They’re coming. Due dates and anniversaries. Reminders of where we were this time last year. What changes. What doesn’t. I ask Tanya to talk me down and she refuses. Tells me that I can’t shy away from the person I am anymore. It’s time.
She tells me I’ve been trying to squash it out. Ignore it. Pretend it doesn’t wrap itself around my heart and squeeze. Tells me she’s been hearing the words between the lines for years now and she’s tired of me not listening. I’m reminded of the time Chuck asked me if I ever had maternal instincts and I flinched, held my breath, gave the answer I felt was right, even though it wasn’t honest. “No. Never.”
And I leave the room when they’re talking about babies. Ignore the swelling bellies of those closest to me and work hard to build up excitement instead of jealousy. I think about holding my nephews. Burying my face in the smell of them and knowing they’re mine even though they’re not. Tell myself being close is enough. I get this part of life by proxy and that has to be okay. Things are different than I thought they’d be, but that doesn’t mean this isn’t all beautiful and lovely. It’s not that I’m not happy, it’s that there is an ache in the bittersweet.
I think about the year spent planning to get pregnant. About the appointments with a midwife and giving up caffeine. Therapy and tracking everything. I try to not resent Mason for leaving me. Try to be glad I’m not bound to him eternally by a child he wasn’t ready for or maybe just didn’t want in all honesty.
My mother drove me to my first therapy appointment after Mason and I split up. I don’t remember if it was before or after he’d officially asked me for a divorce, but it doesn’t matter. I knew on the winter solstice of 2015 that my marriage was over. In the car my mom started talking about family friends and their new baby. I thought about the life he promised then denied me. Thought about how hard I’d tried to convince myself I didn’t want it anyway. I’d rather travel, write, keep my freedom. Keep my marriage happy. Keep everything the way it was. Hold on to anything. But in a moment of clarity I realized it was all bullshit. That I do want to be a mother. The world calls me. So I sobbed. In my mom’s car with her staring wide-eyed at me. The only time I ever showed any of myself honestly during the course of my divorce. Transparent heartache for the life I’d no longer be living. Not out of missing Mason, but out of missing what I thought the two of us would make together. A life. A family.
But the strings I tied to him are coming back to me. And I get to tie them to whoever I want. I have the option to tie them to nobody. The bell that called is still calling me. And I don’t have to be dishonest or feel guilty. I’m still dreaming the same dreams and now all I’m counting on is me.
Photo courtesy of Gabriel Garcia Marengo.