I didn’t sign up for any of this.
Mom tells me she is going grocery shopping and that I need to stay home with Her. I immediately freak out and begin to cry.
“No! I’m not ready, Mom. Please! I’ll go. Just give me a list and I’ll get anything you want.”
“She’s your daughter, Kylie. Grow up and start acting responsibly.”
Three weeks ago I had given birth to Chloe after twelve hours of excruciating labor. When I held her in my arms for the first time I had no warm and fuzzy feelings. She was simply a squalling lump of flesh to me. There was no soft violin music playing in my head like when women gave birth on television or in the movies.
I had been all set to sign adoption papers months earlier. I even went to an agency, looked through a book and found a photo of a couple who looked nice and appeared to be able to give my daughter a comfortable, secure life.
My mother nixed that idea completely. I was over eighteen and the decision was mine. But my mom somehow convinced me that the baby needed to stay with us.
I assumed that meant she would be raising her.
I deposit myself in front of the TV while Chloe sleeps. I begin to think this might not be so bad. Maybe she will sleep until Mom comes home.
I fall asleep on the couch and wake up to Chloe screaming like a banshee. I make my way sleepily to her room where she is lying in her crib red faced and crying. She reminds me of a demonically possessed doll in a horror film.
She continues to wail as I pick her up and deposit her on the changing table. I make a fumbling attempt to change her disgusting diaper. Mom showed me how to do all this stuff. I admit to not listening very closely.
I go to the fridge and take out one of the bottles of formula my mother had made up for Chloe. I go back into her room and settle with her in the rocking chair.
She miraculously calms down and is soon contentedly sucking on the bottle. My mom comes home to find her happily gurgling in my arms.
“Well, look at this. You might be a mom after all.”
I stay up late that night but cannot fall asleep. My mother was wrong. I am not a good mother to Chloe and will never be.
A year ago I was a college Freshman. Then a night of debauchery involving beer and Jello shots led to sex with Chris Cartman.
Within two months I was back home living with my mother and working at the local McDonalds. Chris never assumed responsibility whatsoever. In fact he claimed to be so drunk that night he didn‘t even recall having sex with me.
I hated everything about pregnant. I hated that I couldn’t wear cute clothes anymore or eat or drink anything I wanted. I hated how my former high school classmates gawked at me when they saw me behind the counter wearing my ugly uniform with my stomach bulging. I could imagine the conversation as they went to their cars with their heart attack inducing food.
“Did you see Kylie Wilson? She was Homecoming princess and dance line captain. Now, she’s pregnant and working in the fast food industry.”
I am nineteen. I want to move to a big city somewhere. Maybe Boston. I can see myself living in a town house apartment and going to coffeehouses, bars, and Red Sox games. I want to meet guys and have loads of sex without getting pregnant.
I get out of bed without turning the lights on and throw random clothes into a duffle bag. I have sufficient funds on my credit card for a bus ticket to Boston. There is enough money in my checking account from my McDonalds gig to sustain me for awhile.
I leave a note for my mom and tack it on the refrigerator. She will be angry with me, but there is no other way. I can‘t love my daughter the way a mother is supposed to love a child. I could maybe become a cool aunt to her someday. Taking her shopping and to Broadway musicals.
I am just not a mom.
I promise in my note that I will call once I am on the bus and on my way. I almost step into Chloe‘s room to say goodbye, but think better of it.
Five Years Later
I fall into bed exhausted. I just got off the late shift at Pepe’s, the Mexican place where I’ve worked for the past two years. There was a big crowd from the aftermath of the Red Sox game. As usual, they were loud, boisterous and lousy tippers.
It’s been five years and I’ve more or less drifted from one low paying waitress job to another. I want to go to art school, but the money is not there. I am currently sharing an apartment with two other people who are not always on the ball when it comes to paying rent. Not that I’m complaining.
I talk to my mom occasionally and she says Chloe is a well adjusted, happy little girl who is about to go to Kindergarten. I asked her once if she asks about me and my mother wouldn’t answer me. I also asked if she thought I should visit and she said she didn’t advise it.
I don’t tell my friends, my boyfriends, or my co-workers that I ever had a child. When they notice the picture of Chloe on the fridge, I tell them she is my niece. The child of my nonexistent brother.
Sometimes when I go to the fridge for a beer or when I am on a late night ice cream binge, I see the photo and want to cry. But the moment passes pretty quickly.
I don’t have any regrets. I really don’t.