I am the woman you might've called mother, mom, mama, mommy. I carry you inside me, the unmade memories of our life together, little traditions--decorating the Christmas tree together, baking cookies, teaching you to read and write, holding your hand. Your skin woven from the DNA of my skin, our fingers tangled like our bloodlines, like our lives might've been. I would brush your hair on humid summer nights after a cooling bath, braid the strands, or make them into pigtails. I picture you as my daughter. Perhaps you are my son. Your hair is black or maybe red, freckles on your pale cheeks, a dimple in your chin. I've stared into your dark brown eyes (or maybe blue or hazel) more lately than I ever did before.
When I was younger, I did not dream of you like some women do of their children. I was in no rush to bring you into this world. Should I tell you? Once I left a doll out in the rain. I hated dolls unless they came with lightsabers or little plastic guns.
You'd be such a great mom, people tell me. You're cold, others have said me when I confessed that children weren't a priority for me. All women are supposed to want to mothers. I carry this around inside me, next to you, this expectation...
Should I have wanted to see you face to face? Am I less of a woman, less of a person because I chose to keep you safe inside, away from the burden of living, the weight that comes with choices? You are a part of me, even though I never gave birth to you. I've known you in each breath I take, in each time I watch clouds drift the sky or visit the cemeteries of your uncle, your great-grandparents, the people you probably know better than I ever could. Your soul never took flight from Heaven.
Being a mother changes you. Being a mother puts the world into perspective. Being a mother completes the cycle of life--you are born, you give birth. But, not being a mother changes you, too, in ways only those of us on this path can understand. People think I'm selfish. I am selfish. Too selfish to let you go, to push you into a fleshly cage of weaknesses and frailty. Ever since I was a teen, I preferred the idea of adoption. Someday, I might be a mother to another child, my own in spirit if not by blood, and you--the one to which I never gave birth either--will be the absent sibling, part of the love I will feel inside. I teach college, meet young people from different backgrounds, share what can with those I can.
Forgive me, but I will always be your mother and you will be my child, like the moon births the tides, the way the sun conjures seedlings from the soil, the way my heart understands that some are born to be mothers and others are mothers who are born for the sake of many children not their own.