Saturday, January 17, 2009

Motherhood and Mango Chutney

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies or opinions.

At a Midtown Manhattan Indian Restaurant on a Weeknight

"My mother said, 'Aren't we going to look at the children?' And then I realized what she had hoped, had assumed."

My friend was talking about having brought a suitcase full of children's goods to an orphanage when she and her mother went to a foreign country recently, and how her mother had hoped that during the same trip, my friend would select a child to adopt.

Another friend: "Yeah, my dad said to me recently, 'It doesn't look like [her siblings] are going to make me a grandfather anytime soon, so you should go ahead.'"

"But Dad, I'm single."

"'That's what sperm-banks are for,' he said, 'and besides, look how many single mothers there are.'"

When Pat and I were living in India, during a long-distance phone conversation -- I've written here before -- my mother said, "Sarah, don't be mad when I say this, but did you know that India is one of the capitals of where you could have a woman carry your eggs [-- to term, so you could still have a baby]?" I was 42 when she suggested this, and she already had four grandchildren from my sisters.

In my culture, it was inculcated in me that having children was moovan m'aylav (Hebrew for "a given"/"understood from the outset"/"clear as day"). Little girls were referred to, I've also shared here before, as "Mameleh" (Yiddish for little mama) and little boys as "Tateleh" (Yiddish for little papa). And besides, I needed to do my part, since we had lost 6,000,000 in the Holocaust.

When nine IUI attempts between ages 36 and 38 with an anonymous sperm-donor didn't do the trick, I abandoned the organic motherhood pursuit and then never considered adoption.

The only hook I was let off of was the Biblical one, "Pru u'rivu" (Be fruitful and multiply), which I've also written about previously; in Biblical times, women had to wait for men to choose them as mates, and so only men were held to that standard. These same friends and I discussed whether or not we had gone to our high school proms and two out of three of them said that they invited their male dates, and were incredulous that I hadn't seen that as an maybe I'm in a Biblical time-warp.

Whose Lives Can We Nurture Other than Our Own?

One of these friends turned to me while the other two were talking and said, "It's selfish, my wanting a child; there's just something about another being needing my care that I know will add a dimension to my life."

"I know what you mean, ever since we adopted our two cats," I said, hoping she'd understand, since she was a self-avowed, life-long animal lover. She did.

Phoebe is kneading away on my lap as I write this. And I definitely understood what my friend was talking about while cracking open a can of "Country Supper" for the girls at 7:15 am.

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