Comfortably nestled in adulthood, I realize it’s unlikely that I’ll ever be a mother. Heck, in recent months I haven’t found a guy I want to share a dinner with, let alone my DNA.
But that’s okay. Because incredible as it may seem to some, motherhood has never been a goal.
As a child I never played with dolls, pretending they were my “babies.” I’ve never experienced pangs of envy when attending baby showers, or cradled a newborn, wishing it were mine. Not once have I ever turned the same shade of green that washes over me when, for example, someone gets a puppy or vacations in London.
Do I like kids? Absolutely. Will I regret not having any of my own? I doubt it. I recognize that not every person is meant to be a parent simply because they’re capable of reproducing. But not having children doesn’t mean that I dwell in some loveless, childless abyss. On the contrary.
Meggie, my seven-year old niece, is the only person I buy gifts for when I travel. As an infant, she drooled over the exquisite lace frock I purchased in Florence. When she was 4, she insisted on wearing her hula outfit from Maui. To church, on Christmas Eve. As a 5-year-old she strutted to kindergarten, proudly showing off her straw purse from Jamaica.
After each trip, we sit on her bed and spin the Rand McNally globe, identifying the origin of each gift. “This is Ireland,” I point to the tiny green spot in the Atlantic, “where your flute is from. And here,” I slide my finger down to Martinique, “is where I bought your doll.”
Intrigued, she asks questions about the different countries. Do the kids eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches too? What do they look like? Are they nice?
That’s why I’ve told Meggie if she gets good grades and doesn’t give her parents any grief, I’ll take her on vacation with me when she graduates from high school. “Anywhere?” she asks, incredulous. As she’s spinning the globe, I predict brown-bag lunches and coupon clipping in my future, but I don’t care. “Anywhere,” I promise.
Meggie and I talk about music. She likes ‘N Sync, and we both agree that Justin is the cutest. Once a month I take her to our favorite bookstore. After carefully perusing the aisles, we take our newly acquired purchases to the adjacent cafe and read, my Alice Hoffman to her Harry Potter. We sit in silence as I sip my soy latte and she her hot cocoa.
Breadsticks and memories
One night we made chocolate-covered bread sticks. Carefully she dipped each thick bread stick in the bowl of melted milk chocolate, then rolled it in a plate of red and green sprinkles before setting it down to dry on aluminum foil. Patiently she repeated the process with each bread stick, mindful not to drip any chocolate or spill any sprinkles on my beige carpet.
Maybe this kid was too clean.
I dipped my fingers in the melted chocolate, smeared the sweet brown goop across my mouth, and then planted a big brown smackaroo on her cheek. There!
“And don’t you even think of doing that to me,” I challenged.
Stunned, she looked at me for a second. Then cautiously, no doubt thinking her aunt a wee bit crazy, she mimicked my actions.
“Oh, you’re in trouble now,” I warned, dipping both hands in the chocolate and reaching for her as she quickly followed suit, giggling hysterically.
The chocolate bread sticks never did get made
It takes an auntie
And that’s okay. Because something far more important was created instead. It was all too apparent by the glow on Meggie’s face.
Motherhood, by its purest definition, may not be my goal, but I’m content with the knowledge that it doesn’t have to be. And when Meggie asks, “Can we pretend you’re my mommy tonight?” I stroke her earnest chocolate-covered face and inform my “daughter” that she has chocolate in her ears.