Probably #1 on the list of Things Parents Should Not Say to Aging Non-Moms—not even with the utmost irony, as your adored progeny scream like torture victims for ice cream or beg for car privileges or phone from Juvenile Remand—is this: dodged a bullet.
Just a year ago, a friend with teen kids asked me why I hadn’t done the baby thing. I replied with as much Zen stoicism as I could assume, that it just never happened. I took a different path. He turned to his partner with a mischievious wink. Dodged a bullet, he said.
That exchange was only a year ago and I will admit that even then, the remark stung. Because for most of my adult life, I had been waiting with mixed emotions for that bullet to strike. I never went into extreme full-force maternity lust but still, there were times, when I fantasized and longed for the magic bullet to propel me into Mom Life: a life so focused and circumscribed, so delineated and celebrated, so self-evident in its satisfactions. That the bullet never hit home wasn’t due to any skilful dodging on my part, or even adept contraceptive artistry. I can claim little credit for having ducked that particular missile. Mostly, it was an accident, and one short year ago I was still a bit hurt by my friend’s careless response.
Today I find myself texting back and forth to my Guy in America, trying to work out a scheme to celebrate both his birthday in Seattle and mine here on Cortes Island. Trying to balance his mobile work at various farmers’ markets and his commitment to helping his mother in California, against my job at Hollyhock, and my load of farm work, design jobs, One in Five, and so much more…plus each of our many practices, pursuits, and pleasures. Plus his dog. The scheduling games are exhausting, but I know we’ll make it happen. And it occurs to me to wonder how we could swing this if either of us had children. We’d need to move in together if we ever wanted to even meet face to face. But as it is, we get to enjoy sporadic adventures together, as well as leading big, varied, beautiful individual lives—lives that are full, and yet, lives that still afford enough space for spontaneity and rest.
As I pull out my calendar and begin the re-scheduling sudoku, the phrase rises unbidden, like a bright bubble in my mind.
Dodged a bullet.