Remember high school? It was all about categories. Specific labels and pre-existing groups you could commit to so fully that it was like a built in identity cloak wrapped around your shoulders; a parameter against which you could contextualize everything and everyone else. The options varied depending on your school, but they were all relatively similar. Band geek. Theatre kid. Sports person. Advanced studies. To the untrained eye there were lots of options out there, just waiting for you to adopt one. Even passably faking interest could secure you somewhere to belong and a group to have lunch with. Look a little closer, however, and you’d realize how totalitarian these labels were. It was impossible to be both a band geek and a sports person. There just wasn’t time. These interests, it seemed, required nothing less than a monogamous commitment, lest your loyalty be questioned.
Despite many interests, I didn’t belong to any of these groups. I was a fringe kid, dabbling but never settling on any one thing. I joined band late and my piano skills did not translate to trumpeting (not to mention I couldn’t afford the big trips.) I joined a three person poetry club but it was short lived, and fortunately for everyone in a five mile radius, I was far too anxious to belt out showtunes anywhere but the shower. I was a ghost, existing primarily in the cracks between groups. I was on a first name basis, but never close enough to be invited to any of the parties. I hated high school, but I promised myself it was just one small part of life, and I only had to put in three years before reality came to fit me for a glass slipper and spin me around the dance floor.
Now, almost 20 years later I find myself drifting again. Falling through the cracks in a way I never would have imagined. I’m a childless woman in a world that reveres motherhood and I both chose and didn’t choose to be that way. I’m Schrodinger’s uterus. Before I go any further, I need to caveat that I have the utmost respect for mothers. It is a tall order both physically and emotionally, and I applaud parents for rising to the challenge (particularly the ones navigating work, childcare and homeschooling during our current covid lock down.) Well done.
Every year as we approach Mother’s Day, I am reminded that “Mother” is a moniker that will never apply to me. Neither…