you and me

I Am Not the Mother.

 

He’s becoming a father, and I am not the mother.

She is.

Living a life I left long ago.

With flowers in her hair, matching their best friends — who were once my best friends. Not anymore. Celebrating the arrival of their baby.

I stare at the picture — is that really what he wanted? Was he always so beige inside? Disguised by his tan? Why are they in a four-person execution lineup, smiling into the camera? The caption reads ‘Celebrating’. That’s celebrating? Not frozen, fearful, fitting in, faking it, fucked? Is that how they do happy? That’s how I did happy.

Picture perfect with captions to match. The flower garland doesn’t scream Mother Earth, or was it boho chic — the look of the character she’s playing? Or just, trendy wife. Personal style: whatever’s in fashion, flowers it is!

I recognize it, through a haze of memory suspended far, far away. I know that look. She’s playing happy wife. He’s playing happy husband, and they’re playing happy friends. I thought I was happy then too.

There was a time I thought I wanted his baby. A part of me still imagines our baby. I look at him and I still see mine. He’s my baby. My little lost boy. Why doesn’t he iron his shirt? Why doesn’t she iron his shirt? A baby can’t have a baby. It’s absurd, it’s ridiculous, it’s really not my problem or my business anymore.

I abandoned him into the wilderness because his anchor was sinking my ship, not stabilizing it. I capsized, spilled into him, and the only way to survive was to cut him loose. So I did. I followed my wild. And he floated away into the void until he bumped into another, as vacuous as him. Blonde and pale and small and quiet, someone who would never leave. Because that’s what makes a good wife. You do not leave.

Till death do us part. I kept my promise. I did die. My resurrection is my greatest rebellion. Life goes on after a husband. How dare I leave? I dared. And now,

He’s becoming a father, and I am not the mother.

She is. Whoever she is. I wonder if she even knows.

And I am not the baby’s mother or his mother. I am my own.

While he’s been busy marrying and making, I’ve been raising myself. It’s a full-time job. Mothering yourself.

I don’t wish them the best. Or happiness. Or love and light, like you’re supposed to say when you get over your ex. I don’t wish them anything at all. Stay in the fog! Maybe you’ll stay together that way. To awaken from the snapshot-life is the point of no return. You do not come back as your hashtag-selfie. It’s a crown of thorns and horns. Blood, sweat, and tears.

It’s so real, you can’t fake it and you stop wanting to. Needing to. Running to. Working to. Drinking to. Breeding to.

You commit to yourself. Birth yourself. And it’s a fucking process. Not a shortcut solution.

And I’m in it, sighing and screaming and sobbing and sleeping and forgiving myself for trying so hard to do it right that I lost myself in suburban bliss and busyness. In the wooden. In the painted picket-fence life. The do it right cage of conformity.

It’s a wild ride out here in the real. It’s a parallel universe on the outskirts. You’re through the looking glass, looking back at your hologram existence. The projections of people you’ve known, whom you’ve outgrown. The shadows of your shadow-selves.

You shed skins and bones, littering the elephant graveyard of your past. The once upon a time, in a land far, far away. The places belonging to the person you pretended to be.

I wanted to be the mother with flowers in my hair. I wanted a baby to make it better.

Earlier this year, I was pregnant too. And once again, instead of another, I chose not to become a mother, but to become me.

Every day I choose to commit to myself. And today, I do.

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DeborahKatzDeborah Katz is a writer, discoverer and bedtime philosopher who loves baking, reading and quiet solitude.

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