When I was a child, my mother once told me, that when she was young, she dreamt only of getting married, having children, and devoting herself to her family. I can recall thinking, even at that time, that the life my mother dreamt of for herself would never be enough for me. From as far back as I can remember, I dreamt of hopping on the first train out of the one-horse town I grew up in. I would be the small-town girl who went to the big city to make good. First there was the modeling and then the acting. It would not be long before I tired of these, there wasn’t much substance there. Music came into focus not long after, probably around the age of 15 or 16. And all along I have been writing, always writing. My mind has long been set on making something beautiful, making something that means something, making something of myself. This is not to say that I have never thought of having a child of my own; many people have told me that a child is without a doubt the most meaningful thing they have ever created. I have been fortunate enough to witness both my mother giving birth to my brother Adam, and my sister Hayley giving birth to her son Cain. My father, who is an incredibly talented musician, once told me that my siblings and I are undoubtedly the most amazing creations he has ever had a hand in shaping. This is the single-most meaningful thing anyone has ever said to me.
The men I have loved, and have been loved by, have over the years inspired me to nurture thoughts of babies that would, so far, live only in my dreams. There was my first love, Love 1, the beautiful, skateboarding, guitar-playing fishmonger with the Ramone’s style bowl haircut and the golden streak in one eye who sold his car so he could leave Seattle and come live with me. Initially I harboured fantasies that we would make a baby together and live happily ever after. Once, in my dreams, I even met a baby boy with a golden streak in one eye. But, Love 1 found pregnant woman repugnant and disgusting. Eventually, we parted anyway… when Love 2 came along. Love 2, when we met, was a Pre-Raphelite painting come to life, with a cutting, sardonic wit that would mock, like the eyes of a painting following you down the hall in an old house. Just 17, all black hair and eyes, with rosebud lips and porcelain skin, he was Spring’s bud, fresh plucked anew. I was intrigued from the start and was desperate for him to look at me the way he looked at his guitar. And boy could he play that guitar. The day came when I had to decide whether I wanted to have this baby boy’s baby. We were 21 at the time. Love 2 supported my right to choose and offered his support in whatever I chose. This confusingly joyous moment became simply confusing when his elder sister offered the sage crumbs of wisdom which she had collected while being led astray by the hand of motherhood. I chose to continue following those crumbs of wisdom deeper into the woods, my dreams playing the role of the starving Hansel and Gretel, still searching for home or at least somewhere warm. So far, there has never been a moment that I have regretted this decision. Nonetheless, the desire to have a baby resurfaced the next time I fell in love. This love was true and deep and all-consuming. He was Love 3 and I would have thrown everything away in a heartbeat, given him a baby and shared my life with him. Love 3 was the brightest spark. His flame could burn if you stood too close; but once you had gotten close enough to feel that heat there was no way you could go back out into the cold. He had it all: Roman nose, ice-blue eyes and expressively articulate hands. A gorgeous writer from the North of England with a passion for everything. An intricately intertwined intellect, laugh-out-loud, howling sense of humour and a poet’s sensitivity. Love 3 had the beauty, the brains and talent literally dripping from his fingertips. I longed for our young love to culminate in the most wonderful of all physical manifestations. I would have forgotten whatever I was doing just to run away to the country with him and grow vegetables and babies. But alas, it was not to be. Perhaps the flame that burns so intensely is doomed to consume itself. Or, perhaps your dreams have self-protective instincts of their own. May be there is an infinite wisdom that organises the universe that knew the time had not come for me to give up on what I had long hoped for. Only time will tell.
As I sit writing, at this very moment, my best friend, Jesse MacDonald, is going into labour and preparing to give birth to her first child. I am so amazingly happy for her, and, am hopefully being named godmother of what will be a perfect baby girl. Jesse is the earth mother in full bloom and looks as if her reason for being here is about to be discovered. Although I expect there will be some excruciating moments in this next harrowing night of agony, when morning breaks and Jesse stares into the eyes of her new baby, I suspect she will know the answer to the question of why she is here on earth. However, seeing this look in the eyes of my best friend makes me believe even more strongly in my conviction that I am here to make something that must be made in a womb that is more metaphorical than literal. Maybe it is just greedy to ask of life to fulfill this expectation and to dare to hope for the actual womb to bear fruit as well. To tell you the truth, I am terrified of getting pregnant (even with that fundamental ingredient missing) before somehow managing to make something I am truly proud of. And equally humbled by the notion that cruel old mother nature may have deemed me past my sell by date by the time I get around to committing myself to the tasks that nature possibly intended. Sometimes I want to throw my hands up in the air in a gesture of surrender. To baby or not to baby, that is the question.