For those I know who like to compare making a record / art to making a baby – it’s completely different in almost every way imaginable.
– Identity being kept anonymous. But sure as shit, I didn’t say it…
I read this on a rather modestly popular artist’s Instagram about a month and a half ago and was completely stunned and heartbroken. I scrolled the comments, sure that the women who followed her were just as outraged as I, only to find a slew of sycophantic “Happy Birthday” messages and coo’s at how adorable her baby was in the corresponding photo. Only one woman called her out and wrote about how insensitive her comment was, citing that she was unable to have children and felt that her statement was callous and cruel. Unsurprisingly some of the fans came to the artist’s defense telling this girl that in fact she was the selfish one for attacking her. Naturally, I did what any sane person does, and furiously wrote a comment about how I felt, because you know, my opinion is so god damn important. And then, about five minutes later I realized I was an idiot, and I deleted it. Because duh. And you know? Usually I get over these temporary bouts of insanity. But no. Not this time. No this time her words gnawed at me. They incited rage, heartache, and insecurity. Because, no matter how smart you are you can’t escape the cliche that is the “childless adult woman”. I mean, if she can even be considered an adult. Amirite?! I mean, can you even legally say you have a vagina if you haven’t pushed a baby out of it? Are you like, even, a fucking woman?
Now, let me interject before I get too far and say that I am happy for any woman who has children, and yes, I love kids. Kids are hilarious and they are pretty much the only people left on the planet that find me funny and cool, and so for that, I thank them. I don’t have any kids and I don’t have any plans on having them. Again, I love kids. But I also realize that kids are a huge responsibility. You don’t get to think about you and your life anymore. Your life is devoted to creating these little humans. Sure, you make time to shave your legs. Eat a hot meal. But trust, you know shit is different. And it’s ok! Because the goal is to give them a life better than yours. You want to give them the best education. The best toys. The best house. The best backyard. And you hope that maybe one day this will pay off in them not putting you in an old folks home and forgetting about all the wonderful things you did for them, even if it didn’t always come out right, because hey, you’re only human. Don’t say there isn’t a small part of you that isn’t breeding yourself a future nanny. Come on! No one is listening to your thoughts right now. Just admit it. I won’t judge you. I’m hoping I have enough money later to hire your kid as my nanny so we are in the same boat.
When you try to explain that you aren’t having kids people’s heads explode. Their internal processor reads “Doesn’t compute. Doesn’t compute” and steam pours out their ears. And BOOM! Then they pat your hand and tell you you’ll change your mind, you know, eventually, when the time is right. Now, can I ask you to lean in close real quick? Cuz I’m going to let you in on a little secret. We don’t fucking enjoy when you tell us that. I don’t need you to tell me what my biological clock is shouting everyday, “BITCH YOU ARE GOING TO DIE SOON. I MEAN YOU DRINK A LOT SO PROBABLY SOONER FOR YOU. DON’T YOU WANT TO LIVE FOREVER?! MAKE A FUCKING BABY. BABY BABY. BAY-BEE. REPRODUCE.” So you see, dear reader, dear friend, dear STRANGER I just met, I don’t need you to ask me about kids. I don’t need you to ask me if I am going to have them, or when I am going to have them. If you need reassurance on your decision to have kids that is totally cool. I will gladly give you a hug. Tell you your baby is most def the cutest baby I’ve ever seen, and no, you did not throw away your life and your waistline for that dirty little mouth breather. You know why? Cuz I’m a mother fucking adult. And your life decisions have nothing to do with mine. We can co-exist. Like that stupid bumper sticker every Prius. We can coexist.
So what’s my beef? Why am I taking the time to write this seemingly parent bashing piece of tripe? Again, parents, I love you. I love your kids. Or, well, I want to. Seriously some of you are shite parents and you need a “come to Jesus” moment but I don’t have time to get into that here. My beef is the bullshit that this article started with. My beef is the selfless martyrdom that some-I said some-parents seem to have. I’ll admit right now, that I have an ace up my sleeve. I know the backstory to why the anonymous girl wrote her post, and it was in reality an underhanded stab at another girl who had written that perhaps, for those of us who are not having children, we could throw baby showers for the art we create. Meaning the girl/woman who wrote that snide quote only wrote it to be cruel to another woman, which I find just as vile. And if people had called her out on that statement, this piece would not exist. But no one did. No one save the one girl who was bullied for it. And so that’s where I come in. Because I think that my friend was right. I think that those of us who don’t give birth to humans, but rather, to art, to things that change the very way we see and perceive the world, deserve a modicum of time set aside to shower our brains for having created something beautiful.
And here is where I get to the part that will be harder for me personally to explain, because it is a novel unto itself. But I always felt that I was the kind of human that would have to forgo getting to reproduce because I was put here to do something different. Notice, I do not say better. But the uneasy knowledge that my purpose is to serve humanity in another form. That I would be a mother of sorts. But a different kind. And to be honest. Like a mother, so far, it’s been rather thankless. See, I spent the last eight years of my life pouring myself into the funeral industry and creating a death positive mortuary where I teach people not to fear the dead body but to embrace and acknowledge the death. I don’t think that it’s a coincidence that I chose the opposite spectrum of birth. I love humans. I want to protect and care for them in their toughest of times. And, I swear to god I hate this stereotype, but-shudders-I want to nurture them. I want to see you grow. Yes. Dear humans. I love the everlasting fuck out of you. And I want to see you grow and thrive. And also, I’d really love to fucking bury and burn you.
Oh umm yeah the point to this? Death! Death is my mother fucking art project. If I could poop it out my vagina like a baby I would. I mean look, it’s not that I like death. In fact quite the opposite. The longer I stay on this side of the veil the more I reviled by it I feel. There is no romance anymore and I am embarrassed to say I thought there ever was. Not because death does not contain beauty. But because, like changing many a shit smeared diaper with poo dripping out the crevices, I’ve just seen too much. I know too much about where all the shit goes! But it’s too late. Because there is love now. And so we are chained together. Forever. Me and my anchor baby. And I know that I have a gift, to be a mother, to Death. And truthfully it’s wrapped in my ability to dance along the lines of what can only be described as a functional and rational depression. And again, I am not trying to use any of this to say that I am better. But I am trying to tell you that the fact that I chose not to have children means that I have a reserve of precious and limited bandwidth and energy to give over to a different kind of pain and suffering, which I say in all sincerity is just as important as the kind we suffer as children, and just as important as the love you give to your kids when they suffer from it, because it’s what gives us the blue prints for how we manage our grief as adults.
And so here is my art. My gift. You will never see it in the Louvre. You will never see it on Broadway, but I have left my mark in the lives of many people I am certain I will never meet again. One such performance, for example, being the time that I rolled someone’s husband out of a refrigerator and into a small dimly lit room. Gracefully. Lovingly. Telling his wife that she could not to open the box. She could not open the box because he was run over so many times that his body wasn’t just beyond recognition, but rather he was no longer recognizable as human. And then I had to listen to her give one, loud, agonizing scream. And when she walked back out I had to finish my performance as a human who also didn’t want to collapse in grief, and sit across from her to let her know her husband’s remains would be ready to pick-up. And if it wasn’t only my mom that read this, I would acknowledge that there are many funeral directors with kids, my colleague Susana being one of them, that gives this same performance, and goes home and hugs and loves her daughter, just the same as I go home and love and hug a bottle of red wine. It doesn’t make her better. It just makes us different.
Again, this not a competition. But to say it bluntly. I created a funeral home and I sacrificed. And I cried. And I put myself into debt. And I take offense to anyone who says that it is not the same as loving a baby of my own. That it is not the same kind of love as creating a human. So, if anything, I hope that this is an olive branch to women, a plea if you will. I am begging you to see me as a comrade, because the truth is that we as women have to do something that men have never had, and will never have to do. We’ve always felt the need to sacrifice one thing for the other. Art or Children. And we have always had to defend that choice. A man only needs to not leave his family and he’s the hero of the fucking century. He gets to work. He gets to dream. He gets to birth a child and art. Or a child and a business, because let me tell you business is art. And no one second guesses his decision, or time at home. But not women. And we are always fighting. Fighting to prove we can have it all. Fighting to prove that we are “real”. Be it with our curves. Our kids. Our jobs. Our lack of job, and that’s ok cuz we love being a stay at home mom and don’t tell me I can’t be one!
So, I guess what I am asking for is twofold. I am asking for you to let me be multi-dimensional. Because I suspect I am not the only one that feels this way. I am asking for you to stop asking me to choose whether I want to have kids or not. Because the truth is I will always be sad one way or the other. I could love a kid, but I would love it to the point that I would be unable to carry on the level of devotion to “making a difference” that is in general only afforded to rich ass white women. And if you didn’t know, I am a poor ass white woman. And poverty unfortunately often makes the most important of our life choices for us. And I also ask, nay, I beg you, to let me feel like a mother. I am begging you to stop taking that from me by telling me that the good I put into the world via my work, and that the good that other women put into the world via their art, their hopes, and their dreams is “completely different in almost every way imaginable” to having a baby. Because, what’s that saying? That it takes a village? Well, imagine me as another mother to your child. A mother that has the time to teach your child about death and dying. And that there are other mothers out there besides me. Mothers that can teach your child about singing. About Watercolor. About math, physics, aeronautics. Give us your love. Mother. And let us birth the things that make humans human. And if you disagree? You can always tell your children not to walk my way. But just know I’ll always fight like hell for them to hear my words…