When I was younger, I was always told that I was the mother of and in every group. An old soul that was quiet, patient, and nurturing. I had those mother ears and sage advice to match. I was born to take care of children. Not just one but a whole shoe full of them! It became my truth for a while.
I am going to have kids.
I am 34 and, though not alone, I am of a small number that have forgone having children. I know it wasn’t in my cards but after taking care of kids from the age of eight on, including babysitting jobs starting at age eleven, I wanted a chance just to do me. I wanted to go globetrotting and publish a few books before I was 35 from my luxury home in the Mesa, Arizona desert. I never saw time for children. Even as my life took a less fanciful direction I was plotting a way to travel nurse for a bit then become an Oncology Physician Assistant at Emory. If by this time I felt “the urge” I would allow my mother to raise a child born from artificial insemination or adoption while I paid for everything, giving this little one the childhood that I never was afforded. A father was too messy of course and goodness knows as stern and old fashioned as I am a life partner would never work out full time. The scales tipped more towards adoption with diabetes type II setting in, hypertension, a nephrectomy year one as a registered nurse, and at almost 400 pounds I was probably sterile.
When my mother entered end stage kidney disease and she became the person needing care rather than the care provider, the goals I once had became even more of a fantasy. I had enough on my plate just helping her adjust to life on three times a week dialysis. Who could afford kids these days? Better for me to help out my mom, be a swinging single lady, travel nurse with my Mom once I finished off my Baccalaureate program. Besides, I had my fur babies, who the heck needs real ones? Before I knew it my 20’s were gone. I had buried my father and my brother and something about the pain in their mother’s eyes made me sure kids just weren’t for me. All the struggle, all the pain of raising them, and there was no guarantee. Sounds like a bum deal.
Are you going to have any kids?
Four years ago, almost six months after my 30th birthday I met a fellow that changed my whole perspective on life though. His name is Khaleal Elijah and he is my only nephew. I have godchildren, a slew of second cousins that I have been a neglectful godmother to and a godsister that will soon be 13 that I watched grow and love dearly but something about Khaleal’s birth changed my life. Maybe it was the turmoil between his parents or their own loose grasp on adulthood. Maybe it was how much Khaleal broke into the world looking like his deceased uncle, my brother. It may have just been how he used to sit on my chest like a little frog. Something about this little boy changed my life. It sparked something inside of me. Some long buried maternal instinct to protect him and help him become someone great that proved all those wrong that ever tried to assign me a place and told me to stay in it. When I look at him I see all my hopes and dreams and the secret to a life well lived.
I was determined I would be able to keep up with my nephew. I had weight loss surgery. I would not only keep up with him but I would challenge him and I would be his champion throughout his life and long into middle age. For him I had to lose the weight and become healthy. I had to teach him good habits instead of hood habits and set the example. He is also the reason I finished my BSN despite placing it on hold for three years. I had to do better. I still had no love life to speak of. I worked full time, went to school full time, and was a caregiver to my mother, my nephew, and unwillingly, a mentor to his parents. Not to mention my obsessive personality to be the best daughter, aunt, niece, friend, nurse, and cousin. That was okay. So still no kids in the cards for me. My cup runneth over even still.
I’m probably not going to have any kids.
I am still a plus size beauty but I am happy with myself. I am a lot healthier and with years added back to my life and confidence exuding from my pores my life took another shift and God set another special person in my path. He is a Cuban divorcee who speaks no English and I speak no Spanish but despite the language barrier we understand clearly we are soul mates. I was secretly planning a single woman’s trip to Ireland as a graduation gift when I was asked by one of my patients what I wanted from Cuba when he went. I asked for a cigar that I thought if he brought me I would give away to my brother. He instead brought me a tale of a quiet 43 year old that works hard and has his whole life. A quiet man with no children that had sacrificed his own dreams to take care of his family. I was a little scared but there was something I was a little bit more afraid of: The thought of Khaleal growing up along with his parents, my mother’s health declining, and Tish being really and truly alone. Something in this man called to me to lose my mind a little bit, ditch my vacation plans, and take a shot at love. It was not in my life plans at all but somehow my life has made room for Giraldo and a future as his wife. Say what? Rewind. Yes, that single life is no longer for me and instead all my energy is given to bringing us together on the same continent until death do us part.
So when are you two having kids?
There is one caveat to our fairy tale. We both now want our first child. The problem with that desire is that Giraldo has had a surgery that has compromised his count and I am overweight, 34, and one kidney down. It turns out also that the best chance I have of us starting our lives together in the near future is to have a child by him and petition for a family visa rather than a fiancé visa, which has not been very fruitful. Suddenly, everything hinges on my ability to reproduce, a ship I thought had long ago sailed that I had willingly waived bon voyage to until I met the ying to my yang and awakened a beast of epic proportions. I have been temping and studying ovulation cycles for the past six months. I have learned more about cervical mucus and tilted cervix than I ever wanted to know and I wish I had bought stock in pregnancy tests because I could pack my bags and move to Cuba with the returns. I secretly hate all the fertile Myrtles around me and every dream ends with my future child’s name on my lips. It is the first and last thought of my day along with all the fears and concerns of being a good parent as well as a good wife. When I sit still too long my mind creeps into my hidden fear. What if having a child really just was never in either of our cards? Where do we go from there?
I don’t know. I wish I had an answer. That I could simply tell you that I don’t want kids ever but I do. I don’t think I ever stopped wanting to hear the patter of little feet. I think I settled for the fact that it was not in my life plans. I had accepted for so long of myself what the world thought I deserved until I met two people that expected something more of me. If time proves Giraldo and I are not meant to be biological parents I will give a promising future to both my nephew, Giraldo’s nephews and niece, and hopefully to our adopted children. Not because it is expected of me, or that I am any less of a woman, a nurturer, or a wife if I don’t have kids but because with this journey I have discovered the beauty of the world and I know that through my actions and talents have played a part in it. Whatever God’s plan for me will be a beautiful one and I will be happy. I refuse to be any other way just because it may not be the original blue print I had in mind. The dream of giving life will adapt as everything else in my life does and while I have not been blessed with biological kids, the lives I have touched, brought comfort to, or directly changed the course of overshadow that fact by far.
I am blessed.
~ LaTisha G.