Around Christmastime, my mother’s baby craving became impossible to ignore. My cousin’s oldest son—the first kid I babysat for free—had just had his own son. He was the first member of our family’s sixth generation and seemingly the first baby ever. My mother cradled her great-great nephew for the first time, looking down at him—and across the room at me, expectantly.
The next week, it all came out in the open. We were on our way to eat to gumbo for luck in the New Year. Randomly, between radio commercials, my mother admitted that she could not, in all fairness, harass me about having a baby, since she was almost 30 years old (which, with 1980 inflation, is like 40 today) when she decided to have me.
“Ma, you know I’ll be 29 in less than a year, right?” I asked, immediately regretting having done so.
“Oh,” she paused. “Right.”
Then—to shock and silence her, I said it wouldn’t be the end of the world if an alien life form decided not to invade my womb for nine months. It wouldn’t harm my self-worth in the least, I told her. “Lots of women are childless, and somehow they find a way to go on,” I said. We rode the rest of the way talking about everything but the 10-pound hypothetical baby in the back seat.
If you’ve ever been to a wedding, funeral or father-daughter purity ball, then you’ve sat—perhaps teary-eyed—through John Mayer’s “Daughters.” The song is the audio version of a Lifetime movie event. Basically it’s about how some girl got so messed up by her parents that now she can’t truly love the man standing on her steps with his heart in his hand.