Portrait of the Artist at 49 Years & 11 Months

Hi Darling Ones,

When I opened my eyes this morning I had three thoughts almost simultaneously. First, “She Moves in Her Own Way” by The Kooks was stuck in my head. Second, Wendell, the vengeance demon was in need of attention. Third, I would be fifty years old in one month.

There’s nothing like one of those round number birthdays to make you rethink every decision you ever made in your life that brought you to now. Do I have mountains of regret? Yep. Could my sorrow fill an ocean? Also yes.*

I’ve been thinking a lot about the things I did not do: marriage, children, so many men. Okay, in all seriousness I’ve mostly just been thinking about children, specifically not having any and is this a regret?

If you dug through the archives you’d find so many posts about wanting to have children or posts where I freak out about aging and not having a baby. So it seems like it would be something I regret a great deal because it was something I really, really wanted.

Or at least I thought I really wanted them. This is one of those things where I don’t know if my desire for it was performative or not. Did I want to be a mom because I wanted to be a mom or did I want to be a mom because I thought that’s what I was supposed to want? Am I rewriting history by acting as though maybe I didn’t really want kids because I never got around to having them?

And why is it so important to me that I answer that question?

Some of my ambivalence comes from struggling with my own femininity despite not ever fitting into the stereotypes assigned to women. I always though that if I wasn’t petite or pretty enough I wasn’t feminine enough and therefore a failure at womaning. Having a baby would have automatically made me a success as womaning. Right?

The other part of my ambivalence comes from my parentage. Sometimes I’m sure my inherent loneliness comes from being the only one of my kind. The only product of my biological parents’ coupling. The half sister. It’s why I always identify so closely to old-school Superman and the Yeti. This gene pool ends with me, and that’s probably a good thing

Anyway, I love kids it would make sense I would want to have them. I nannied for so much of my life. From Natalia in high school to the twins Nancy and Laura in college Jaycie & Max in the early aughts to The Tibbles in the twenty-teens. I probably spent more summers nannying than I did working any other job.

Much like the romantic fairytales I tell myself about what it would be like in a long-term relationship, I have motherhood fairytales too. In these tales there’s a smaller version of me named Franny, obviously, and she is perfect and wonderful and never unreasonable and would never, not once make me yell, “You’ve sucked all the fun out of this” like I might have said one or fifty times to the niblings when I babysat them.

The fairytales never include not having time to myself to read endlessly or listen to music in the dark or, most importantly, having to work a real job because I could not support a family on my haphazard freelance business.

Nor do they consider what my relationship with the niblings would have been had I my own child. And when I think of that? When I think of not having the time to build a close relationship with Jaycie, Max, or (once upon a time ago) The Tibbles my eyes start to fill with unshed tears. It when I think of the nibs that I realize whether or not I made a conscious choice not to have kids doesn’t matter. What happened was for the best.

So 49 years and 11 months in it’s been determined I have zero regrets because I did everything exactly right the way I was meant to. It’s good to have that cleared up before the big five – oh happens.

Regretfully yours,

*This bit is stolen from the sELF song “What Are You Thinking?” and I’ve probably used it 49 times on this website.

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