I’ve been told I don’t have a biological clock. That whenever my partner and I decide to have children it will never be too late. I hear of Berkeley moms having children for the first time at fifty. I hear this from the nannies I hang out with in the park. I wonder what drives someone to still want a baby at fifty when many women at fifty are grandmothers.
It is finally at thirty two that I can appreciate my body. I can stand minutes in front of the mirror admiring every curve, every hair. I am aware that when I eat wheat my belly blows up into a ball. I smooth out the top of my belly and wonder if that is what I am going to look like when I am pregnant. I’ve been growing out my hair, not to see how my hair falls on my back, not to feel the comfort of my mane. I’ve been growing out my hair because I remember watching my friend breast feed her son during story time. Her hair long falling around his face. He grasped locks and gently held unto it. Loving his mama’s hair.
The children I take care of sometimes call me Mama Maceo. I wonder what I would want my children to call me. I’ve gotten used to Mama Maceo but I don’t call my mami mama. Just mami and sometimes mimi and when I want to joke around with her, mi vieja.
I was pregnant once. A long, long time ago when I was sixteen. I knew I was pregnant the second that it happened. I knew and cried in the shower wondering what I would do. I didn’t tell him then. I don’t think I ever told him. He heard from a friend of a friend of a friend and never called. That first month I forgot that I was pregnant. I was absorbed in planning for college. I went to Dartmouth College for a Multicultural Weekend. There I ate and ate and ate. I was small and people didn’t know where I put it all away.
My period came but then I remembered. Didn’t matter if blood spotted my panties I was still pregnant. So I went to get a test done. Downtown Brooklyn. I got the place out of the phone book when we still used phone books. I think I had to wait one, two, three days. I waited. I was pregnant. But I already knew i didn’t need a test.
Mami told me if I ever got pregnant I would have to drop out of school because she wouldn’t take care of any of my babies. I went to Catholic school. All girls Catholic school. Those schools where girls wore short skirts and teased hair and had white boys in Camaros pick them up. I wasn’t like those girls but I still got pregnant.
Mami didn’t know I was pregnant until I was in my 20s. She got her cards read and the woman told her that there is this little boy that hangs out with me. She asked me if I was ever pregnant and I told her the whole story. The first time we were totally honest with each other.
I used to take long showers and sit and talk to my belly. I talked to it not knowing what to do. I decided to have an abortion but I never made an appt. I didn’t really want to have an abortion I just wanted to talk to my belly for days. I don’t know how it was gonna happen unless I made an appt. My mind and heart talked in silence.
I was never any good in religion class. I was the one that asked too many questions. I was the one that stopped saying her prayers because I was just instructed to memorize them, not believe in them. I was the one that had to be excused to go to the bathroom. I was bleeding, mounds and mounds. In the stall alone with a flicker of light I absorbed the blood coming out of me with toilet paper. Never telling anyone what happened. I went to the nurse’s office and got a big pad. I waited it out until the last class bell rang.
That day I forgot I had a miscarriage. Trying to pull it through. My body not able to move as quickly but I had my Intro to Philosophy college class to attend at John Jay. I walked to the subway station and I saw him in his Black Trans Am. We just looked at each other. He drove off. I should have known that there was nothing but no good when dating a Puerto Rican named Elvis whose street name was Coma. Damn.
When I was told I didn’t have a biological clock I was told that my first child would want to leave. That he would peep into this world and say, nah, this isn’t for me and be out. And I said, that already happened. It happened when I was sixteen. When I am with teenage children I think of him. I think of him and wonder what it would have been like.
I wrote him a letter once. Asking him to forgive me. And I felt him for the first time in a long time. He wiped my tears and touched my hair. And told me it was ok. He knew it wouldn’t be good for the both us. He made the decision for us. I told him that even if he is a spirit he would always be my first. I love him.
I’ve always enjoyed children wanting to have them for my own and not wanting to have them for my own. I was never sure if I would be a good mother. My family used to wonder why someone with a Masters degree would decide to be a nanny. I’ve always told them it is part of my training. My work ends in August with the children I have been caring for the past two years. They have taught me so much. My heart has healed with them knowing that one day I can be a good mother. I would be different from what I would have been at sixteen. All these years that I have worked on myself has not only been for me it has also been for the future children that I will have, God willing. I am thankful that my story doesn’t end with having a miscarriage at sixteen. I am thankful that it just doesn’t end. It is being written, it is being spoken, it is being heard.
Here’s a clip of my cuties