It was senior year of college – Syracuse University studying at the Newhouse School of Public Communications. It was the first day of first semester, and my film business class was going around the room introducing themselves. Saying what they wanted to do with their lives. There were an unsurprising number of aspiring producers and directors – it WAS a film BUSINESS class and all – so it kind of threw everyone for a loop when I said I wanted to be a mom. “A mom?” I could almost hear them all thinking. “I mean, why is she even HERE then?”
But I did, I really wanted it.
That stayed with me through graduation, through my first job, through my marriage. More than ten years of the tumult that is life, just waiting for the day I’d hold my own baby in my arms. And then, of course, everything changed. You might think it was the going crazy, or the going broke that did me in. Or, surely, the divorce? The divorce must have been the nail in the coffin.
It wasn’t the Bin, it wasn’t the cash, and it wasn’t the men or my own poor decisions – It was that goddamn Jake that finally made me realize I might not want to have children. That goddamn Jake and his liver disorder (or whatever it was) that nearly killed him last summer. I mean, I’m usually able to accurately describe most feelings with words, but I have no language for how awful it was to sit by and watch him suffer. This poor sweet creature, just so sick and so sad. It literally hurt my heart. It broke me. And I thought: what if this was my child? What if this was my own child I had to hand over to others, what if it was MY kid that was being poked with needles and force-fed pills, knowing that he hated every second, not knowing if he’d even make it to the other side? I don’t think I could bear it. I truly don’t think I could.
Watching someone you love suffer is the worst pain of all. We want our children to be happy, but life, intrinsically, is the most painful wish you could grant. As the Buddha teaches us: life is suffering. I find that to be the noblest truth.