Last night I had one of those nights where you keep falling back into the same dream--dreaming the same thing over and over, waking up, and then falling back into the dream. It was a clear case of knowing why I was dreaming what I was dreaming, but not really knowing or wanting to know what it might mean. It felt like someone kept pushing my face underwater--I would struggle to wake up out of it and then I would just fall back under.
The dream is fading now but I know it involved a baby--an infant--and breastfeeding, and a feeling of ineptitude with regard to the ability to not just care for the infant, but to remember that it needed caring for. At one point I went out and left the baby sleeping. The baby didn't seem to cry or make noise--it was like a doll. A placeholder. So it seems pretty obvious what the dream is "about," although I'm not sure that the conscription of narrative and meaning on what is so obviously non-narrative and disjointed is wholly appropriate.
The question of children--to breed or not to breed--has been on our minds a great deal lately. We are entering the age of life where nearly everyone we know has had children or is having children. At this point, we only know one couple who are married but have not made that leap. We feel a bit adrift. Currently we are reading this book, which, while timely, is not necessarily making our minds up one way or another.
Tell me how you know to have children? What are the reasons for it? Why have children at all? What makes it the "right time" in your life, your circumstances of place and situation? Am I treading water, waiting? Or is it not meant to be for us? Do we just not want it badly enough to justify what comes with procreation? Is it safe? Does it matter if it isn't? I want to know if anyone thinks about the world their children will inherit when they make the decision. How do you shrug that off or make it ok? Will it make me happy? Will it hurt the happiness I already have? What if it changes me? What if it doesn't?
Sometimes I think I do want parenthood, and all that it entails. I think that it would make things easier, in some ways. You have a defined role: in your house, in society, in the world. Everyone knows that you are a Mother, and what that means. But then another part of me wants to make my own path, my own role. I want to decide who I want to be. I know that I don't have to be the "mother" as anyone else defines it. I know that. But I also know that it is easier to walk a path that is already beaten down than one that you have to forge yourself.
But I also would want it for other reasons, too. I would want it for baby smells and a boy who looked like Mr. Bump, with those same hands that his father and his brother have, and he has too. I would want it for teaching someone, and that moment when suddenly you are learning from them. I would want it for heated arguments about political beliefs, for watching someone shape who they are, which parts align with yours, which parts are against yours. I would want it for the experience of the whole thing, baths and meals and games and tears and hugs and letting them go. I would want it for my parents' sake, even though they have never pushed a desire for grandchildren on me. I would want it for the people I hope I could raise children to be in the world, and how they might change it in ways the world wouldn't change if they didn't exist. I would want it for hope.
There is the other side of me, too. There is the side which doesn't want to have to discipline anyone, is frankly afraid of what kind of damage she could do to someone who is wholly dependent upon my guidance. It is the side that loves my life with Mr. Bump, loves the freedom we have in what we spend our money on, and where we can travel to. It is the side that can sit for a whole afternoon reading a book, letting silence fill the space around me. It is the side which likes its nap, doesn't like to share, doesn't like a mess. It is also the side that loves Mr. Bump so much and worries about how children tax a relationship, how they change it. How they strain a marriage financially, emotionally, physically.
If we had gotten pregnant by accident, I can't tell you what we would have done, but we are careful people and that hasn't happened. It probably never will. And so it is up to us which way we want to turn. We don't have (thankfully) any pressure from parents or families for grandchildren. We are left to our own decision-making devices. Some days I'm tempted to flip a coin, I'm so ambivalent.
But Mr. Bump is much more cautious about the whole thing. I think initially when I met him he understood that someday he would get married, have children, etc. But then he met me, and I imparted the beliefs that I had had since I was eight or so, which were, "Why have children? Not for me." I think he challenged his own beliefs and was won over to mine. Now he claims I did too good a job convincing him he didn't want kids. I understand how he feels and my feelings are so of two minds that I am on his side and I am not, all at the same time.
I want someone to tell me the answer but I know there is not really anyone who can. And so I dream this dream, probably at least once or twice a month, where I lose a baby, or I think I'm pregnant but I don't ever look pregnant, or something like that. And I know that dreaming about that baby doesn't mean that I want a baby. But I wish it did. It would be so much easier that way.
P.S.--I have heard that there are all these people out there reading this blog--directed there by one of my dear friends. But I have yet to hear from any of you--you ghost readers. In the world of forums and blogs you're called lurkers. It seems to me that I could use your help--tell me what you think about what I think. I'm never above hearing other people's opinions, thoughts, advice. Please. I don't bite. (Unless you ask me to, that is.)