Tonight, I look at my child, with her hair bunched up like a fountain at the top of her head, with eyes wide and seemingly wondering whether I’m going to pick her up or not, and feel something painfully heavy on my chest.
A year ago, I had made a very selfish decision not to have her. Before she turne 2 months, I resolved that the creature inside me was not going to make my life any better. In fact, I had decided that her
presence will only bring an onslaught of bad luck and a multitude of clinical depressions. I had wanted to let her go — even forced her to leave.
She is just as stubborn her mother, I later discover; and I don’t know if this is something I should be happy about. Part of me feels proud that she could grow up to be independent and headstrong enough to take care of herself; but the other half drowns in fear that my experiences might echo in hers. It was a tough 26 years; and while I now see before me the silver lining behind my dark, commanding rain clouds, I do not wish for my daughter to be rewarded with hers in the same way I did.
At times I wonder what it would have been like had I succeeded with my initial plan. I would probably still be living in the same condo, seeing the same people, working at the same job, and pretending to be
not in debt. People would perhaps still think I was the coolest because I could handle the life I lived.
Before I had her, going back home was the farthest and last option on my list. It was tantamount to failure, to weakness, to not being able to cope with challenge. But when she arrived, this place seemed to be the only sensible option. I do not plan on raising my child in the city that killed me over and over.
Sometimes, when I hear wails for attention at 3 in the morning, I am tempted to break down and run away from everything. I blame myself for being stupid and for allowing myself to fall prey to curiosity and
emotion. I blame others for not telling me enough that I was coursing through the forbidden path. I blame my methods for failing. In desperation, wanting to shush the incessant screaming, in my head, in my heart, and in our room, I wail myself. But because I am who I am now, supposedly grown enough to deal with reality, I realize seconds after, that no one is coming to take everything away. This is my load
now, and I should carry it with dignity.
I am getting closer to accepting my state. I do not look like I’m paddling for my life, but I am. You see, when a girl becomes a mother, she becomes a woman — and a woman never breaks in adversity. I am
determined to make the sweetest and most refreshing lemonade out the mountain of raw lemons before me.
I feel regret, yes. For now, I cannot say I am fulfilled. Nobody who has given birth out of wedlock and has a one-year-old daughter without a husband will tell you that there is not an ounce of regret and that
the presence of the little one has replaced all the bitterness with a sense of fulfillment. It’s not like that. You will have to be one to understand that when the cries begin, all the pain and hurt resurface
with them. And the person who is both cursed and blessed with this emotion can only be admirable when the tremors stop and she smiles once more.
I’ve always believed that things happen for a reason. And that, perhaps, the reason why the past years have been so difficult was to prepare me for a life-long commitment with somebody who thinks I am
the world and the universe. I look at my daughter now and I am humbled. I am no world, neither am I the universe. But if it means so much to her to see me as such, I will try to be a million and one galaxies.
Donna Cabrera is a closet-creative waiting for her big break; if she gets the courage to chase after it.