Five Images Of My Family


One

I will have seven children, because seven is a magical number, and also it just feels right. Plus I have five girls’ names picked out and I really like them all. Probably I will have five girls and two boys. My mom asks “and what will you do if you have more boys and less girls? What if you have all boys?”

I shrug.

We will live in a big farm house in the country and I will be thin and willowy (I have never been willowy) and wear a floor length skirt every day. I will spend my days engaged wholly in the holy joy of being a mother. The children will be well adjusted and mostly get along with each other. The girls will wear long skirts, and have long hair, and learn how to play the piano. The oldest will probably be wise beyond her years, and help me around the house and with her younger siblings. In the afternoons, while the younger and rowdier children are playing out on our big, green, lawn, we will sit in our airy living room and talk with the windows open. She’ll ask me questions about when I was younger, and I’ll patiently share my wisdom with her.

We might also sew, and we’ll definitely drink tea.

My husband will be good and kind and he will support us, I suppose. I figure he’ll have dark hair, but I don’t think about him much more than that.

He’s a means to an ends, really.

My mother asks what I’ll do if he disagrees with me, if he doesn’t like the name Emily or David.

“They’re MY kids!” I snap at her, “I’m going to give BIRTH to them.”


Two

We’re going to move to Oregon.

Me and my boyfriend. Well, we’re going to get married and then we’re going to move to Oregon, so he won’t really be my boyfriend anymore, will he? I have this idea: only Out West can we be free. And we need to be free. We need to be free from all of the middle class suburban expectations. My boyfriend thinks getting married is probably a middle class suburban expectation too, and that might be true, but I still want to get married. I need to get married and I can’t exactly explain why, except that it feels like something is slipping away from me, and it feels like if we get married maybe the slipping will stop. I asked him while we were driving around aimlessly one day, and he said “ok.” I said “hey will you marry me?” and he said “ok.” We’re going to have a pagan wedding, I have it all planned, he says that’s ok too.

In Oregon he is going to own a record store. He’ll sell indie music and things, and I’ll paint every day, and we won’t have a lot but we’ll be comfortable. We might not have seven kids. Having a target number is childish and silly. We’ll have however many kids we end up having. It’s no big deal.

But we’ll have at least five.

Well, I will, anyway. I’ll have one with him (as a symbol of our love!), and then who knows how many lovers I might take on the side! We are very modern and enlightened. Plus, it’s important to mix up the gene pool as much as possible. Plus, I have a crush on this girl in my anthropology class, and if I sit in the quiet long enough, I notice that I am frustrated.

Reproduction as a radical act, that’s what we believe in.

Our kids will be half feral but they’ll be fine. I’m not going to be too involved, I’ll be so busy with all that painting. They’ll appreciate having an artist for a mother when they’re older, I’m sure of it, even if they don’t get it when they’re little.


Three

This man. This man is the love of my life, I’m sure of it. He’s a musical genius, for one, and also he’s literally the only man I’ve ever been attracted to. And I can’t be gay, so he has to be the love of my life. He’s a poet. He’s so smart.

One day he’ll make an album. He’ll publish a book of poems. One day he’ll finally agree to open this relationship up so I can have sex with WOMEN again. I miss it so much. One day he will finish one of the ten projects he’s always talking about.

We’re going to get a cheap loft downtown and paint it loud, glorious, colors. We’re going to be well dressed and fabulous, because he loves fashion and I love him. He’s going to stop worrying about his rich parents and finally find the space to be himself, the him I know he can be. They don’t understand him.

Probably we’ll have twin boys. We’ll name them Noah and Isaiah. One of them will have his middle name for a middle name, the other one will have my father’s.

They’ll have a ridiculously long hyphenated last name because there is no way in hell I’m changing my name. It won’t fit on any of the school forms. Sorry. kids. Feminism is important.

If we have a girl, I’ll name her Lily. Lily is the only one of the list of five girls names that I’m still in love with. I have to have a little girl named Lily.

He’s not ready to talk about any of this.

But he will be. I just have to be patient. He’s going through so much right now, with his parents. I hope all the good lofts aren’t gone before he’s ready.


Four

I’m going to be single forever.

That sounds sad, but really it isn’t. After I came out, everything changed. Everything got easier. I can’t find a girlfriend; I’m starting not to hate being alone.

I’m going to be a single, poor, gay, mom, and it’s going to be fine. It’s going to be amazing. I know I can do this because I’m a strong person, and lots of people are single moms anyways and it’s fine.

I mean sure, I might date sometimes, but I don’t need a partner. Partners just get in the way. And what are the odds that I would meet a woman I would want to be with who would also want to have children with me? I can’t even picture it! Partners just want to control how you parent. Partners just hate the names you pick. Partners just complicate everything.

And I don’t have time. I am running out of time.

My mom says, “but what if you have a hard pregnancy?”

She just doesn’t get me. She doesn’t know what I can do. She doesn’t know what I can handle. She doesn’t know how strong I am and she makes me so angry.

I’m going to have a baby. I’m going to be a mom. We’re going to have dance parties every day, even if we do live in a studio apartment. And we’re going to be happy, so happy. I’m going to get started just as soon as I can get the money together to buy some frozen sperm. It won’t be that much longer now, I’ll figure it out.


Five

I am sitting in the livingroom writing, and I can hear my wife in the bedroom, quietly chanting our son to sleep. He is seven months old. She has been chanting this particular chant (one she learned at the zen Buddhist temple) with him since before he was born. Since before he had ears to hear. She leaned in close to my growing stomach and she chanted, while I lay in bed feeling like death itself and wondering why in the world I ever wanted to be pregnant. The first time she chanted to him when he was on the outside, he got so still and calm and thoughtful looking. Can a newborn infant look thoughtful? Well, apparently a newborn infant can, or at least an emotional and overtired parent can see thoughtfulness, whether it is there or not.

This is the life I never really expected to lead, and yet somehow it also isn’t at all surprising. Somedays I think it’s the life I wouldn’t let myself dream of.

We’re broke. I mean we are painfully broke. I worry about money constantly. I was so sick during my son’s pregnancy that I couldn’t work, and then I had complications recovering from birth and couldn’t work, and finally I started freelance writing to pay the bills. I didn’t really realize it until it was happening, but it’s like I accidentally started doing what I wanted, after years and years of day jobs, not because I was brave but because I was desperate.

We live in a small two bedroom apartment. My wife takes the bus every day to her kitchen job at a local restaurant. My days are filled up with my son — with playing and trying to learn to crawl and teething and breastfeeding and reading the same five board books over and over again — and frantically writing whenever he takes a nap.

I am so tired and my limbs ache every day.

I desperately want another child.

But it’s not to be. Having this one nearly destroyed me, in every imaginable way, and he is here and he is lovely and he needs me. I can’t risk destroying myself for the dream of a bigger family. So I try to find time to clean the kitchen. I try to find time to fold the clothes. I try to find time to take a shower.

When my son gets fussy I pick him up and carry him around the house. We stop by the wedding photos that hang on the wall. We had two weddings, one about a year before I got pregnant, and one this past summer, after he was born and after the ban on legal same sex marriage in our state was overturned by the Supreme Court decision. That wedding was at the Buddhist temple. That wedding included our son.

“See?” I say to my wide eyed baby, “That’s mama, and that’s ma, and that’s you! And this is your family.”

This is the family I never dreamed I would have, and it’s the only family I can manage to dream of now.

I'm a painter, a writer, and a full time mama living in beautiful Detroit, Michigan, with my wife, infant son, and three cats. I'm also queer, working class, and white, and polyamorous.

Katherine has written 1 articles for us.

32 Comments

  1. Oh gosh. I was kind of ready to be depressed by/jealous of your inevitably beautiful Image Number Five, but your concept of things working out in a way you hadn’t expected or allowed yourself to imagine is really very reassuring and inspiring. Thank you!

  2. I love this terribly. I feel like the first one is always what I thought I wanted. And the guy was such a place holder that I needed to have this family I wanted. Your family sounds lovely and makes me hopeful that one day I’ll have a lovely family too. And it won’t matter what I think I wanted because what I’ll have will be good.

  3. This really resonates with me. Except I’m stuck at three. I’m so scared I might be gay. Things are getting serious with my boyfriend and I feel trapped… Anyway this is really lovely, thank you for writing it.

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