Kids Ain’t For Me

A woman I used to hang out with had two little girls, one with spina bifida  (four years old), the other is going to be a superstar (six years old). I haven’t a clue what career path this bright little light in the world is going to play in the future, but she and I had the following conversation one night when her mother didn’t feel like cooking. We met up at a hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant that served amazing margaritas:

Cute Superstar (CS): Hey, Simone! Why don’t you like kids?  We’re totally adorable and cute. What’s your problem? (she gave me her money-making, ‘works on everyone else but never on me’ smile and raised her eyebrows up and down a few times to really sell it)

Me: I’m allergic to kids.

CS: Oh, I didn’t realize. I’m allergic to peanuts. I’ll scoot over further so you don’t get sick.

Some of you are going aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawwwwweeee. Simone, how could you not want to be a mother with conversations like that? Um, sorry folks, kids just ain’t for me. Originally, I had a fear of getting pregnant for a couple of reasons. One might think it was because of my mother. As if she saw this as some huge failure in life and pushed me towards college and a career.

She did do that (see the contract I signed at eight years old in an earlier blog post), but mostly I had a lot of female cousins who thought getting pregnant before they could drive was a good idea while I was growing up. My peers at the time saw my cousins as ghetto, welfare moms making life choices that none of them would ever consider. In other words, I looked down on my family. I decided I would be better than them when it came to getting pregnant.

My mother and I used to have deep, informative, hard hitting fact conversations. She was as open as open could be on every subject matter. There was not a single question that could pop out of my mouth that she wouldn’t answer. Some people felt she overshared with me, but she rarely treated me like a child and I was grateful for it, especially when I consider how young I was when she died.

Her view on my getting pregnant was, “Feel free to come home pregnant. I reserve the right to scream and yell. But you can always come home. Pregnant or not.”

My mother said this statement to comfort me. We’d just learned the news that my fourteen year old cousin had committed suicide. My cousin, Tracy, had gotten pregnant and was too afraid to tell her mother the information. She choose to end her life. Tracy’s death cut at me, mostly because we hadn’t spoken since my mother had moved us back to Michigan from Ohio. I was twelve at the time of her death.

Tracy’s suicide lead to the second conversation I’d ever had with my mother about abortions. The first conversation on this subject matter came about before she divorced my abusive stepfather. In hindsight, although she never said, and I never asked, she was trying to decided what to do. I’m assuming my mother was pregnant at the time because she asked me how I would feel about a sibling.

I thought it was great. I was a lonely only child. I wanted a minion, another person to blame besides my imaginary friend when something got broken. This tactic didn’t work in our household and resulted in the murder of my imaginary friend. So to me, an actual person to blame for the busted lamp caused while I jumped rope in the living room was “Yes, yes, yes.”

No siblings every appeared in my life. My friends continued to be jealous of my lack of mini-terrorist in my home. I didn’t get that special someone to bully. The abortion part of the conversation happened because my mother admitted to me [on the car ride home] that she’d had one before I was born. I got quiet, thinking about what she’d said. I asked why she didn’t abort me after awhile. She answered the same, because she’d had one before I was born. When she got pregnant with me, she’d regretted that choice so much she promised herself she wouldn’t do it again. Her words stuck and resonated with me for years and years.

So while having the second conversation, she made sure I understood that if I ever got pregnant and came home, once she finished her screaming and yelling, she would take me to have one if that was what I decided. Only this was all theory and ended up my shaping my position on the pro-choice/pro-life debate. I was pro-choice but I figured if I should become pregnant, no matter what age, I would keep the child. To insure I never had to make that choice the moment I became sexually active I asked and obtained birth control.

Even before I became sexually active, my mother checked my wallet for a prophylactic, while ignoring the rolling papers tucked down behind it, I mean, er, uh, anyway, before I left out the house on a date. She didn’t embarrass me fully by showing my would-be suitor what she was checking for, that was between us. She did however rapid fire questions at the guys waiting for intelligent answers. When I returned home I got their review.

From the purple haired boys to the real life ‘Where’s Waldo’ I used to date, my mother always had something nice to say about the young men. She did fall in love with my beard (I dated a guy twice my age at sixteen. Nothing sexual, he really did enjoy my mind and was more of a mentor than a love interest). The beard was a great guy and today we’re even Facebook friends, he’s happily married. Though in high school he missed the function of a beard a few times, and actually brought a date with him when he picked me up.

Even though I’m in my thirties today, I don’t really see kids in my future. I’ve had plenty of friends take the plunge so there are always young minds around to warp if I get the urge. Although I claim to be allergic to children, I think I enjoy the freedom of being responsible for only my cat, Nike. I’m actually allergic to her, but I love her enough that I’m willing to be her mother, even if she did destroy a pair of Nike tennis shoes which is how she got her name.

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