I wrote this post a month ago but am just now getting around to sharing it.
The other day I opened my poetry folder on my computer, and this was the first file I saw.
Letter to My Future Child
I don’t even know you,
but sometimes late at night
my thoughts turn to you.
The world revolves around broken promises,
but I can’t make them to you.
I don’t even know if I want you,
and if I did, are you in the realm of possibility?
I can see you face etched
into mine and my love’s.
You will have red hair, fair skin,
a love for books, perhaps the need
to conquer the darkness with words.
I want to have you
because I don’t know if I can conquer
what I know you have the potential to do.
In writing this, I reach inside the depth
of my being and find an infinitesimal you.
You need me, you love me—
that is my reward. I will never be recognized
for anything but being your mother,
and even that is a thankless job.
I don’t even know you.
I want to be filled with something other than myself.
You are the greatest gift I could give,
the only possible legacy.
Through words I find you;
through words you will know me.
Words are not the same as promises.
I can give you one but not the other.
But someday we will meet;
we both will have arrived,
and the dark emptiness will be cleansed
with your first cry.
I was struck by a few things about this. First, all of my poems are filed in separate folders, so when I opened my poetry folder, I saw this poem and a bunch of folders. Odd that this poem didn't have a home. (It should have been in the "Complete and Total Crap" folder that, yes, actually exists.)
Second, the mention of red hair. Charlie has red(dish) hair and it's been that color since he was born (but it's also always had a lot of blonde and brown in it, too). I was so surprised to see that I mentioned back in 2004, when I didn't even know Roy, that my future child was to have red hair. I was with someone else at the time I wrote this, and frankly if I had had kids with him, the likelihood of our child having red hair would have been pretty slim, I think. (Even though I have red hair on my side of the family and actually my hair used to look strawberry blonde sometimes, before I started highlighting it.)
Third, my mom had a dream during my first trimester that I was going to have a boy with red hair. And when she told me, I wasn't at all surprised. I just thought, "Yes, of course I'm going to have a boy with red hair." And part of me was hoping that Charlie would come out with red hair because then I could call him Charlie the Red.
I guess what strikes me the most about this poem is how lonely and unsure of myself I sound. I was still so convinced that there was something terribly wrong with me. At that point in my life, I had a boyfriend who I'd been with for going on four years, but things were on their way to ending. He didn't want children. And I tried to be okay with that. But deep down I was really longing to be a mother. And wanting to get married if the right person came along. I tried to make him fit into that mold. We even went ring shopping together. I wanted a "normal" life more than I cared to admit.
But that's not why things ended. I'm not sure if I could even put into words why it ended, but I guess it was that ol' classic "we didn't know how to love each other" type of deal. It was pretty painful at the time, but I met and married someone who is so much better for me.
And I ended up with my Charlie the Red, whose hair is actually on its way to turning blonde as I write this. I have never actually called him Charlie the Red anyway.
It's a happy ending. But one that makes me pause and think about how strange and wonderful and complex life is.