Listen to this piece in episode 16 of the podcast.
I pray she doesn’t feel abandoned like I was. Dead parents on Christmas Eve when I was seven. Foster family by New Year’s Day. I fancied true family life. Getting married. Baring children. Loving them. Staying forever. But I too, am leaving the innocent behind.
No, my daughter won’t be an orphan entirely. But she’s losing a parent all the same. I had hoped it would be much harder to leave. Wished I would have slept in fits and starts all last night. That I’d cried at the sight of her teddy bear as I packed secretly throughout the day. Wish I’d lost my appetite for dinner and confessed my intended sin right there with the whole family staring in disbelief. I wish I had been brave or a coward—I don’t know which one it is anymore. Wish I would have done all those things, but I didn’t. I walked right out of that two-story colonial with its porch swing and its bluegrass lawn and it’s 3-car garage and didn’t look back.
I had a train to catch. I arrived to the station on-time and had planned to dial the house phone from my Nokia flip phone. But the train was boarding by the time I arrived and it’s not like I could talk to a 10-month-old anyway. Even if I could, what would I say?
Could I tell the truth? Would I dare say, “Sweetheart. My precious Irene. I love you dearly, but I can’t love you nearly enough. Not enough to stay. Not enough to parent with wisdom and joy. Not enough to keep these violent wishes of drunk driver accidents and lake vacation drownings or accidental poisoning at bay because though I love you, Irene, I do, I’m desperate to end this misery of being a mama.”
Now on this train ride to a new start I wonder what she will become without me. Whether she’ll grow into an athlete or study medicine. Whether she’ll ever know my name. I can’t be sure that she’ll have my knack for arithmetic or share my love for the Blues. But she’ll bloom. I know she’ll bloom. Maybe late because our time was marked by a legion of tears. Tears I cried after I pushed her out. Tears every time she nursed. Tears when she kept me awake. Tears when she fell asleep. And I tried to love her like the magazine worthy mothers but I can’t. Irene will have gentle pruning from her father and de-weeding from her grandparents and the sunshine on her back to get her through every season of life. And she’ll bloom. Without me.