Thursday, November 04, 2010

The Dakar Diaries: Thoughts of Motherhood

The owner of this image can be found here.
If you know me, you know that I always say I don't want children. And I really don't want them right now. There are a few things I'd like to do before I decide to devote my life to a child. Selfish? Maybe. True? Yes.

That being said, there were days in Dakar when I started to feel something welling up inside of me. It was an emotion that I've never felt before. Maybe it was because I was lonely and in a foreign country or maybe it was because I was overwhelmed by everything around me, but around week three of the trip I started to feel like maybe I should talk to Nate about having a baby. Everything inside of my head screamed, "Ew, why are you thinking this?! Why are you even running this thought through your mind right now?!" I still can't really say what the deal was.

The day I first started to experience The Nameless Emotion was when I saw a mother bend over, untie the cloth that was holding her sleeping toddler to her back with one arm and take her other arm to expertly swoop the child from her back to a mat in the cool shade in just one smooth and practiced motion. The child just sighed and kept sleeping, despite the all of the action on the street. I saw it happen with a another toddler that wasn't wearing diapers. The mother just set the child down and he went to the bathroom. She just knew. I thought about what it would be like to be so close to another human being; to just know when he or she needed to sleep in a motionless place or had to go to bathroom. I couldn't help thinking that if it were me, pee would just run down my back.

Another time, I was hanging out with Bira, a friend I made. He asked why we didn't have any children yet. He couldn't believe that we were almost thirty and we hadn't started a family. The way he said it made so much sense. The conversation went something like this:
Bira: You love your husband?
Me: Yes, very much.
Bira: And you haven't had children yet?
Me: No, we're definitely not ready.
Bira: But you are together and you love each other. Why have you not wanted to continue your family?

I really didn't have an answer.

Of course, there are countless hardships for children growing up in Senegal. There is no denying that. I don't mean to make this entry sound like I am simplifying motherhood in the country to just women who carry kids on their backs. The image is just one that stood out to me (and it brought out The Nameless Emotion). It was people carrying on with day to day life. It was a really tender thing and for some reason, I found a lot comfort in the image. I've always felt like having a child would mean that everything stops. It took being in Senegal to see that things would keep going because they just have to.

Of course, when we got to Paris and I saw a toddler sitting at a cafe on her own iPhone, I started to think that maybe I wasn't ready for the motherhood thing and the thought of talking to Nate retreated back inside of me to wherever it came from. The thought continued to retreat when I returned home and got stuck in the checkout line at the grocery store behind a family where the child kept grabbing trivial things  like dental floss off of the rack and saying, "Please will you get this for me? PUH-LEAZE? If you don't buy this for me, I'm going to SCREAM." Scary.

Who knows though? Maybe someday I will just know to not to let the pee run down my back. :)

1 comment:

Sarah said...

great post. I know the Nameless Emotion well. You will make a wonderful mother when you decide the time is right!! Miss you!

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