I’ve been meaning to write. I was stubborn when the New Year began because I didn’t want to begin a trend I couldn’t keep up with. E.g. “I’m going to do morning pages every day!” or “I’m going to blog once a week.” I didn’t want to deal with committing to the idea of a New Year’s resolution. I dislike the idea of being a slave to something, especially when I myself have made this thing my master. I’m just generally promising myself that I’ll write something and commit to putting more down than I’ve been doing the past few months. So anyway, here I am a week later now approaching you again. Hey! It’s much better than two months, right?
It has been quite a long first week and most of it was spent huddling over my computer looking for housing and jobs (more on that later). Several things came and went through my sieve-like memory as I sat or drove around this week. I want to unravel the 6 months in Ghana meaningfully, but I also know that my time, though chronological, did not translate into chronological experiences. So maybe the shares needed to be thematic. SO that’s what I’ve decided. I’ll write about Ghana based on the various themes. You’ve already read some of the most prominent themes: marriage, men’s attitudes, water shortage… I think some themes will undoubtedly roll into others because life is just not that compartmentalized, no matter how much we try to make it.
The one theme that stood out this week was children and how I feel about them despite what I’m supposed to feel, especially as an African woman. I know for the last eight or nine years I’ve known I didn’t want to have any, but I’ve been wishy-washy about committing to anything solid, but this week…it became clear. A baby changes your life clear as night and day and there’s no being wishy-washy about it at that point. (Well some parents are and look how the kids turn out? So if I want to contribute mainly well-adjusted citizens to the world, this is not some game.) For a while, my book jacket read that I had three children: a set of twin girls and an older boy/girl. For a while, I threatened to have a wedding-like ceremony where I would walk down the aisle to my basket of joy (my adopted baby from Haiti-because I volunteered there and fell in love with an AIDS baby). For a while I talked about foster kids or doing the kind of job that allows you to live in with orphans. In 2012 I’ve come full circle.
On Monday I visited with a close friend-couple from my first grad program (circa 2001-2003,) their first trial run with responsibility, Jack the cat, and their lifetime commitment, a-few-days-shy-of-7-months, baby J. Theirs was the first wedding I was in. I love them! Their house in Dayton used to be my vacation get-away for years but now they live right here in Columbus, only about 20 minutes away from my mom’s. Baby J is a delight and I’m happy to play aunty for a few hours. I went literally for a few hours and ended up staying the whole day and even fixing them dinner. They looked like they could use some loving themselves. I was more concerned with their care. Is this the sign?
This week I also got to spend some time, albeit remotely, with Baby L, the baby whom my mother cares for; he is the same age as Baby J. All week, my main thought was: “better you than me!”
I must say that I wonder what happened to my biological clock. Perhaps some women simply don’t have them? I feel no pangs of anything whatsoever when I’m around them. Just a sense of immense relief that they aren’t mine long term. I’ve realized that I espouse the ideals of a single lifestyle mainly because a non-single lifestyle typically involves children. Especially babies. I think I will go back to my therapist and explore why the specificity where babies are concerned…because I know once they are walking and talking and I can interact with them, I enjoy them, but babies…that’s a whole new ballgame!
Some people have complimented me on being maternal and even gone as far as to say I would make a great mother. Some men have boldly imagined me pregnant and gone the extra step of sharing this image with me. Wow! Talk about bold! In the beginning this used to confuse me and make me question my own lack of instincts. This week, it was settled. Three weeks from 35 and no ticking time bomb to make me feel flustered. I don’t feel bad about it anymore. Maybe it’s because I had two younger sisters that I felt somewhat responsible for quite early on. Or perhaps it’s because I got it all out during my early 20’s when all the jobs I could find were day-care related. Or perhaps it’s because I was raised by single mothers.
I must say that this realization has settled in very comfortably…
In Ghana, one gentleman termed this thinking “flawed” because according to him, all humans were wired for propagation. I begged to differ, launching into what I thought was a sensible rebuttal, and for a while I thought our conversation was making inroads into his “flawed” thinking, but alas, it was a lost cause. He assured me that I wouldn’t have to bear them, that he would make them with another woman, if I would still marry him. The ironic thing is that, he was not the first man to propose this to me, and I’m sure he won’t be the last. Somehow people think if you introduce babies into my space, my ideas about them will change. Perhaps this is true for some women, but for the last five days I must say, nothing has changed for me. It has only become clearer.
The fact that there are so many kids needing homes, so much bad parenting going around, and honestly too many traumatized children, makes me question why people try to force those of us who have no inclination towards childbirth, to have children. Is it for the same reason as married folks feeling cheated that they are the only ones suffering and we must join in the misery? (Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying all married folks are miserable). Honestly, give me one good reason why I should contribute to the overpopulation or traumatize yet another innocent cherub happily playing in the heavens? Perhaps it is my extreme selfishness that has set in and is preventing me from wanting to share my good fortune, but honestly when I think of the things I have been able to accomplish in the last year alone, I think it is for the best that I wasn’t dragging some poor kid along: “come on child, mama’s got a calling to go to Ghana for a few months, don’t worry, we’ll figure it out as we go along!”
Most of my family in Ghana think once I meet a good man, I will change this thinking. Most of them feel sad that my mother is not a grandmother at 63. I decided to ask her. She laughed and said she didn’t expect us to do anything we didn’t feel 100% certain we wanted to do. Girl, did I just want to pick her up and twirl her around! I am secretly glad that she at least gets to nanny for a newborn baby for a while, I won’t lie!