When I was young, my mother would walk me through these guided visualizations to help me decide on one thing or another. The idea was to envision one choice or another, and try to feel what that choice felt like - good, bad, indifferent? Recently, as I've been debating the children/no children questions, I've been thinking I could use another one of those guided visualizations (are you out there mom? my sole reader?).
For a long time I assumed I wouldn't have children, that I wouldn't be interested even if I met the right man. As is often the story, once I met the right man, my ideas shifted. But not enough for certainty, more a feeling of, maybe this wouldn't be so bad. My husband would make a fantastic father, and I don't want to deprive him of that opportunity. He would be interested and engaged, hug them often and teach them about the universe and how plants grow and the general wonder of being alive. I would not be great; I'm uncomfortable around children and don't usually find them cute. But I'm responsible and together I think we could do a good job.
It's impossible to know, guided visualization or not, what having a child would feel like, be like, what it would create and destroy. But I've been thinking about it a lot and what emerged recently, cobbled together from reading too many articles on the internet and listening to friends and observation and my own hazy feelings, is the choice between two particular kinds of excess and lack.
The first is the path we're on now. Already there is excess - money, opportunities to travel, time to talk, to read, to cook, to see friends. There will be plenty of time to self-actualize, whatever that means, and there will be silence. So much silence. I mean that in the best possible way; I love the calm and clarity of solitude. There will be time to shape and perfect the outsized self and the bond between the two of us. The first path is an abundance of everything, more than we would need, for a lifetime. And a specific lack of one thing, another life, between us. Silent Thanksgivings, silent Christmases.
And the other path, it's a deprivation of everything else - less time, less money (or at least money and time spent very differently), fewer travels. Hasty meals and stolen moments. The risk that the special bond between us will grow small and frail next to the new relationship and that the self will be shrunken and lost in the abundance of that new relationship. No more silence, no more long Saturday afternoons. The specific excess of another life alongside ours.
So how to decide? Which kind of excess can I handle, what kind of lack is bearable? How do I know? How did you know?