I don’t know if you will ever be real, but here are some things I want to say to you.
I’ve never really wanted a child. Well, that’s not true. You are wanted. But the idea of having a child—the need to have a child—has never been part of me. There are some women who just know they are built to be mothers. It seems wired into them at birth. I am not one of those women. There is no urge deep inside me to mother something. For a long time, I thought that meant I was broken. I thought that all women were just automatically built to want to be mothers. Like a switch would flip the moment of my first period. But no switch flipped in me, and I’ve finally figured out that’s okay. Just because I don’t need to be a mother doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a mother. I want you. I want you so much. And when you are here, I’m sure I’ll need you too. But right now I don’t need you. Right now, I’m okay without you. I’m okay with just me.
This is how I want to raise you, to understand that the world is yours and you don’t have to do what others want or what society dictates. Yes, follow the laws, but don’t conform. I conformed or tried to for a long time. I was afraid of my own weirdness, afraid my interests made me so different that no one would love me or want to be my friend. That fear paralyzed me for a lot of my adolescents, and I don’t want it to do the same to you. I don’t want you to feel held back by your own mind. You’ve got a lot to offer the world. You’re creative and beautiful, and this world will be a better place with you in it.
I also want to tell you that this world sucks. Like, it really fucking blows (get used to me swearing in front of you, kid). I’m not going to sugarcoat that. At the time I am writing this letter to you in July of 2019 our country is being run by a piece of human garbage. There are children in cages on the US/Mexico border, families being torn apart. There is war and hunger on nearly every continent. The opioid crisis is ravaging the people and places I love. I want to cry every day for all of the things I cannot fix, for all the ways I feel helpless.
I worry about bringing you into this world. Everything is melting or burning or freezing in the wrong places. I’m honestly afraid I’ll give you a world that won’t be able to sustain itself. I don’t want you to have to live in a glass dome or wear a mask every time you go outside, but that’s where it feels like the world is headed, it’s in trouble, and I’m powerless to stop it. Giving up air conditioning and aerosols and plastic cups isn’t going to do much. And honestly, sometimes I don’t even do those things. So how can I bring you into a world that I am helping to destroy?
When I was in my early twenties, I used to imagine getting married and having babies—being a young mother—unlike my own mother, who was forty when she had me. I wanted you to get to know my parents before they were too old. But my life didn’t go that way, and I’m glad. I already told you, babies have never been my dream, so to saddle myself with babies at a young age, because that’s what I thought all young women wanted, would have destroyed me, I think. I would have been stuck in my small town, stuck in Illinois. I always wanted out, wanted more. I got that, but it was because I didn’t have you, not then.
I am sad that you’ll never know my parents. At least not the way I knew them. My mom with her quick wit and a song for everything. My dad, aloof and a little mean, but loved his children in his own way. And you’ll never get to see the house where I grew up. The large sprawling old farmhouse. The place where my parents got married and the place I always thought I would get married. But I’m not married, and they moved out of that house years ago.
My grandparent’s farm, where my dad worked all my life, is gone too — vanished in an accident just over a year ago. I often imagined taking my babies to the farm, climbing the ornamental crab apple tree, looking up at the windmill that came from Kansas to Illinois when our family escaped the dust bowl. Letting you ride in the combine with my dad, climbing to the top of the grain bins, delivering farm meals with my mom. But that’s all gone now. I’ll only be able to tell you about my life as a farm girl and hope that I do it justice.
But I don’t want you to think everything is sad. This world is full of beauty too. I’m going to travel with you the way my parents did with me to Europe and on small family vacations. I’ll take you to art museums and operas and symphonies. To fairs and festivals. I want you to see that the world is big and vast and there is so much more to love about it than hate or fear. I want to take you to Rome and Paris, to Guatemala City to all the places I have loved and places I have never been. This is a global society, and you have to be part of it.
And when we can’t travel, we’ll read books and watch movies and learn stories. I hope that you love words as much as I do. The way they slide and fit together to make something beautiful.
I’ll show you that the world is full of good, even when it feels heavy with evil. We’ll find wildflowers on the side of the road, look up at the sky and notice the way the world smells different on sunny mornings. I’ll show you that happiness can be as simple as sitting on the floor in a patch of sunshine in the deepest part of winter.
Yes, Baby, these are the things I want to tell you. That the world feels heavy, that most of what I love is gone, but there is still beauty, even on the heaviest of days. I don’t know if I am ready for you or if my body, so plagued by reproductive issues, will ever get to have you, but if you ever make it here, I will love you. I will want you the moment I pee on that stick and my whole world changes. You, Baby, will change me. And there is nothing in this world more dependable than change.