The Power that Drives the Universe

For many years of my life, I professed regret that men could not bear children.  From the ages of approximately 19 until 27, whenever conversation allowed, I would state my position that I wished it were possible for me to have a child–that growing a person inside oneself seemed to me like the sort of transformative experience I wanted to be able to have.

Naturally, I suppose, this opinion changed as my own desire to have a child changed.  I spent about a decade telling folks I thanked my lucky stars men didn’t have to have children.  Turning away from the fact of the miracle, I turned my attention to the pain of childbirth and the discomfort of pregnancy–things I didn’t want to experience.  This was also the same decade of my life when I wanted to be completely solo–no partner, no kids.  In retrospect these opinions are clearly intertwined.

I’ve now lived with a child I am helping to raise for close to a year, and it’s no stretch to say it’s been the most rewarding, intense, exhilarating time of my life.  My love for him can’t easily be described or explained; even without a biological link, my affection for him feels elemental, timeless–quite like the love I feel for my parents, but even more inexplicable.  I love Karla more than I ever could have imagined, but with our boy it is still somehow different; it is constantly acute.

It was this morning that I realized I again pined for the ability to bear a child myself.  All three of us were in his bedroom while we got ready for the day.  I had been playing cars with him, when Mommy sat down and announced it was time to cut his toenails.  He is no fan of the task, but dutifully sat in her lap and kept playing with his car.  She bent over and steadied her hands, bringing the clipper to his pinkie toe.  It was a routine scene, but filled with a beauty and caring so rich, I almost had to turn away.  The bond created by literally being each other’s flesh is one of atoms, and also something…else.

I make great efforts to forge a relationship with our boy that is very affectionate, not one grounded in traditional masculine trope.  I take as great pains as I can to be ever vigilant about our parental roles, making sure our little person grows up knowing he can change diapers, or sweep floors, or cry or feel fear, and that women can be brave and also get to relax while men clear the table.  I want him to know that when he wants love–deep, desperate love–he can feel free to put his arms around my neck, or his mother’s neck, whichever he wants.  And the great news is that he and I do have an amazing relationship, often filled with magical, delightful moments of unfettered love.

But watching her cut his toenails this morning, I knew that there is simply never a substitute for growing the person inside you.  It’s nobody’s fault, it’s just how we’re built, but still…there it is.  But it’s also more than that.

For years now, I’ve been writing things, and making little movies, and taking photographs, writing notes from the fire, all in search of one thing, and it’s been right in front of me all along.  This electric, unbreakable, unimpeachable love between two people whose bodies were once one, that is the power that drives the universe.

4 Responses to “The Power that Drives the Universe”

  1. just beautifully said!

  2. Kiwi Warchola Says:

    “…constantly acute”. I’d say you did a good job explaining it there. But then…

    You phrased the bond between mother and child so eloquently that I almost wanted to bear a child myself. Almost. I’m so moved by this I can’t understand why it hasn’t gone viral. I’m going to try to share it.

  3. Anonymous Says:

    Great article!

  4. Unbelievably well thought and written!

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