to help others and Mother Earth, to be a better family member, and to love herself even more.
Living a childfree life, for many, is a movement, a decision for life. For others, it happens by accident. Just like children are sacred for some, not having them is sacred for others. I can’t say that I made a commitment to this lifestyle long ago, but I know that I made commitments to myself and I’m sticking to that.