The world should go on


I have a lot of things I want to do with my life. Maybe too many. But my number-one goal is to be a mother.

I wasn’t always this way. I used to say I didn’t care if I ever had kids, but I think deep down I always wanted a child.

It’s a weird thing, the desire to procreate. It is partly so primitive, a primordial biological urge to propagate the species, and partly intensely spiritual. It encompasses in one simple desire what Private Joker in Full Metal Jacket called the duality of man – our animal nature alongside the spiritual.

I can’t explain exactly why I want to be a mother. Of course, it’s lovely to love. Love is perfection. And what is more perfect than the love for your own child? There is no love that compares.

On the other hand, as someone who has suffered from what the scientists call chronic anxiety and what the poets might call an excess of morbid imagination, I am all too aware that life, as much as it is joy, is suffering. Sometimes I wonder how painful it will be to watch my child suffer as I have suffered. Or, God forbid, worse.

Cynics and other assorted post-moderns warn us that it’s cruel to bring a child into such a terrible world, where there is so much suffering.

My mother became pregnant with twins accidentally, out of wedlock. She already had two kids, ages 8 and 7. She had no high school diploma and worked in fast food. The babies’ father split long before they were born. There were hard times.

My mother put a magnet on the refrigerator that said, “A baby is God’s opinion that the world should go on.” I remember seeing it every day for years on our refrigerator in our little kitchen in our rented house.

The twins – my two youngest brothers – were a joy and a blessing. She suffered for them, yes. In some ways we all did. But the best things are worth suffering for, and they are the best things.

Have you seen the film Children of Men? It’s set in a dystopian future in which all women have become infertile. A new baby hasn’t been born in years. Then – a pregnant woman. And what happens? Hope.

For all the world, hope. Because of one unborn child.

As long as we are having babies, it means God wants us to keep going. We’re not done yet. A baby is hope made physical, hope as life, hope literally personified. It is God saying, “Yes, I want to keep going with this human life thing.”

Wanting to have a baby may be primitive or even foolhardy – to expose yourself and a new, innocent life to so much pain. But it is also the most simple, natural, obvious thing in the world. Of course we want to have babies. Of course.

Why wouldn’t we?

My hetero lifemate and I have long shared an ambition to take the world by storm with our comedy. She is 35 and in no hurry to have children, nor does she care if she ever does. Or so she claims, and I mostly believe her.

“If I don’t live my dream because I stopped to have a kid, I’ll resent the kid forever,” she has told me.

I feel the opposite. If I don’t have a child because I’m chasing a dream of a career, I’ll resent the career.

I imagine someone of great mystical authority standing before me – let’s say Gandalf the Grey – and saying, “You must choose. You can’t have both. Here are your choices: all the fame and respect you’ve ever wanted, the ability to do comedy and write and act and sing and get paid for all of it gloriously, and win Academy Awards and have everyone admire you and find you beautiful and go down in history as a great voice of your age. Or: motherhood.”

I choose motherhood without hesitation.

I don’t know if I am capable of having a baby. No one does until she actually does it. But despite the fresh and awful memory of a recent miscarriage, I have hope. And I believe, as the daughter and the best friend of people who were adopted, that if you are determined to be a parent, where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I will take this one step at a time, focusing on being positive and believing in the Plan of which I have no knowledge yet. I do my best to trust. I take one breath at a time. And, like many of you, I dream of my children, whoever they will be.

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