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THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW I WANTED

Elephant Soap

 

 

THINGS I DIDN'T KNOW I WANTED

Cindy Maddera

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I never wanted kids. Women talk about their biological clocks and how once the alarm went of they knew they had to have a baby RIGHT THIS MINUTE! My clock maybe ticked and tocked once or twice, but the alarm must have been broken. I never had that urge to have a child of my own. There have been many reasons for this, one being the whole broken clock thing. But another reason was because I felt inadequate. I did not have the skills and ability to raise a good human being and the stress of attempting to raise a good human being just seemed too much. I have been content with this decision. I have my niece and nephews and my friends' kids to dote on. I used to go to my favorite breakfast place on Saturday mornings and sit at a table by myself. I never considered it to be a sad thing or lonely. I would always have a notebook with me, maybe making out a grocery list or sketching out some ideas for a blog entry. I liked to sit there and watch the families. You Say Tomato is one of those homey comfortable places. The tables and chairs are all mismatched. It sits smack in the middle of a quiet neighborhood and most of the customers are those who walked down the street from their house. Often times they will be carrying their own coffee mugs. There's a couple that always sit in the same spot near the north window. They have a little boy that toddles between them. Sometimes he runs over and tries to open the door for people. There are other families, but this one I remember the most because they are always there. They are familiar and cozy and the scene tugs a tiny bit at my heart as I sit quietly alone sipping my coffee and pretending to be interested in my journal. I didn't really need to pretend to be interested in my journal. Part of me is happy to sit alone. But I also could never really shake the glaring reality that I wasn't sitting alone by choice.

Michael has a little girl. We call her The Cabbage. She's almost three (next month). When he first told me that he has a kid, I instinctively cringed with a sarcastic "great...he has a kid". I mean, it shouldn't have come as any kind of surprise. Most people my age have scores of children. This was my first full weekend with The Cabbage. We'd had a few meetings and one evening together, encounters that resembled the kind I usually have with my friends' kids. But this was a whole weekend. Her car seat was installed into my car (in fact, is sitting in my living room now) and we had a whole weekend of activities planned. There was a museum visit, ice cream in the park, Jupiter jumps, digging in the dirt to plant a new Fall garden. It was a very full weekend. We all ended up sleeping late on Sunday and Michael suggested You Say Tomato for breakfast/brunch (really leaning into lunch...that's how late we slept). There we were, sitting together at a table, The Cabbage munching on bacon next to me and Michael reading the paper across from me. Suddenly I wasn't the one observing the other families. I was the one with a family and something in my brain said "Oh! This is what that feels like". It was not a feeling I had thought was missing from my life, but it was definitely a feeling that was comforting. It was a moment that I could get used to. It opened the door to visions of a slightly older Cabbage sitting at a breakfast bar in an open kitchen, coloring or doing homework while I cooked dinner or all of us sitting down to dinner together, laughing and talking about our day. Maybe we'd play a game or invent our own game of using the word of the day from a word-a-day-calender in a sentence.

And just like that, I realized that was something I wanted.